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Langkawi officially known as Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah (Malay: Langkawi Permata Kedah) is an archipelago of 99 islands (an extra 5 temporary islands are revealed at low tide) in the Andaman Sea, some 30 km off the mainland coast of northwestern Malaysia.
Langkawi is a duty-free area.
Langkawi International Airport (LGK) is located at Padang Matsirat, on the northwestern part of the island. In 2008, it handled 1.2 million passengers. The vast majority of shops and eateries are located BEFORE security and immigration, so don't go airside until your flight is called. There is free airport Wi-Fi. There are no airbridges, so in the event of rain, the airline will supply umbrellas for the walk to the plane.
The following airlines offer service to/from Langkawi: Tigerair, SilkAir from Singapore, AirAsia to Singapore, Penang and KLIA, Malaysia Airlines, Malindo Airlines to KLIA, Firefly to KL's Subang airport and Penang.
Direct flights are available to Langkawi from Penang, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hat Yai, and Phuket.
Langkawi Ferry operates fast A/C boats from Kuala Perlis (RM18, 75 min), Kuala Kedah (RM23, 105 min), Penang (RM70, 165 min) (the ferry is freezing cold, so bring warm clothes), and Satun (RM30 or THB300, 75 min, last boat departs 4PM). Bookings can be made online, but the ticket needs to be printed out. This can be done at the terminal for RM1 per ticket. The terminal is at Kuah Jetty, near Eagle square, in Langkawi.
Tropical Charters operates ferries from Kuah Jetty in Langkawi to Koh Lipe twice per day during the high season (until 19th of April 2015) at 9.30am and 2.30pm from Langkawi and 11am and 4pm from Koh Lipe. During the low season, from April 20th 2015 to the 19th of May 2015, the company only has morning trips. After the 19th of May 2015, the ferry stops running until October 2015. Price is RM118 one way (RM100 if you book online), including the longtail boat transfer and Thai custom fees. Check in is at the inner entrance of the Jetty Point Food Court, opposite 7/11, 1 hour before departure. The trip takes 90 minutes. Arrival in Lipe is at the Bundhaya Resort.
Telaga Harbour operates a ferry to Ko Lipe, Thailand twice per day during the high season, at 9:30AM and 2:30PM (RM128 1-way, RM248 return, 75 min). These ferries dock at a pontoon in Pattaya Bay from where there is longtail transfers to immigration on Pattaya Beach. Bookings can be made online.
Health and Safety tip: There are only ferries on the route since March 2014. Speedboats are not allowed!
There is effectively no public transport on the island, so your choices are to use taxis or to rent a car, motorbike/scooter, or bicycle.
A taxi from the Airport to Pantai Cenang costs RM20 (Aug 2015). You can buy a coupon at the taxi desk in the airport. From the ferry terminal to Pantai Cenang the price is RM30 (March 2016). For those arriving at the Kuah Jetty and going into Kuah Town, the price is RM8 or RM44 to Oriental Village across the island.
All taxis work to a fixed price system, a fare from one part of the island to another is always the same price. This system results in higher prices, but very few problems since the taxi drivers are paid well enough and do not try and rip off tourists or participate in any of the dodgier shenanigans seen elsewhere in South East Asia. The result is a reliable and trustworthy, but more expensive taxi system.
One of the taxi stops is on Pantai Cenang next to the tourist information and prices to different desitation are shown.
By car or motorbike/scooter
Renting a car or motorbike/scooter is highly recommended due to lack of public transport. This can now be done at the airport from the departure lounge, and the rate is reasonable, 50 RM for a small car) and also from the port complex (Jetty), or from shops on Pantai Cenang. Refrain yourself from renting from touts, as many are operating illegally without permits and usually without insurance.
Renting an air-conditioned mid-sized sedan costs RM70-RM150 per day (depending on model, condition and length of stay) and a 150 cc motorbike/scooter costs RM40 to RM45 per day. Cheaper but usually very used and older are the semi-automatic 115 cc bikes for RM25 a day. A tired Proton with in Pantai Cenang maybe around RM60-90/day. Most of rental agency will not provide full insurance coverage and you have to cover the damage upto RM3000 if there is any accident. Recommended to rent a motorbike if you dont have heavy luggage, roads are in good condition and safe to drive a bike.
Remember to have regularly check on your fuel level, petrol pump stations, (gas stations) are far from one another (~10 km). However, rental agencies do not care much about how much fuel is in the tank when the vehicle is returned so do not spend more on fuel than you have to. Fuel costs RM2.10 a litre and you should return the bikes with the same filling level as you picked it up. Some rentals do check the level and mark it when you sign the slip.
