Langkawi is a small island that is part of the Malaysian archipelago, and it is very close to some of the islands of Thailand that Koh Lipe can be visited as a day trip from here. The distance between one end of the island to the other seemed not more than 35 km, and at any point in time the other side could be reached in about an hour. The island life is laidback, lots of greenery around, but the weather is highly humid. The locals are very friendly and polite to foreigners. English is widely understood and spoken by most of the locals here. The island is duty free and hence was an excuse for us to buy some foreign chocolates. For those who wish for some alcohol during their visit, the good news for them is that alcohol is also available at duty free prices on the island.
Though our trip to Langkawi was a very short- only 4 days, we managed to see many of the highlights as it does not take too long to reach another part of the island. However, I still think I could have easily spent over a week here. The relaxed vibe of the island, ample and cheap massage parlours around, friendly locals and some awesome food would have definitely kept me hooked to this place, for at least another couple of days.
This is the action zone of Langkawi and our entire stay was at this location. The Pantai Cenang beach has vendors offering Jet skis, Paragliding and banana boat activities. We did not go for these activities, but just waded through the sea waters on the first evening we arrived. The main street is full of shops, tour operators, restaurants and duty free mini malls and the most important to me are the spas around that offers services from foot reflexologies to full body massage. While walking along the street, we found “De Baron” tour operator who were one of the many that offered Mangrove tours and arranged a private Mangrove boat tour for the next morning.
We had arranged a Private boat tour with the De baron tour operator and had also requested a private pickup to the Kilim boat jetty. We had an elder and kids with us so we went for the private boat tour for the sake of flexibility.
At 9.30AM after breakfast the driver picked us up from our Hotel and dropped us at Kilim Boat Jetty which was about 45 mins drive away from our hotel in Pantai Cenang. At the jetty we waited for about 15 minutes to be assigned a boat while the kids excitedly spent their time watching the mudskipper fishes in the mangroves. Mudskippers are amphibious fishes and can survive in less water. It was fun watching them jump through the murky receding waters trying to get to another spot.
Finally, we were on our boat to go. The tour lasts for about 4 hours and is a ½ day trip, but will take most part of your day.
Our first stop was the bat cave. We got a couple of torches for 1 RM each, that were sold at the entrance of the cave. The cave was filled with stalagmites formation. There were plenty of fruit bats on the roof of the cave. Some of the places in the cave were low and so one has to bend through to go to another side. The other side opens out to a bridge over the mangrove and it was good to walk on that bridge surrounded by the Mangrove trees on either side.
The Fish Feeding is done on the emerald green waters of the Andaman sea. Once the boat reaches the sea, you are asked to wear life jackets and the boat picks up speed. You cross the Kilim Geo-forest park and reach the spot for the fish feeding. The boat driver gives your group a loaf of bread. The fish equate the boats with food and are tuned to approach these boats when they arrive and the boat is swarmed by 100s of fishes. Around 3 to 4 coral varieties of fishes can be observed from the boat. Kids and adults alike would love the fish feeding activity.
At this beach you could swim in if you wish to or just relax on the shore. Part of the beach is private and belongs to a resort and hence you are asked to use the public part of the beach which was very quiet as well the time we went. The beach was definitely beautiful. White sand, with all those lime stone hills dotting the sea. But the sea floor was very murky and sludgy while we walked on it. We also felt some sharp things in the water, which we suspect may have been sea urchins or tiny sharp growths from sea shells. My son and bro got pricked by something under water and tiny thorn like things became embedded in their feet. The boat driver had all the tools handy to do a mini operation if required. I guess this is a common occurrence and he seemed to be prepared for it. He took out a tiny tweezer and with some difficulty, we managed to extract a few thorns from my son’s feet. This was not a pleasant experience that led us to cut short our time on this beach and move on.
This is a collection of restaurants built over the mangroves and hence similar to floating restaurant concept. They grow salt water fishes for exhibition and culinary purpose mainly for tourists. It was very interesting to watch the guides feeding the fishes of massive sizes. I touched a puffer fish here for the first time. Your group is assigned a guide and the guide shows you different enclosures each having different varieties of fishes and demonstrates feeding session for a few. He tried to feed the sting ray, puffer fish and other fishes like trevally, sea bass and groupers. Then we were encouraged to catch a fish from the trevally, sea bass or grouper enclosures. The fishes weighed no less than 1 kg and hence though we netted the fish, it was tough to bring it up without extra help. The caught fishes are weighed, cooked as per your desire and served to you. Read more about how we liked the food here. Note- the price of lunch in this farm is not included in the cost of the tour.
The best part about this cave is that during low tide one can go through the cave by boat. The cave is inaccessible during high tide. The cave opening resembles the head of a crocodile if watched a bit closely and using a little imagination.
Our boat was not the only one here and the place was crowded with at least 5 to 6 other boats. The eagles were already circling around and scooping up the chicken pieces from the water thrown in by the other boat drivers. Our boat driver explained, that chicken pieces are thrown into the water, and the boat motor is turned on and the boat moves away a bit. This is like a signal to the birds that there is food for them in that area. There were couple of varieties of eagles spotted which were the common reddish-brown eagle- the symbol of Langkawi, and the white belly sea eagle that was bit bigger than the Langkawi eagle. The boat driver told us that there are usually over 100 birds but that day the birds were much fewer. This did not matter to us as it was a novelty for us that we were happy to see the activity of the birds even if they were not much in number. This was the last stop of the mangrove tour.
