Langkawi is a perfect destination to relax for a couple of days in West Malaysia. Nicknamed “the Jewel of Kedah”, it is the largest and most popular island in the archipelago that is made up of 99 islands and is home to beautiful white beaches, turquoise bays, gorgeous waterfalls, and wild natural parks. According to the folklore, the name of the island comes from two Malay words- ‘helang’ which means eagle and ‘kawi’ means reddish brown. Hence, the name Lang-kawi.
Best Time to Visit
Langkawi has always been visited by locals and international travelers throughout the year. The peak season is between November and February during the long year-end school holidays. The dry season from December to April also attracts foreigners to the island to enjoy a warm climate. The weather can be hot and humid with temperatures reaching up to 34. The island is popular for water activities
The low season is during the monsoon season, which falls between September and November. The rain and occasional thunderstorms usually happen only in the late afternoons and evenings. Having said that, there is no better time to watch the waterfalls gushing in full force and this means swimming will be safer and more enjoyable.
The fastest way to reach the island is by plane to its Langkawi International Airport (LGK). There are daily domestic flights by Airasia and Malaysia Airlines, which depart from Penang and Kuala Lumpur. The journey from Penang just takes 40 minutes and the flight from Kuala Lumpur takes an hour.
Of course, there are other alternative ways to get there from Kuala Lumpur. If you are currently visiting the metropolitan city, there are buses departing from Terminal Bersepadu Selatan, the main bus terminal in Kuala Lumpur and the journey takes at least 5 hours. You will first either take KLIA Transit from KL Sentral (KL transportation hub) or get a Grab car from your hotel directly to the bus terminal. There are plenty of bus operators traveling to Alor Star, the capital of Kedah.
Then, you can take a Grab car (download Grab App to your phone) or taxi from the bus terminal in Alor Star to Kuala Kedah jetty. You will need to hop on a ferry and will arrive at Kuah jetty in Langkawi. The journey will take at least an hour to reach depending on the weather condition. There are also ferries coming from Satun in Thailand.
There is no public transport in Langkawi. The good news is that you can download Grab App to get a Grab ride which is available throughout the island. It is easy to find a driver from most tourist spots. I have no problem getting around and only spend around RM200 on Grab to explore the island during my 5-day visit on the island.
Otherwise, you can also rent a car or a motorbike to roam around the island if you have an international driver’s license. There are car and motorcycle rental services at the airport, Cenang, and Kuah town. If you are traveling in a group, you can charter a car or a van with a driver via Klook app.
The best activities for three days in Langkawi
I visited Langkawi during mid-November and would love to share my wonderful experience during my 5- day self-guided tour in this place called paradise. There are plenty of exciting activities, beautiful beaches with turquoise water, and some hidden gems around Langkawi. I will highly recommend spending three full days with a four-night stay to discover Langkawi and other small islands within its archipelago.
1. Go island-hopping on a speedboat
Langkawi itself is not the only island that is worth exploring among the archipelago. Go hop on a speedboat to discover some of the beautiful islands nearby with sandy beaches and amazing scenery. The island hopping trip will first take you to Pulau Dayang Bunting– Lake of the Pregnant Maiden. By looking at the hills from an angle, it looks as if a woman is lying on her back and the belly bulging out like a pregnant woman.
Legend has it that a man named Mat Teja met and fell in love with the princess Mambang Sari at the lake. They ended up getting married and having a son, but unfortunately, he did not live long and died. They decided to lay him in the water of the lake and allow him to rest in peace. She later blessed all women having difficulty conceiving a child and becoming fertile once they take a dip into the water of the lake. You can take a 15-minutes walk on the well-paved path to the geo-forest to view the beautiful lake on the other side of the hill for kayaking and swimming in its freshwater lake.
And here comes the exciting part of the trip, watching the eagles being fed near Pulau Singa Besar. You will notice there are two different species of eagles here, Brahminy Kite, which is native to Langkawi, and the White-bellied Sea Eagle. Later, the trip continues and make a stop at the famous Beras Basah Island, which translates into the Wet Rice Island. Although there are many tourists here due to its popularity, there is plenty of space on the beach for everyone to share. I just walked about 200 meters down from the drop-off point and get the perfect spot to relax on this pristine beach and take a swim in the sea.
Tips: Bring your cap/ hat, towel, water bottle, sunglasses, camera, swimwear, sunscreen, and comfortable sandals. There is an entrance fee to the geo-forest, which is not included in the package. The ticket is RM 3 for adults and RM 1 for children for the entrance to the geo-forest (Foreigners: RM 6 for adults and RM 2 for children). You will also need to pay rent to hire a kayak in the freshwater lake in the geo-forest.
If you are planning on taking the island hopping speedboat tour, click here to make the booking.
2. Take the Sunset Cruise
Sailing along the Andaman Sea to watch the sunset is definitely a ‘MUST’ on the Langkawi travel bucket list. We depart on a catamaran from the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club to sail across many gorgeous islands and soak in the afternoon sun. You can also choose to go kayaking or just swim at the jacuzzi net during a stopover near an island where the sea is calm.
