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

EDITOR’S NOTE: Please be advised that this Langkawi travel guide hasn’t been updated in 2024. Prices and travel guidelines may no longer be accurate so it’s important that you verify any information before proceeding.

When I first visited Boracay in the Philippines as a kid many years ago, I was surprised by how many caucasians there were on the island. Their being caucasian wasn’t surprising. It was the fact that they were caucasian AND living on the island that was strange to me. Making Boracay their home, they had married locals and opened businesses, some even becoming (almost) as dark in skin tone as I was! 😆

As a kid growing up in a third world country like the Philippines, I was used to the idea of Filipinos moving to a western country like the US for a better life, not the other way around. But as I learned on that trip, the concept of a “better life” is relative and a matter of perspective. Leaving behind whatever life they had in the west, these westerners went to Boracay planning to visit for a week but wound up staying the rest of their lives. Such is the power of a paradise like Boracay.

Langkawi, an archipelago of 99 islands about 30 km off the coast of northwestern Malaysia, is that kind of paradise.

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Interior of Villavicencio heritage house


  1. Travel Restrictions
  2. What’s in Langkawi?
  3. When to Go
  4. How to Get There
  5. How Long to Stay
  6. How Much Money to Bring
  7. Where to Exchange Currency
  8. Where to Stay
  1. Where to Go
  2. What Outdoor Activities to Do
  3. Malaysian Food Guide
  4. Malaysian Desserts
  5. Where to Eat
  6. Travel Tips
  7. How to Get Around


Because of the current global situation, travel guidelines change often. Our friends at SafetyWing created a website that lists detailed information on travel restrictions around the globe.

Before doing any serious planning, be sure to check the Flatten the Curve website for information on travel restrictions to Malaysia.


Known as the “Jewel of Kedah”, Langkawi is all about nature. If trees, beaches, and sunsets are your thing, then you may wind up visiting this paradise and never leaving. Like Boracay, there are many who have fallen under its spell.

Langkawi was awarded UNESCO World Geopark status in 2007 and is home to lush forests, white sand beaches, waterfalls, caves, limestone cliffs, and mangroves. Apart from its natural beauty, it’s an island rich in folklore. Many of its natural formations are steeped in legend, each story adding to the mystique and allure of the place.

Popular activities in Langkawi include sailing, mangrove kayaking, bird watching, and jungle trekking, though more laid back travelers would probably enjoy just laying out on a beach all day with a good book and a cocktail. Rental cars or motorbikes are a popular means of transportation here, making it easy to explore the main island which has over 65% of its forest cover still intact. ♥
Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road in Langkawi, Malaysia


Weather is always a factor when planning a vacation, but that’s less of a concern in Langkawi. Though it officially has a dry (Dec-Feb) and rainy (Mar-Nov) season, it has one of the most stable climates among all Malaysian islands. The reason for this is that it’s shielded from major winds and storms by the mainland on one side and Sumatra on the other. Temperatures are fairly consistent – ranging between 30-35°C during the day and 28-29°C at night – making it suitable for tourism year-round.

We went in September which experiences some of its highest rainfall. Even then, it wasn’t bad. I remember it raining for maybe a couple hours each day, usually in the early afternoons, before becoming sunny again. Weather is pretty much a non-factor here so you can go anytime you want.


You can get to Langkawi by air or by sea. If you’re already in Kuala Lumpur and traveling by air, then you’ll be departing from KLIA or KLIA2, depending on your airline. If by sea, then your journey starts by overnight sleeper train from KL Sentral train station.

BY AIR: Less than an hour away, we took Malaysia Airlines from Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi, but it’ll probably cost less if you go on Air Asia. If you need to arrange for a private transfer from Langkawi Airport to your hotel, then you can do so through Get Your Guide.

BY SEA: You can take a ferry into Langkawi from Kuala Kedah, Kuala Perlis, Penang, or Satun (Thailand). If you’re starting from Kuala Lumpur, then you can take the new high-speed KTM ETS train from KL Sentral to Arau. It’s about a 5-hr train ride with fares starting at RM76 for adults and RM42 for kids. Follow this link for the ETS train schedule from KL Sentral to Arau. From Arau, you can then take a taxi to Kuala Perlis for around RM25. A ferry leaves Kuala Perlis for Langkawi every hour or so from 7AM-7PM. The ferry ride is slightly over an hour long and costs RM18 for adults and RM13 for kids each way. You can check this link for the Kuala Perlis – Langkawi ferry timetable.

