12 Answers to the Question:  “So, Why Langkawi?”

12 Answers to the Question: “So, Why Langkawi?”

We got asked that question on more than one occasion during this trip.

“Not many Filipinos come here. So, why Langkawi?”

To be honest with you, I had never even heard of Langkawi until a few days before I booked our tickets. Unlike Bhutan or Santorini, it wasn’t one of those bucket list destinations that I’d been dreaming about forever. It was more a spur of the moment thing, utterly spontaneous, and completely unexpected.

Hopping online to see where I could take Ren for our annual trip this year, I stumbled upon Langkawi when I Googled “top 10 islands asia”. Having already been to a few places on those lists, I was most intrigued with Langkawi simply because I had never heard of it.

Digging deeper, my curiosity was piqued all the more after I found out that Langkawi was a verdant, natural paradise where rental cars were the default means of transportation. Excited by the prospect of driving around while on vacation, I Googled “how many days needed langkawi”, and these were just some of the forum answers that popped up:

“For foreigner, as many days as your VISA allowed you to. For locals, as many days as your remaining life.” – Hanz

“14th visit coming up for me in January, and still love every minute of my time spent in Langkawi.” – KelmscottPerth

“As long as your money allows you to.” – Bundy

“As many as you have left in your life if you choose to.” – Y2K

“For us 3 weeks is not nearly long enough, & we are on our 6th visit, Lesley is on her 8th visit & Eva has been there for over 4 years & is still enamoured of the island.” – Manicmick

“I have traveled around this planet for many years. When we came here we wanted to stay for 2 weeks. That was in Nov. 2005. We, just like Mick and Lesley, fell under the spell of this beautiful island! Hope you will love it us much as we do!” – CaptainEva*

As you can probably guess by now, that was all the convincing I needed.

Booking a week-long trip to this beautiful island just off the coast of northwestern Malaysia, here are 12 of the many things you can do there to answer the question: “So, why Langkawi?”

*Captain Eva made this comment on TripAdvisor in 2010, and you’ll be interested to know that she’s still there! Making Langkawi her home, she offers popular sailing tours of the islands from her boats the Damai Indah and Damai Indah Lagi.

1. Drive around Paradise like an Englishman

I’m from the Philippines and lived many years in the US, so I’ve only ever driven on the right side of the road. Here in Malaysia, a former British colony, I got to drive on the left for the first time in my life. Coolness.
Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road in Langkawi, Malaysia

Admittedly, I was a little nervous at first, but all the jitters went away soon as I got behind the wheel. Apart from a few commercialized areas like Kuah Town and Pantai Cenang, the roads here were practically deserted. If you’ve never driven on the left side of the road before, then this is the perfect place to do it.
Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road in Langkawi, Malaysia

With over 65% of its forest cover still intact, the island of Langkawi is LUSH. This isn’t the Philippines (at least the parts I know) where all you see are cleared, wide open spaces with just a few coconut trees sticking out. The rainforest here is dense and thriving, so you often find yourself driving through a landscape of green on these meandering, single-lane roads without seeing any cars or buildings for miles.
Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road in Langkawi, Malaysia

As mentioned up top, part of Langkawi’s attraction for me was the promise of driving through landscape as fresh and verdant as this. Everything smelled so refreshing and green, especially after the rain. ♥

More on driving in Langkawi HERE.
Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road in Langkawi, Malaysia

2. Shop Duty-Free

Duty-free since 1987, popular items for sale in Langkawi are wines and spirits, tobacco, apparel, cosmetics, souvenirs, food, cooking ware, and electronics. Most duty-free shopping centers on the island can be found either in Kuah Town or along Pantai Cenang, which is where this one was located.
12 Reasons to Visit Langkawi, Malaysia

Craft Cultural Complex

If native goods are more your thing, then you’ll likely enjoy the Craft Cultural Complex located at the northern part of the island.
12 Reasons to Visit Langkawi, Malaysia

Situated within a large complex, you can easily spend a couple of hours here perusing all the items.
12 Reasons to Visit Langkawi, Malaysia

Here you can buy locally crafted products such as batiks, silverware, ceramics, baskets, costume jewelry, wooden utensils, and more.
12 Reasons to Visit Langkawi, Malaysia

12 Reasons to Visit Langkawi, Malaysia

At the far end of the compound, there’s a glass-blowing facility selling handmade, blown glass products like these ornamental fish.
12 Reasons to Visit Langkawi, Malaysia

