Travel Diaries – Langkawi

February 2019

Just one year after our last visit to Malaysia we are back again! I did not have any plans to travel to Asia in 2019, but that all changed the day before Christmas when I was the lucky winner of a Scoot Facebook competition and I won airfares to any location that they fly to!

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Oh, the possibilities! I know they fly all the way from Australia to Europe, via Singapore, so I was dreaming of taking full advantage and going all the way there. But reality hit – we were already booked to go to Europe in April/May for six weeks, and there really is only so much leave Simon can get from his job! So Asia it was, but the question was where?

We chose Langkawi because we had not been here before and because Simon in particular really wanted to come here last year but we just couldn’t fit it into the schedule. Malaysia is also pretty cheap, and of course, we love the food! This is something like my fifth trip to Malaysia, so it is also familiar and easy.

What was potentially not going to be easy was the flights. While I am a serious budget flyer for short haul flights, when it comes to long haul, my travel hacking kicks in and I use my points to fly business. I always feel a thousand times better when I can get a little sleep on the flight.

Scoot does not have flat seats even in it’s ScootBiz section, and we were on the cheapest of the cheap tickets called simply “Fly”. We had no bags, no food, no entertainment, no seat selection. Of course we could add them on, but the cost soon mounted up, and I was trying to do this extra international trip on a reasonable budget. So no frills it was!

I could deal with the lack of food and entertainment, but I was worried a little about the 10kg carry-on limit. Not for my clothes and stuff though, but for my laptop and camera! No matter where I am I still need to work, at least a little.

On weighing my bag on the scales set aside just for that purpose before I was about to check in in Melbourne it came to exactly 10kg! But do you know what? No one else weighed it. I could have squeezed some extras in! (But I don’t necessarily recommend this!)

On the morning we were leaving Adelaide, things didn’t start off so well. We had a big weekend and I didn’t get much sleep so I made an error when I set my alarm. Instead of waking my up at 5am, I woke at 5:40am. We had to leave no later than 6am to get to the airport for our first flight to Melbourne!

It was a crazy, mad rush just to pull some clothes on then finish packing the last few things we needed. We jumped in the car, then had that usual last minute panic – where are the passports? We had them last night, but which bag did they get shoved into? A few minutes later we found them, and were on our way.

We had to check a bag each in Adelaide since Jetstar only had a carry-on limit of 7kg. I discovered onboard when reading the magazine that it’s possible to pay for extra carry-on to make it 10kg. If I had known that beforehand I would have done that rather than pay for a checked bag, mostly to save the repacking once we got to Melbourne.

We had an uneventful transfer, and were soon boarding our Scoot flight, and we figured with a name like Barry, our ride on this plane was going to be a good one. We settled into our seats, commented on how spacious they felt after the recent Jetstar flight – and then all our thoughts of a good flight evaporated!

The person who sat down beside us smelled! Really bad. I wasn’t even next to him and I could smell his breath when he breathed! And his general body odour – ugh! We had eight more hours to survive, and no spare seats on the plane!

Apart from our inability to breath freely, the flight was fairly good. It was a daytime flight, so no sleep was needed. I’m a reader anyway, so mostly occupied myself by plowing through a book. I played a mindless game on my phone for a bit, and snacked on all the food we brought until we landed in Singapore exactly on time.

An hour after we had landed, we were checking in to our hostel, Backpacker’s Inn Chinatown. We had a private room with shared bathroom. It was decent, but I wouldn’t say amazing. Room was clean enough, with tv and coffee supplies, bathroom was also clean and water was hot. Breakfast was edible too. Location though was excellent. For $78SGD ($80AUD/$58USD) it did the job!

We dropped our bags and headed straight back out again in search for food. I had come across this article “The 10 Best Michelin Star Meals Under $5 in Singapore” and had decided I wanted to try to get to one of these places for dinner. Most of them are only open earlier in the day, but we discovered Tiong Bahru Yi Sheng Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee was open until 10:45pm.

We had never been to the area before, but Singapore public transport is great, so I was happy to use it even at night. Google Maps showed me there was a bus leaving from just a couple of hundred metres up the road that would deposit us right outside the hawker centre the stall was located in.