We flew to Langkawi but there are other ways to get there depending on where you are. I suggest checking Bookaway to find route options available to you. You can click on the link or use the widget below.


Langkawi is all about rest and relaxation. It’s about disconnecting and enjoying life at an islander’s pace. We stayed here for a week which allowed us to explore the island without feeling rushed. On some days, we drove around and explored the island. On others, we sat on the beach and did absolutely nothing. It was awesome. If you have the time, then plan on spending a week here. If not, then around 4 nights should be enough.


Like most Southeast Asian countries, Malaysia is cheap. Most of your spending in Langkawi will go to lodging, car (or motorbike) rental, and food. If you stay at an inexpensive guesthouse, rent a compact car, and eat modestly, then you should be fine with a starting budget of around RM200-250 per day. This assumes you’ll be splitting the cost of accommodations and car rental with one other person.

You can increase your daily allowance based on the number of activities and amount of shopping you want to do. Entrance fees to attractions like the wildlife park and the SkyCab aren’t that high, around RM40 each. Guided outdoor activities like sailing, jungle trekking, and mangrove kayaking are more expensive, at least RM120 per activity. Sailing tours in particular can be very pricey (more details later in this post). Langkawi is also a duty free port so you may want to bring extra cash if you intend to do some shopping.


Banks are the best place to exchange foreign currency but rates at licensed money changers aren’t bad either. You’ll find most banks and money changers at the airport, in Kuah Town, or at Pantai Cenang. Banks are open from 10AM-4PM, Mon-Fri. Many of the larger hotels will exchange your currency as well, though the rates may not be as good.

If you’d rather not bring a lot of foreign currency with you, then you can withdraw RM from an ATM. Rates are competitive. To be safe, make sure to tell your bank that you plan on using your ATM abroad so you don’t run into any issues. In my experience, my ATM card works in some machines but not all.

WHERE TO STAY: Pondok Keladi Guesthouse

With Langkawi being so much about nature, we wanted to stay in a place that reflected this. Pondok Keladi Guesthouse – with its six rooms and hippie vibe right at the mouth of the Malaysian rainforest – was exactly that kind of place. A TripAdvisor favorite, Pondok Keladi is a charming, rustic hideaway about a 20-minute walk from the main tourist hub of Pantai Cenang. It feels a lot like a bed and breakfast with its open-air lounge area and common kitchen. Stocked at all times with basics like milk, eggs, bread, jam, coffee, and instant noodles, guests are free to help themselves to as much of it as they want at no extra charge.

The only things we didn’t like about Pondok Keladi was the distance from Pantai Cenang. 20 minutes doesn’t sound like much, but trust me, it is when the tropical sun is beating down on you. 😆 The place feels a bit old and moldy in spots as well, especially in the common lounge area. But other than that, it was a good place to stay.

If you don’t think Pondok Keladi is for you, then you can look for accommodations on or Agoda as well. Be sure to check both sites to find the best deal.
Pondok Keladi Guesthouse, Langkawi, Malaysia

Approximate Room Rate: Around USD 36 per night (as of May 2017)


1. Beaches

Langkawi has many pristine beaches. It’s biggest and most impressive is Pantai Cenang, which is about the same length as Boracay (Philippines) but twice as wide. Its sands aren’t quite as white but they’re just as powder fine. As previously mentioned, Pantai Cenang is one of the main tourist hubs on the island with a long stretch of hotels, restaurants, shops, and bars. Separted by a small cape, next to Pantai Cenang is Pantai Tengah. Other notable beaches on the island include Tanjung Rhu and Pantai Pasir Tengkorak.

Check out my post on Langkawi’s beaches for more pictures and information.
Langkawi, Malaysia

Suggested Length of Visit: As long as you want / Admission: FREE

2. Langkawi Cable Car & SkyBridge

The best place for a bird’s eye view of the island. Perched on Mt. Machincang roughly 650 meters above sea level, the SkyCab is a three-station cable car system covering a distance of over 1,700 meters. Observation decks with 360° panoramic vistas of the island are located at both the middle and top stations.

Hanging at about 100 meters above the top of Mt. Machincang, you can also take a walk on the SkyBridge which is one of the world’s longest curved suspension bridges at 125 meters. Definitely not for the faint of heart.

