Langkawi, Malaysia was a disappointment.
On my most recent trip to Asia, I was thrilled to spend the last couple days of our whirlwind adventure relaxing on a beautiful island in Malaysia. However, despite the island coming highly recommended to us, for the most part, I found Langkawi lackluster and uninspiring.
Why, you ask?
Langkawi’s beaches were underwhelming.
Perhaps I wouldn’t feel this way if I wasn’t spoiled by residing a few hours drive from the pristine beaches of the Florida panhandle or if I hadn’t traveled to the gorgeous islands of Southern Thailand, but I wasn’t overly impressed by Langkawi’s beaches. Sure, they were nice, but “nice” pretty much summed them up for me.
Because Langkawi is not one island, but an archipelago of 104 islands, “island hopping” tours are a popular activity. Of course, the day of our prebooked private tour, we had less than stellar weather. But, slowly but surely, the sun made its way through the clouds…
The tour began by taking us to the “Island of the Pregnant Maiden” which, as the name suggests, resembles the shape of pregnant woman laying on her back. Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park was located on the island, and there was a fresh water lake where you could swim or rent a paddle boat.
However, getting to the lake from our boat was easier said than done…
The island was covered with monkeys.
They were EVERYWHERE.
These monkeys were devious. And, they were not afraid of humans in the least bit.
As people would walk by, the overly aggressive monkeys would make a quick grab for purses, scarves, or anything else that they could get their tiny hands on. Every few minutes we heard a shriek from a poor soul who was “attacked” or harassed by one of these little beasts. Unfortunately, my girlfriends and I weren’t excluded from this “fun.” One freakishly large monkey jumped off a rail and attempted to pry my purse off my shoulder. Another one grabbed on to Crystal’s dress and refused to let it go. (She was literally spinning around trying to fling the monkey off of her. When it finally gave up and let go of her, it left muddy little hand prints all over her dress)!
After our narrow escape from the horrendous little creatures, we hopped into our boat and set off to the next island to watch wild eagles feed. Our captain threw fish into the sea as we watched large eagles swoop down to the water and catch the prey in their talons.
Our last stop was at Beras Basah Island – a pristine beach where we were given time to swim, sunbathe, or partake in water sports.
Although our island hopping tour was the “highlight” of our stay in Langkawi, it still paled in comparison to exploring the coves around Phi Phi Lei by traditional wooden fishing boat on our trip to Thailand.
Langkawi’s nightlife was seriously lacking.
Although we didn’t explore much beyond Pantai Cenang, we stayed in this particular area because it was supposed to be where things were more lively! Trust me, I’m not 21 anymore (unfortunately), so it’s not like I was in search of a Miami night club, but I would have liked to grab a couple of drinks in a lively establishment after dinner… instead, we found a romantic upscale restaurant where we drank champagne and watched the sunset.
But once the sun went down, we realized that the remainder of the restaurant patrons were couples on a date – not exactly the lively atmosphere we were seeking.
Closer to our hotel, we did find one “diamond in the rough” which was, interestingly, an Irish pub…in Malaysia. This was one of the few bar/restaurant establishments that was open past 11:00 p.m., but my girlfriend and I were the only ones in the bar aside from two young Australian backpackers (who also expressed their discontent with the island’s nightlife, or lack thereof).
We were bored while in Langkawi.
Aside from the aforementioned activities, there just didn’t seem like there was much to do or see in Langkawi. Well, aside from the cable car, which was, again, just “fine.” When we arrived, there was over a two hour wait to go up the mountain in the cable car, so rather than paying something in the vicinity of $20 for our ticket, we paid $30 to skip the line. Like I said, the experience and views were okay, but they weren’t worth the $30 price tag.
For the most part, Langkawi bore me. I know, I know… for most people, the whole point of going to the beach is to relax. And don’t get me wrong, I enjoy spending time seafront or poolside, but for a destination to really grab me, I need more options.
This all being said, there were some things about the island that I did like:
Our location was convenient.
I certainly have no complaints regarding the $30 price tag of my plane ticket from Kuala Lampur to Langkawi on Air Asia. Once on the island, we decided to stay at Frangipani Langkawi Resort and Spa – a moderately priced resort on the beach in Pantai Cenang.
We chose to stay in Pantai Cenang due to its proximity to the majority of the island’s restaurants, bars, and attractions. The location of our hotel, and Pantai Cenang in general, proved to be a wise decision. For the duration of our stay, we only needed a taxi on two occasions: to the airport and to the cable car. Plus, we were able to walk to a wide array of restaurants and shops from our resort.
The sunsets were gorgeous.
Like most Asian Islands, our stay in Langkawi did afford us some gorgeous sunsets…
The food was diverse and delicious.
For me, food can play a huge role in making or breaking a trip. My favorite thing about Langkawi may have been the food. Although the majority of Malaysians are Muslim, Langkawi is also home to many Indians, Chinese, and Thai people. The island seemed to be a mismash of cultures, which was definitely reflected in the cuisine – seafood, Thai, Indian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern restaurants were found around each bend in the road. As a lover of Indian and Middle Eastern dishes, I most looked forward to my meals while on the island (which were starkly different from what we ate earlier on the trip in Cambodia and Vietnam).
Despite the fact that I found some aspects of the island enjoyable, I still wouldn’t go back and wouldn’t recommend the island to others who are traveling to Asia (or, at least not to travelers on even a quasi-tight time frame). For two of my girlfriends traveling with me, it was their first time to Asia and I couldn’t shake the guilty feeling I had for dragging them along to Langkawi rather than exploring one of the nearby Thai islands.
I can’t help but wonder what “all the fuss is about” when it comes to Langkawi…
Did I miss something? Did I “do” Langkawi all wrong?
Have you been? What did you think?