Note: the tour operators also offer Monkey feeding included in the mangrove tour. But we decided to skip this as we were not interested to feed the common monkeys due to past unpleasant experiences.
To reach the Skybridge one has to enter the Oriental village. There are various packages that combine the cost of the cable car to the sky bridge and activities in the oriental village. We took the one which includes the cable car, sky dome and a few shows in the oriental village. The tickets cover the cost of only the cable car to the sky bridge. To enter the sky bridge itself one must take another ticket at the top station. There is an intermediate station before reaching the top station of the sky bridge. I recommend to skip the intermediate station and go to the top station straightaway. The staff will try to get you to alight at the intermediate station, but there is nothing much to see here that cannot be viewed from the top station. At the top station of the cable car, there are 2 view-points or sky decks. From one of the viewing deck you can see the sky bridge and on the other viewing deck you will come across a bridge full of love locks. For entrance into the sky bridge one must buy another ticket which costs 5 RM PP. To get to the skybridge one can use the steps or go by Funicular. The Funicular costs additional 20 RM PP. We took the Funicular as the staff at the ticketing counter convinced us to buy the ticket for the funicular saying that the steps are much harder and it would be better to use the Funicular.
The Skybridge is the highest pedestrian bridge in the world. We spent up to an hour here just walking over the bridge and taking pictures. People with Vertigo issue watch out as they may feel queasy. There are glass bottoms in some sections of the bridge where you can stand on to get a feel of nothing under your feet below that may be thrilling for some people.
Tip: Unless you have kids or elderly with you and you are not too tired, you can skip the Funicular ticket and reach the skybridge using the steps
Tip: Skip the intermediate station and alight only at the Top station. There is nothing much to see from the intermediate station except a view point and a small garden.
The Oriental village is a collection of shops, restaurants, a few 3D-4D shows and gaming arcades. The highlight in the Oriental village for us was feeding the rabbits carrots for 2RM per cup which the kids absolutely loved. Note that everywhere in Oriental village the charge to use the toilet is 0.50 RM.
Tip: Unless you have kids with you and if you have been to arcades in Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, and other gaming arcades in Hong Kong or other parts of the world, you can skip the oriental village or spend less time here. These are just poorer cousins of the grander shows in other parts of the world.
Underwater world is in Pantai Cenang and it is just about 10 mins walk from our hotel. There are some varieties of freshwater and saltwater fishes, a few types of birds, jellyfishes and seahorses. There is also a short under water tunnel where there are shoals of giant trevally, turtles, sting rays and giant groupers. The main attraction here are the penguins. There are 2 types of penguins which are the Rock hopper penguins and the African penguins.
Tip: Unless you have kids with you, this attraction can be missed if you have seen the aquariums in Singapore, Japan, US and Europe.
The night markets of Langkawi occur every day from 7PM to 10PM, but move each day to a different location. We went to the night market in Kuah town that is held on Saturdays. The main attraction here is the local food. There are stalls selling local fruits, varieties of Murtabak, fried rice, sausages, fish balls, satays et cetera. We loved the dessert called the Appam Balik.
Island Hopping tour:
This was the final tour we took before we left Langkawi and we arranged a private boat for this tour as well. This is a 3-hour tour and takes you to 3 islands south of Langkawi. The first stop was a group of hills that from a distance, appear like a pregnant lady lying down. The group of hills encircle a lake where it is believed- possibly to increase tourist visits, that swimming in the lake improves fertility. The lake is about 45 feet deep and one can rent a life jacket for 5 RM. Unless you are absolutely confident on your swimming, rent a life jacket here or bring one from your boat as there are no shallow spots to swim in this lake.
The 2nd stop is eagle feeding. There is no stop over in an island here and the activity is similar to the one seen in the Mangrove tour. I found the eagle feeding in the Mangrove tour better.
The final island has a bathing beach. The beach was as beautiful as the Tanjung-Rhu beach, but was extremely crowded with all the tour boats offloading passengers here. The sea is calm and suitable for kids to swim as well and I found it much better to swim in than the sea at Tanjung-Rhu beach.
Tip: One has to be very careful of the Monkeys. This is in general anywhere during tours in Langkawi and all plastic has to be kept out of their sight.
Tip: If you have less time to spend and have to choose between Mangrove tour and Island-hopping tour, skip the island hopping and go for the Mangrove tour.
Cost of tours and activities:
|Tour/Activity||INR Per boat/PP||RM Per boat/PP||USD Per boat/PP|
|Mangrove Tour (excluding pick-up/drop/food)||6500||400||100|
|Island Hopping Tour(excluding pick-up/drop/food)||6500||400||100|
|Sky bridge package (Combo A)||950 PP||60 PP||15 PP|
|Sky bridge entrance||80 PP||5 PP||1 PP|
|Sky bridge Funicular||320 PP||20 PP||5 PP|
|Underwater world||650 PP||40 PP||10 PP|