3. Kiss the Sky

What better way to admire the natural beauty of Langkawi than from 700 meters above sea level? Perched atop Mt. Machincang, the Skycab is a three-station cable car system with observation decks that give you 360° views of the island.
Excuse Me While I Kiss the SkyCab in Langkawi, Malaysia

Beautiful eh? I don’t know if I’m looking in the right direction, but you can apparently see Southern Thailand from up here.
Excuse Me While I Kiss the SkyCab in Langkawi, Malaysia

On top of the world ma! Pictured here is the ride between the middle and top stations. More on the SkyCab HERE.
Excuse Me While I Kiss the SkyCab in Langkawi, Malaysia

One of the highlights of our trip would have been this SkyBridge. Accessible from the top station, it’s suspended from an 82-meter-high single pylon, and hangs at about 100 meters above the top of Mt. Machincang. Measuring 125 meters in length, it’s one of the world’s longest curved suspension bridges. Too bad it was closed indefinitely for repairs while we were there. 🙁
Excuse Me While I Kiss the SkyCab in Langkawi, Malaysia

4. Fly like an Eagle in Kuah Town

Langkawi’s most developed area, Kuah is home to the island’s most prominent landmark, Eagle Square. Massive at 12 meters tall, it’s situated near Kuah Jetty and is one of the first things that visitors arriving by ferry will see.

Some interesting architecture at the square.
12 Reasons to Visit Langkawi, Malaysia

12 Reasons to Visit Langkawi, Malaysia

According to local folklore, Langkawi derived its name from the eagle or helang. In old Malay, kawi means “reddish brown”, so Langkawi translates to “reddish brown eagle.”
12 Reasons to Visit Langkawi, Malaysia

Too bad though that the majestic bird poised for flight here isn’t an eagle, it’s a Brahminy Kite. 😆
12 Reasons to Visit Langkawi, Malaysia

5. Canoodle with a Hot Chick at a Lighthouse

Apart from the breathtaking scenery, the best part about having a rental car was the freedom. We could stop absolutely whenever, and wherever, we wanted. This lighthouse, at Telaga Harbour Park, was one of those spontaneous stops.
12 Reasons to Visit Langkawi, Malaysia

Touchdown!
12 Reasons to Visit Langkawi, Malaysia

Ren stealing a kiss. It was electric. :mrgreen:
12 Reasons to Visit Langkawi, Malaysia

6. Walk down a Gorgeous Stretch of Beach at Sunset

An archipelago of 99 islands, Langkawi has no shortage of gorgeous beaches. Pictured here is arguably its most impressive, Pantai Cenang. Around the same length as Boracay but twice as wide, the sand here isn’t quite as white, but it’s just as powder-fine. Ren and I walked from one end to the other at sunset.
Life's a Beach in Langkawi, Malaysia

Similar to Boracay but less crowded, there were bars and boutique resorts like this one all along the entire length of the beach. Like Boracay, the nicest resorts were located at the very end too, a la station 1.
Life's a Beach in Langkawi, Malaysia

I don’t know how crowded it gets during peak season, but the beach felt refreshingly empty in parts. Loved it.
Life's a Beach in Langkawi, Malaysia

Midway through, Ren and I stopped for a beer. It was happy hour after all. 😉 Here’s Langkawi’s token reggae bar.
Life's a Beach in Langkawi, Malaysia

Romantic beachside dinner setting for two. Too bad it wasn’t for us. 🙁
Life's a Beach in Langkawi, Malaysia

My lovely, glowing wife. ♥ More on Langkawi’s beaches HERE.
Life's a Beach in Langkawi, Malaysia

7. Pedal through a Rubber Tree Plantation

As described up top, one of the things that drew me to Langkawi was the promise of nature. Dev’s Adventure Tours, an eco-tours operator and recipient of TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence in 2013, helped deliver on that promise.

