There’s a real mix of things to see and do in Langkawi, whether you’re travelling solo, as a couple, with friends or your family. I found the lay of the island quite different from others in South East Asia I’ve visited, with luxury hotels dotted all over the coast, but only one smallish ‘tourist hub’ with the lower end hotels to the west of the island.
Still, wherever you’re based on Langkawi it’s very easy to get about and most attractions will never be more than a half hour’s drive away.
During our stay got around the island mainly using Uber or Grab (the local ‘Asian Uber’ that is gaining more popularity in the region), occasionally taking advantage of the hotel bus for a free trip down to the local ‘shopping mall’ where we could walk across to the Eagle Square or Kuah jetty where lines of locals try and sell you their excursions.
A lot of my visit was about attempting to unwind, so this is in no way a definitive list of everything to see on Langkawi. However, I still managed to visit quite a few of the island’s top spots and attractions, so hopefully here you’ll get some good ideas of the kind of experiences on offer across the island….
1 – Visit Pantai Cenang
If you want to be where all the action is, make sure you visit XX. This is the part of Langkawi’s that’s aimed at tourists and it’s where you’ll find a modern shopping mall, lots of shops to buy your holiday mementoes, restaurants and bars.
Also this is the island’s most popular beach and is always packed with sun bathers, SUP-ers, parasailing and people playing sports on the beach. It’s great if you want some active beach, but I’d recommend giving it a miss if you’re after a more peaceful experience.
2 – Take a trip to the roving night market
I love a good night market and this one didn’t disappoint. Langkawi has a roving night market, which moves between different parts of the island every night. It’s not the biggest I’ve visited, and its not got all the usual tourist tat, but there are a few clothes stalls. This market mainly focuses on food though, and is the perfect spot on the island for cheap eats. I ate well here on several occasions, with nasi goreng and nasi mee available for 40p and super tasty pancakes for 10p.
As the island doesn’t seem to have that many proper food courts, I think the market is the best location to eat well, cheaply.
3 – Hire a car and head off the beaten track
I’m usually terrified of driving overseas, but even I would consider hiring a car or bike in Langkawi. I thought the roads and drivers appeared safe and easy to navigate – plus they drive on the left, so as a Brit there’s no worries about getting confused!
If you hire your own transport you’re free to fully explore the island as you choose, and can head in land to search for hidden beauty spots and waterfalls – there’s so many natural wonders to discover!
4 – Go on an ATV trek
If you don’t want to drive yourself around all holiday, then why not just book yourself a fun little ATV trek? These are one of the more expensive things to do in Langkawi, at around 550Rm for an hour’s trip, but you can – and should – barter and I really thought ours was worth it.
On our trip we drove through 7 different areas around the north of the island, guided by two local teens who loved to show off by attempting wheelies (rolls eyes). We went through a small village, trough farmland, rice paddies and out into the jungle, stopping off at a secluded waterfall spot where local kids were playing around in the water.
Some offer additional activities like ziplining and archery, so look around to find the option that suits your interests best!
5 – Do some island hopping and visit the geoparks
Langkawi has some beautiful protected geoparks that you can take trips to explore, however please do your research and ensure you pick a company that is eco friendly. A lot of locals, without understanding the effect they’re having, are affecting the natural ecosystem by feeding animals in order to ensure the tourists get ‘that shot’ of diving sea eagle etc.
Two eco-friendly organisations were recommended to me – Dev’s Adventure Tours and JungleWalla. Having looked at the excursions on offer, in the end I chose JungleWalla’s Geopark mangrove cruise. This included an amazing trip through a mangrove forest where we got to see monkeys leaping through the trees and sea eagles circling the air. We also got the opportunity to wander through a cave of bats (stinky, but epic) before heading back.
There’s lots of different island hoping trips you can do, for example one takes you to an area where whale sharks could be spotted. I’d have loved to do this – one excuse to return!
6 – Explore the oriental village
If you’re after a tacky tourist trap then be sure to head to the Oriental Village. It’s kind of like the start of a theme park, with eateries and cheesy rides. Buy passes to gain entry to these, which include a ‘6D’ adventure, the skydome and a 3D interactive art museum. We didn’t make it into the latter, but have been told that it’s actually quite a laugh, and a really good option for a rainy day.
7 – Dare to cross the Skybridge
You have to walk through the Oriental Village in order to get to the SkyCab, which takes you up to the SkyBridge. This is one of the most popular attractions, so be prepared for crowds and queues. Timing it right is key – we rocked up sometime between 11 and 12 and got caught up in the groups arriving.
For the clearest views and smaller crowds I recommend heading over there first thing in the morning.
There are several ‘stops’ on the way up to the Skybridge, all which give amazing views over the island. With long queues some take the option to climb the final level by foot, but make sure you’re up for the challenge! Steps differ in size and height and the climb is steep. Even the healthier folk were stopping for breaks on the journey up!
When you finally get to the top you’re rewarded with jaw dropping views across the island. I wussed out and ended up staying by the edge, but braver folk will love the chance to walk across the bridge, which has segments of glass floor. Eek!
So there you have it – here’s 7 of the top things to see and do in Langkawi. Any take your fancy? Or have you been before and have something you’d recommend adding to the list? Please do share your experiences with us in the comments below!