From KL Sentral we head north. Past rivers and trees, from built up residential areas, to huts and grand houses; the landscape changes. The contrast between rich and poor evident. The occasional temple, colourfully adorned, comes into view. Becoming mountainous, new builds to old, we arrive into the open expanse of water and boats near Butterworth. Reaching Kuala Perlis and buying our ferry tickets, we relax with some tasty nasi goreng.
After a hot ferry, our arrival into Kuah is met with a raft of many taxi drivers. Apparently non negotiable the fares are already set. Costing us 30 ringgit (£6) to get to Pantai Cenai, it actually was a fair flung distance. Our planned chill and down time, relaxing on the beach was the main aim. Pantai Cenai a bit rough in the water, we found some calmer beaches north west further round the road.
We choose to spend one of our day’s snorkelling at Pulau Payar. An ‘organised’ tour with at least 8 buses worth of people, I think this puts the amount of people that were on the beach in Ko Phi Phi in Thailand where the Beach movie was filmed to shame. Obviously trying to maximise profits, the amount of people in the water was ridiculous! Most seemingly staying close to shore with life jackets, escaping along the coastline by ourselves I managed to see a foot long shark! Nice to be in the water, unfortunately left with some sore sunburn (the hazards of a cloudy day and forgetting to do the back of my legs – I know, my bad) we were left exhausted at having to contend with so many people…
One of my favourite days in Langkawi though was motorbiking around most of the island. Stopping by Eagle Point in Kuah, taking our time at Wat Koh Wanararm (Lucky Temple) (it was awesome), finding Sri Maha Mariamman Devasthanam Temple by the side of the road, enjoying tasty, cheap Indian food in the restaurant opposite it, driving through Kilim Nature Park, then an impromptu climb of Gunung Raya – the highest point in Langkawi (they even give you tea!), at only 10 ringgit and no other tourists it was a peaceful haven of stillness with a crackingly awesome view :-).
Also using the motorbike to get to the well reviewed Langkawi cable car (no buses on the island), the ride to the top was very cool, if a bit tourist centric (many necessary pictures to pass barriers as well as an extra charge to reach the skydeck – be warned the ‘nature walk’ to get there involved many steps in the sweltering heat! Recommend paying the extra not to walk if it’s hot!) With a disappointing, cloud obscured view from the skydeck it felt a bit overpriced and taken advantage of. Perhaps just luck as to the weather at the top, I’m totally backing Gunung Raya instead! 🙂
Langkawi was certainly the most expensive destination we stayed in Malaysia. Obviously paying for the beach front and the variety of option, they certainly know how to get money out of you! The amount of development on the island, the many, newly built, expensive houses, the effect of tourism on the island is evident. I’m glad we had had a few days in KL first and had found food cheaply around 6-10 ringgit and knew to explore around. Told that alcohol was cheap as there was no tax in Langkawi, they make up for it in retail charges! Cocktails between 20 and 40 ringgitt, when you can eat for 8, it is the equivalent of buying a £10 burger and a £50 bottle of wine! Admittedly yes, spend well on holiday, Ben and myself were both of the opinion that if you can do it a little bit cheaper most nights you should. :-).
Great to be at the beach, the cool breeze very welcome and enjoyable (less mozzies too!), some peaceful nights sat on the beach under the stars, tasty food, admittedly with some negative points (hotel not great and the cost involved), it was some much needed down time in a pretty location.
- Don’t bother with the cable car. Drive/motorbike your way to the top of Gungun Raya. We genuinely don’t understand why there weren’t more tourists there.
- If motorbiking round the island, if you need fuel, you need to go into the fuel station, put some money down, then fill up then collect change. 5 ringgit is plenty, most often we were 2 or 3 to fill the tank.
- We tried murtabak, claypot chicken and nasi lemak. Yum!
- Eat where it is busy and where there are locals. Generally much cheaper and tastier
Royal Agate Beach Resort. I wouldn’t recommend. Wifi was awful. Either somewhere cheaper which you expect to be cheap or splash out for somewhere nice.