Pulau Langkawi – Island paradise, shopping haven, and the Jewel of Kedah.

Located some 30km off the coast of northwestern Malaysia, the island of Langkawi is home to a magnificent array of natural splendour. Whether you’re an avid diver, nature enthusiast, or even in a relaxing holiday mood, this duty-free island has it all.

What makes this tiny island stand out from the rest? It’s cheap!

Image via alpha.net.my

Other “paradise” islands may offer similar experiences, but safe to say, they’re not that budget-friendly. So if you’re looking for a budget destination for your next trip, Langkawi has the best bang for your buck.

Getting There

Images via langkawi-info.com, langkawi-ferry.com

There are two ways to get to the island – by sea or by air. Depending on whether you have the extra budget for the flight, we’d recommend travelling by air as it saves some of your precious holiday time.

Image via langkawiferryline.com

But if you’re willing to put up with crowds, by all means, take the ferry. The Langkawi Jetty Point connects the island to main destinations such as Kuala Kedah, Kuala Perlis, and Penang. On the other hand, the Kuah Jetty has ferries that can also take you to Satun town in Thailand.

Price range per trip: Anywhere from RM18.00 to RM118.00 for adults, and depending on your departure point.

Image via langkawi-info.com

Otherwise, if you would like to avoid potential sea-sickness, flying by air is the best choice for you. There are numerous airlines flying into the island daily.

Images via trekearth.com, klia2.info

In particular, Malaysian Airlines (MAS) and AirAsia operate daily flights to the island from Kuala Lumpur. Fret not, international travellers. MAS has international flights from various destinations to the island.

However, if you’re looking for budget options AirAsia is the way to go. The low-cost airline is one of the best in the world so you’re definitely going to get the best deals from them.

On the other hand, visitors from Singapore can use SilkAir which also flies direct to Langkawi.

Average price per trip: RM75.00 onwards flying from Kuala Lumpur (KL), RM160 to RM200 flying from Singapore.

Accommodation

Images via langkawi-info.com, booking.com, conciergetraveller.com.au

As with any other resort island, Langkawi is choked full of hotels and beach resorts. Though not all are easy on the wallet (some can go up to more than RM1,000.00 per night). If you’re looking for cheaper accommodation, we’d recommend Airbnb to get the best offers.

Images via holidaygogogo.com, agoda.com

Alternatively, there are a lot of budget hotels scattered throughout the island. Check out Nadias Hotel Cenang Langkawi or Royal Agate Beach Resort for some great accommodation options. The best thing is, you don’t have to worry about the locale. Everything is nearby in Langkawi!

Price of accommodation: From as low as RM42.00 per night.

Transport

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Transportation around the island is a breeze (no pun intended) even with the lack of a public transportation option. Your main choices to explore the island are taking a taxi, hiring a driver or renting a vehicle.


Image via plannedtraveller.com

Taxis on the island have proper pick-up points with price lists, so you don’t have to worry about being short-changed. Though, if taxis aren’t to your liking then hiring a driver could work for you. Some island tours even come with a guided tour driver, which is the better choice if you’re already planning on hiring one anyway.

Images via Pexels


But, we personally think that renting a motorbike or scooter is the most cost-effective way of exploring Langkawi. It doesn’t cost much to rent, and filling it up is cheap as well. You don’t have to worry about driving in Langkawi either. The population on the island is not that high so odds are, the roads are almost always traffic free.

Price of renting a motorbike: Starting from RM30.00 per day.


What to do


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When it comes to attractions in Langkawi, there’s so much to do on the island (too much for us to cover I’m afraid). Nevertheless, here are some of the best things you can do cheaply in Langkawi.


Island Hopping


Images via klook.com, langkawi-info.com, kualalumpurcitytour.com, travelsifu.com


Langkawi is actually the largest island out of 99 islands in the archipelago. Most of these islands are also uninhabited. So if you’re an island lover, you’ll definitely want to go for a ride on the open seas while you’re here.

