© 2010 Frank P. Schneidewind
The ferries from Kuala Kedah, Kuala Perlis or Satun in Thailand have a competition only from Penang directly. Other than boat transport, Langkawi is accessible via their international airport directly. Countless trips there since 2002 have given us some insight on the pros and cons of this holiday destination in beautiful Malaysia, our home during the years 2007 through 2008. Malaysia's islands have a tendency to remind oneself, how Thailand must have been like in the past. We scooted around much and have had the privilege to check out all given options for a tourist or traveler here, especially the beaches. Boat rides from the mainland are done by efficient high speed ferries, the transit times depend much on your starting point, but one can be here as quick as in 45 minutes. Our previous escapades also resulted in some SIAMPEDIA reports, Tanjung Rhu (one of our Top 10 beaches in SE Asia!) was one and the interior mountains with their nifty cable car rides, deserve a fully featured future report.
There is much to see from the ferries sun deck or upper deck already, over the years we even saw dolphins and flying fish during transit to Kuah pier. I always enjoy the stiff breeze and we both love to keep our noses in the wind anyhow. Closed compartments give us the creeps. See the island scenery during the approach to Langkawi's outer islands in this short video from the passing ferry:
A real windjammer signals to us, we're there soon. It is anchored close to Kuah and does entertain a higher budget clientele on tours and charters.
From Kuah pier it is a half hour drive to either Pantai Tengah or Pantai Cenang. A neat restaurant with a small light house dominates Pantai Tengah, the southern neighbor of Pantai Cenang. Tourist developments over the years have brought medium to upper class accommodations here. The backpackers have long resorted to other islands, although this was their domain too, up to the Millennium. Langkawi has resisted over-developments nicely, unlike a lot of their Thai counterparts (Phuket, Koh Samui). It has a generally relaxed atmosphere, but avoid the biennial airplane sales show LIMA at all cost, it wreaks havoc on the fun here. LIMA is a predominantly military airplane sales event, with airshows daily and several heads of state and ministers from around the globe in attendance.
During the 23 3/4 months between LIMA shows, Langkawi retains its island charm and status as a duty free zone. The entire island is duty free, which may result in beers being cheaper than Coca-Cola and a global wine selection being at Asia's lowest possible price level. Beach side restaurants invite nightly for the dinner sunset spectacle, which is quite nice. While the few jet skiers stop activities before dusk, the para-sailers offer rides into the sunset!
The food served here is plentiful, there are many beach side options plus a lot of eateries along the beach road. Accommodations are sometimes on the beach itself, the cheap huts of the past have been replaced by solid structures with A/C and amenities. Many hotels to choose from to suit most tourists budget. Parasailing for example, remains popular with the holiday crowd. It is more expensive here, than in Batu Ferringhi, but cheaper than in most Thai holiday destinations. The beaches are well kept year round and probably daily, a perfect environment for families with small children.
Restaurants by the sea begin firing up their BBQs in the late afternoons. There are plenty to select from.
A drink with an old expat friend after a lengthy beach walk, this place was run by an Irish lady.
The taller mountain in the background (peak is cloud covered) will be a future feature story here. It is called Gunung Macincang and is Langkawi's second highest Peak, it tops out with a great viewing platform 712 m above the sea and has a splendid suspension bridge over the rain forest there with the best views on the island.
Sunsets are to be had almost daily with different colored undertones at Pantai Tengah and Pantai Cenang: