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I just spent the last week or so in Penang and in  cheap Langkawi hotels, so I wanted to let you guys know about this gem of an island. Langkawi is island paradise, and a tax free haven to boot ($0.45 beers anyone?!), it’s not overcrowded, it’s not overpriced and it’s not full of 18 year old English and American gets getting smashed like on the Thai islands, although there is still a great nightlife to be had. I’m just gonna run through a couple of questions for you so when you finally make it here, you’ll know the score.

Langkawi  Where should I stay in Langkawi? As a backpacker, you’ll want to stay in Cenang Beach, in the South West of the island, about 15 minutes from the airport or 30 minutes from the ferry port. Full of hostels, bars and home to the longest, most popular beach too. Don’t worry about booking ahead, there are so many places to choose from. Dorms start around $5, singles/doubles around $10.

Cenang beach bar
Loads of places to sleep and chill on Cenang beach

Is Langkawi expensive? In comparison to the rest of Malaysia, and the overpriced Thai islands? Nope. Cheap booze, cheap petrol (it costs $1.50 to fill up your scooter!), delicious food. You can easily get buy on $20-$30 a day here. Food for $2 or $3 is delicious and easy to find.

cheap food in langkawi
This cost about $3


How do I get there? You can fly (airasia), or you can take a ferry. The ferries run from:

a)    Penang, another Malaysian island, they take about 2 ½ hours. The Penang Langkawi ferry price is $20

b)   Or you can take a ferry from the Thai side, from a town near Phuket called Satun. The Thailand Langkawi ferry costs $10 and takes less than an hour. Easy!

* A lot of people do their Thai visa runs to Penang and then fly back to Bangkok or wherever. But I’d suggest to fly to Penang, get your visa sorted then take the ferry to Langkawi, chill there, then the ferry onto Thailand, from there you can go where you want. That’s what I did and it was a hugely successful trip.

Penang Langkawi Ferry

Things to see and do in Langkawi: Langkawi is small but it packs a real punch. Here are the top 5 things to see and doon this awesome island.


1)   The Cable Car & Hanging Bridge: Take the cable car ($10) to the top of one of the mountains in the North West of the island. Once you get to the top there’s a sky bridge offering 360 views of the island, pretty amazing. If you’re in Langkawi for a few days, only go here when the skies are clear, if it’s cloudy or windy the bridge will be closed!

skybridge in Langkawi 

2)   Rent a scooter and drive around the island: The first thing I do on every island is rent a scooter. It costs around $10 a day to rent and about $1 a day for fuel.  Once you’ve got this, you’re free to explore. To drive around the whole island takes 2 or 3 hours and it’s a beautiful drive. I actually rented my bike straight off the ferry which was handy because then I could drive myself back to the ferry to leave again, no wasted money on overpriced taxis!


Scooters in Langkawi

3)   Check out the beaches, including Pantai Cenang & Pasir Tengkorak: Island life is all about the beaches, and Langkawi is full of them. If you explore the island you can have a lot of the beaches all to yourself, if you want some company Cenang Beach is always the busiest.

sunset on Cenang beach
sunset on Cenang beach

4)   Island hopping: Langkawi is actually an archipelago of 99 islands so you can jump on a tour boat for 4 hours or so. It usually costs around $10 and takes you to 2 or 3 deserted islands. Bring your sun screen!

Island hopping in Langkawi
Island hopping in Langkawi

5)   Check out the waterfalls at Seven Wells and Telagah Tujuh (near the cable car station): Waterfalls galore in Langkawi, these are probably the best two, and their pretty close together so prime your camera and get over here asap.


waterfall in Langkawi
The bottom of Seven Wells waterfall

NOTE:  Don’t go and see Mahsuri’s mausoleum, probably the biggest waste of time and money imaginable!


I hope this has sparked your interest. I’ve been to nearly every country in Asia east of Pakistan and never made it to Langkawi until last week, and I have been missing out. This place rocks. Happy travels!


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41 thoughts on “Backpacking in Langkawi, Malaysia. Cheap Island Paradise!

  1. hi there

    Thanks for the information. I’m just wondering if people there are friendly toward black people? I want to go on a vacation at Langkawi but I don’t want to go and experience the same type of racism I’m going through in cyberjaya.