Many people lined up at only one of the food stalls in a hawker centre for Tiong Bahru Yi Sheng Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee
The line up in an almost empty hawker centre shows exactly where to find Tiong Bahru Yi Sheng Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee
A plastic plate filled with fried hokkien prawn mee noodles
The fried hokkien prawn mee noodles may not look amazing, but were really tasty.

As we tapped off our transport cards, we were surprised to see the twenty minute ride had only cost us 12cents! We crossed the road and started to make our way through the hawker centre looking for the right stall.

I spotted it quite a distance away – it was the one with the lineup! We waited about half an hour, then received our noodles. They were delicious, and totally worth the $4SGD we paid for them.

After not much sleep my crazy body clock had me awake the next morning at 4:30am – after all, in Adelaide it was now 7am, and that would be a huge sleep-in for me if I was at home! I tried to sleep for a bit longer, but by five got myself up and ready for the day.

I waited until I couldn’t wait any more, and woke Simon at about 6:30, and we made our way down to a basic breakfast of toast and coffee. I knew a second breakfast was coming up and didn’t want to ruin my appetite.

We wandered aimlessly around Chinatown for a while, looking around and keeping an eye out for a Citibank ATM. We were literally $1.50SGD short to be able to buy our next meal so needed some cash. Chinatown is a different place in the mornings, the hustle and bustle has died down and the streets are calm and peaceful.

We gave up the hunt for a Citibank ATM, and just used any old one, hoping there wasn’t a fee (there wasn’t! Yay!). We went up the nearby escalators to go into the hawker centre – and of course we found the now-no-longer-needed ATM.

Traditional red and cream Singapore shophouses with curved windows and shutters
I love the Singapore shophouses
Singapore street art paintings of scenes of traditional life in Chinatown on a white wall
There is so much amazing street art in Singapore. I just love this in Mohammed Ali Lane

Our next breakfast (also from the Michelin Star list) was at Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee. Fried Kway Teow is quite possibly Simon’s favourite ever meal. If it’s on the menu, it’s what he orders. I quite like it too. We have eaten hundreds of different versions.

Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee hawker stall
Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee storefront in the hawker centre. They only make one product, with three variations – plain, with egg, with cockles.
A plastic red plate filled with fried kway teow noodles on a plastic green table in a hawker centre
Delicious fried kway teow. It always tastes better on plastic plates in a hawker centre.

So how did this one stack up? It is supposed to be the best fried kway teow in Singapore, and right now I wouldn’t contest that! The basic noodles cost $4, with egg it’s $4.50, and cockles can be added for an extra $2.

We ordered with egg, but got cockles too. Yum! It also had little crispy bits of pork rind in it which I hadn’t come across before. I would definitely eat here again.

Singapore is all about the food, but now it was time to head to the airport and get on our next Scoot flight to Langkawi.

No smelly seat-mate this time, but we still had a bit of a weird thing happen. The plane was half empty, but we had a third person next to us. The strange thing was, his girlfriend/wife was on the other side of the plane, a row in front, and completely by herself!

About three more rows in front of us were also empty. So I don’t know what sort of ticketing system does that. As soon as we were in the air our seat-mate got up and moved to sit with his companion.

We were again exactly on time, and within about fifteen minutes we were in our hire car and driving the whole three minutes to our hotel. We had a look around our room and the rest of the hotel before jumping back in the car to go and find an ATM, a supermarket and have a quick look and the beach near us at Cenang.

A large colourful sign saying "Pantai Chenang" next to a beach
All good tourist places need to have a sign, and Cenang beach does not disappoint! (Cenang is almost universally spelt without the “h”, but sometimes it appears)

We were planning to head to the Night Market to pick up some cheap street food for dinner, but I had forgotten to save where it was that night (it moves each day) on Google Maps. We did not bother with SIM cards this trip since it’s only five nights in Malaysia, so back to our hotel we went – to discover we drove almost right past the markets on our way back.

Back to the markets and we walked up and down the rows trying all different sorts of foods. Some I still don’t know what they were, but others were firm favourites, such as the chicken satays, that only Malaysia seems to know how to make!

