or at least that’s how it’s promoted by giant government sponsored billboards and tour agencies. Let me paint a picture for you. We came to Malaysia originally to look for jobs but seeing that there would be at least a week where all the schools would be closed we started looking around for a place to visit. The southern Perhentian islands or a trip Borneo were way over budget so were we able to narrow down our options to Pangkor island, Penang island and Langkawi island. After some research, we decided to go with Langkawi island as it frequently came up as a place where folks went to party on the beach and have fun dancing and partying which sounded pretty attractive to us.
To get to Langkawi from Kuala Lumpur we decided to take a bus from the TBS (50RM each)and a ferry from Kuala Perlis (18RM each) to see more of the landscape. It was also half the cost of flying. Note that this isn’t always the case, sometimes local airlines Firefly and MalindoAir will have lower prices, even lower than the bus and ferry combo. The bus take between 7 and 8 hours to get from the TBS to Kuala Perlis and there aren’t any toilets on the buses. There will be a stop at one of the rest stations about halfway through your trip, but I would still advise not to drink too much fluids, just to be safe. Some buses have wifi and electrical outlets, but you should ask for those types of buses when buying your tickets.
After we got off the ferry at Kuah jetty in Langkawi we decided to walk to our lodge because of all the taxi drivers that were trying way too hard to get us to go with them – their behavior made us really suspicious hence the decision to walk.
The Bougainvillea Inn is a nice, clean, budget property not too far from the jetty but it is pretty easy to miss the road leading to it at night. Langkawi has street lights, but they are not the best placed nor are the roads the best made for pedestrians. Still, it was a pretty cool experience getting lost (even with our heavy backpacks) and stopping for iced coffee and tea at a local food stall. We stayed there for three nights and were able to visit a few places on that side of the island, plus a nice night market.
To get around Langkawi is not the easiest as there seems to be no public buses and taxis are expensive in Malaysia, but probably more so in Langkawi – I’d only heard this from our landlord at the Bougainvillea Inn, I can’t say for sure as we never took any. We did rent a scooter for 40Rm for the first day then 35Rm for four further days from an agency on the jetty. Later we found out that in the Pantai Cenang area one could rent a scooter for 30Rm. Oh well.
Some of places we were able to visit when we stayed in Kuah included the Lucky Temple, Tanjung Rhu private beach and the night market. We also had dinner one night at the famous Wonderland seafood restaurant. A quick note on the beaches in Langkawi – none of them have clear water! In the Andaman Sea there are very very few places on islands other than the main, easy to access ones, that have clear water! (There is a rumour of one beach near Datai bay that has clear water but we did not have time to visit it).
All that being said, the Tanjung Rhu private beach is nice and clean with calm waters, great for swimming and kayaking. To get there just take the route to the public beach. Once you see the public beach keep going straight, past the four seasons hotel and after about five minutes you’ll come to a fork in the road and a security booth with a guard booth. Approach the security booth, you will sign an agreement that you’re going to the private beach and not going to litter and cause a ruckus. Then just cotinue along the road and after another few minutes you’ll see the river on your left and the beach a little further up ahead on the right. The beach is open from 9am to 5pm everyday. You may even see monkeys on your way there or on your way back like we did!
After exploring Kuah we headed over to Pantai Cenang for a few nights. We stayed at a family freindly place called Pemandangan Indah Guest House for one night. There’s a nice garden and a fair view of the ocean as well. After we moved on to the Rainbow Lodge and Cafe. I have mixed feelings about this place – the people we met there are great, I was really happy to meet them all. However the room itself was a little bit of a trial for me as we booked the cheaper option of a fan-cooled room, with no hot water and a toilet that did not flush well. The sheets were a cool travel theme but they were old and were rough from having been in washing machines one to many times. The thing that probably got to me the worst was the wall, which was dirty from previous guests having wiped….stuff… (I assumed boogers, yuck) on them. Each room does come with it’s own sitting area outside with chairs and a little table and a hammock – those were big pluses as I love me a hammock 🙂
Pantai Cenang itself is not a terrible beach. There are a lot of people during the late afternoon so a better time to visit is during the night, after dinner and a few beers or cocktails. Be prepared to spend more for food and water than alochol. Alcohol isn’t taxed on Langkawai so it’s one of the more resonably priced things on the island and on the popular Pantai Cenang.
As for the parties on the beach – not so much organized as just you and a group of people you meet at a hostel or bump into at the beach just hanging out and having fun. I would recommend a night swim under a full moon, just go even if you went to the beach without your swimwear! The water is rougher around that time but it’s quite shallow and you can enjoy calmer water if you go a little further in, away from where the waves break. It’s truly romantic to be able to gaze at a full moon as you float on the ocean…better if you got good company ;).