Malaysia is one of my favorite countries. It is such a diverse country, vibrant and dynamic cities, stunning nature such as the Cameron Highlands and very beautiful islands. One of these islands is Langkawi. I spent my Christmas there in 2015 and 3 planned days became 6 days.
Langkawi is also known as the “Juwel of Kedah”. Langkawi is the main island of an archipelago of 104 islands in the Andaman Sea. The Juwel is 30km away from the mainland and reachable by airplane or boat. Langkawi is next to the island Penang which makes is a perfect setting for exploring both islands on a round trip through Malaysia. It is also close to the border of Thailand, so if you wanne travel further to the neighbor of Malaysia this is a perfect last stop. If you are coming from Thailand, than this is the perfect start for your trip through Malaysia.
The island is a tax-free area for booze so the prices for drinks are very cheap.
Last but not least, it is just a awesome place. Full of nature, beaches, cute little towns, friendly people, deliciouse food, cheap drinks and positive vibes everywhere.
Unfortunate it is often underrated by South East Asia backpackers. No Idea why. If you travel to Malaysia, Langkawi should be one of your high priorities. But hey let´s get into details 😉
How to get there
As I had spent some days on Penang, a neighbor island, before I arrived by the ferry on Langkawi. Normally it is easy to get a ticket to Langkawi beside the Christmas and New Year’s season. More on that later.
The tickets for the ferry from Penang to Langkawi are 60 RM which is around 13€ and 15,50$ depending on the exchange rate. The ride takes 3hr in total and is quite easy. I slept the 3hrs away to is was not a very turbulent ride.
The ticket you can buy directly at ticket counters or travel agencies on Penang, same as at the port. Normally it is not an issue just to show up at the port and get your ticket just before your leave.
There are also flights from AirAsia to Langkawi. If you are flexible you can get deals below 20$ for flight going from Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi.
If you come from Thailand you can get the ferry from Satun, which is close to Phuket. The ferry will charge you around 10$ and will arrive on Langkawi in less than an hour. As flights from Bangkok to Langkawi are not the cheapest I would recommend you to do with the ferry.
You can find all the ferry schedulars and prices here.
At lot of travelers also use Penang to sort their visa stuff for Thailand out. So if you have to leave Thailand because of an expiring visa, just take Langkawi for a break instate.
Where to stay – accommodation
Most of the backpackers stay at Cenang Beach in the south west of the island. It is nice beach with a nice little town where everything you need for the island life is available. Shops, small restaurants, street food, bars and positive chilled vibes. There are a lot of hostels and if you don’t come like me during Christmas there is no need to book in advance. Cenang Beach is a 15min drive away from the airport or a 30min drive from the ferry port.
Just get to Cenang Beach and take a look at the hostels and choose the one that’s suits you the best. The hostels are all next to eachother. Dorms are available starting from 5$ and double rooms starting from 10$.
Budget –Langkawi is cheap
As the rooms are cheap and booze is tax free (Beer = 0,50$, 1 Liter of liquor for a few $) you can already guess that Langkawi is a pretty cheap place to stay. Food is delicious you can get good food for around 1$- 2$ per meal.
The bars on the island are also not overpriced but well set up, so you can look forward to a good island nightlife experience.
Depends on you travel style you will be fine with around 25$ per day.
What to do on Langkawi
There are so many activities available on Langkawi, I promise you, you will not get bored.
Get a scooter
First of all, my overall advice for almost every place, get yourself a scooter and discover the island! They are cheap to rent. The scooter rental will charge you app. 8$/day and the gas is also affordable with 1L for around 0,63$. One drive around the island will take around 3hrs. I got my scooter right on the ferry port for my full stay.
There are so many water sports to do. From snorkeling, diving, jet skiing or watching the sunset while hanging on kite behind a boat. Just go to numerous agencies and decide what you want to do and if you are not on a tight budget, just book all of it. 😊
If you are looking for the best view point and the sky during your days on Langkawi is clear, I recommend you to take the cable cars to the skybridge on top of the mountains in the North West of the island. It is offering you a 360° view over the island and its surrounding and is a pretty awesome view point.
As Langkawi is part of an archipelago of 104 islands there are island hopping tours offered. These tours will charge you around 10$ and bring you to some nature reserves and lonely beaches. A tour will take around 4 hours and is really a nice way to spend your day.
There are several hostels hosting bars on Cenang bach. There will be something up every night, like fireshows, music and people chilling in the sand while having a few drinks. So just get there, crap yourself a beer and get to know people.
During my time on Langkawi the main spot for partying was Sunba Retro Bar. The whole crowd was there when it got silent on the beach and partied the night away.
Also not to be missed is the Nest roof top bar for having some cool and chilled drinks while watching the sunset. The vibes are really relaxed, they have a nice setting and for sure the best view on the sunset.
Spending Christmas on Langkawi
Langkawi ia a very loved place by the Malayan for their holiday. Between Christmas and New Year’s most of the malayan people have holidays and the schools are closed as well. During Christmas it seemed as half of Malaysia was on Langkawi, so the transportation options were overbooked same as the hostels.
I just went on the 23rd of Dec to a ticket counter on Penang to get a ticket for the next day and caused the sales man I little laughter.
If you are like me a solo traveler and good in begging a bit, they will let you squeeze in, even if the ferry is booked out. Another friend of mine had the same issue when getting off the island after Christmas. There was simply no available option between Christmas and New Year’s, all ferries and flights were booked out. As he needed to get back to KL he just went to the port in the morning talked with the port officers and begged a bit and they let him on the ferry.
If you want to spend Christmas on this little piece of paradise you must book in advance. Unfortunate I am not talking about 2 days in advance. Better to book two weeks in advance to have a chance to get a place to stay in the preferred backpacker area Cenang beach or other areas.
Why Langkawi is so cool
What I really liked about Langkawi were the chilled and positive vibes. The people are friendly, open and overall just relaxed. It is not overcrowded with 18-year-old party backpackers and also not overpriced like the islands in Thailand. There are plenty of things to do and also you can just relaxe for days on the amazing beaches. The food is delicious, drinks are more than affordable. It is easy to get around and overall a cheap place to be. There is nothing negative to say about Langkawi. That`s why I even stayed double the time than planned.
Don’t miss Langkawi when you have the chance to travel Malaysia. You will not regret going there 😊
If you need any more information or details about the given information just contact me.
Get lost, but don’t get hurt.