We also tried a few sweet things, such as some little pancakes filled with a sweet spread, some coconut rice, and a coconut icecream. All up it cost us 30MYR ($10.30AUD/$7.40USD) for dinner and some fruit to take home for later. What a bargain, and delicious too!

A market stand selling many different types of meat on sticks at the Langkawi Night Markets
All sorts of satays! Our favourites are always the chicken!
Huge woks filled with oil and chicken pieces at the Langkawi Night Markets
Huge woks frying up chicken at the night markets
Small pancakes being cooked on a grill and the Langkawi Night Markets
I did ask what was in these tokiyoo pancakes, but couldn’t quite understand the answer. Maybe it was coconut. Whatever it was, it was sweet and delicious.
An icecream cone
As if we hadn’t already eaten enough, we had to have a coconut icecream as we left the markets

On my first morning in Langkawi my crazy body clock let me sleep until only 5:15am! The way things are going, I’ll just start waking up at a normal time they day we fly home – to spend another week syncing. I seem to be getting worse as I get older.

At least I don’t feel crappy throughout the day, and I still go to bed at the usual time, it’s just my very strong body clock doing its job. At home, I am always awake before my alarm too (and thank goodness when it’s set for 5 pm instead of am to go to the airport!)

While we were eating we were looking up the things we planned to do today, but discovered that instead of the cable car opening at 9:30am, for some reason today it was 12!

I’m not to sure of the reasons, I just saw on the calendar that that Wednesday and the next were not open in the morning. I suggest you check this before you go, as well as check the wind, because it also shuts down on windy days. So, change of plans.

We decided instead to drive around most of the island, get our bearings and check out some of the further attractions. We dodged all the monkeys on the roads and first stopped at a few beaches on the north side of the island.

The views were looking out into the beautiful Andaman Sea. The colour of the water here is lovely, and the views and filled with small karst islands.

Two Langkawi monkeys sitting on a blue pipe
Monkeys on the side of the road. About a dozen came right up to our car when we pulled over. They would have been in the window if I left it down much longer.
A decorative concrete fence with a beautiful blue sea beyond
An unknown beach on the northern part of Langkawi, looking at the beautiful Andaman Sea

The final beach was called Black Sand Beach. I was excited thinking about seeing the dark colours contrasted with the water. Well, as it turns out, Black Sand Beach is not really black. Oh, there are definitely a few specks of black sand around, but mostly the beach is beautiful white sands like all the others around.

Black Sand Beach has tiny flecks of black in the otherwise standard sand
Black Sand Beach. Well, there are flecks of black sand there.
A woman sitting on a rustic swing on a beach with beautiful blue tropical sea beyond
It’s not quite the famous Bali swing, but the view isn’t bad from here either.

Next we came across Ayer Hangat Village, “the only natural saltwater hot springs in Malaysia” it claimed. We decided that for the entrance price of 5MYR ($1.70AUD/$1.25USD) we may as well go in and have a look.

The place looked a little worn to me, but still okay. We dipped our feet in the first pool. It was surprisingly warm, but on reading the nearby information, this was the coolest of the pools. These waters are said to be really high in minerals and have great restorative powers.

We walked around the grounds, and we only saw two other visitors. We tested out the hotter pool, and it was so hot I could almost not keep my feet in it.

A spa-like hot pool at Ayer Hangat Village spa
The saltwater hot spring. There was more than one pool, this one was the first and the coolest.

This wasn’t a bad way to get out the car and have a look for half an hour or so, and the price in incredibly cheap, but it really did look a bit run down and well past it’s best. I was surprised to later read on a website that it had been recently updated.

Apparently the jacuzzis had been recently added (private enclosures for fully submerging in the water) but when we sneaked a peek they did not look good at all. I doubt they are ever used now – I certainly would not use one without substantial renovations being done first. My favourite part was the views over the rice fields next door.

A woman on a platform looking out over rice fields
Checking out the view over the rice fields
Ayer Hangat Village water
Another of the hot springs on the right. The buildings at the left and back are private jacuzzi rooms.

