Langkawi is full of all the best travel brochure clichés. Emerald-green jungle jutting out into the ocean. Breathtaking mountain views. Friendly, cheeky animals everywhere (think monkeys, otters, monitors, squirrels). Cheap, delicious food and smiling, friendly locals. It’s all here in a tiny, totally relaxed little package.
It’s these images that popped into our head when we considered where we wanted to go next. This trip was part of a bigger itinerary that was a reward for five years of hard work. In the last five years, my husband and I have gotten married, bought a house, had two kids, turned 30, finished a degree, and had four promotions. It’s been a crazy whirlwind and we just wanted to sit back and say to ourselves “look how far we’ve come!” Obviously, the trip turned out a bit crazier than expected but Langkawi was the luxurious, restful highlight.
Here is my suggested (vague) itinerary for three nights in the incredible Langkawi… though if you can, stretch this over a few more days and really savour it. Langkawi, to me, was just a beautiful place to relax, recharge and spend some much-needed quality time with my family. Bring a good book and just watch the world go by.
There’s something about arriving into small airports that feels so adventurous. The basic infrastructure; walking over the tarmac into the terminal building; watching all the light aircraft land. Langkawi is no different. We hired a car from the airport and I cannot stress this enough: you should absolutely take this option.
Cruising around Langkawi island just feels so… FREE. You can see what you want, and eat where you want, without having to find a driver or organise a tour (taxis are hard to come by). I think cruising around in the car gave us such a good feel for the island and allowed us to get our bearings really quickly.
Outside of Kuah and Pantai Cenang there isn’t much traffic on the road (aside from the occasional monkey), and the roads are in good condition. But O-M-G the scenery. Driving the 45-minutes from the airport to The Andaman took us past limestone mountains, through prehistoric geoforests, and past the gorgeous, world-class Els Club golf course.
Aside from having the freedom to explore, being able to just cruise around was so good with the kids. It meant always having the right gear with us without having to lug things around… and it calmed the kids down enough for me and the husband to actually have a conversation! Sometimes the kids napped on the go and we just got to drive around, pretending we were locals and imagining ourselves stowing away to Langkawi on a more permanent basis.
Watch the sunset
Staying at the Andaman gave us the most incredible sunset over Datai Bay. We sat at Tepian Laut, the Malaysian restaurant, drinking Singapore Slings and just taking it all in. But I can guarantee you’d experience amazing sunsets at these hotels as well… or honestly, anywhere by the coast. There are some great spots in Pantai Cenang where you can sit on a beanbag and grab a drink for the sunset show.
Langkawi’s geoforests really blew me away. 100 million years of history hidden away by thousands of trees, stories told by limestone. (Yes, I majored in geology once upon a time, that stuff gives me some tingly feels that I don’t expect others to get).
We came to Langkawi to find a certain peace; the sunsets here provide that peace.
Explore Pantai Cenang
On our first full day in Langkawi, I was doing a quick google to find a good spot for lunch. The Hippie in Heels blog had a tip for Seashells Cenang so I figured we’d give it a go. I’ll be honest, when we arrived I was skeptical. It was empty (I try not to eat in empty places as I often figure good places would be popular) but in all fairness, we did arrive pretty early… that’s lunchtime with kids! Anyway, I was wrong. We out our delicious, suuuuper cheap, beef rendang together, overlooking a rice paddy. Little fish swam around the rice plants and birds chirped around us.
Pantai Cenang is like Langkawi’s ‘strip’ – restaurants, bars, watersports on the beach… you name it, it’s there. If you’re after nightlife, Pantai Cenang is the place to be. While most of the island is quite sleepy, Pantai Cenang has a cruisy yet upbeat vibe. It’s also only ten minutes from the airport, making Pantai Cenang an excellent place to hang out before an afternoon or evening flight.
Take the Langkawi Skycab
Holy moly I had so much fun here… though I showed some video to one of my friends who isn’t so great with mechanical things at great heights, and he wasn’t too keen. The Skycab is a cable car with one of the longest and steepest ascents in the world. From the base station, the SkyCab makes two stops: the middle station and the top station (at about 900m up), each with their own unique view. From the top, you can see out over the Andaman Sea, as well as over the whole island.
As well as the actual SkyCab, there’s a SkyBridge and a small funicular but you do need to pay a bit extra for these. At the bottom, there are several other activities such as the SkyDome show and the SkyRex 5D dinosaur experience. The whole thing is set within the Oriental Village, a Chinese-themed open-air experience built around a lake. It’s a touristy but cute place to stop for drinks, ice cream, souvenirs, and fake Ray-Bans.
Swim, swim, swim
That’s what you’re here to do, right?!
If you book a nice resort you’re bound to get a beautiful pool as part of the deal. Depending on where you are, a beach is also a great option. And in a place like Langkawi, you should take full advantage. It’s not every day you can sit by the pool with a cocktail, or swim in the ocean with otters!
Hit the spa
Any decent hotel is going to have a spa. As a general rule, the fancier the hotel the better the spa (I guess…) but usually, the higher the price tag, too. The Andaman, for example, has a phenomenal spa (V Integrated Wellness), but it was hundreds of dollars for a treatment.
There are several more affordable options though too. Rumah Holistic is a fantastic jungle option that also offers a homestay; Ishan Malaysian Spa does some really great couples and honeymoon packages. (Parents: now there’s an excuse to hire that nanny!)
Try the water sports
If you feel like getting up off the pool lounger, why not give some watersports a try? At Pantai Cenang and some resorts along the coast, motorised watersports (such as jetskis) are available. I love a good jetski ride and when the view is this spectacular, how can you say no?
In Datai Bay, where we stayed, motorised watersports are banned because of the delicate coral reef. This is a big plus for me though – it means the water is beautifully clear and it’s possible to snorkel. Stand-up paddleboarding and hiring a catamaran are fantastic non-motorised options. I’d never tried stand-up paddleboarding, though I had desperately wanted to, and lets just say I won’t be winning any rewards for my ability. Mr. Winter, on the other hanf, took to it like the natural he is (cue eyeroll).
I’m definitely not an adventure seeker when it comes to thrills or sports, but I’m always super proud of myself when I try something new and this is no different.
Kuah is the main town on Langkawi island and the location of the island’s port. It’s not the place to go for beautiful beaches but I thought it was really cool. We sat and had a family fish and chip lunch at Scarborough’s on Fisherman’s Wharf. It was perfect to sit with a Bloody Mary and watch all the ferries come and go from the neighbouring islands.
Not far from Fisherman’s Wharf is Eagle Square. Kuah Jetty extends from here and the square itself has – you guessed it – a giant eagle marking its location. Surrounding the are is a bunch of other scenic spots – ponds, restaurants and a few shops. Next to Eagle Square is the Jetty Point Mall – if you’re so inclined, there are some great duty-free shops here. Shopping with a husband and two sons in tow really isn’t my bag, but if you like shopping and get the chance, this is the place to be.
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