Blessed with 99 islands, Langkawi promises to be an unforgettable holiday destination. This island has been declared a duty-free island in 1987, and locals especially, flock to Langkawi to shop for chocolates and crockery!
Langkawi is truly a tourist destination, so much so that the Government relocated all existing factories to the mainland, in order to keep the Langkawi air clean. So gone are the factories, except for one – the humongous Lafarge cement factory, which cannot be relocated due to the nature of its operations.
We figured Langkawi has something for everyone – the laze around type, the shoppers, the business travellers, and even the adventure seekers. But no matter what type of traveller you are, The Gaya Travellers would like to suggest our Langkawi in 12 hours itinerary. Be a tourist. We did, and we thoroughly enjoyed getting all touristy, and after that you can get back to whatever it is you came to Langkawi for.
For ease of mobility, we highly recommend that you rent a car and drive yourself around the island. Car rentals are easily available and reasonably priced.
09:00 – Picnic by the beach
Casa del Mar has this unique Castaway Picnic, where they whisk you off to a secluded part of Pulau Dayang Bunting and leave you in a tent, with a picnic basket, and a walkie talkie to call your boatmen when you are all done with your picnic. There is only one slot per day, so be sure to book well in advance, it is made available to non-guests too.
But if you’re not able to get a booking, why not go DIY. Pack a sandwich or two, and make your own picnic by the beach. We love the beach in the morning, so serene and inviting.
12:30 – Lunch at Casa del Mar
We call this a getaway within a getaway. Casa del Mar feels like we were at a Mediterranean country. So quiet and quaint, you would not have believed that just outside the main door, is the hustling Cenang. Enjoy your lunch, and refrain yourself from speaking Spanish to the waiters.
14:30 – Laman Padi
Laman Padi is just across the street from Casa del Mar. What’s unique about this place is that you get to experience firsthand on how the paddy is planted. Spread over 14acres of land, Laman Padi is a living museum, where actual paddy plants are being planted for visitors to see and touch. There is also Heritage Gallery, Rice Gallery and Medicinal Herbs Gallery for visitors to learn more.
15:30 – Cable Car at Oriental Park
We love riding the cable car! The view at 700metres is simply breathtaking, and not to be missed. And we never missed this scenic ride, ever since it started its operations. Those who are afraid of heights will get a bit queasy riding up the Gunung Mat Cincang, and the 20 minutes journey may seem like forever. It is safe, rest assured. Do not miss the chance to walk on the Skybridge, one of the world’s longest curved suspension bridges and enjoy the experience. The Skybridge was closed for maintenance and upgrading works when we went, so do check first at www.panoramalangkawi.com to avoid disappointment.
17:00 – Tanjung Rhu
In our opinion, Tanjung Rhu has the best beach in the whole of the main Langkawi Island. For some reason, certain part of the beach was cordoned off, and what was left is just a small part of the nice beach for the public to enjoy. We love Tanjung Rhu because of the nice Pokok Rhu lining the beach. We were feeling a little peckish, so we decided to have some banana fritters at the nearby stall while waiting for the drizzle to stop.
There are some tour operators canvassing their services by the beach, like eagle feeding and island hopping. If you have some time on your hands, do experience these activities, as both are unique in their own way.
17:30 – Dataran Lang (Eagle Square)
Have your picture taken at this huge eagle monument. The eagle looked like it’s been painted recently, its feathers more detailed looking than the last time we went to visit it two years ago. Of all our four visits to Langkawi, one thing has been consistent, and that is visiting the huge eagle. It is like visiting the Statue of Liberty whenever we go to New York. A must, for The Gaya Travellers.