In fact, island hopping is the most popular activity to do in Langkawi. Many of the neighbouring islands are mostly underdeveloped. Nevertheless, they’re the place to be immersing yourself in nature, if you’re into that.


Images via Flickr, langkawi-info.com, backpackerbible.org


A whole assortment of natural wonders can be found on the nearby islands. These include mangroves, caves, and rainforest canopy. Of note, do make a trip to the Bat Cave (not the vigilante billionaire kind) for an unforgettable bat-viewing experience.

If you’re down for it, you can get half-day or full-day excursions to these islands. You can find tour agencies throughout the island offering these tours.

Depending on the type of tour, prices could range from RM90.00 to more than RM1,000.00 per adult.


Explore + Experience


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We’d definitely recommend this one, especially if you’ve followed our earlier advise of renting a scooter. Feeling the cool, island breeze on your face is indeed an enjoyable experience. And is a low-cost experience too.

Once you’re on the road, just keep driving while taking in the sights. You’ll eventually move away from the hustle and bustle of the lively town of Kuah and the touristy Pantai Cenang.

And not to worry, there’s definitely plenty to do down the road while you’re exploring the island.

 

Cable Car & Sky Bridge


Images via panoramalangkawi.com


One of Langkawi’s most popular attractions, there’s often a very long wait to get on the cable car. The steep ride up Mount Mat Cincang is an out-of-this-world experience in itself. And once the cable car gets going it can get a little chilly, so remember to bring your jackets!


Image via langkawi-info.com


Some of the views you can get from this journey include those of the Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls and the rainforest below.

Once at the top, the Langkawi Sky Bridge awaits. Located some 2,300 feet above sea level, the 410-foot-long bridge is a sight to behold. And that’s not even including the panoramic views you get once you’ve step foot on the bridge itself.


Image via bridgeinfo.net


For those with a fear of heights, it’s a test of bravery. For everyone else, it’s a marvellous experience that you can’t get anywhere else. The bridge itself is a wonder of engineering and is completely safe. At 1.8m wide, the bridge has two triangular platforms that you can use to rest and admire the view.


Image via nodestinations.com


However, the true highlight of this Sky Bridge is traversing the curved steel bridge across Mount Mat Cincang. Why? Well, the cable bridge is actually curved around a single support. This makes it a hair-raising and worthwhile experience in our eyes.

Photo ops are aplenty, and the cold winds are definitely a welcoming feeling. There are also a few souvenir and food stalls near the cable car if you’re looking to do some shopping.

The price of normal cable car tickets starts from RM30.00 to RM55.00.


Dataran Lang

Image via langkawi-info.com


Otherwise known as Eagle Square, the giant eagle sculpture found here is one of the most recognizable man-made monuments on the island. The sight of the 12m tall statue that greets you when disembarking from the ferry is honestly one of the best ways to get your holiday started.


Image via langkawi-info.com


Besides the impressive statue, Dataran Lang also has plenty of views which offer the camera trigger-happy tourist opportunities for those picture-perfect holiday photos. The square is also a good place to ferry-watch but keep in mind that the heat could be unbearable in the afternoon. Instead, plan an early morning or late evening trip when the sun is at its least intense.


Image via videoblocks.com


Who knows? You might even get an awesome pic of the sunset.


Telaga Tujuh Waterfall


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Also known as the Seven Wells Waterfall, this splendid natural attraction is located in the northwest corner of the island. Be warned though, the waterfalls are a fair distance away from the popular Pantai Cenang and Kuah town. You’ll still be able to reach them via motorbike, albeit taking a longer time. So plan your itinerary with that in mind.

There will be two main viewing areas at the waterfalls for you to admire the gushing waters flowing down from above. If you’d like to get a closer look, there’s a short trail that you can take to the lower area of the falls. Don’t worry, it only takes about 10 minutes to get through the steep trail from the parking lot.


Image via naturallylangkawi.my


Once you’re there though, your efforts will be greatly rewarded. There’s nothing quite like getting a first-person-view of the mighty falls. Feeling a bit light headed? You can stick your head under the falls to cool off!

