Picturesque Langkawi is comprised of a group of 99 islands, and instantly evokes images of paradise for many of its visitors. The island is located in the Andaman sea, 30km from the mainland port of Kuala Perlis. Pulau Langkawi is a serious tourism hotspot in Malaysia and with its stunning views, white beaches and crisp waters you can see why; the archipelago of islands also makes for some great daytrips. Since 1986, the main island has been a duty-free zone, meaning there are plenty of bargains available here for the savvy shopper.

Langkawi 2Awana Porto Malai Resort, Tengah

Places to stay:

Kuah: Staying at the port of Kuah is easy and simple, it’s where you get off the boat from the mainland and is teeming with cheap accommodation for backpackers on a budget on this sometimes expensive island. It is also arguably the best place to rent motorbikes or cars on the island.

Cenang: Just a 10 minute taxi-ride south of Langkawi airport, Cenang has a great beach and is by far the most sociable place on the island, with packed-out pubs and restaurants lining the streets.

Cenang Beach Langkawi 2Cenang Beach – probably the best place to stay for the backpacker!

The north of the island: There are tons of fantastic resorts on the far north of the island, but they’ll cost you for their slightly more scenic and relaxed atmosphere.

Things to do:

  • Hand-feed sharks on Pulau Payar: The island is a rough hours boat ride away from the main island, but is rich with marine life. Many tourists coax sharks roaming nearby to feed and you can go on loads of diving trips, some down to see the blooming coral growing on deep sea wreckages.
  • Head to the ‘Island of the Pregnant Maiden’: The second largest island of the group, Pulau Dayang Bunting provides visitors with a unique experience of deep fresh and salt water lakes, thought by the locals to aid conception. You can even rent paddle boats to see the quiet, scenic lakes at your own pace.
  • Try a Langkawi speciality at Tanjung Rhu: The last place in the area to get the traditional Langkawi dish ‘mee gulung’, due to the growing expense of the key ingredient – tiger prawns.
  • Take Langkawi’s only cable car: From the otherwise tacky Oriental Village, you can take the island’s only cable car, where you can walk across the stunning Sky-walkway for a unique view of the cluster. The cable car is a 20 minute journey, across 2.2km and brings you over a 360 degree view of the Andaman sea, 708m above sea level.
  • Secluded Tanjung Rhu and the waterfalls: Tanjung Rhu is a scenic, secluded northern beach nestled in mangrove forests, and great for a chilled in the sun. 5km from here, you can also head up to Perangin waterfalls, which never run dry.

Getting there:

Loads of airlines in the area service Langkawi airport, and it’s also easily accessible from the mainland port of Kuala Perlis- with boats operating on the hour. You can also hop across on a ferry from Georgetown, Penang.

Where to go next:

Penang: You can get a boat from the main jetty across to Georgetown to explore the multicultural haven that is Penang.

Cameron Highlands: Head south-east across from the mainland to hit the Cameron Highlands, deep within Peninsular Malaysia, to enjoy the peace and tranquillity provided by this scenic area.

Photos in this article by Patrick Lowe from his ebook ‘Langkawi Backpacker’.