Looking for an island get away that offers an abundance of natural beauty, doesn’t cost the earth, won’t be filled with tourists and doesn’t require a tour guide?
Well, aren’t we all. And so begins the impossible search for the idyllic setting without paying the earth or being stuck without home comforts in the jungle for weeks on end.
Well, look no more.
Let us introduce you to the island of Langkawi, the Jewel of Malaysia and your next destination for a dose of island life bliss.
Langkawi makes a perfect balance of convenience, natural beauty and remote exclusivity entirely possible, in the most exciting and satisfying way and a visit here won’t break the bank. Located just west of mainland Malaysia, you can fly direct on a domestic flight from Kuala Lumpur to this small island, which seems to be growing in popularity as an international destination. Evidently it’s been a popular escape for those living near by for a while, yet you will find that it doesn’t entirely exploit itself to the commerciality of tourism. The natural beauty remains very much that, untouched and un-taxed – no queues, no cheesy photos, no barriers and ropes (every photographer’s nightmare) and no tickets, yet still beautifully maintained and well looked after in a lot of spots. However, The Sky Bridge is one spot you will find all of these tourist taxed excitements in abundance, but more about that later.
How long do you need in Langkawi?
You can enjoy Langkawi in five days with a ‘go-getters’ style itinerary like we did or, you can spend longer and include lazy beach days with the possibility of doing and seeing a bit more. We could’ve happily stayed there longer, something we instantly realised after driving to the Giant Eagle pier on arrival and feeling the relaxed, unspoiled vibe of Langkawi.
So how do you get to enjoy the beauty of Langkawi without paying over the top prices or getting stuck in the crowds?
Let’s start with your accommodation, you can hire somewhere cheap, clean and basic. There are plenty of options but it’s still advisable to book ahead. It can be in any location, the island is small enough to drive around the perimeter in just 2 hours more or less. When venturing out for the day you tend not to have to drive very far in any direction to reach a view point, waterfall, town centre or beach; nothing is more than an hour away. Do note that there are a lot of small backroads that lead to some of these smaller, cheaper apartments – not the easiest to navigate on first attempts, but they do get easier with the right GPS. So pin your location and pack an in car charge and then there’s no need to avoid them, as they are cheaper and perfectly hosted by friendly local families or smaller companies.
Staying near Cenang beach will allow you close access to the most tourist filled place on the island as the main stretch of restaurants and tourist shops run parallel to it, this will be a bit pricier but it depends what your needs are. On most days we drove from one side of the island to the other more than once, so bear in mind you can be close to it without being caught amongst the chaos when trying to sleep. Whatever you’re after, you can find all types of accommodation easily via Airbnb.
So, you’ve settled in, now how do you get around?
Hire a car. It costs a little more than a motorbike or scooter and allows you to set out for the whole day with supplies and shelter should the weather decide to take a turn for the worse. It was a god send for us, storing all our photography equipment, gallon bottles of water to keep our reusable water bottles refilled and it additionally gave us the priceless ability to carry back large bottles of gin and endless tins of tonic water to our apartment! Need I convince you anymore?
So, what is there to do?
Well, you can start chasing waterfalls! There’s plenty of beautiful and different ones on this small island and as previously mentioned they’re accessible and free of charge and guide ropes. We think you’d be silly to miss out on seeing at least one.
The Seven Wells Waterfall, Air Terjun Temurun Waterfall and Durian Perangin Waterfall are all easily accessible by car and a require a small to medium walk with some steps.
There’s a few monkeys, especially at Air Terjun Temurun, that hang around, so just pack away any snacks, water bottles and keep your glasses in hand if you don’t fancy having a close encounter with these mischievous locals!
The beaches are the next attraction and though there are rather a few of them, there’s a couple that stand out as the best ones to visit for different reasons.
For a quiet cocktail, a clean beach and a stunning view over little islands visit Tajung Rhu beach, it’s at the north of the island and boasts a memorable sunset, even when it gets a little rainy!
For a bit of a busier beach scene head to Cenang where you’ll find parasailing, banana boats, lots of places to eat and plenty of frosty beers along the way.
The lighthouse and harbours are worth a little walk around and the lighthouse makes for a cool drone shot, you can also swing by Eagle Pier and check out the huge statue they have swooping out over the water, Langkawi’s signature monument! Bear in mind these are all very open places with little shelter so wear a hat and bring some water with you to avoid dehydration on your island getaway.
The Sky Bridge is an attraction that brings lots of tourism and one we were willing to pay to see. Arguably it is a pretty cool one, as it curves and bends across the tree tops of Langkawi; hidden in the mountains it’s a steep cable car ride up to the top where the views are truly one of the gods!
However, we were a little stumped on the ticketing, as we paid for three attractions including the The Sky Tower.. but it turned out this only got us up to the first level and not up to and on the bridge itself. So we had to buy another ticket when we had arrived at the Sky Tower, this was not very clearly labelled when buying tickets initially, so make sure you have enough cash on you if you do want to get all the way up!
We also had the misfortune of the sky lift not working and so we had to take all the steps down and back up again, we’d advise paying out a little extra to get the sky lift back up as the steps are steep and plentiful, which is not ideal on a hot day in Langkawi. And certainly pack plenty of water as it’s pretty pricey in the shops.
We loved our time in Langkawi and would most certainly head back again for a little more exploring and some down time when we’re not diving! It’s a true mix of everything you can want from a holiday and we hope you’ll agree that there’s some wonderful photos to be captured!
What’s your ideal island get away?