Relaxing, scooting and jet skiing on the beautiful Malaysian island of Langkawi.
Tuesday 13 – Sunday 18 February 2018
Exploring more of Malaysia
With duty free prices on alcohol and chocolate and beautiful sandy beaches, you can see why Langkawi is popular for a weekend break in Malaysia. After a few days exploring George Town on Penang, trusty Air Asia flew us to Langkawi in 40 minutes for the bargain price of £13pp! (Oh, how I miss Air Asia.)
Planning to spend most of our time lazing on the beach, we picked a guesthouse an easy 10 minute stroll to Pantai Cenang. Aside from the beach, I think this area is also a bit of a party place but we were far enough from the centre to avoid this. We arrived at Langkawi International Airport at around 2.30pm and took a 10 minute Uber drive to the Bohok Guesthouse.
We were staying on Langkawi for five nights and it took me a while to find accommodation which was budget but nice enough to stay so long. Bohok Guesthouse was pretty basic but clean. The location is handy if you want to walk to the beach or scoot about. There’s a few places to eat nearby and once a week a huge night market appears across the street with loads of food options. Lina, the woman who owns the guesthouse, is very friendly and we spent a lot of time chatting about life here and back in the UK.
The best part of staying in the guesthouse, which was pure luck with timings, was that Lina’s cousin was getting married at the house next door and our host invited us to go along! So we got to experience a traditional, Malay, Muslim wedding. More about this later.
A word of warning
If you are planning a trip to Langkawi, I’d like to warn you that the sun here is super strong! After
only a few hours on the beach wearing factor 30, I was absolutely frazzled. I had to wear trousers to cover up for the next few days and it hurt. I’ve heard a few people say this about Langkawi so slap on tons of sunscreen so you don’t turn into a foolish lobster like me.
I’m a big fan of scooting about and had a brilliant time scooting around Krabi the previous month so we hired a scooter on Langkawi for a few days. Aside from lazing on the beach we wanted to do a bit of exploring and it was the easiest way to get around. A lot of places offering accommodation will also offer scooter hire. Our guesthouse didn’t and Lina pointed us in the direction of a few options towards the beach. I priced a few and we decided to rent from a place which cost MYR 30 per day. We filled up the scooter at one point and it worked out to be less than £1 so fuel is cheap!
Langkawi Sky bridge
Probably the most popular tourist attraction on Langkawi is the Sky Bridge. Officially opened in 2005, the Sky Bridge is one of the world’s largest curved suspension bridges. We hopped on our scooter and drove to the ‘Oriental Village’ at the bottom of the mountain in about 30 minutes.
In order to get to the Sky Bridge you need to walk through the ‘Village’ of shops and get the SkyCab (gondola) up the mountain. We went to the ticket office and asked to buy tickets just to get the gondola to the Sky Bridge, but this wasn’t an option. They have built some other tourist attractions at the bottom and any tickets were bundles including the cable car along with these. There is a local price and a tourist price (fair enough as the cost of living in Malaysia is much lower than home). The cost of our tickets was MYR 50 each, which I found to be very expensive in contrast to other things in Malaysia. In comparison our scooter cost MYR 40 for a day. This ticket doesn’t actually give you access to the Sky Bridge either and you need to pay another MYR 5 at the top for this.
When we got to the queue for the cable car, we were told that you’re not allowed to take plastic bottles with you and had to dispose of these at the bottom (it was over 30 degrees). When we got to the top there was a shop selling bottles of water and juice. I had thought that stopping people taking bottles up the hill might have been about wanting to stop plastic waste but it was obviously just about making money.
At various points during our journey up, we were stopped by staff asking to take our photos. When I said no, they were very pushy. By the third photo stop, I was very abrupt and refused to pose for a photo I knew I didn’t want to buy. Why would I buy a photo of us green screened against the view when we had taken our own real photo of this?
We got the gondola up the hill, stopping at the mid-way point for views. The views were absolutely stunning and you could see the beautiful islands in the distance. From the top we spent a while wandering about and admiring the views. Beautiful in every direction.
We actually decided against spending the extra money to walk over the Sky Bridge. The views from the top were great and I felt really annoyed by the salesy ‘theme park’ feel of the place so didn’t want to pay any more than we had.
As we’d been forced to buy a ticket with a bundle of other attractions, I insisted that we make use of it by visiting the SkyDome before we left. After queuing for a while, we sat through the 360 degree show, which was ok but definitely not something that I’d choose to pay for.
If it is a cloudy day, it’s probably not worth the trip.
A few days after our trip, the gondolas broke down and 88 tourists had to wait hours in the gondolas to be rescued. Given that it is over 30 degrees heat outside and they wouldn’t have been allowed to have water, I think that it’s actually a very dangerous rule.
After being so disappointed with the Sky Bridge, we decided to find another hill for a view which was free. We scooted for about 20 minutes and found the turnoff to the road. From there we wound around…and around…and around the roads on the mountain, climbing to the top. On more than one occasion we thought about giving up as it was taking SO long! We also started worrying about how much petrol we had left for the return journey. After about 45 we found the top!! And… it was cloudy so we couldn’t see much of a view.
If you’re looking for a less salesy option of a view from the island, I’d recommend it – if you’re prepared for such a long, winding journey. But make sure it’s a clear day (sounds pretty obvious in hindsight…) and maybe pack a picnic. I think there is a place at the top with some catering.
Seven Wells Waterfalls
About five minutes drive from the bottom of the SkyCab are Seven Wells Waterfalls, or Telaga Tujuh. We arrived quite late in the day but I think a lot of people had spent the day here, cooling down in the water. There’s a car park at the bottom where we parked up our scooter and we walked up the hill towards the waterfalls.