Next stop on the road was the Kompleks Kraf Langkawi. This was a jumble of buildings showcasing many local crafts, from batik to glass blowing, jewellery to painting. Most of the crafts were for sale, and there were demonstrations and options to learn or join in. There were also a few small museums to learn about the local culture.

Again, another okay stop for half an hour or so. You may find it more worthwhile if you are interested in picking up some lovely souvenirs – I have to admit some of the clothes and art pieces were lovely. I was almost tempted until I remembered my luggage limit.

The only downside was I found it oppressively hot inside some of the buildings with little airflow so often couldn’t wait to get outside again.

Kompleks Kraf Langkawi colourfully painted steps
The painted steps to the Kompleks Kraf Langkawi behind

The next sign we saw on the road was one pointing to Kilim Geoforest Park. I had read that this was where the mangrove tours were held, so we turned off to perhaps do a tour. But no, the tours had to be booked at least a day in advance. I decided to look into the options more that evening in the comfort of our hotel.

I could see we would soon be passing by the Langkawi Wildlife Park. As I learn more and more about responsible tourism, I become less inclined to want to visit zoos or wildlife parks or participate in animal activities.

As such I would have been quite happy to drive past and not visit, but Simon wanted to go in, so we stopped. Mostly the animals here were birds or small mammals and reptiles, with the only larger animals being a few deer.

The park looked clean enough, most of the residents lived in relatively large enclosures and there was no indiction of mishandling. There was still a lot of human interaction and feeding allowed though. So while I wasn’t horrified, there were certain aspects I still felt uncomfortable with and I recommend those who are particularly sensitive to stay away.

Three flamingos at the Langkawi WIldlife Park
The flamingos at the Langkawi Wildlife Park. Check out how the middle one is sleeping!
A pretty bright green parrot
In one of the aviaries this little guy came and sat right next to me on the seat

Otherwise this is a small wildlife park so only needs about an hour, and I think young children would particularly like being able to get close to some common birds and animals like rabbits, hedgehogs and guinea pigs.

Click here to purchase your Langkawi Wildlife Park tickets in advance.

It was early afternoon by the time we came to Kuah, the main town on Langkawi, and we were starving. I had heard to restaurant at the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club was a good option, so we made our way there.

Charlie’s Bar and Grill serves a wide range of local food, western classics and wood-oven pizza. We knew we were going back to the night markets for dinner, so splurged on totally non-traditional foods of fish and chips and pizza!

We sat on the deck overlooking the marina, and were served so much food we couldn’t eat it all. We also had two drinks each, and the total bill came to 101MYR ($35AUD/$25USD) which still makes it good value for a solid meal.

To wear some of the food off, we walked along the marina to see the Eagle of Langkawi – the timing was, as usual, impeccable, and we arrived at the same time as a whole tourist bus, each passenger needed at least a dozen photos right in front of the eagle!

I was able to get a couple of quick snaps above their heads, but honestly, this was really the only time we came across a group like this. January to March is the high season in Langkawi thanks to the hot, dry weather, so I was actually surprised not to find bigger crowds around.

Langkawi eagle is a last statue of an eagle with its wings outstretched above a "Langkawi" sign
The Langkawi Eagle. Much cropping was needed to remove all the heads from the tour group!

The heat at this time of the year may be called “dry” in Langkawi, but clearly, that is a relative measure, as I was finding the humidity really oppressive. The temperatures were only in the low thirties, but it was exhausting being out in it.

So during the heat of the afternoon, we went back to our room for a quick siesta before heading out again for the night market. That night the market was back in Kuah, about half an hour’s drive from where we were staying.

Dinner only cost 20MYR ($6.85AUD/$4.90USD) and that included ten satays, 3 spring rolls, 5 dim sums, 2 samosas, 1 large (delicious) coconut shake, 1 serve fish balls and 1 serve of something akin to “popcorn chicken”. Looking forward to tomorrow’s night market for more of the same.

A plastic container of small pieces of fried chicken with a small Australian flag stuff in them
“Popcorn chicken” I have no idea why there is an Australian flag! Each batch had a different, flag, we were coincidentally given this one.

