There are very few public transport options in Langkawi. With only a handful of bus routes across the island there's a risk you'll spend a long time waiting in the heat of the day for a bus that might not show. The easiest way to get around is to take a taxi or hire your own transport.
Taxis are plentiful across the island and are probably the best form of public transport. You can hail them from the street or book over the phone. Fares are not metered but are based on destinations – it is perfectly acceptable to bargain on the final price. However, be prepared to pay more for a taxi than you would for hiring a car.
If you plan on hiring a vehicle in Langkawi, it is much cheaper to arrange it before you arrive. However, you can always hire a car at the airport if you forget. Be sure to rent from a reputable company and verify that the car has the correct paperwork and insurance before you pay for it.
Another option is to hire a scooter. This is the cheapest form of transport on the island – you can rent one for just a few dollars a day. Just be sure to check your travel insurance before you hire one, some companies do not cover scooter accidents. The roads are safe and fairly traffic-free but wearing a helmet is mandatory nonetheless.
Malaysia is a Muslim country. While the tourist trade in Langkawi means that it's fairly relaxed in regards to clothing and general daily customs, do remember to be respectful – especially if you intend to visit rural areas and places of worship. Homosexuality is technically illegal in Malaysia, so same-sex couples should avoid any outward signs of affection.
The local language is Bahasa Melayu but English is spoken by nearly all Malaysians, especially those working in tourist areas. If you wish to impress the locals, try out a few of the following phrases: Selamat pagi (Good morning), Terima kasih (Thank you), Apa khabar? (How are you?) and Berapa harganya? (How much is this?). The locals will appreciate the effort.
New Zealand and Australian nationals must hold a valid passport to travel to Langkawi, but no visa is required for a stay of up to three months. Note that entry can be refused to anyone who is considered to be too 'bohemian' or 'hippie' in appearance, and to foreign women over six months pregnant. Dual nationality is not recognised in Malaysia so only travel on one passport.
The local currency is the Malaysian ringgit, also referred to as the Malaysian dollar. Moneychangers and ATMs are plentiful all over the island, so withdrawing cash will never be a problem. Dollars and euros are easily exchanged, although moneychangers will generally charge a higher commission. Best of all, Langkawi is a duty-free zone, which makes it a shopping paradise!
Fly direct to Kuala Lumpur from Auckland in under 13 hours with Malaysia Air, Air New Zealand or Air Asia. Langkawi is a further 55 minutes flight.
Private transfers are easily arranged in advance or once you have arrived at the airport. On average expect to pay about $15-$20. Many hotels can arrange a transfer for you if you contact them in advance. A slightly cheaper option is with a company that offers shared transfers in a private car to various destinations across the island.
Thanks to the lack of public transportation around Langkawi, it can be difficult to know what mode of transportation to take upon arrival. Car rental provides you with the opportunity to have a vehicle at your disposal as you travel around the beautiful sights. There are several car rental services at Langkawi Airport – make sure to barter for the best price.
There are many taxi drivers touting for business at the airport. You can either book your taxi at the special counter inside the airport, or try to bargain for a slightly cheaper price with the drivers outside. There are no metered taxis in Langkawi. Instead, they all charge according to your destination. Registered taxis are yellow and red.
For a family or group heading to Langkawi, consider hiring a bigger vehicle in order to get the whole gang to those hard-to-reach destinations. You will be able to hire a minibus or van at one of the numerous car rental companies at the airport, and again make sure to take advantage of bartering in order to get the best possible deal for your trip.
The wild mangrove forests of Langkawi's Kilim Nature Park are not to be missed. A trip to the vast and ancient park involves taking a boat Indiana Jones-style through the spectacular, winding rivers. You will discover isolated beaches and deserted lagoons along the way and have a chance to see Langkawi's untouched beauty up close.
Langkawi is famed for its white sand beaches and swaying palm trees. Sample the local cuisines at one of the many restaurants lining Cenang Beach or take a taxi to the idyllic and quieter Pantai Tengah. Sunset sailing trips around the island and dining on-deck under the stars are also perfect ways to top off a Langkawi beach experience.
