At the end of January this year, my friend Pamela and I spent about 4 days and 3 nights in Langkawi. Although I’m Malaysian, there are still many places in Malaysia I have yet to explore. Langkawi is one of them.
What drew Pam and I to Langkawi were the picturesque views and the promise of cheap chocolates (me) and alcohol (Pam).
Since you can probably find itineraries of what to do in Langkawi everywhere else, I won’t spend an entire article laying out our day to day activities. Instead, I’d like to use this post to talk about things that you need to take note of when you’re making a plan to visit Langkawi on a budget as well as some of the activities we liked most.
Alright, let’s get to it.
Driving around in Langkawi
The first thing I want to talk about is transport. A common mistake people who are used to living in cities assume is that you can get anywhere using public transport.
The thing about Langkawi (and actually most parts of Malaysia) is that it’s pretty difficult to get around without a car. You can walk, sure, but you’d not want to do for hours under a hot sun.
Getting around by taxi, on the other hand, can quickly burn a hole in your pocket. Taxis in Langkawi don’t charge by the meter and can cost anything between RM15 for a 3-5 minute drive and RM25 for a 10minute drive.
So that leaves us with the choice of renting a car. Renting a car in Langkawi is not cheap considering that cars in tax-free Langkawi cost tens of thousands of dollars less than cars in other parts of Malaysia.
You can get a car anywhere between RM50/day for a manual Kancil to RM220/day for a 7-seater.
We got a Perodua Viva for RM200 for 2.5days (or, RM80/day).
It’s pretty easy to rent a car in Langkawi. You just have to head to any of the car rental counters at the airport to do your booking. Since every operator has about the same cars, it would be good for you to shop around. It would be best if you can negotiate a 3-day or a 7-day rate vs. a 1-day rate. They usually give a 10-15% discount if you do that.
Other means of transport
Other than getting a car, you can move around Langkawi on a scooter. This will set you back around RM35/day. Great for solo travelers but can get slightly uncomfortable if you don’t like being under the sun too much.
If you are traveling with a groups of friends, however, it will be cheaper for you to rent a car.
Chocolates + Alcohol
Langkawi is one of the few places in Malaysia where alcohol, in some cases, is cheaper than water. I don’t drink but Pam was very happy about the prices in Langkawi.
For example, Pam picked up this can of SKOL for RM1.80 (far right on the picture below). In most parts of Malaysia a bottle of Evian water would be 3x more expensive than this.
Chocolates are cheap too. A packet of M & Ms which usually cost RM44 costs RM22 in Langkawi.
The next thing I want to talk to you about is how Langkawi is mapped out geographically.
Langkawi travel map
As you can see, the beautiful Tanjung Rhu is on opposite ends with the Jetty town, Kuah. Between Tanjung Rhu and Kuah is a 25 minute drive. I want to highlight this because when we were in Langkawi, we spent about 2 days around the area near Tanjung Rhu. It was all very beautiful but we wondered if this was all there is in Langkawi (beaches and more beaches?).
Sunset over Cenang Beach
So we set to explore the place a little bit. We discovered that the picturesque views and the water activities were mostly part of the Tanjung Rhu area. 25 minutes away was the town of Kuah, which is home to Kuah jetty.
It is at Kuah jetty that you can take off on a 45 minute ferry ride to Penang.
The jetty area of Kuah is scenic but you cannot do any water activities here.
Kuah is also home to the Eagle on Eagle Square. Quite iconic, I must say.
Other than that there isn’t much in Kuah for the typical tourist. We spent about 2 hours in Kuah before we made our way back to the beach area of Cenang.
Now I want to spend a bit of time talking about some of our favourite places in Langkawi. We went to quite a number of places but I’m only highlighting things that we (or I) liked better. Here we go!
In no particular order…
Black Sand on the Black Sands Beach
As the name suggests, this place is full of apparently naturally black-coloured sand. According to some information I found online, it’s apparently one of the few places where you get naturally black sand. Which is pretty cool, if you ask me. If you’re a science geek you might find this phenomena interesting.
Other than black sand, the Black Sand beach is not particularly scenic. I didn’t see any signs of water activities when I was around.
Jet-Skiing at Tanjung Rhu
I have always wanted to jetski so we decided to put that into our itinerary. While we had planned to jetski at Cenang, locals suggested that we head over to Tanjung Rhu for our water activities.
“It will feel almost like a private beach because there’s so little people there,” we were told.
I’m glad we did because the water area we could jetski about without interruption was quite extensive. We had a lot of fun!
It cost us RM179 for a 30-minute rental of the jetski. The operator there (Naam) was very professional and cared a lot about safety.
Pam is Singaporean so she naturally gets excited when there’s a queue.
“Queue eh… must be something good,” she would say.
Well, Langkawi is a small place so I was surprised when we saw a queue form just behind a food truck labeled ‘Laksa Power’ next to a beach area near the airport.
Curious, we decided to join the queue.
We got our bowls of Laksa Power after 30 minutes of queuing. One bowl of Laksa power cost us RM4.50.
The Laksa isn’t the same as the Sarawak Laksa I’m used to. However, it was a great experience queuing for it and finally tasting it.
Chillaxing at a Secret Beach Bar
One of the best rewards after a day out was a night at a secret beach bar 5 minutes walk away from our guesthouse. The bar is operated by the guesthouse owner, who is from Penang.
The bar gave me a ghetto feel, which was really relaxing.
We often sat at a table right next to the sea. The sea breeze felt great on our skins. Under the dim lights and chillaxed environment, Pam and I naturally started to talk about life and its meaning.
The secret beach bar
It was a wonderful feeling. If Pam and I had a place in Langkawi that we miss even today, I’d say this is it.
Other Places of Interest
Other than what I’ve highlighted above, Langkawi is also home to the Langkawi cable car. According to some stats I read as we were queuing for our turns, the Langkawi cable car apparently has the world’s steepest ascent and descent.
Cable car rides are RM20 for Malaysians (like me) and RM35 for non-Malaysians (like Pamela).
The view from the top of the mountain was quite beautiful. There’s also a small stall there where we had Ramli burgers and 3-in-1 teh tarik.
Other than the cable car, you can also stop by the Oriental Village right next to the cable car. The oriental village is like a small shopping area where you can find some local souvenirs for your friends.
Alright. It’s time to crunch numbers. How much did we spend on our trip 3 day 2 night trip to Langkawi? (divided between two people. Cost per person below)
Accomodation — RM120
Transport — RM100 + RM20 (fuel)
Cable Car — RM20 / RM35
Jet Ski — RM90
Food — RM100
TOTAL —- RM450 / RM470
Food is relatively cheap in Langkawi. Our meals were between RM4 – RM7 per person, except when we decided to have seafood which cost us RM20 per person.
You can spend as little as you want and as much as you want in Langkawi. Hotel can go upwards of RM4,000/ night if you stay in one of the more luxurious resorts or RM28 a night for a bed in a hostel. It really depends. However, entry to beaches are free so you can have a good time even if you don’t have a lot to spend.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my short recap of our trip to Langkawi. I’d like to end this post with some pretty photos of Langkawi. Enjoy!