Backpacking Southeast Asia 2012: Destination no. 5 – Langkawi, Malaysia

We’ve already been to Siem Reap in Cambodia and Kanchanaburi, Ayutthaya, and Bangkok in Thailand. It’s now time for Malaysia, and for our first stop in this country, it’s gonna be Langkawi. We were supposed to stay here for 4 days and 3 nights, but since some of the tourist spots that we wanted to see were closed due to maintenance, we cut our stay here short and stayed for just 3 days and 2 nights.

Before I share our itinerary, here’s how to go from Bangkok, Thailand to Langkawi, Malaysia by bus and then by ferry boat. From Sai Tai Mai (Bangkok Southern Bus Terminal) buy night bus tickets to Satun (Satun Border of Thailand to Malaysia), ideally it’s a 12 hours bus ride (this can get longer) for around 750-1000 THB depending on the bus class. Once you arrive at Satun Bus Terminal, take the tuk-tuk to Satun Seaport Terminal (Tammalang Pier). The immigration station is also there, have your passport stamped for your exit from Thailand then buy your ferry boat tickets (300 THB) to Langkawi, Malaysia.

Tip no.1, if you’re staying at Khao San Road in Bangkok, don’t buy tickets from any guesthouses/hostels or travel agencies around the area, there’s a high possibility of being scammed. Yes, you’ll get to your destination but might be 5 or more hours longer and with some transfers. Instead, go directly to Sai Tai Mai and buy your tickets there, the price is about 100 THB more expensive, but it’s legal and a direct bus ride (no transfers, it may stop from time to time at different bus terminals, but to just load and unload passengers).

Tip no.2, for night bus trips in Thailand, it’s best to eat your dinner before your trip. There would be a stop over for a night meal which is free/included in the bus fare, but they will just give you plain porridge and it’s not enough to satisfy your stomach.

Tip no.3, get the earliest bus schedule as possible, projected travel duration is not consistent. We got tickets for the one leaving at 6:00 PM, but we ended up having 15 hours bus ride instead of just 12. This caused for us to miss the first ferry to Langkawi which leaves at 9:30 AM and to wait for 4 hours for the next ferry schedule.

Tip no.4, for me, there’s not much difference in terms of comfort between the VIP Class and First Class buses, you can just take the First Class which is about 300 THB cheaper.

Once you arrive at the Langkawi Ferry Terminal, you’ll go through the security check and immigration process before officially setting foot on its soil. The ferry terminal of Langkawi is way better that Satun, it’s air-conditioned and has a mini duty free shop. There will be some taxi drivers who will offer you a ride to your hotel/guesthouse, you don’t need to be picky, they would all offer the same rates, and they’re not trying to rip you off. The price they offer is regulated, from the ferry terminal to anywhere at Pantai Cenang (where most of the guesthouses are located) it’s 24 MYR.

Tip no.5, the currency in Malaysia is MYR (Malaysian Ringgit). There are some money changers in the ferry terminal, just exchange a few bucks, enough for your taxi ride to your hotel/guesthouse. Exchange rate outside the ferry terminal is way better.

We stayed at The Cabin for 160 MYR (about 45 USD) per night. It’s walking distance to Pantai Cenang Beach and there are a lot of souvenir shops and restaurants nearby. There are also some money changers that offers better rates compared to the ones in the ferry terminal. We arrived there at around 4PM, checked-in, freshen-up then had our late lunch/early dinner at a nearby restaurant. After having our fill, we went to Pantai Cenang Beach and walked along the shore.
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After hanging out for awhile at the beach, we looked into some souvenir shops and travel agencies. We booked for a half day island hopping tour for the next day for only 30 MYR. The island hopping tour includes Dayang Bunting Island, Singha Besar Island, and Beras Basah island. We were fetched by a van early in the morning (around 7:00 AM) at our hostel and brought to the boat dock where boats were waiting for the guests to arrive. The first stop was the Dayang Bunting Island, visiting the Lake of the Pregnant Maiden, it has a serene surrounding, you can swim in the lake or do pedal boating. There are a lot of monkeys in this island, watch-out for your bags, especially if you got food in them, they’ll steal them away from you. The next stop was the Singha Besar Island where you observe the eagles being fed by one of the boats. Nothing much here, the eagles are small, not big enough to be photographed unless you have a really good zoom lens. And the last stop was the Beras Basah Island where you can swim or just play on the beach. The beach is nice with a powdery white sand. Then we were brought back to the boat dock where the van that picked us up early in the morning was already waiting to bring us back to the hostel. We arrived back at The Cabin at around 1:00 PM. Overall, it was a good half-day island hopping tour, worth the 30 MYR we payed for.

Langkawi half-day island hopping tour
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Dayang Bunting Island (Pregnant Maiden Island)
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Beras Basah Island (Wet Rice Island)
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After the island hopping tour, we went to Pantai Cenang Beach and have our late lunch at one of the restaurants there. We hang out for awhile and enjoyed the sun. Then when we’re done, we went to do some souvenir shopping and buy some snacks for dinner. We just stayed at our hostel for the rest of the night and prepared our stuff for our next destination. The next day, we checked out at around 10:00 AM, took a taxi to the Langkawi Ferry Terminal, had our lunch in one of the restaurants there, and bought our tickets to Penang. That’s it for our 2 nights stay at Langkawi.

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