Take things at a slower pace and discover the hidden side of Langkawi on a cycle tour beginning at your hotel. Travel through rural villages, potter past lush green rice paddies, peddle beside rivers and meander through forests. Experience traditional Malay life but mind you don't flatten any monitor lizards lazing in the road. Birdwatchers will be in heaven too.
With crystal clear waters, Langkawi offers some of the finest diving in this part of Asia. Snorkel from shore, join a tour or charter your own boat and discover the underwater beauty of Langkawi. Scuba diving allows you to get even closer to the fish, exploring the vividly coloured coral gardens of the Pulau Payar Marine Park.
It would be hard to find a more romantic dining experience than right here. La Sal restaurant is set right on the beach amidst a coconut grove. Watch the sun sink into the Andaman Sea while enjoying one of their famed cocktails. Make sure to sample the delights of a beautifully crafted menu as well, replete with both Asian and Western modern cuisine.
Amongst Langkawi residents and visitors, this local seafood palace is famed for its lobster, giant prawns and fresh fish selection. It's cheap, unpretentious and the perfect place to sample the fabulous flavours of the local Malay style of cooking. If you are in the mood for something a little different, you can also choose from several Chinese and Thai-inspired seafood dishes.
This French patisserie is worth seeking out for what are possibly the best cakes and pastries in the whole of Malaysia. With a French pastry chef it's no surprise that the éclairs and croissants are melt-in-your-mouth amazing. But La Chocolatine is not just for sweet fiends. There is also a great selection of savoury sandwiches and quiches.
For a more decadent Malaysian-influenced dining experience, try Privilege. Located on a beautiful sandy bay, this restaurant and bar is consistently ranked as one of the best on the island. With exemplary service and a phenomenal selection of dishes, including smoked banana ice cream and a tasty beef rendang, Privilege often gets booked up – so reserve a table.
Feeling nostalgic for the 80s? Sunba Retro Bar is the place to head to for lounging and drinks. The interior resembles a traditional wooden 'kampung' house and the vibe is casual and cosy. There's a cool cocktail list and a DJ who is stuck in a perpetual retro time-warp.
Tucked down a little alley, this funky reggae café and bar on the beach often plays host to live jam sessions. Think rustic charm under the stars with the lulling sound of waves and Bob Marley in the background. Perfect for a quick drink or long night out.
Langkawi isn't renowned as a major party destination, but the Sunset Deck at Bon Ton Resort is the place to be if swanky chic is what you're looking for. After sunset, take advantage of the drink list or hang out under the stars and order some meze with your next round.
Hidden away in the woods, Urwald Café is quickly gaining a name for itself as a popular hangout spot with a distinctively chilled out vibe. Soak up the ambient tunes and settle back with a beer or cocktail. They also serve some great Asian food if you're feeling peckish.
Take a cable car to the top of Mount Machincang before strolling along the Sky Bridge, suspended above the clouds and virgin rainforest. Come back to earth and set sail on a boat with a tour of the mangrove forests, lakes and rivers of the nature park, stopping off to feed the eagles along the way.
Hop on a boat and sail the crystal waters of the Andaman Sea. Snorkel or dive amid the coral gardens and if you're lucky (or unlucky?) you might spot some sharks along the way. Picnic on a deserted tropical island beneath a coconut tree before spending the rest of the day sunbathing on the deck. To cap it off, enjoy a three-course dinner beneath the stars.
Get all of your duty-free shopping done on a trip to Kuah, the capital, before heading out of town to the Langkawi Craft Complex for a chance to watch traditional Malay artisans at work. Batik, ceramics and jewelry are just some of the handmade items for sale. Afterwards, visit the Museum of History and Legends just next door.
Take a morning cycle tour through rural villages still untouched by tourism. Learn about the rich culture of the island before easing your aching muscles with a pampering massage or Ayurveda treatment at one of the many local spas. From high-end luxury to hidden away local gems, there's a spa to suit every budget.
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