Moreover, adventurous and fit visitors can brave the steep climb to the top of the waterfalls. The journey will take you about 45 minutes. Along the way, make sure to keep an eye out for the curious wildlife such as squirrels and hornbills.


Images via langkawi-info.com


Upon arrival, you’ll find seven pools that you can take a quick dip in. Of course, if safety is a concern to you, just stay away from the edges. Believe us, it’s actually safer than it sounds.

And if you aren’t too tired after your waterfall adventures, you can head over to the Langkawi cable car nearby. The journey would only take you about 15 minutes by foot.

Parking fee: RM2.00

Entrance fee: None (unless you consider your body fat)


Underwater World


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Another one of Langkawi’s well-known attractions, Underwater World is located at the southern end of Pantai Cenang. The giant aquarium is best suited for ocean enthusiasts and families. Furthermore, it’s the only attraction that you can go to without having to be exposed to the intense UVs of the Malaysian climate.

Additionally, the aquarium is the largest in the country. It houses more than 200 different species of marine and freshwater fish. Some inhabitants of the aquarium include harbour seals, rockhopper penguins, sharks, giant rays, and the enormous Amazonian arapaima. The latter being the biggest freshwater fish in the world.


Image via fishyology.com


You’ll get to see these majestic and massive fishies in medium-sized tanks near the entrance of the aquarium.

Images via langkawirentacar.com, Flickr, travelog.com


Other than that, we’d say that the highlight of your visit would be the Sub-Antarctic section of the Underwater World. Here you’ll find the adorable rockhopper and black-footed penguins, which understandably attracts huge crowds.

Price of entry: RM36.00 for local adults, RM26.00 for children


Shopping


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Being a duty-free island, you can expect Langkawi to attract shopaholics the world over. Not only that, the tax exemption applies to almost everything you can buy on the island. Alcohol, chocolate, cosmetics, and so on are just some of the more popular tax-free items. But, you should also keep in mind that you can only buy certain items in limited quantities. For instance, you can only bring up to 1L of alcohol and up to 200 cigarettes from Langkawi to KL. However, you’re required to stay a minimum of 48 hours in Langkawi beforehand.

That being said, you can still buy any amount of non-limited items.

There are a lot of duty-free shops on the island that sell a variety of items. You could shop at convenience stores or shopping malls, you’ll see that most are quite affordable. Though the cheapest things would be at Kuah town.

Here are some of the best places to shop in Langkawi:

  1. The Zon Shopping Paradise
  2. Jetty Point Complex
  3. Cenang Mall
  4. Coco Valley – Underwater World Langkawi
  5. Langkawi Fair Shopping Mall

Markets


Images via langkawi-info.com, thesmith-house.com, thelostguides.com, theadventuresofmisspiggy.blogspot.com


On the other end of the spectrum, night markets in Langkawi are also a great place to enjoy a shopping (food) spree.

The night markets on the island are a blend of locals and tourists alike. Typically, patrons arrive around sunset to enjoy the cheap and tasty food. Fabulous local treats can also be bought dirt cheap here.


Images via migrationology.com, langkawi-info.com, dobbernationloves.com, livingnomads.com


To add to that, you can even get some famous local offerings in the markets. There won’t be that many places to sit and enjoy your meal though. But, we’d like to think that devouring your food while in the midst manoeuvring the busy market gives great insight into the lives of the locals.

The night market is held in a different location on the island each night. The markets in Kuah and Pantai Cenang are probably the largest and most popular. We definitely recommend arriving early to beat the crowds during peak season.


Conclusion


As you can see, there’s plenty to do on this tiny paradise island called Langkawi. From shopping to sightseeing, and even having tons of foodgasms, there’s definitely something for everyone. Most importantly, anything you could ever want on the island is quite affordable if you know where to look.

Indeed, Pulau Langkawi is a destination fit for not only the budget conscious but also the travel savvy.