The Malaysian paradise island of Langkawi is a perfect combination of white sandy beaches, clear turquoise waters, thick luscious jungle and mountainous landscapes. But the island has seen much development in recent years and is easy to reach by boat and plane at the international airport.
Map of Langkawi
1. Pantai Cenang · 2. Pantai Kok · 3. Teluk Datai · 4. Tanjung Rhu · 5. Pantai Tengah · 6. Padang Matsirat
Langkawi boasts many luxury 5-star resorts with private beaches and gardens, but there is something for everyone’s budget with clean and inviting backpacker accommodation still very popular. The island is just waiting to be explored and is best done by renting your own transport and traveling along the lush jungle roads and to the lesser known hidden beaches. Here’s a look at the most popular destinations on the island to help you decide where to stay in Langkawi:
Stay in the popular resort of Pantai Cenang along its palm-lined curved white sand beach and find yourself where all the action takes place. This is the busiest beach on the island and is packed full of people wanting to enjoy the sun, views of the clear Andaman Sea and try out one of the many water sports on offer. Accommodation in this family-friendly area is very varied, from basic backpacker beach huts, to mid-range resorts and a handful upper end, all-inclusive hotels, so there is something to suit everyone’s budget. A lot of the bigger resorts are open to the beach and have manicured gardens and beachside pool areas along with restaurants and bars.
Pantai Cenang is about a 15 minute drive from the main airport in Langkawi and is easy to reach by taxi. The area has many different cafes, restaurants and bars to choose from, many of which serving a wide range of dishes from various cultures.
Just a short walk from the main ferry terminal in Langkawi is Kuah Town. Built on reclaimed land close to the water, Kuah is the biggest town on Langkawi and is where most people will arrive on the island. The town isn’t the idyllic picture of a paradise island that you might have imagined as your boat pulls in to the dock; Kuah is more about the shopping rather than its beaches. The port town is still a good place to stay if you are looking for accommodation close to transport links and on a budget.
Kuah town itself is lined with duty-free shops which sell everything you could ever want, from perfume to tobacco and a whole lot more. Accommodation is cheaper here than on the rest of the island, but there is one five star spa resort here as well!
If you are on Langkawi to soak up the sun in luxurious surroundings then Pantai Kok is the area for you. The beach here is clean and beautiful and is perfect for those looking for some relaxation during their holiday. The high-end accommodation available in Pantai Kok comes with stunning views and beautiful attention to detail.
Nearby is the contemporary Telaga Harbour which houses everything you should need during your stay: shopping, bars and restaurants as well as amenities such as a bank and a post office. The depths of the jungle is never far away on Langkawi and nearby is the fun cable-car to the top of Mat Cincang Mountain and the Telaga Tujuh Waterfall.
Teluk Datai (or Datai Bay) is all about luxury resorts. The stunning sandy beaches and lush green of nature play home to the swanky, exclusive hideaways for those holidaymakers who don’t want to lift a finger during their holiday. Choosing to stay in one of the lavish resorts means you will have access to the wonderful facilities such as spas, quality restaurants and golf courses.
This is the kind of Malaysian resort that you simply won’t want to leave once you have arrived as the hotels here have everything you should possibly need. The nearby area doesn’t have a lot in terms of tourist attractions apart from the Langkawi Crocodile Farm. Hotels in the Datai Bay will also be able to arrange transport around the island for you to visit various tourist locations – if you can peel yourself away from your sunlounger that is!
Tanjung Rhu could secretly be the best spot on the whole of Langkawi. Along the jungle road, through the thick of the trees and on to the fine, sandy, stretch of sand that is Tanjung Rhu beach. A favourite with Malaysian visitors and even locals on the island, the beach is still and quiet with only a handful of hotels in the area.
The beachside restaurants around here are small, family-run places that serve up some of the most delicious, fresh food on the island at very reasonable prices. Enjoy discovering the local cuisine with a view of the crystal clear ocean and then after take an afternoon stroll among the soft mangrove sand.
The coastline here looks out onto bewitching karst rock formations and many places offer boat trips or guided kayak tours to discover the surrounding seas for yourself.
Just around the bay from Pantai Cenang is the more laid-back Pantai Tengah. Relaxing is the main activity here: spend your days laying on the golden sands, taking a dip in the ocean to cool off and then maybe a spot of lunch at a beachside cafe. This is the longest expanse of beach on Langkawi, which means there is plenty of room for everyone to enjoy the blissful surroundings.
The beach has a boho atmosphere and is where you will find many backpackers, who stay in one of the many budget guesthouses a little bit further inland – but still in easy walking distance to the beach. There are also beachside resorts here with their own pools and beachside bars for those who have a little more money to spend. Small bars, restaurants and shops line the main road that runs parallel to the beach and serve a range of food from Lebanese and Italian to traditional Malay curries.
Close to Langkawi International airport, you should stay in Padang Matsirat if you want to discover more about the local life on Langkawi. The area has little in way of public beaches, but does have some lovely resorts with private waterfront access. You will probably want to rent your own transport if you stay in this area so that you can travel around the various interesting sites such as the cultural Batik Art Village, the historically significant Field of Burnt Rice and, if you fancy a spot of retail therapy, the modern Air Hangat Village.
On a Sunday night Padang Matsirat holds its own night market, which is a great place to go if you are looking to sample a whole load of tasty local food, often for very low prices.