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Langkawi, Malaysia Travel

"Langkawi offers some of the world's best-kept secrets -- secluded coves and long stretches of white sandy beaches. Washed by the calm turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea, the islands are covered with age-old rainforests and home to a rich diversity of flora and fauna."
- Ministry of Tourism, Malaysia -

I couldn't have said it any better. Langkawi is a cluster of 99 exotic tropical islands in far northwestern Malaysia near Thailand which has been designated a World Geopark by UNESCO.

Tengah Beach in Langkawi, Malaysia
Tengah Beach in Langkawi, Malaysia

Although it wasn't the most accessible Pacific island destination I've ever visited, Langkawi, Malaysia was indeed one of the most beautiful. From Tokyo, it takes over seven hours to fly to Kuala Lumpur and then another hour to Langkawi.

In recent years, Langkawi has become more popular among Japanese tourists. As a result, there are many tour packages these days catering to this growing market. The tour package I was lucky enough to be part of included round-trip airfare from Tokyo, three nights lodging at the Aseania Resort Langkawi in Pantai Tengah, breakfast every morning, and transportation to and from the airport, all for around 700 US dollars.

My trip in mid-July turned out to be in the middle of rainy season, so some of the time was cloudy and rainy. But even in three short days, I was able to see some very beautiful places, including the Langkawi Cable Car to the top of Mount Mat Cincang (Langkawi's 2nd tallest peak), Seven Wells (Telaga Tujuh) Waterfall, the Kuah Town night market, and Underwater World, Malaysia's largest aquarium.

Hanging Bridge near top of Langkawi Cable Car
Hanging Bridge near top of Langkawi Cable Car

But by far the highlight of my trip to Langkawi was the mangrove forest river cruise, which included Langkawi's Cave of Bats. Conducted by a very knowledgeable and kind Japanese man named Kato-san, his boat tour, which departs from the Tanjung Rhu boat dock, included not only the Cave of Bats, but the feeding of eagles, monkeys, and blowfish.

As if this weren't enough, he finished off the tour at his houseboat by serving us a homemade lunch prepared by his wife. Nice touch !! Kato-san has lived in Langkawi for 25 years. Don't miss the videos of this incredible mangrove tour in the video playlist below.

mangrove river cruise operator Kato-san
Mangrove river cruise operator Kato-san

One of the big surprises was the hordes of tourists from other Muslim countries. As it turned out, I was there just a few weeks before the beginning of Ramadan, so there were many, many Muslim tourists enjoying Langkawi prior to the beginning of the Ramadan holy period.

This was the first time in my life to see SO many women in full-length, black burkas, even covering their faces. I must say that at first this made me feel a bit uneasy, and did require some adjusting. But to be honest, I felt sorry for them having to wear so many clothes on a hot summer day.

Aseania Resort Langkawi

This hotel in Pantai Tengah was pretty good. The rooms were nothing to brag about (no English cable TV stations), and there was no bathtub (and the shower hot water heater had to be turned on by an electrical switch outside the bathroom), but the staff were very cordial & helpful, food was above average, and it's conveniently located to the airport and only a 5-minute walk from the beach.

Oh yeah, the swimming pool is an amazing 150 meters long.

While I'm on the subject of staying in a Langkawi hotel, I would be remiss not to mention that if you are from Japan or America or any of the other countries that use standard Type A, two-pronged plugs for your electrical appliances, if you want to recharge your camera, cell phone, PC, etc. in Malaysia, depending on your hotel, you may need to bring an electrical plug adapter to work with the British-style Type G, 240V, three-prong wall outlets they have in the Aseania Resort and in most of Malaysia.

Type G outlet
Malaysia Type G, 240V wall outlet

The adapter plug below I picked up for around five bucks in Akihabara's Electric Town in Tokyo.

front view of Type A to Type G adapter plugback view of Type A to Type G adapter plugside view of Type A to Type G adapter plug
  front view                   back view                     side view
Type A to Type G adapter plug

Langkawi Cuisine

You can't go wrong with Langkawi food, especially if you like seafood. It's freshly caught everyday in the Andaman Sea. Right next to the Aseania Resort Langkawi is a good place called the Casablanca Seafood Restaurant, which is famous for their golden spicy tiger prawns. I don't think I've ever seen shrimp that large.

