The First Timers Guide to Langkawi

Langkawi is known as the Jewel of Kedah, and it’s easy to see why. With pristine beaches, lush rainforest, dramatic mountains, and a thrilling range of tourist attractions, it’s a perfect holiday destination. From swimming and snorkelling to jungle trekking and island hopping, you may be surprised by how much there is to do here. If you’re visiting Langkawi for the first time, here’s everything that you will need to know.

Where is Langkawi?

Langkawi is an archipelago made up of 99 islands on Malaysia’s west coast, however, most visitors choose to stay on the main island.

How to get here

There are two ways to get here: by air or by ferry. Langkawi has an international airport located close to Kuah Town, with daily flights to and from several destinations. Alternatively, frequent ferries run from mainland Malaysia to Kuah Jetty.

When to visit

The most popular time to come to Langkawi is between January – March, as this is the dry season. Keep in mind that it is also the hottest and the busiest time of the year. Mid-season runs from April – August. At this time you may experience occasional storms and rainfall, however, you will find that it is quieter. The wettest time of year is September – October, so this is usually the quietest period, as it rains for a couple of hours most days in the afternoon or evening. On the other hand, this is the best time to come if you want to see the beautiful waterfalls in full flow and the tropical greenery in full bloom. The downside is that sometimes due to the weather, boat trips and water sports are not possible at this time of year.

Getting around Langkawi

There’s no public transport in Langkawi, however, there are several transport options. Many visitors choose to take taxis, however, it may work out more cost-effective to hire a car, motorbike, or even a bicycle. Keep in mind to drive on the left side of the road. If you’re staying in one of the more developed areas such as Pantai Cenang or Pantai Tengah, then you will find restaurants, bars, shops, and beaches within walking distance. Booking day tours to certain attractions is also an option. Most people stay in accommodation on the main island, however, if you wish to visit the other islands you can book a boat tour, or hire a speedboat or jet-ski.

How long to stay for

If you just want to see the highlights or spend some time relaxing on the beaches, then a few days in Langkawi may be long enough. On the other hand, there are plenty of activities and attractions to easily fill a 2-week itinerary.

Where to stay

As mentioned above, most visitors stay on Langkawi’s main island, as this is where the majority of the restaurants, bars, shops, and attractions are. Most of the smaller islands are uninhabited, and only a small number offer accommodation. Different areas of the main island vary wildly so choose carefully. Pantai Cenang is the liveliest beach town, with Pantai Tengah close behind. If you want to have plenty of accommodation options as well as being close to restaurants and bars that are open late, these are the best places for you. For luxurious seclusion look to Pantai Kok or Tanjung Rhu. Accommodation across the main island ranges from budget hostels, motels and guesthouses, to breathtakingly elegant resorts with all of the amenities you desire, and everything in between.

Where to eat

Langkawi’s dining scene has something to suit all budgets and preferences. Indulge in sensational local delicacies, or enjoy tasty food from all around the world. For those on a tight budget, the night markets serve mouth-watering street food at low prices, as well as selling fresh produce that you may be able to cook at your accommodation. There are also plenty of mid-range options, as well as luxurious upscale restaurants.


Langkawi’s nightlife is extremely varied depending on which area you’re in. The beautiful beaches at Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah are lined with vibrant beach bars that are open late into the night. Many restaurants and cafes transform into late-night venues when the sun goes down, providing even more options. Choose from charming pubs, classy lounges, casual sports bars, and livelier venues with DJs and live music where you can dance the night away. In quieter areas, the nightlife mostly revolves around the bars at the resorts.

What to do

Visiting the stunning beaches of Langkawi is a must. Take a swim in the turquoise Andaman Sea, enjoy a range of exciting water sports, or simply relax on the idyllic white sand. For an even more relaxing experience, visit one of the many day spas for a traditional Malay massage. For those who prefer to explore the great outdoors, the gorgeous rainforest is filled with native flora and fauna, as well as some stunning waterfalls. The infamous Sky Bridge and Cable Cab are not to be missed – enjoy incredible panoramic views of Langkawi and the sea, seeing as far as mainland Malaysia and Thailand on a clear day.

Visit some of the smaller islands on an island-hopping boat tour, or hire a jet-ski and create your own itinerary. Head to Palau Payar Marine Park to snorkel or dive alongside a diverse range of vibrant corals and colourful marine life. Engage with an array of local and international wildlife at Langkawi Wildlife Park, Underwater World, or Langkawi Crocodile Farm. Enjoy some retail therapy at some of the duty-free stores and shopping centres, where you can buy all sorts of goods at a fraction of the usual price. Take a boat ride to the Kilim Geopark to see fascinating caves and limestone formations, as well as some native wildlife. See the iconic 12-metre tall red-backed eagle statue at Eagle Square, or dip your toes into natural hot springs at Ayer Hangat Village.

No matter how you like to fill your holiday itinerary, Langkawi has something sure to amaze all visitors.