When I first heard Malaysia has islands worth exploring, I have to admit, I was a little taken back.
I’ve spent some time travelling around Malaysia, exploring Malacca, Kuala Lumper and Kuching, but beach culture was not something that would naturally first spring to mind.
In Search of an Island Paradise
I had just spend some quality time in the north of Thailand, which was mostly jungle without a beach in sight. That’s what got me interested in visiting a beach island in South East Asia. I was in search of a white sandy beach with a clear blue sea, which is an image of south east Asia I had in my head, but not yet discovered.
With a 10 day gap between my Thai visa running out and my connecting flight back to London, it was the perfect moment to explore an island.
That’s when my friends, Love and Road told me about Langkawi, a must visit island off the coast of Malaysia, I had to investigate.
An hour later, my flights were booked, and the adventure to my first island in south East Asia was about to begin!
How to get to the island of Langkawi, Malaysia
It’s affordable to reach Langkawi island by flying with Airasia from either Mainland Malaysia, Singapore or Thailand. My flight from Singapore to Langkawi then onwards to KL set me back a total of £27 which is fantastic value for money.
Alternatively, if you’re backpacking overland through Malaysia and want to pass by Penang, you can take a 4 hour boat from the city port.
Where Did I stay in Langkawi?
Soluna Guest house was recommended to me by a friend (Cheers terry!), It has a chill vibe with a handful of hammocks to choose from, it’s an easy place to meet other backpackers too. Compared to other guest houses I’ve stayed at in Malaysia, this guest house was first class and I would highly recommend it. They have affordable rates, but they don’t yet have a booking site, best to reserve your room by email. Soluna guest house is mostly always full with fantastic trip advisor ratings, so this is must, stay if you can get a room, best to act fast.
It’s a short walk to Pantai Cenang beach without the beach front prices. It’s also the closest beach to, the airport, which makes getting a taxi on your first or last day easy (Around £3 from the airport to the guest house).
Why the island of Langkawi, Malaysia is a must visit island on your next trip to South East Asia.
The island of Langkawi, Malaysia, simply blew me away, it was a fantastic choice, and I’m happy I went with my decision. It was like discover a best kept secret, this is my reason for writing up this blog and sharing with you what I discovered around this island, here is what I found worth discovering around Langkawi:
Langkawi Geo Park
Did you know that Langkawi is home to 3 UNESCO world heritage sites? No, me neither, one of the many surprises the island has to offer, it’s not just all white sandy beaches (of course it has those too!), the whole island has this incredible natural Eco system going on, which is worth discovering on some off days from your newly adopted beach bum lifestyle (of course you can still make room for that!). That’s how the island got its name: “Naturally Langkawi”.
Langkawi has many mangrove areas that you can explore by renting a chartered speed boat, either wait for a group and hitch along or get together with some friends from your guest house and rent one out for the day.
The Langkawi Mangroves were worth checking out as you can walk around the bat caves hidden within some nearby caves and also watch from a distance as eagles swoop around the surrounding Mangroves from above, wonderful to see them flying around in the wild.
Langkawi 99 islands
The local islanders will laugh with you: “no no no there are 102, I found 3 extra hidden islands just the other day” or “I can sell you one of our 99 islands no problem”, jokes aside, its truly magical to see clusters of islands all scattered around one place. The Langkawi landscape creates stunning sunsets and sunrises which will blow you out of the water. So the locals might find the 99 island punch line funny, but it’s surely not a laughing matter when you see how stunning they all are.
3D Art Gallery
Visiting art galleries and museums on my travels is not normally my cup of tea, however 3D art gallery, was something else. A team of old Korean grannies got together and painted the whole museum by hand from scratch and managed to do it all in record timing (around a few months). But still what’s so entertaining about it? It’s fully interactive, each piece requires you to take pictures to see the full effect of the illusion. With everyone going selfie stick, Yolo bat shit crazy, this new style of art gallery is for sure worth checking out.
Malaysia has some unique dishes you must try, take Laksa for example, a rich, tasty coconut gravy sauce served normally with fish or chicken accompanied with an egg, it’s not so spicy, which makes it an easy dish for visitors.
You can also eat as many Roti’s as you possibly can, they are affordable and have a wide variety to explore either for breakfast, lunch or dinner, go great with a curry sauce for dipping!
Also, don’t forget to try a Malaysian desert called ABC, It’s weird to describe, It’s shaved ice with syrup and a variety of extras sprinkled on the side, for sure worth trying, it was amazing!
Cendol is also a refreshing local drink/desert that you can be located along almost any beach front, its concentrated milk with a mixture of flavors worth giving a go for some local delights.
Sky Bridge and cable car
The Langkawi Sky Bridge is one of Langkawi’s iconic attractions, its the longest bending bridge in the world and allows you to explore and look over another one of Malaysia’s UNESCO sites.
Currently the bridge is under construction (As of May 2015) as they are currently constructing an elevator to make it easier for guests to access the sky bridge. Currently one one side is cut off, which means you have to walk along a 10-20 minute hiking trail to get to the other side of the bridge.
The hike wasn’t that much of an issue, I found it added a fun element to discovering the bridge but for some who are not in good health or unable to walk well, best to see the Langkawi sky bridge from the viewing deck at the top of the Cable car point for the time being.
The best way to get to the top of the hill is by Cable car, it’s easy to use and allows Great Panoramic views as your going up to Langkawi’s Sky Bridge, you can even take a fully made glass cable car up to the top if your brave enough and not scared of heights but want to take some awesome pictures.
Mega Water Sports, Jet Ski Tour
Exploring Lagkawi’s 99 islands from a Jet Ski is something I’ll remember forever, it was pure awesome! it was one of the highlights, not just for this trip to Langkawi but the whole of my South East Asia trip.
I don’t have a driving license and to be honest, I was a little scared to get on a jet ski.
I had to give this a go, after some words of encouragement from my instructor, Mr Smile, it was incredible how quickly I picked it up. He was a great instructor and made me feel relaxed on a jet ski, this helped take away the fear I had. In no time I was going at speeds of around 30-40 miles per hour comfortably weaving through Langkawi’s many 99 islands.
I went with Mega Water Sports Jet Ski Tour because they were the first on the island of Langkawi to set up shop and have been running the tour for over 4 years safely. Many pop up copy cat companies have since popped up, but as they have over 800+ 5 star reviews on Tripadvisor, they are worth the investment as my tour was a 5 star experience, was fantastic.
Long White Sandy Beaches
Pantai Cenang was the closest beach location from my guest house and it was the exact white sandy island beach I was searching to find in South East Asia. You wouldn’t be disappointed at all and I could have happily spent my whole time here chilling on the beach, I had actually met some backpackers staying at my hostel who was simply doing just this. They arrived on the island and had no reason to continue travelling and had instead found paradise and was happily relaxing on the beach for the past 3 weeks, nice life for some!
The island of Langkawi has a lot to offer, you can either lounge on the incredible paradise like beaches or take part in some fun activities as list above. I hope this blog post has helped you towards your trip planning to Langkawi, I truly fell in love with this island, I’m happy I went and I can’t wait to go back and return to this hidden backpackers paradise in Malaysia. Happy travels and I hope you enjoy exploring Langkawi as much as I have.