Langkawi, referred to as the Jewel of Kedah is a group of 99 islands (5 more islands are said surface during low tide) in the Andaman Sea, 30 kilometers off the mainland coast of northwestern Malaysia. The islands belong to the state of Kedah, very close to the border of Thailand. Langkawi means “Eagle Island”, the connection is more than in the name only, with a great abundance of eagles in its skies, it is also home to lush jungle, white sand beaches, waterfalls, caves, soaring limestone cliffs, and mangrove forests. An island surrounded in deep folklore, these natural formations have myths and legends adding much mystique and allure.
I had my ferry departing at 8.15am from Penang to Langkawi, my travel agent advised me to be at the ferry terminal no later than 1 hour prior to the time of departure. I was there by 7am, the ferry departed on time and took 2 hours and 45 minutes to reach Langkawi with a 5 minute stopover at the island of Palau Payar, the ferry was air-conditioned and rode very fast. It also had on-board entertainment, it played the movie “The Martian” starring Matt Damon, the movie was great.
The ferry arrived at the Kuah jetty at 11am. I had no idea where I was gonna stay, I grabbed a coffee at Starbucks next to the ferry terminal and did a little research about Langkawi. Finally I decided to stay at the Gecko guesthouse in the Pantai Cenang beach town, I booked a taxi from the taxi counter and took off to Pantai Cenang. The driver was very friendly, the moment he knew I was from Maldives, he began talking about our local footballer Ali Ashfaq who plays for the Malaysia Super League side Royal Malaysia Police Association Football Club. I showed him a few photos of me with Ashfaq on Facebook and it got him more excited. Our taxi ride to the Gecko guesthouse was about 10 minutes. I was not sure if they had rooms available for the night, the woman at the reception told me if I could wait for 30 minutes, she could get me a room for MYR 70 for the night, that’s including breakfast. I waited at the restaurant area for about 15 minutes, and soon she let me check-in to my room. It was a very basic room, but clean and wasn’t air-conditioned.
Pantai Cenang is the largest beach and the main tourist hub in Langkawi with a long curved stretch of hotels, restaurants, shops, and bars. Its sands aren’t quite as white and enticing. There’s a wide range of activities during the day from parasailing, jetkskiing, beach volleyball, banana boats, sailing, bird watching, jungle trekking, and mangrove kayaking, though many laid back travelers would probably enjoy just laying out on a beach.
I spent the rest of the day exploring the entire stretch at Pantai Cenang and had lunch at a close-by restaurant.
The food was delicious, I felt like it was specifically made for my stomach. After lunch, I went on to check the tours offered from many of the tour operators and street vendors at Jalan Pantai Cenang road. There were so many tours to choose from, I chose the 4 hour value tour with two stop offs at a different island (Pulau Dayang Bunting – Pulau Singa Besar) at 30 MYR for next morning, the price also included pickup and drop from the accommodation in Langkawi. I didn’t do anything in the evening, but when I came back to my room, I noticed there were a few mosquitoes and had to buy a bottle of Citronella mosquito repellent spray to manage a good night’s sleep. I had an awesome “Rotti Canai Cheese” for dinner and went early to bed.
I woke up at about 8am and decided to check-out before the tour company comes to pick me at 9.30am. I had breakfast and checked-out of my room and waited at the restaurant area for the vehicle to arrive to pick me. The internet on my data plan was very slow, and I was enjoying the superfast internet speed at the guesthouse wifi early in the morning. My mind moves fast, I decided right then and there to fly to Kuala Lumpur on a plane at 5pm the same day. I logged on the AirAsia app and instantly bought my plane ticket to Kuala Lumpur. Five minutes to 9.30am and the boy at the guesthouse reception informed me that the driver has arrived to pick me for the island hopping tour, I got on the 12-seater van and it went around picking more people who booked the same tour from close-by hotels and soon arrived at the Pantain Cenang jetty. We were given pink color stickers for identification and sorting purpose among the group from the massive number of people that flock for different types of tours, everyone in our group got on the ferry and departed on the tour at 10am. Before leaving, safety was addressed by the tour guide on the Do’s and Dont’s. Each person was given a life vest that needed to be worn at all times when in the boat.
Our first stop was at Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park, it had the largest fresh water lake in Langkawi in the middle of the island called the “Pregnant Maiden Lake”, it resembles the outline of a pregnant lady lying on her back. The island is shrouded in mystery, as the lake is thought to possess mythical powers. Women are believed to have become pregnant from drinking the water.
This was the highlight of the trip, the lake is truly beautiful and a short walk from where the boats dock. There were a lot of people swimming and paddling boats in the lake, it was very humid. We spent an hour on the island and returned to our boat to see the next attraction.
Eagle feeding near the Pulau Singa Besar island, these majestic birds love sweeping down near the boats to get the fish thrown into the water by the boat guide, creating the huge moment to capture and snap a few photos and see them up-close.
The final island was the Pulau Beras Basah (Wet Rice Island), a delightful tourist trap. Clear, warm waters on white sandy beaches. There are no bathrooms or change rooms here, people instead were walking into the jungle to change behind palm trees, which didn’t of course offer much cover. The island also had snorkeling equipment for hire and other items at a little hut on the beach. I spent about 30 minutes relaxing, it was delightfully warm and despite the swelling number of tourists, it still felt perfectly isolated. However by the time our boat left, more boats were showing up so it was the perfect time to hop back on our boat. There were a lot of monkeys around the island, if you feed them peanuts, they try to pinch the packet.
It’s actually well worth it if you want to get if you want an easy morning off the main island and enjoy some nice scenery. The boat-ride is fast and fun. Our hilarious skipper gave everyone an adventure to remember! For the price, I would definitely recommend this tour.
Our boat dropped us back to the Pantai Cenang jetty at 2pm and the van dropped everyone back to their hotels. I ran into a complicated situation because I checked-out my room at 9am in the morning at Gecko guesthouse and didn’t have a room, or a place for a shower. My phone battery was running low, I stayed at the guesthouse restaurant and fully charged my phone, then I noticed there was a public toilet close-by for the guests who were accommodation at the dorm-rooms, it also had a shower area and I quickly had a shower and took off to the airport by 3pm to catch my flight at 5pm to Kuala Lumpur. I had a fantastic time in Langkawi.
Here are my expenses:
Taxi to the guesthouse ~ USD 4.88/-
Accommodation ~ USD 17.07/- (One night stay at the guesthouse with breakfast)
Flip flop and mosquito repellent ~ USD 9.27/-
Food ~ USD 9.7/-
Air-ticket ~ USD 45/- (Langkawi to Kuala-Lumpur one-way)
Air-ticket ~ USD 113/- (Kuala-Lumpur to Malé one-way)
Taxi to the airport ~ USD 4.88/-
Total ~ USD 203.80/-