The next morning we headed straight to the Langkawi Cable Car and SkyBridge. I wanted to go as early in the morning as we could as I hoped to get clearer views. It was also a good way to avoid some of the heat of the afternoon if we busy ourselves in the morning instead.

The basic ticket for the Cable Car also includes the Skydome, SkyRex and 3D Art Langkawi. On top of there there are a few other options too, including skip-the-line, glass bottom gondolas, and other attractions in the Oriental Village at the bottom of the cable car.

We got the basic package, and then at the top station, purchased the Skybridge tickets. The Skybridge itself is only 5MYR, with another 10MYR to get there via the SkyGlide. The alternative is to walk.

I had read it was a 10-15 minute walk, but after seeing the distance, I don’t believe it will take that long. There are a lot of stairs though. In the heat and humidity, it might be a good idea just to pay the small extra fee for the SkyGlide.

Click here to buy your tickets to the Langkawi Cable Car and SkyBridge in advance

I was surprised that it took us about 90 minutes to ride the SkyCab to the top then have a look around at the views, catch the SkyGlide to the SkyBridge (see a pattern with these names?) and then come back down again.

The cable car is quite steep, and there are some impressive views over the area, with the blue seas and small islands in the distance.

Langkawi Cable Car view looking down across the coast and the ocean beyond
The view from the middle station of the Langkawi SkyCab cable car
A view from up high across hills and a viewing bridge
Looking down on the SkyBridge from the top cable car station
A heart-shaped frame covered in colourful padlocks
Thousands of love locks along the walkways at the top cable car station
A section of floor made of glass on the SkyBridge
Parts of the SkyBridge has glass floors – just to make walking over it a bit more exciting!

We came down and went and saw the other things included with the ticket – SkyDome and SkyRex were totally not worth it! You know everyone else feels the same when someone says “Is that it?’ out loud at the end.

The third thing was a 3D Art Langkawi. These are generally pretty good fun. This one was just so-so. We had fun with some of the pics, but so many others were poor! One thing it did have going for it was that while there were people there, it was not a maze of selfie sticks and most people were respectful of others trying to get photos.

A woman standing in front of a mural of wings
Trying to look angelic! Don’t think it worked though.

We took a quick walk through the Oriental Village and grabbed some lunch, but really, this is just a glorified tacky tourist mall. Maybe good for picking up a few souvenirs and a quick wander, but don’t plan to spend much time here.

Oriental Village Langkawi
The Oriental Village, with the SkyDome in full view.

Apart from the Cable Car and Skybridge, everything in this area felt a little tired. That was to be the theme for the day (I’ll get to that again later)

Next up we decided to continue on for a drive to the Datai Bay area. We stopped and took the short walk to the Temurun Waterfall – which I am guessing would be a lot better in the rainy season.

Today we had only a small trickle. I imagine that this would be a good place for a cooling dip in the pool at the bottom too when there is plenty of water.

Datai Bay is where all the really exclusive resorts are. I was hoping to get a glimpse of them, or access the beach, just to see what it was like. We tried to get into The Andaman to have a look, but without a booking, the security guard wouldn’t let us past the front gate. Looks like we will have to save our pennies and book a stay there to be able to check it out.

Langkawi beach with brilliant blue water
I just can’t get enough of the colour of the water. This was another unknown beach we stopped at for a quick look

After swinging back past our hotel for a quick swim and a rest, we made our way to the Langkawi Underwater World. Built only in 1995, I had high hopes for this place, but unfortunately it’s probably the worst aquarium we’ve ever been in. It really was old and tired. It’s not a patch on the one in Kuala Lumpur that we visited a few years ago.

If you still want to visit, get your Langkawi Underwater World tickets in advance here

A tropical fish at Langkawi Underwater World
A fish! Just to prove we did go to the aquarium. I pretty much took only this and one other photo!

With a shorter visit to Underwater World than planned, we arrived early at the night markets that night, as it was close by in the same area of Cenang Beach. We again stocked up on way too much food for nearly nothing, and made our way back to our hotel to enjoy a cocktail by the pool as the sun went down.

Island hopping was on the agenda the next morning! Langkawi is actually made up of 99 islands, and this half day tour visited three of them. Every second place here sells cheap, half-day island hopping tours so we just chose a place and booked!