We veered left from the road up to visit waterfalls near the bottom of the hill before embarking in a long walk up a lot of steps to the top of the mountain. It was super hot and humid and I was wearing trousers (due to the sunburn I’d stupidly sustained) so the walk up was a struggle! Nice views from the top though.
There are a lot of monkeys in the waterfalls area and we had fun watching them playing around but do keep in mind that, aside from any threat of disease, they’re also little thieving punks. Don’t get too close or they’ll steal your belongings! There are lots of signs to say don’t feed the monkeys and we never fed any we saw around SE Asia. We were half amused and half concerned to see a monkey going through someone’s leftover KFC bag and lapping up the remaining Pepsi.
When we left the waterfalls, it was getting late so much quieter than it would be during the day and the monkeys were out in full force, lopping up and down the road and fighting with each other.
There are monkeys all over the island and we stopped our scooter by the road a few times to observe their antics.
I think jet skiing must be one of the most fun activities in the world! We walked down to Pantai Cenang and hired a jet ski for 30 minutes. There are a few options for hire along the beach. I can’t remember exactly how much we paid but we told one company that we had been given a slightly lower price elsewhere and they discounted the price so it’s worth having a barter. We were given a few instructions, told which areas to avoid and we were off! 30 minutes didn’t sound very long but I had a ridiculous amount of fun slamming on the accelerator (or whatever it’s called on a jet ski) and speeding out into the horizon, shouting “WOOOOOOOOOO!!” while David suggested slowing down.
Sadly, as with every beach I have visited, there was plastic floating about in the ocean and we tried to pick up a few things that we saw. Very difficult when the wake of the jet ski would push it away but we managed to take a few things back to shore (after circling them) to put in the bin.
As a side note, I don’t think there is anywhere on Langkawi which recycled which I found very disappointing. We were there five nights drinking bottled water and had so many plastic bottles to throw out at the end which really pains me. There was a refill water station outside our accommodation but it was out of order. I found Malaysia in general very poor for recycling options.
Another jet skiing option that we pondered was a jet ski tour, which takes you on a guided tour of the islands. We opted for the 30 minute hire to save funds but half a day on a jet ski sounds awesome!
Dataran Lang – Langkawi Eagle
I had seen photos of a massive eagle overlooking the ocean so we decided to search for it on our scooter. It was quite a scoot and we arrived in the much biggest and busier city of Kuah. At the waterfront there is a big statue of an eagle. The eagle seemed to be a big tourist draw and was near the cruise terminal so the area was super busy.
I’d say not worth going out of your way to visit this especially if you’re staying in Pantai Cenang as we were. Scooting about the area on the busy roads is much less enjoyable than the local area. It was dark by the time we were driving back to the Guesthouse and I was very happy to park up the scooter for the night.
On our first walk from the Guesthouse to Pantai Cenang (beach), we noticed a cafe/bar called The Kasbah en route and went in for some food. Much more expensive than the night markets, but much healthier food and some vegetarian and vegan options. Classing itself as a travellers’ cafe and guesthouse, there are hostel style options to spend the night in which looked really nice from what we could see – with the option of ‘flying beds’! The place has a chilled out vibe with good food and drinks and live music some evenings. We ended up visiting a few times during our stay on Langkawi. Aside from enjoying feeling like a travelling hipster, one thing that lured me back was the chance to see the resident kitten who I nicknamed ‘Wee Ginge’ and narrowly avoided being smuggled out of Langkawi by me!
There are night markets all over Langkawi, with one at a different part of the island every night of the week. Lucky for us, Thursday’s Bohor Temoyong Night Market takes place right across the road from Bohok Guesthouse! We grazed a few of the stalls for dinner, taking food back across to sit at the Guesthouse. Not all the healthiest of choices, many using a LOT of oil but some tasty options and all super cheap. For example little pancakes at 5 for 20p and a portion of noodles for 40p. A great place to feast if you’re running low on Ringgit! Check out the Night Market schedule for where they are each day.
As I mentioned earlier, Lina’s cousin was getting married during the time we were staying at the guesthouse and there was a big wedding party at the house next door to celebrate. Lina very kindly asked us to come along and we jumped at the chance. Initially I was worried that we’d be intruding but remembered Malay weddings are huge affairs and very different to the 30-guest wedding we had!
Unsure what to wear, Lina told me she would provide a baju kurung for me. On the day I was a little relieved to find that another European couple and their daughter who were staying at the guesthouse were also attending so we wouldn’t be the only ‘Mat Salleh’ there.
I dressed in my baju kurung and David put on cotton trousers and a shirt and we went next door with Lina. As soon as we arrived, David and the other guy were ushered in one direction and the women in a different direction so it was lucky David had a buddy!
Lina encouraged us to get some food and the four of us ladies sat under one of the big tents eating. The happy couple sit and pose for photos and David and I got a photo with them (after we had reunited!). All the while, a man was playing music and doing a bit of singing along!
The other wedding guests were very welcoming towards us, smiling at us and one group of young girls even asked for a selfie with me! We stayed at the wedding party for about an hour before giving a gift of some Ringgit to the bride’s mother and saying our thanks.
A relaxing break
Although not as cultural or historic as many of the places we visited in South East Asia, Langkawi is a great place for a relaxing break if you’re looking to chill for a few days. A lot of people that I spoke to in Malaysia often visit the island for weekend getaways and you can see why. I think we’d find ourselves back in Langkawi if we were living in Malaysia long term.