They’ve added new attractions since our visit so the basic combo pass which costs RM 55 for adults and RM40 for kids will give you access not just to the SkyCab, but also to SkyRex, SkyDome, and 3D Art Langkawi.
Langkawi Cable Car, Malaysia

Suggested Length of Visit: 4-5 hrs / Admission: RM55 for adults, RM40 for kids (non-Malaysians)

3. Waterfalls

There are a few waterfalls on the island but Telaga Tujuh (pictured below) is arguably the most impressive. Frequently billed as the island’s most beautiful natural attraction, its name means Seven Wells Waterfalls which is in reference to its series of seven connected natural pools.

Though cemented and easy to walk on, be warned that there a quite a number of steps to the top. Other notable falls in Langkawi are Temurun Waterfall and Durian Perangin Waterfall.
Telaga Tujuh

Suggested Length of Visit: 1-2 hrs / Admission: FREE

4. Kuah Town

Langkawi’s most developed area, Kuak Town is a bustling commercial area that’s home to many shops, hotels, and restaurants. It’s also where you’ll find the island’s most prominent landmark, Eagle Square. If you’re traveling to Langkawi by ferry, then you’ll be docking here.
Kuah Town, Langkawi, Malaysia

5. Duty-Free Shopping Centers

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.
Langkawi, Malaysia


1. Mangrove Kayaking

One of the most fun things you can do on the island. I’ve been to mangrove forests before but never like this. An alien landscape, it felt at times like you’d be completely swallowed up by the thick and flourishing mangroves. I loved it.

If you were to do just one nature-oriented activity on the island, then I would strongly recommend this one. We booked our mangrove kayaking tour with Dev’s Adventure Tours. I can’t recommend them highly enough.

Check out my post on Mangrove Kayaking with Dev’s Adventure Tours for more pictures and information. It’s in a different area and probably run by a different tour group, but you can check out this mangrove kayaking tour in Kubang Badak as well.

If you’d like to explore the mangroves but would rather not go paddling in a kayak, then you may be interested in these safari boat tours from Get Your Guide.
Langkawi, Malaysia

The mangrove kayaking tour lasts five hours with lunch at the Hole in the Wall fish farm and restaurant. There you’ll have the oportunity to hand feed a stingray as well. Awesome!
Langkawi, Malaysia

Length of Tour: 5 hrs / Cost: RM240 for adults, RM170 for kids

2. Nature Cycling

A fun three- to four-hour biking tour through the paddy fields, river banks, and forest. This was the second of three tours that we booked with Dev’s Adventure Tours.

Check out my post on Nature Cycling with Dev’s Adventure Tours for more pictures and information.
Langkawi, Malaysia

Length of Tour: 3-4 hrs / Cost: RM140 for adults, RM110 for kids

3. Jungle Trekking

A third tour that we did with Dev’s Adventure Tours, this is a three-hour guided trek through the rain forest that you can do either in the morning or late in the afternoon. The afternoon trek gives you a chance to spot nocturnal animals like lemurs and squirrels so we went with that.

Check out my post on Jungle Trekking with Dev’s Adventure Tours for more pictures and information. I’m not sure who runs them but Klook (morning | evening) and Get Your Guide offer rainforest treks as well.
Langkawi, Malaysia

Length of Tour: 3 hrs / Cost: RM140 for adults, RM90 for kids

Again, I can’t recommend Dev’s Adventure Tours enough. An annual TripAdvisor winner, their tour guides are knowledgeable and highly professional. They make the tours a lot of fun too. It’s worth noting that booking two or more tours with them will entitle you to discounts. Follow the link for information on Dev’s Adventure Tours package rates.

4. Sailing

We didn’t do it but sailing cruises are another popular activity in Langkawi. Fast becoming a sailing destination, many believe that Langkawi’s 99 islands are best enjoyed by boat. You can choose from several Langkawi cruises on Klook.

If a cruise is too much, then you may be interested in an island hopping tour instead. Check out these island hopping boat tours from Klook and Get Your Guide.
Langkawi, Malaysia

Photo by Phuketian.S via Shutterstock


Malaysian food is diverse and full of flavor. If you’d like to try some of the best dishes in Malaysian cuisine, then be sure to check out our Malaysian food guide for a list of 35 must-try dishes in Malaysia.
RA Nasi Lemak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


If you enjoy the sweeter things in life, then you’ll definitely want to check out our list of the most delicious Malaysian desserts.
Assortment of Malaysian kuih


We try to eat like locals on our trips. As much as possible, we avoid any pricey, westernized restaurants that cater mainly to tourists. Most of the restaurants on this list are budget-friendly and frequented by locals.