Casablanca Seafood Restaurant in Langkawi   golden spicy tiger prawns
    Casablanca Seafood Restaurant              Golden spicy tiger prawns        

Another good spot right on the main drag in Pantai Cenang is the Little Mexican restaurant, which has open-air seating right next to the sidewalk and is run by a very delightful foreign couple who've lived in Langkawi for just 5 years.

The 2-story Sunday Bistro & Restaurant is another interesting place, which was advertised in the Malaysia Airlines in-flight magazine. It's on the main drag in Pantai Tengah and also doubles as a souvenir shop, Buddhist museum, and nighttime bar.

Their courtyard has a group of cute little boy monks made from stone and their menu includes sesame seed fried duck, homemade mango ice cream, and Hawaiian prawns. Yum-yum. Please check out my pics of this spot in my Langkawi photo album below.

Langkawi, Malaysia Travel Photos

I hope you enjoy my Langkawi, Malaysia travel photos:

Click above to view pics of my July 15-19, 2010 vacation to Langkawi.  Enjoy !
(Not a slideshow person? View the entire photo set here.)

Langkawi, Malaysia Travel Videos

Video 1 - Underwater World (1/2)
Video 2 - Underwater World (2/2)
Video 3 - Langkawi Cable Car (departs from the beautiful Oriental Village)
Video 4 - Seven Wells (Telaga Tujuh) Waterfall
Video 5 - Malaysian Butterfly at Seven Wells Waterfall
Video 6 - Mangrove Forest River Cruise
Video 7 - Tengah Beach
Video 8 - Aseania Resort Langkawi  
Video 9 - Imperial Seafood Restaurant, Cenang
Video 10 - Cave of Bats
Video 11 - Laser light show in front of the Cabin Resort Langkawi
Video 12 - Kuah Town night market food stalls
Video 13 - Arrival of the Sea Jet 2 at the Kuah Town ferry terminal
Video 14 - Eagle feeding, monkey feeding, & blowfish feeding
(all 14 videos are in a playlist and will play continuously, non-stop)

Enjoy !

  (the entire Langkawi video playlist is here)

Langkawi, Malaysia Google Map

If you've ever wondered exactly where Langkawi is, it's in the Andaman Sea about 30 km (19 mi.) off the mainland coast of northwestern Malaysia, near its northern border with Thailand. It's also about 250 km (155 mi.) southeast of Phuket and about 400 km (250 mi.) northwest of Kuala Lumpur.

To get a better feel for Langkawi's location in the Andaman Sea, zoom out in the Google map below. Google Maps recently added the Google Earth feature to their maps, which offers a very impressive 3D view if you have Google Earth installed on your PC. Using GE's tilt & rotate features, you can actually fly around Langkawi as if you were in an airplane:

To rent a car or not? - That is the question 

One big decision I struggled with before leaving Japan was whether it would be a good idea to rent a car in Langkawi. I never really could locate a good deal online, so I just decided to wait. As it turned out, even though you can rent cars at the airport for less than 100 ringgit (~$30) per day, taxis in Langkawi are abundant and very cheap.

A cross-island taxi ride from near the Aseania Resort Langkawi to the Langkawi Cable Car cost only 26 ringgit ($8) and another cross-island taxi ride from Kuah Town to the Aseania Resort cost only 22 ringgit ($7). Shorter taxi rides within local districts cost only between 6-10 ringgit ($2-$3).

So unless you're going to be doing a lot of long distance traveling around the Langkawi main island, if you plan your trips wisely, I doubt you'll need a car. Plus, you won't have to worry about parking.

Malaysia Airlines

One of the most delightful parts of this entire trip, even though the flight time was long, was flying on Malaysia Airlines. Over the past 2 decades I've found all the Asian carriers to be highly professional with first-class & very cordial service, even to economy class passengers. And the Kuala Lumpur International Airport was one of the most modern & efficient I've ever had the pleasure of traveling thru.

In particular, I'd like to commend all the wonderful (and attractive!) Malaysia Airlines stewardesses & cabin crew who helped make the trip a joy. I believe the pic below says it all. Thank you, Malaysia Airlines !

friendly Malaysia Airlines cabin crew
Friendly Malaysia Airlines cabin crew

Please check in again soon to this Langkawi, Malaysia travel page as I update it in the future with more details on some of the other local sights.

In the meantime, please check out the latest Langkawi, Malaysia news when you get a chance.

What a hidden treasure Langkawi is. I still can't believe I'd never even heard of this place until a month or so before my trip. 

Thanks so much for visiting...



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Gary J. Wolff

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