After not loving the Perhentian Islands, I was unsure what to expect as we cruised into Kuah, Langkawi.
It was our last stop in Malaysia and we were here for 10 days, before we passed through customs once more and ferried over to our next port-of-call: Thailand. Langkawi was another place of which I had heard very mixed opinions, so I wasn't sure whether I'd like it or not.
After ten days on this tropical island, let me put it bluntly: people who say they do not like Langkawi are either, a) CRAZY or b) LYING.
Langkawi is P-E-R-F-E-C-T.
I may have repeated over and over to Alan that Langkawi was paradise. Perhaps I shed a tear or two as we boarded our ferry to depart 10 days later…yep, I loved Langkawi so much that I was SAD to go to Thailand. Seriously!
So why did I love Langkawi so much? Here are ten things that makes this perfect island special...
1. Roving Night Market
Langkawi has a night market that is in a different location every evening of the week. Given the island’s relatively small size (you can easily drive around it in a couple of hours), we often came across the night market after a day’s escapades.
We ate from the Roving Night Market three times, and enjoyed the variety of noodles, rice dishes, items on sticks and other snacky foods (spring rolls! donuts!) on offer. Tasty and cheap.
2. Pantai Cenang
Langkawi’s liveliest beach, Pantai Cenang, is popular for perfectly good reason. It is absolutely stunning. Do I need to say more or can I just let these photos do the talking?
Other beaches of honourable mention include Black Sand beach for a sunset stroll and the secluded Pasir Tenkorak beach for a tranquil escape.
Black Sand Beach (Pantai Pasir Hitam)
Pasir Tenkorak beach
Langkawi taught Alan and I that we are both waterfall people. Is there such a thing? We love beaches, sure, but after a couple of hours are ready to move on and do something else. At waterfalls, however, we can unknowingly spend hours.
Seven Wells Waterfall (Telaga Tujuh) was our favourite, so much so that we went back twice. You can swim at the bottom of the waterfall which is lovely (though rather busy), however it seems that not many people realise you can walk to the top of the waterfall, and literally stand at the top looking down over the waterfall below. There are different pools you can relax in, natural water slides you can coast down and a rock you can jump off.
Best of all, the cool water is a refreshing break from the island’s intense heat.
We also visited Temurun and Durian Perangin waterfalls, both of which were also pretty magical.
Durian Perangin Waterfall
The number one rule of Langkawi’s waterfalls is: watch out for the monkeys! The cheeky devils will try and steal your things, and anything within a plastic bag they will think is food. Watch your stuff and don’t leave it close to the bush. Watch yourself too - I was minding my own business eating a biscuit from a plastic wrapper when Alan yelled at me to look out for the monkey, it was creeping up behind me and within centimetres of entering my bag for some goodies!
4. Rainbow Lodge
Rainbow Lodge in Cenang was perfect for us. This budget lodge is set back from the main road so is peaceful and quiet. Our room was spacious and clean, the hammock on the front frequently used to peacefully sip a beer as the sun went down.
Turns out it’s mentioned in the Lonely Planet - we didn’t even realise it was a recommendation until we were skimming through the Langkawi section when we were already staying there!
Just down the road is the best place to start your day where we ate breakfast for most of our stay. The friendly owner chit chats with you about life, business and rugby as he prepares your food, and it is always delicious. Perhaps my biggest stress on chilled out Langkawi was whether to have the scrambled eggs on toast or the muesli/fruit/yoghurt - because both were breakfast heaven to me! (Can't recall the name of the cafe for the life of me, but its the one with the umbrellas out on the left as you head towards the main road from Rainbow Lodge, if you're interested. Only open for breakfast!)
5. Skycab Cable Car
We ummed and ached over justifying a trip up the hill on the the pricey (for us!) Langkawi Cable Car. Eventually we decided to just do it and forked over the 35 ringgit each, though perhaps only because it was so close to the Seven Wells waterfall that it justified us a second visit.
Departing from the very touristy and slightly odd ‘Oriental Village’ complex, the process to actually get on the Skycab is not simple, made especially difficult in the 30+ degree heat. We showed up around 11am and were issued a ticket for the 12.15pm boarding time. Why one needs a boarding time for a cable car (what we would call a gondola in New Zealand) of which there is a new ‘car’ coming by every 10 seconds or so is confusing.
You wait in the scorching sun for your boarding time to be called, then everyone scrambles and pushes into something resembling a queue. Slowly you weave your way through, up some stairs, wind around for another half hour or so until you reach the theatre. You’re then ushered into the theatre (which is part of your ticket) where you sit in these chairs that lean right back and watch a couple of different short 3D movies above you (I was skeptical of this but it was actually really awesome!). About 5 minutes later, thats over and you rejoin the queue for another 10 minutes or so until we finally we able to board our cable car! Let’s just say, I’m glad I took snacks.
Why you don’t just enter the queue as you buy your ticket, I don’t know…but hey, we got there in the end. And just look at what we we able to see!
If you go on the Skycab my advice would be: 1) get there when they open, 2) expect it to be confusing and difficult, 3) it takes a long time so take snacks, 4) but expect the views from the top to be worth it!
There is so much to do on Langkawi! Perhaps thats why I loved it so much more than the Perhentian Islands?
Some days we would spend ambling around Cenang with the bliss-inducing recipe of sunbathing a little, swimming a little, eating a little, then repeat over.
However, my favourite days of all were those where we hired a scooter and explored the island.
Where we veered down side roads, got lost and found ourselves again...and again. Getting lost is the best way to explore, in my opinion!
7. Scarborough Fish N' Chip Restaurant
Guys, I’m from New Zealand, where indulging in a greasy pile of fish and chips is integral to our culture! Surely it would be insensitive to my homeland if I weren’t to indulge in a giant plate of fish and chips that comes so highly recommended on TripAdvisor?
Though not remotely Malaysian in taste, these fish and chips were fantastic, on par with the incredible surrounds we were able to enjoy them in. Deliciously blissful.
Scarborough Fish N' Chip Restaurant is located on Tanjung Rhu Beach.
8. Guning Raya
The highest peak on Langkawi, we commandeered the scooter up Guning Raya one moody, misty afternoon.
Its a long and windy drive, though despite reaching the top with a numb bum and having slightly underestimated our petrol situation (we had to drift most of the way back down, oops), it was worth every moment for these views.
You can pay 10 ringgit ($4 NZ) to go up the tower for what I’m sure are spectacular 360* panoramic views, but we chose to keep our wallets happy and take in what we could from just below.
Seriously though. Langkawi’s landscapes, I just can’t get enough!
9. Blues and Greens
Everywhere I looked in Langkawi there was intense colour. Bold blues and vibrant greens, every hue nature could have possibly created. Again, I just can't get enough!
10. I felt relaxed in Langkawi.
Why yes, that’s a big deal for me!
In Langkawi I felt whole, happy, and present in the moment. I didn’t wear a watch for the first time since we started our trip. I didn’t worry about planning the day, about seeing/doing every single little thing, and about organising any future travel.
Langkawi made me feel free. Zipping around the island, wind sweeping through my hair. Sliding down waterfall rocks, not a care in the world. Easy afternoons spent writing, reading or dreaming as rain pattered down outside. In Langkawi, the days drifted by, simply.
I’ve thought about Langkawi just about every day since we left. While I’ve loved many places we have visited on this trip and other travel I’ve done, there is something about Langkawi that stole my heart.
If I had to name paradise, Langkawi would be it.
Have you visited Langkawi? Did you love it as much as I did?