1. Langkawi Hainanese Cafe (aka Chicken Joe’s)

The sign says it all. Chicken Joe’s is said to be the best place to get Hainanese chicken rice on the island. If you like this poached chicken dish, then I suggest enjoying a meal here. It’s delicious, and reasonably priced too. Langkawi Hainanese Cafe is located at 133 Langkawi Mall, Jalan Kelibang, Kuah. CLICK HERE for a map.
Hainanese Chicken Rice, Langkawi, Malaysia

Hainanese Chicken Rice, Langkawi, Malaysia

Expect to Pay: Around RM15 per person

2. Tomato Nasi Kandar

Not to be confused with nasi campur, Tomato offers a similar dining experience called nasi kandar. Of Penang origin, the term nasi kandar traditionally refers to a meal of steamed rice served with a variety of curries and side dishes. Tomato is a cheap local favorite along Jalan Pantai Cenang that’s open 24 hours. CLICK HERE for a map.
Tomato Nasi Kandar, Langkawi, Malaysia

Tomato Nasi Kandar, Langkawi, Malaysia

Expect to Pay: Around RM15 per person

3. Restoran Mangga

Another restaurant that’s popular among the locals, Mangga serves delicious seafood at reasonable prices. Restoran Mangga is located along Jalan Pantai Tengah. CLICK HERE for a map.
Mangga, Langkawi, Malaysia

Mangga, Langkawi, Malaysia

Expect to Pay: Around RM25 per person with drinks

4. Hole in the Wall

A unique, floating restaurant that doubles as a fish farm/tourist attraction, we had lunch here as part of the mangrove kayaking tour. Being a popular tourist spot (and so far-flung), the prices are a little higher than average but the seafood is undeniably fresh. The experience alone makes it worthwhile. Floating and attached to the side of a limestone cliff, Hole in the Wall is accessible only by boat which leaves from Kilim jetty. It’s best to make arrangements with your hotel before going. CLICK HERE for a map.
Hole in the Wall, Langkawi

Hole in the Wall, Langkawi

Expect to Pay: Around RM70 per person

5. Langkawi Night Market

My only regret from our trip. We had already returned our rental car when we found out about these night markets so we weren’t able to go. Running from 7-10PM at a different location on the island every night, vendors sell all kinds of food, fresh produce, and locally made items like clothes and souvenirs. Follow the link for information on where these Langkawi night markets are held.
Malaysian Street Food


1. Rent A Pocket Wifi Device

I think it goes without saying that a wifi connection is a necessity these days, especially when traveling. You’ll need it to convert currencies, post on social media, check emails, etc. We never go anywhere without renting a pocket wifi device first.

If you’re flying into Malaysia via Kuala Lumpur, then you can rent a 4G pocket wifi device through Klook. If you’d rather get wifi access via a sim card, then you can order a 4G sim card in advance and pick it up at Langkawi Airport.

2. Check for Discount Passes

There are many online booking platforms that provide tours around the world. For Asia, my absolute favorite is Klook. They often have the biggest selection for the best prices and their website is easy to use. Follow the link for a list of Langkawi deals on Klook.

3. Get Travel Insurance

We don’t always get travel insurance. If we’re going on a trip that doesn’t really call for it – like a quick trip to Osaka to traveleat for a few days – then we won’t get it. But we got it for this trip to Langkawi because of all the physical activities we had planned. If you’re planning on doing any outdoor activities, then you may want to get it too.

We buy travel insurance from SafetyWing. They’re a popular travel insurance company used by many long-term travelers. You can follow the link to get a free quote from SafetyWing.


As previously mentioned, rental cars and motorbikes are the most popular and convenient form of transportation on Langkawi. The island is pretty spread out so taxis can become expensive.

People in Malaysia drive on the left side of the road so I was admittedly nervous at first. But after our first day driving around the island, I realized that I had no reason to be. With the exception of maybe a couple of areas like Kuah Town and Pantai Cenang, the rest of Langkawi is pretty much deserted so you’ll find yourself driving for miles without seeing another car on the road. With the landscape being so lush and green, driving around the island was a wonderful experience. It was definitely a highlight for me.

There are many car rental agencies in Langkawi. We rented our compact from T Shoppe which has branches in Kuah Town, Pantai Cenang, and Pantai Tengah. In 2013, rental with full coverage insurance came out to RM145 per day. Based on my research, it should still be around that rate for compact cars. There are gas stations all over the island so it’s easy to refuel. Fuel on Langkawi is cheap, about RM2.50 per liter in 2017.

