With our new recruits Emily and Lois, my friends from home we explored Malaysia’s island, Langkawi, surrounded by the Andaman sea for 4 nights. So if you’re looking for things to do in Langkawi, you’ve come to the right spot.
I didn’t realise that Langkawi, instead of just one island, is an archipelago made up of 99 islands in total… there’s a fun fact for you, which i’m sure Emily will enjoy the most as an avid fun fact of the day app user.
Langkawi has an International Airport which is small but handy to fly into. We flew to Singapore from here, at which point the pouring rain was seeping through a lot of roof tiles, thankfully not in the waiting area.
Instead, to get to Langkawi we paid 70 RM for a cramped, warm 3 hour ferry from Penang’s Swettenham pier with Super Fast Ferries.
Explore the Beaches
As an island ~30km off the North-West coast of Malaysia one thing we couldn’t not do is beach hop!
Cenang is the main beach area in Langkawi, it’s where we stayed and where the majority of the touristic restaurants are located and has a night market each Thursday with some great street food to try. It’s definitely not lacking water sports to get involved in. One thing it is lacking is restaurants/bars set on the beach, instead the majority of them are located on the road behind the beach, not taking advantage of the beautiful views.
The view of Pulau Rebak Kecil and Pulai Rebak Besar islands just off the coast makes Cenang actually a beautiful beach. The sand was hard to lie on but the views more than made up for it with mount Chinchang looming over the Western side.
We stopped off at black beach on the north of the island. It’s name got my hopes up but it’s more of a ‘marble beach’ than black. Especially when we compared it to the black beach Emily went to in Iceland. Here’s hoping we can find one in Bali just as cool!
Geologically, other than the presence of volcanic material, I have no idea why the beach is marble black, but I’m going to stick with the local folklore explanation; because of the outcome of an ancient civil war between the Land Kingdom and the Underwater Kingdom. As with most stories, it started with a mermaid princess running away with the prince of the Land Kingdom. The black in the sand is meant to be the burn marks from all the wood the Land Kingdom burnt to trick the Underwater Kingdom of the size of it’s army. Now that’s much better than any volcanic interference!
Tanjung Rhu West Beach
The only name I can find for the beach where Scarborough fish and chips is, is Tanjung Rhu (which I talk about more below). That means Tanjung Rhu is pretty huge and both the east and west are a lot different. The water at Tanjung Rhu West beach isn’t as clear as the east but the views are pretty great.
There are also some very cute villas on the beach if you’re interested. The only downside is the view of the prominent cement plant to the left.
We spent a short time on the East side of Kok beach for sunset and it’s a great spot. This part was very near the harbour and while it was nice to look out into the boats and watch the locals kayaking at dusk, I wouldn’t recommend swimming in the water here like the little boy we saw was. Instead, during the day head to the West side of the long, Kok beach.
Tanjung Rhu East
I think it’s safe to say Tanjung Rhu (I’ll call this one East Tanjung Rhu) was all of our favourite beach. It’s the beach that shows up when you google “the best beaches in Langkawi” and it sure deserves the title!
It’s almost sheltered in a bay and seems to look out onto islands but really the mainland loops around with limestone karsts jutting out in the distance and other small islands covered in forest. It was beautiful.
We went on two occasions, one late afternoon when the tide was out; It was crazy to see how far out people were standing. The second time we got there just before midday, the tide was in and the weather thankfully was a lot sunnier!
The sand was really soft and white, while the sea wasn’t the clearest it was so nice to swim in. Watch out for the stingers! The first time we swam Lois, Alex and I all felt like we were being pin pricked on our chest, legs and arms. The second and third time I went for a dip it was completely fine and I remember floating there and thinking how lucky I was that this was my lifestyle!
That’s all the beaches we had time for in 3.5 days (still not half bad!) but Pantai Tengah beach is supposed to be a quieter Pantai Cengai and one you might be able to add to your ‘beach hopping’ list.
On a rainy morning we decided to utilise the car and head to a waterfall. Langkawi has more than a few waterfalls with Temurun being the tallest.
It really was tall! Only a 5 minute walk from the car park we spent quite a bit of time paddling in the cool, fresh water plunge pool of Temurun. Watching the local teenage boys scour the jagged rock up the waterfall to new jumping points was fun but a little nervy when they jumped off!