Here we are nature cycling, the first of three tours that we booked with them.
Dev's Adventure Tours:  Nature Cycling, Jungle Trekking, & Mangrove Kayaking in Langkawi, Malaysia

Biking through rice fields. That speck on the wire was a kingfisher.
Dev's Adventure Tours:  Nature Cycling, Jungle Trekking, & Mangrove Kayaking in Langkawi, Malaysia

My favorite part of the tour, riding through a rubber tree plantation.
Dev's Adventure Tours:  Nature Cycling, Jungle Trekking, & Mangrove Kayaking in Langkawi, Malaysia

Beautiful eh? They look almost mystical to me, like a faerie playground.
Dev's Adventure Tours:  Nature Cycling, Jungle Trekking, & Mangrove Kayaking in Langkawi, Malaysia

See you later awesome rubber trees! More on nature cycling with Dev’s Adventure Tours HERE.
Dev's Adventure Tours:  Nature Cycling, Jungle Trekking, & Mangrove Kayaking in Langkawi, Malaysia

8. Take a Shower in the Jungle

Part 2 of our Dev’s Adventure Tours Triathlon was this evening trek through the rainforest. As you can probably guess from the heading, it rained. Heavily. Read the full story HERE.
Dev's Adventure Tours:  Nature Cycling, Jungle Trekking, & Mangrove Kayaking in Langkawi, Malaysia

Lianas
Dev's Adventure Tours:  Nature Cycling, Jungle Trekking, & Mangrove Kayaking in Langkawi, Malaysia

That furry, balled-up wad up top that looks like it’s part of the tree is actually a lemur.
Dev's Adventure Tours:  Nature Cycling, Jungle Trekking, & Mangrove Kayaking in Langkawi, Malaysia

This seemingly innocuous walk turned out to be the most unforgettable and thrilling part of our vacation. Read why HERE.
Dev's Adventure Tours:  Nature Cycling, Jungle Trekking, & Mangrove Kayaking in Langkawi, Malaysia

9. Kayak through the Mangroves

The third and final leg of our Dev’s Adventure Tours Triathlon – kayaking through Langkawi’s lush mangrove forest. This experience was truly AMAZING.
Dev's Adventure Tours:  Nature Cycling, Jungle Trekking, & Mangrove Kayaking in Langkawi, Malaysia

Entering a mystical world. Though Langkawi was one of the first islands to be hit by the tsunami in 2004, they suffered minimal damage with just one casualty, all because of these mangrove trees that absorbed the brunt of the wave’s impact. Nature is boss.
Dev's Adventure Tours:  Nature Cycling, Jungle Trekking, & Mangrove Kayaking in Langkawi, Malaysia

We’ve been through a mangrove forest before, in Palawan, but it was nothing like this. Today felt like we were completely immersed in the forest, rather than just skirting through it on an amusement park ride. Pictured here are the wider, easier pathways, but there were some very tight corridors that we had to fight our way through, pushing ourselves off roots and doing the limbo through some low hanging lianas. Tiring, but super fun!
Dev's Adventure Tours:  Nature Cycling, Jungle Trekking, & Mangrove Kayaking in Langkawi, Malaysia

There’s the exit! If you ever visit Langkawi, then this is something that you absolutely must do. Dev’s offers two versions of the mangrove tour – by kayak or by boat. I strongly suggest doing it by kayak like we did because it allows you to physically enter the forest and immerse yourself in the mangroves. It’s truly a different world in there. Incredible.

More on mangrove kayaking with Dev’s Adventure Tours HERE.
Dev's Adventure Tours:  Nature Cycling, Jungle Trekking, & Mangrove Kayaking in Langkawi, Malaysia

10. Feed a Stingray by Hand

This was awesome. Part of the mangrove kayaking tour, you’ll stop for lunch at the Hole in the Wall restaurant and fish farm, where you’ll get the opportunity to feed these sting rays by hand. Here’s our guide Wendy showing us how to do it.
Dev's Adventure Tours:  Nature Cycling, Jungle Trekking, & Mangrove Kayaking in Langkawi, Malaysia

You trap the fish between two fingers before making a fist, then lower it for the sting rays to reach. Barb-less and accustomed to being fed, they practically fly out of the water to retrieve their meal. Badooosh!
Dev's Adventure Tours:  Nature Cycling, Jungle Trekking, & Mangrove Kayaking in Langkawi, Malaysia

There’s me giving it a go. After feeding it several chunks of fish, I got to pet the little guy, whose skin felt like fuzzy leather. So cool!

More on fish feeding at Hole in the Wall restaurant/fish farm HERE.
Dev's Adventure Tours:  Nature Cycling, Jungle Trekking, & Mangrove Kayaking in Langkawi, Malaysia

11. Feast on Amazing Malaysian Food

A rich tapestry of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Thai, and Arabian influences, Malaysian food, in a word, is awesome. Here are just a few of the amazing dishes we enjoyed in Langkawi.