If you’d like to rent a car but don’t want to drive, then you can hire a private car charter through Klook.
T Shoppe

Have fun!

I’m hardly an expert on Langkawi but I do hope you find this guide useful. I’m only sharing some of the things that I learned from our trip. If you have any suggestions, then please feel free to let us know in the comment section below.

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your time in Langkawi!


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Saturday 28th of November 2020

Apparently there is something called a Langkawi Island Pass which you can buy at all the CHOIS convenience store outlets around the island, that comes with RM200 of open discount vouchers usable at over 60 outlets in Langkawi, map, guide, and things many blogs and websites miss out. Look for Langkawi Island Pass on FB and IG

JB & Renée

Thursday 10th of December 2020

Thanks for letting us know Vinsen! Sounds very useful indeed. I'll read up on it and add it to this guide.

JB & Renée

Tuesday 28th of July 2020

Thanks Robbin. :)


Sunday 23rd of February 2020

Hi I just want to confirm, that If I will reach Langkawi by air, then no need to go for ferry station. So that means the airport is situated inside the island. Please confirm.

JB & Renée

Sunday 23rd of February 2020

Hi Prashant, yes that's correct. Enjoy Langkawi! :)

Soh Huk Lin

Monday 27th of May 2019

For those wanting to drive to Langkawi, park your car @ Kuala Perlis, not Kuala Kedah. The latter is very busy & jam packed. Parking rates / day are same for both places. However, ferry time is shorter from Kuala Perlis. I paid RM50 for 4 days. Covered parking & gate lock at night. There are a few within walking distance from jetty. It's safe. Just don't put anything inside the car that will attract unwanted attention.

Soh Huk Lin

Monday 27th of May 2019

Visited Langkawi in May 2019 (not peak season). Rented a Toyota Advanza (5 seater with sufficient room for 3 X 28" luggage & small bags) @ RM80 / day. However, please check the following : insurance, tyres & fuel. Many touts @ the jetty (in Kuala Perlis) & also upon docking in Langkawi. Hence, suggest you rent one (or book online) before getting on ferry. Don't have good names to recommend.

Food are extremely expensive (for a Malaysian), approx. by 70% more (for hawkers & restaurants) compared to KL prices. I did not manage to find any special seafood that exceeds KL taste. Kept to fast food (about 20% more expensive).

However, I can recommend a hawker stall (slightly cheaper by comparison) along Pantai Cenang (DBE Masakan panas) runs by a cook cum waiter / reception. Guess he just started off & can't afford many hands @ the moment. He'll be dressed in white unfirom with a chef hat. His stall is located on Jalan Pantai Cenang @ a junction., about 100m from Kampung Siam (or Secret Recipe), against traffic.

Going to Tasik Dayang Bunting on the island hopping tour, you'll need at least 2 hours on this island. By the time you dock, walk the jetty, up & down the 300 steps (almost), you'll reach a lake & you're left with 20 mins of playtime before the boat arrives back to pick you up. You'll need to be sort of fit. Otherwise, charter a boat. The playtime package @ Tasik Dayang Bunting was RM10 / pax which include kayaking / paddling which would otherwise cost RM30 / pax (if i recall correctly). Take note this is during the fasting month.

The next island was Beras Basah. Just nice beach, sun & sand & NO TOILET or handwash. Yes, you got me correct. NO TOILET.

I took a 2 hour mangroove tour which include Gua Kelawar (bring your own torchlight) & a floating restaurant (Amin Floating Restaurant, very expensive). Too haste. Should have taken 3 hour tour instead.

One of the better attractions is the cable car rides. For this, you'll need at least 3 hours to enjoy the view, steps, walks, pictures & go in the morning. However, the photo taken by those staff @ first station cost RM25. Too expensive. My advice, take your own group photos, as many as you like & all free.

I stayed @ Casa Fina Fine Homes. An entire bungalow with 3 rooms, living room, kitchen & car porch. Cheaper than renting 3 rooms. Suitable for families or groups up to 6 pax.

Finally, all toilets (except your own rooms) are chargeable @ RM0.50 per pax or RM1 / pax in Tasik Dayang Bunting. The toliets @ the jetty were not open before our departure @ 9:30a.m. Reason - the staff with the key still has not arrive...!!!!???

JB & Renée

Monday 27th of May 2019

@Soh Huk Lin: Thanks for all the tips! :D