18:00 – Duty Free Shopping in Kuah Town
People come to Langkawi to shop for two things – chocolates, and kitchen stuff. Even cigarettes and alcoholic drinks cannot match the popularity of these two items. Mounts of chocolates and rows of Correlles, Visions, and other kitchen utensils are a normal sight in any shops. For some unknown reason, Haji Ismail Group seemed to be very popular with visitors, especially during school holidays. We have compared prices with other neighbouring shops, and found that prices are more or less the same. For chocolates, just be sure you are buying imported ones, and those made in Malaysia are of the same price, if not more expensive than in other parts in Malaysia. Do refer to our Duty Free Shopping Guide so you will not get into trouble with the Customs officers at the airport.
19:30 – Pasar Malam (The Night Market)
There are nightmarkets held daily in different parts of Langkawi. We highly recommend the one in Kuah, held every Wednesday and Saturday evenings. The nightmarkets start as early as 6pm. There are many interesting local food sold here at the nightmarkets, be sure to try some!
20:00 – Dinner at Sheela’s Restaurant and Cafe, Pantai Tengah
Langkawi offers many international and local cuisines to suit your taste buds. For this particular night, we chose to dine al fresco at Sheela’s, a restaurant owned by a friendly husband and wife team. This place offers a homely ambience, with a western and traditional Malay cuisine menu. There are the owners’ cats running about the lawn, and our host Sheela talks to you like a long lost aunt.
21:00 – Pantai Cenang
This part of Langkawi comes alive at night, with many restaurants, pubs, and brightly-lit shops selling souvenirs. A typical scenario of a beach town, stroll through Pantai Cenang and see what you can find!
What we had suggested is a merely a tip of the iceberg. There are of course so many interesting things to see and discover, especially those related to the folklores, like Makam Mahsuri (Mahsuri’s Tomb), Padang Beras Terbakar (Field of Burnt Rice), Tasik Dayang Bunting (Lake of the Pregnant Maiden), and many others. There are many parks like The Underwater World, Buffalo Park and Wildlife Park to occupy the children’s time too. Nature lovers would appreciate the various snorkelling and diving spots and also the many caves. Take your time to explore the legendary island at your pace, it is afterall, a holiday! We recommend a stay for at least four days, and a minimum stay of 48 hours is required for you to enjoy the duty-free shopping.
THE GAYA TRAVELLERS LANGKAWI TIPS
Must Buy : Gamat
As you drive in Langkawi, you will be bound to see some shops specialising in Gamat (Sea Cucumber) products. It is potent in healing wounds and burns. Be sure to get some and keep it handy in your kitchen. There are many products available to suit your need, so take your time to browse. We always get the Minyak Gamat to heal wounds and burns from hot oil, and Gamat Balm to treat insect bites. They work!
Must Eat :
There are many stalls by the roadside selling delicious local laksa, especially near the airport runway. The local laksa is fat rice noodle, doused with delicious fish-based gravy made from tamarind juice, chillies, shallots, and shrimp paste. Garnished with bunga kantan (torch ginger), julienned cucumbers, raw onion slices and boiled eggs, these simple ingredients taste heavenly!
Gulai Panas is a term locals use to describe the way of cooking the dish. What you do, is choose your fish from the various available fresh fish at the restaurant and hand them over to the waiter for the cooking process. Gulai Panas refers to freshly cooked curry. Restaurants do offer other ways of cooking your freshly picked seafood too. We love them fried!
Langkawi Duty-Free Shopping Guideline
First things first, you must stay a minimum of 48 hours to qualify for the duty-free shopping. (Information courtesy of Royal Malaysia Customs)
• Wine / spirit / malt / liquor not exceeding 1 litre.
• Tobacco not exceeding 225grams (equal to 200 sticks of cigarettes)
• New wearing apparels up to 3 pieces
• 1 pair of new footwear
• Portable electrical or battery operated appliances for personal care and hygiene not exceeding 1 unit each
• Foods preparations up to total value of not exceeding RM75
• All other goods including gifts and souvenirs other than alcoholic beverages, spirits, tyres, tubes, tobacco, cigarettes and motor vehicles,valued not exceeding RM500.