Located in the heart of Kuah Town, this sign says it all.
Malaysian Food Trip

Clean-tasting but immensely flavorful, this entire plate of Hainanese chicken was gone in a matter of minutes. It was so good, especially with the rice and sprigs of coriander.
Malaysian Food Trip

A dining experience that you should definitely try in Langkawi is nasi campur. Literally meaning “mixed rice”, nasi campur traditionally refers to a dish of rice topped with various meats, vegetables, peanuts, eggs, and fried-shrimp keropok (crackers). Nasi campur restaurants offer a buffet-style setting with many different vegetables, meats, and side dishes that you can freely top onto your plate of rice.
Malaysian Food Trip

They price your plate based on what you get. All this food went for just RM9, if I remember correctly.
Malaysian Food Trip

Here’s another delectable example.
Malaysian Food Trip

Ikan bakar, a generic term literally meaning “burnt fish”, is used to describe any type of charcoal-grilled fish or seafood. Here’s our delicious silver snapper seasoned with turmeric.
Malaysian Food Trip

One of the most delicious examples of char kway teow that we’ve ever had.
Malaysian Food Trip

Even the roadside grub was awesome. Sold in plastic bags by the main road, you couldn’t get any more street than this! Absolutely delicious, and so cheap too.

More on Malaysian food HERE.
Malaysian Food Trip

12. Dance like Nobody’s Watching under a Waterfall

Its name meaning “Seven Wells Waterfalls”, Telaga Tujuh is a remarkable sight. Arguably the most impressive waterfall on the island, Ren was so bewitched by its magic that she decided to do a little dance as a show of her appreciation.
12 Reasons to Visit Langkawi, Malaysia

Wait for it…
12 Reasons to Visit Langkawi, Malaysia

BOOM. 😯
12 Reasons to Visit Langkawi, Malaysia

I think Ren’s performance piece pretty much sums it up. 😆

Though I only listed twelve, I could easily have cited a dozen more reasons why you should consider Langkawi for your next vacation. For a rundown on everything that this island has to offer, you’ll find a list of its most popular activities and attractions on TripAdvisor. Having done just a handful of all that’s listed there, we certainly have plenty of reason to come back.

Thank you Langkawi for making this one of our best vacations ever. We’ll never forget it. 🙂

CLICK HERE for a First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Langkawi, Malaysia

 The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Langkawi, Malaysia

Disclosure

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning we’ll get a small commission if you make a purchase or reservation at NO extra cost to you. We really appreciate your support as this helps us keep this website going. Thank you!

JB Macatulad

JB Macatulad

JB is one half of Will Fly for Food and its chief itinerary maker.  He's the one to blame for all the crappy photos and verbal diarrhea on this blog.  Don't listen to him.
JB Macatulad


There are 6 comments for this article
  1. Vivian Ho at 7:26 pm

    Hi there,

    I really like your blog write-up about your Langkawi tour. It sounds really fun and enjoyable. I’m from Singapore and currently trying to plan my honeymoon trip to Langkawi but it’s rather challenging for me since I’ve never done it before. This was when I stumbled over your blog, your trip was entirely what I have in mind in Langkawi. Thus is it possible to share with me your tour itinerary, tips and how you
    book the adventure tours with me? I’ll be very thankful if you can. Thank you so much.

    With regards,
    Vivian

  2. JB Macatulad at 7:34 pm

    Hi Vivian, thanks for stopping by our blog! It’s funny that you mentioned this because I’m currently working on a first-timer’s travel guide to Langkawi. It’ll have much of the information that you’ll need in one post. I should have it up within the week. Are you able to wait that long? If not, then I’d be happy to send you as much information as you need. Just let me know. 🙂

  3. Vivian at 1:36 am

    I can wait. Thank you so much. Would be looking forward for the blog post.

  4. liana at 5:34 pm

    Holla!
    I have read your view about langkawi. It very interesting! Have you go to Temurun waterfall? Its the best waterfall ever! You should go there if you visit again. Its better than Telaga Tujuh waterfall.. Plus.. Infrontof the waterfall is beach. If i not mistaken Pantai Tengkorak. And if you go langkawi and didnt take mangrove or island hoping it not complete enough! Hehhehe anyway hope you come here again. By the way i’m malaysian. Hehhe

  5. JB Macatulad at 8:11 am

    Hi Liana! No, we didn’t go to Temurun waterfall. Many people on TripAdvisor were complaining about the trash in the area so that turned me off a bit. Maybe we should have gone anyway. Oh well. We had a great time nonetheless. Really beautiful island. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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