  2. thanks for your blog….it’s great tip! do i need international driver’s license to drive a scooter? I’m a motorbike driver so it’s not problem w/ scooter. Thanks

  3. Hi,

    If you’re in Cenang how long is the travel time going to The Cable Car & Hanging Bridge? Is there a commute (bus,jeepney) going to that location?or only private car can go there?

    1. Cenang to cable car – 15mins (no bus no tuk tuk – only Taxi around 30RM – but you can rent a bike for a day for 35 – 40RM

  4. You just made my day with this gem of information! I am sitting in our room in Bangkok trying to decide a good and inexpensive way to go towards KL and Singapore, with my daughters. Was getting frustrated with looking at trains and buses… then your article popped up. Thanks sooo much!

  5. This website is unbelievably USEFUL! Thanks so much for writing it. Its blogs like these which make backpacking so much less stressful. I’m there for 3 nights and intend to do it all!

  6. Me and my friend are planning to visit langkawi on a budget for 3 days in August start! Anyone who could help us with what places to visit and where to hang out and party?

  7. Thanks for this info 🙂 I’m hoping to go in July for Ramadan and would like to experience it on a beach but with locals as im trying to learn about their Religion, customs and ramadan. The prices of Censang are perfect as Im backpacking but not looking for nightlife and beer… any advice?

  8. Thanks for this info 🙂 I’m hoping to go in July for Ramadan and would like to experience it on a beach but with locals as im trying to learn about their Religion, customs and ramadan. The prices of Censand are perfect as Im backpacking but not looking for nightlife and beer… any advice?

  9. Stay at Rainbow Guesthouse, close to the beach, cheap and clean rooms, plus Gary the age keeper is a top boy!

  10. Myself and friends are travelling south east Asia in August and September of this year, we had originally planned to head from Thailand into Malaysia and to the Perhentian Islands and from then onto KL. However, reading this page has completely changed our minds and we can’t wait to pay Langkawi a visit instead of the Perhentians on our way down to KL. It’s either a truly fantastic place to visit or the local people of Langkawi are paying you a hell of a lot of money to write this great page and pull in more tourists! Quick question; since myself and friends will be travelling to the island from the Satun ferry port in Thailand, what is the best way to get to Satun from Phi Phi area? Also do you just sort Malaysia visa out upon disembarking the ferry on Langkawi?

    1. haha this is a free post bro! I love Langkawi, it’s awesome! Malaysian visa is on arrival, so no stress there (90 days for brits), from Phi Phi to Satun there should be a bus, but if there’s 3 or 4 of you a taxi should be pretty reasonable too. Let me know who you get on mate

  11. hey! l will be going langkawi soon from singapore soon…gotta so excited now…do l need to book the hostel in advance or just go there and see?

  12. hey, I am going to langkawi soon. i am thinking of going there to hike but since i’ll be pretty much alone yet on a budget but i still want to find a place wwhich is safe for a lone female traveller to stay at. you mentioned about getting hstels in cenang. any specific suggestions?

    1. i can’t remember where i stayed, but i think i paid around $12 my a pvt room with air con, there are so many there – it’s not too difficult 🙂

  13. Awesome feature on Langkawi; I’ve been there 4 times and it still doesn’t feel like enough (considering I’m Malaysian, I could probably afford to go more frequently than that, heh). Living there seems like it’ll be some good times.

    And yeah I second the recommendation to stay at the many cheap motels/hotels at Pantai Chenang. I love the fact that there are so many restaurants and shops to comb through come nighttime.

    Plus if you have a license, renting a car is not a bad option for those who have no idea how to ride a scooter (that would be me).

    1. renting a car is great for some people but i can’t handle the responsibility! lol As a malaysian, this must be tempting to go to every time u have a long weekend!

  14. Hello mate , great news, Me and a mate fly to Kl on the 29/12 and then head over to Langkawi on new years day. I was sitting here thinking back to T land or take the Langkawi option, you have sealed it , cheers.

  15. Oh yes. Spent a week on Cenang beach back in 2003 mate. Sunsets, frisbee & Tiger beers. I remember taking that cable car with one mother of a hangover. Happy days. I hope to get back there next year – en route to Oz & NZ – to see how much it has changed (no doubt it has). Is the island still a duty-free zone Johnny (it was back on ’03)? & you never mentioned the crocodile farm. Is it still there?

    1. very much duty free Dave!! Which is a welcome respite from the extortionate booze prices on the Malaysian mainland! The crocodile farm does seem to be open but I never manage a visit – would u recommend it?

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