Brian and his crews are very friendly and they prepare a great dinner for us- fried rice, satay, chicken, and vegetables with a free flow of drinks. Although we missed out on the sunset due to light rain and cloudy sky in the evening, it was the most memorable part of my Langkawi trip, having a fantastic time onboard, snapping countless photos, enjoying good vibe music, and meeting some new friends. We pass through the iconic Eagle Square and MAHA Tower before disembarking at the jetty.
Tips: Bring a cap/ hat, towel, water bottle, sunglasses, camera, swimwear, sunscreen, and comfortable sandals.
Click here to make a reservation on this splendid Sunset Cruise Experience with a delicious dinner on board.
3. Take the SkyCab to the SkyBridge
Ride on the steepest cable car gradient in the world to the peak of Mount Mat Cincang as this 15-minutes journey takes you through the view of the valley, the sea, and Seven Wells Waterfall. You can also stop over at the middle station to watch the breathtaking view of the tropical rainforest before making your way to the top station. The total distance covered by the cable car is 2.1 kilometers.
The short trail from the top station will lead you to the Sky Bridge that lies 2,300 ft above sea level and overlooks the panoramic views of the entire island and the surrounding green valley. Once you walk to the platform at the end of the bridge, you can see as far as the island of neighboring Thailand during fine weather.
The SkyCab ticket can be purchased via Klook and the voucher can easily redeem for the counter.
Opening Hours: Daily 9 am to 6 pm. Be sure to check the weather forecast because the cable car service may halt if there are strong winds or heavy rain.
4. Hike to the sparkling Seven Wells Waterfall
Locally known as ‘Telaga Tujuh’, Seven Well Waterfall is named after the seven natural pools that were formed at different levels by water streams that flow down Mount Mat Cincang. The total vertical fall is 91-meters long. The legend says that this waterfall is home to the fairies and the water has healing powers.
The waterfall is divided into the lower section and the upper section. The lower section is very easy to reach from the entrance and doesn’t require a lot of effort to get there. The upper part requires you to climb 600 steps and take about 45- 60 minutes to get there. You will be greeted by macaque monkeys and enjoy the sound of birds chirping in this thick forest. It takes some stamina to get you to the upper level, but won’t regret this after the long hike. You can refresh and swim in the natural jacuzzi pools after a long hike and admire the incredible scenic view of Pantai Kok and the Andaman Sea
Tips: Be extremely cautious when swimming in the natural pools and stay away from the edge of the waterfall because the water currents are pretty strong. You will encounter many monkeys during the hike and they are wild and aggressive. Just slowly walk past them and don’t feed them. There are public toilets at lower and upper part of the waterfall. Don’t forget to bring your swimming suits. There are a few shops near the car park and you can buy watters and snacks before starting your hike.
Opening hours: Daily from 8.30 am to 7.30 pm
Entrance fee: Free
5. Catch the sunset at Hidden Langkawi
The name says it all! This restaurant is situated in Tengah Beach, hidden far away from its popular neighboring Cenang Beach. It offers a cozy atmosphere and serves Western food, alcoholic and non-alcohol beverages, including pasta, pizzas, tacos, margaritas, beers, wines, coffee, and fresh juices. The beach down the restaurant is a great place to make an evening well spent to marvel the stunning sunset across the horizon and take a dip into the shimmering turquoise water.
Opening hours: Hidden Langkawi is open daily from 12 pm to 10 pm and Tengah Beach is open 24/7.
6. Taste the authentic Malay cuisine
Kerisik Restaurant at Laman Padi is one of the most popular restaurants in Langkawi, serving true authentic traditional Malay cuisine in Langkawi. It lies at the heart of Cenang that offers a relaxing ambiance with a paddy field view. You can choose to sit and dine under the wooden hut with an open-air space.
Guests usually come here and try their famous rice sets, which are ‘Nasi Tuba’, ‘Nasi Padang Lalang’, ‘Nasi Sunda’ and ‘Nasi Kedawang’. Depending on which set you are ordering, it comes with white rice, fresh vegetables with shrimp paste sambal and three of these main dishes: roast lamb, fried prawns, rendang prawns, salted egg squid, ‘ayam penyet’ (chicken), mixed tom yam or green curry chicken. You can pick the set to cater for 2, 4 or 6 people and the price is very decent, ranging between RM40 to RM144.
I have their ‘Nasi Kedawang’ set for dinner and it has roasted lamb, salted egg squid, and fried prawns. The lamb was so tender and the seafood is fresh and tasty that I manage to finish everything on the plate for the portion of 2 people except another serving of rice. Yum!! I love their intimate environment and enjoy their classical music performance played on stage.
Check here on their Facebook page to find out more about Kerisik Restaurant.
Opening hours: Daily from 12 pm to 10 pm
7. Chasing the stunning Temurun Waterfall
Tucked away in the remote northern area of Langkawi, Temurun Waterfall is a hidden gem in Langkawi. It is a three-tier and the tallest waterfall on the island, which has a cumulative drop of the falls about 200 meters. The water stream flows down the northern slope of Mount Mat Cincang. The rocks consist of sandstone and shale, and are over 500 million years old.