It wasn’t the most spectacular waterfall we’ve seen as in August we were just heading into rainy season but it was so pretty, especially when looking up at how the light caught the spray at the top of the waterfall. This is one place you should not miss.
Tickets for the SkyCab in Langkawi need to be purchased as a package. The cheapest package was for 55 RM each and it included the SkyCab, dinosaur experience (whattt??), Sky Dome and 3D Museum. The sky bridge at the top station of the SkyCab was an extra 5 RM per person. As we pulled up we also saw one of the shy dusky leaf monkeys (like we did in Taiping) in trees at the edge of the car park, so look out for them!
The SkyCab is the steepest cable car in the world and it’s pretty easy to tell why as you ascend almost vertically up to the forested peaks.
The views from Gunung Machinchang are truly amazing and we all know how much I love a good view!
If you’re feeling up to it there’s also the SkyTrex adventure (that’s not T-Rex but I can understand how you might get confused) nearby that you can check out.
At the top of Gunung Machinchang is the worlds longest free span, curved bridge.
Costing an extra 5 RM, it’s definitely worth the money. The steps down take you through a ‘nature walk’ for around 5/10 minutes, on the way down that is. We wondered what the point was in advertising a sky lift costing an additional 10 RM (another money making machine, we guessed). But we soon ate our words as we were walking back up the steps in the heat. Still, it wasn’t necessary, just be prepared to get sweaty.
The views from the skywalk are amazing of the island.
Stupidly, while me and Alex ate our homemade, soggy cheese butties on a bench outside the restaurant Lois and Emily were eating at, we threw away our SkyCab wristbands. We only later realised we needed them to get into the 3D Museum…
So this recommendation is from Emily and Lois who spent 15-20 minutes in the museum and loved it. We were definitely jealous after seeing their pictures!
Emily’s Top Tip: don’t forget to stand on the markers at each photo.
Scarborough Fish and Chips
Fish and chips is one of Alex’s most missed British dishes (even though there’s a lot) so when we saw there was a restaurant called Scarborough Fish and Chips it’s safe to say he was keen to go.
On arriving to see the 26 RM price for a fried dory and chips, he decided against it (that man has will power) and instead joined me on the beautiful beach the restaurant looks out onto as we ate another lunch of soggy cheese butties (i’m still not complaining, I don’t know about Alex though!). Luckily for us the portion sizes were big so Lois and Emily kindly left us practically a full meal which we both polished off… I would highly recommend this spot!
Explore Langkawi’s Rice Paddies
Langkawi doesn’t just have beaches. We stayed in the rice paddies near Cenang Beach and they are so beautiful. The water buffalo laze around in the fields with their white, Great Egret friends.
It’s also an amazing place for sunset with the backdrop of the Gunung Machinchang mountains.
The sunrises aren’t too bad either! Thankfully I only had to walk to our patio for this one. Our AirBnB, Halia Village, nestled into Langkawi’s fields and rice paddies just north of Pantai Cenang was great.
With the risk of Dengue and Japanese Encephalitis, if you’re worried about mosquitoes, make sure you bring plenty of Deet… Skin So Soft won’t cut this one.
For £25 off your first AirBNB stay you can click here.
Kilim Karst GeoForest Park
Where the river joins the sea at Tanjung Rhu beach is one of the most stunning places and when the tide is high at Tanjung Rhu the river turns a sparkling blue. We didn’t stop for a picture but I wish we had. Make sure you watch your motorbikes if you’re in the area as there are some pesky macaques.
While this wasn’t Kilim Karst GeoForest Park, it’s not far and one thing we didn’t do was take a boat ride through Kilim Park. If we ever visit again it will definitely be on my list!
Telega Harbour is home to the Yacht club in Langkawi and it’s an amazing (although smelly in parts) place to spend some time. Some of the boats are seriously huge and there’s some nice, quiet bars which we didn’t get chance to try overlooking the harbour.
Perdana Quay Lighthouse
After driving past probably the best sunset spot overlooking Telega Harbour with the lighthouse, yachts and Gunung Machinchang mountain in the back, we decided that it wasn’t for us after the jungle mafia were sat there waiting. Jungle Mafia is the term for pesky Asian macaques! There was even a tag on Maps.Me named “Monkey Spot”.
The lighthouse is really beautiful and still in operation. It’s a great place for sunset and it made a perfect ending to our Langkawi adventure.
Lots of Pocket-sized love,