Remember to drive safely and slowly on the island and on the left side of the road. There are tourists, children and animals like chickens, cows and even buffaloes crossing. Take care not to run over the beautiful snakes or monitors. Cattle and snakes like to lie on the road at night; the blacktop radiates heat.
What to see
Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls aka Seven Wells, (Gunung Mat Cincang, Northwest corner of the island, 45 kms from Kuah, walking distance from Oriental village and cable car (10 min). This waterfall is named after the seven natural pools along its path. Legend has it that fairies used to come down to the pools to bathe and frolic. There are 2 viewing areas at Telaga Tujuh. The lower area is at the base of the waterfall and the higher area is where the 7 pools are. You can bathe in the pools and even slide down the slick rock between them. Be warned, to get to the 7 pools, you have to climb 350+ steps which can get quite slippery when wet. It is safe to swim in the pools and water flow is not very strong. There is also a jungle trekking course available at the site which will lead you through a trail of up to 2,500 m, up 2 different mountains. This trail is achievable with slippers, but it is best to wear comfortable hiking shoes or boots as some segments of the trail are nearly vertical. Be warned that these trails are not recommended for family trips.
Cable Car. A cable car which goes to the top of a hill with a good view of Pantai Cenang. RM45 for foreigners (as of May 2016), beware during peak times you may have to queue for up to 2 hours. The SkyBridge is at the top station of cable car which can be reached using an elevator/cabin on a track (SkyGlide, RM15 for foreigners as of May 2016) or through a small forest trail (closed for renovation as of May 2016). If are going to Genting Highland and really interested in riding cable car and don't want to spend RM30, better to take cable ride (3.5 KM long) in Genting Highland (RM7). edit
Gunung Raya, (take the snaking paved road through the jungle). The tallest mountain on the island, at 881m. Spectacular views from the lookout point on the top.
Crocodile Adventureland, Jalan Datai, Mk. Ayer Hangat (on the way to Teluk Datai). Daily, 9AM-6PM, Show Time: Daily at 11.15am & 2:45PM, hourly feedings. Over 1,000 crocodiles and alligators. Witness a boxing match of man vs crocodile, or take a ride in a rickshaw drawn by a crocodile. this attraction will not be enjoyed by some visitors, the crocodiles are inbred and deformed.
Laman Padi Rice Garden, (northern end of Pantai Cenang, opposite Casa Del Mar Hotel). Rice fields and nice landscaping. Museum in English details process of cultivating rice. It's worth trying to get a guided tour as the information provided are very interesting. Free.
What to do
None of the beaches have very clear water (most of the time can't see your feet while swimming). For swimming in clear water, the best bet is Tanjung Rhu or Pasir Tengkorak.
Pantai Cenang - The most popular beach in Langkawi, features fine powdery sand and many beachfront restaurants and bars. Located at the south-western tip of the island, 2 km long. This is also the busiest beach on island with jet-skis, banaboats etc. watersports. Along the beach there is market where you can find all type of shops (free duty, tour, bars etc)& restaurants. Unfortunately jellyfish are common here.
Pantai Tengah - Located just south of and contiguously with Pantai Cenang. 1 km long. Means ‘Middle Beach’. Peaceful and tranquil alternative to the hustle and bustle of Pantai Cenang. Jellies are found here also. All inclusive resorts popular with families.
Pantai Kok - Isolated, relatively undisturbed stretch of beach in the western part of Langkawi Island, 12km north of Pantai Cenang. Telaga Harbour as well cable-car ride to the peak of Mat Cincang Mountain and the Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls are located here.
Tanjung Rhu - northernmost tip of the island. Centuries-old limestone caves, mangroves, waterways, limestone crags and sandy beaches make it a nature lover's paradise. This beach is made up of 2 long stretches that include Tanjong Rhu Resort and Four Seasons. Restaurants, toilets, mangrove tours and sun chairs available.
Datai Bay - The most expensive resorts are located here.
Burau Bay - Beach lined with rocky outcrops located at the West Coast of Langkawi. Nearby Burau island is also a roosting place for migratory birds.
Pantai Pasir Hitam - Means ‘Black Sand’. The sand is mixed in white and black shades, due to rich tin and iron ore deposits. Tour buses stop here; souvenirs, restaurants, toilets available. During low tide you can explore the beach further west and find very tranquil spots for relaxing.
Pasir Tengkorak - Also called "skull beach". Very beautiful small beach in the North of the island. Water is clear here. No proper restaurant, drinks & snacks available at the parking lot. No public toilets.