The waterfall is just a short walk from the main road and can roam through the rain forest on the paved walkway with some steep steps along the way up. However, it is absolutely rewarding when you reach the falls and get a magnificent view of this crystal clear waterfall. There are only a few people here during my visit, for the moment I have the entire pool for myself to unwind and savor the peace and quiet.
Tips: This is a seasonal fall and you can only enjoy the true gush of the water during the rainy season between September and October. I was in luck to see the full flow after the constant rain from last night in November. There are public toilets at the main entrance only and is best to wear swimwear inside before visiting the waterfall.
Opening Hours: Daily from 7 am to 7 pm
Entrance Fee: free
8. Visit Mahsuri Tomb and Museum
Mahsuri Tomb and Museum (Kota Mahsuri) was dedicated in portraying the traditional village life of Mahsuri binti Pandak Maya, a native of Langkawi. She was the most beautiful woman in all of Langkawi and married a local young warrior named Wan Derus, a younger brother of the Sultan of Langkawi’s representative, Dauk Pekerma Jaya. When her husband was away fighting a war, Mahsuri was said to be staying with her parents and befriended a traveling poet, Deramang. With the blessing of her parents, Deramang stayed at her house to teach poetry and singing and later made Mahsuri a famous hostess due to her talent.
Her sister-in-law (the village chief’s wife), Wan Mahora felt jealous and the birth of Mahsuri’s son rise more suspicion of adultery with the poet. Mahsuri pleaded her innocence, but no one believed her. Due to the accusation, Mahsuri and Deramang were sentenced to death by Datuk Pekerma Jaya who believed in the allegations made by his wife.
Mahsuri was tied to a tree and stabbed to death, but it didn’t succeed. After several attempts, Mahsuri told them to kill her with her family’s keris. When she was stabbed, white blood flowed from her wound that signifies her innocence. With her dying breath, Mahsuri cursed the land of Langkawi would never have peace for seven generations. Since then, the island was invaded by Thailand and the villagers had to burn their paddy fields rather than let them fall into the hand of the invaders.
Many locals believed that the legend was true. You can visit Mahsuri’s tomb and several traditional wooden houses within the complex. There is also a museum that showcases the legendary story of Mahsuri and displays traditional Malay keris.
Opening hours: Daily 9 am to 5 pm
Entrance fee: Local: Adult: RM12/ Children: RM6 and Foreigner: Adult: RM15/ Children: RM7
9. Take a break at Dream Park
Nestled on the hill slope near Kota Mahsuri, Dream Park is the best viewpoint to enjoy the tremendous view of the paddy fields overlooking Kota Mahsuri and all the way to the Andaman Sea. It is a perfect place to relax, have a picnic, and take photos with several background settings. Behind the park, you can view the majestic Gunung Raya, the highest mountain on the island that stands 881 meters high.
To my surprise, I was the only person here during my visit. What a great way to chill out and enjoy the cool breeze of a wonderful late afternoon. It’s pretty windy and the sun was shaded by the clouds. The beautiful panoramic view of the paddy fields reminds me of the countryside of Hoi An in Vietnam.
Opening hours: Daily from 9 am to 7 pm
Entrance fee: Adult: RM10/ Children: RM5 with a complimentary bottled water
10. Visit Thean Hou Temple
Built in 2017, this modern Thean Hou Temple was dedicated to Mazu- The Goddess of the Sea. It features classic architectural designs of ancient temples and is the smaller version of its sister temple in Kuala Lumpur (Check out my post on Kuala Lumpur and Thean Hou Temple in the city).
Opening hours: Daily 7.30 am to 8 pm
Entrance fee: Free, but donations are welcome to help maintain the temple
11. Wander around the Eagle Square
Eagle Square (Dataran Lang) in Kuah is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Langkawi. At the edge of the plaza lies the statue of an eagle preparing to take flight, to welcome you to the island. It symbolizes the native reddish-brown Brahminy Kite. The square is an ideal place to hang out and is decorated with miniature fountains and terraces. The square offers a fabulous view of the Strait of Malacca and you watch the boats sailing through.
What do I miss in Langkawi trip?
Langkawi is famous for street food that is sold at the night markets and they are usually open starting from 6 pm to 10 pm. The night markets are set up in various locations each evening. Not only do the vendors sell cheap and delicious food, some also sell t-shirts and souvenirs, handbags, sunglasses, and paintings.
Strolling down the night market is part of the fun. And trying different types of Malaysian food such as chicken satay and Malay-style nasi goreng (fried rice) will definitely fill up your hunger. Here’s the list of night markets throughout the island:
- Monday: Ulu Melaka Market
- Tuesday: Kedawang Market
- Wednesday: Kuah Night Market (the largest in Langkawi)
- Thursday: Temoyong Night Market
- Friday: Ayer Hangat Night Market
- Saturday: Kuah Night Market
- Sunday: Padang Matshirat Night Market
Been to one of these night markets? Would like to hear about your experience?