If you would instead like to book an Island Hopping Tour in advance, click here

I think we picked the dodgiest place possible somehow, because the van that picked us up was so unroadworthy even Simon was surprised – and we have seen some pretty bad vehicles in our travels! I’m fairly sure this one was held together with duct tape and fencing wire!

But we made it to where we needed to be and found our boat, and started the trip out to the first island of Pulau Dayang Bunting. I had picked the “perfect” place to sit and was soon soaked from the splashes as the boat bounced over the waves. Simon was fine though – luckily I was also in the perfect spot to block the water from getting him!

Two small covered speedboats
The type of boats we were island hopping in

It wasn’t long until I had a reprieve from being soaked to the skin, because the steering arm (or whatever it’s called!) broke on the boat’s engine. I was looking around and gauging how far we would have to swim to the nearest island, but before I had to jump overboard, our driver made some quick repairs and we were soon on our way again.

We got to the island at about the same time as thirty other boats and we followed the crowds to the inland freshwater lake which was a popular place to swim.

While the lake is officially called Lake Guillemard, it is much better known as the Lake of the Pregnant Maiden, as when looked at from a distance, the profile of the hills surrounding the lake looks like a pregnant lady laying on her back.

We couldn’t see it from close up, but were later able to see the hills from a distance. Swimming in the lake didn’t look too inviting to us, so we found some shade, ordered a coconut, and relaxed until it was time to move on.

Lake of the Pregnant Maiden
The pregnant lady is hard to see from this angle
A green coconut with the top lopped off and two straws in it
Can you even say you went to South East Asia if you don’t have a coconut?

We jumped back on the boat, but then waited and waited. One couple did not show up. After half an hour, we left them behind. I believe we were supposed to spend some time on Pulau Singa Besar, but instead only spent a few minutes watching the impressive masses of eagles flying around before heading to stop three.

Dozens of eagles flying above boats
So many eagles flying around

That third stop was Pulau Beras Basah, the location of one of those beautiful white beaches with green-blue water that is on all the postcards.

After an hour relaxing on the beach we were headed back to town. Somehow the couple that we had left behind on the first island had caught up with us, and were back on the boat for the return trip.

Wooden boats pulled up onto a beach
Boats parked on the beach as we enjoy the sun and sand

Overall, for the super cheap price, this was a good day, even though we had those things go wrong!

On our return to Pantai Cenang, we were looking for somewhere to eat and came across the 3 Amigos Mexican restaurant, and suddenly I had a craving for nachos. So it was nachos and fish tacos for lunch, with a couple of drinks each, for 92MYR ($32AUD/$23USD). I had seen mention of this place online and that they did good Mexican food.

Being that I’m from Australia, I probably don’t really know what good Mexican food is, but in my opinion, this was just okay. It was good solid food, but nothing to write home about. It would be interesting to hear what people who do know good Mexican food have to say.

We had our usual afternoon rest to recover from the heat, then, for the last time, went to find the night market! We splashed out this time, spending 37MYR ($12.75AUD/$9.10USD) and Simon’s satay lady showed real disappointment when we said it was our last night. I think her profits had increased with all the satays he buys!

On our final full day in Langkawi we had booked two seperate tours. Firstly a mangrove tour to the Kilim Geopark that we had hoped to do earlier in the week, and then in the evening, a sunset dinner cruise to enjoy our last night here.

To start the day we had an early morning as we had to be in Cenang by 8:30 to pay for our nighttime tour. We waited and waited to hand over our money at the place where we booked, but even though we had been assured someone would be there from 8 am no one turned up!

Simon called the number on the paperwork, and basically the guy said just pay later! Would we be going on our cruise that night? Who knew!

Our first tour of the day was a mangrove tour. Again, these tours are offered all over the place, and we booked one at the same time and place that we booked our island hopping tour. They all seemed to be similar, so we didn’t put a lot of thought into which company we were with. Even in hindsight I don’t think it matters much, they all do pretty much the same thing.

Click here to book a mangrove tour in advance

During the tour we fed some fish, watched two different types of eagles and saw some monkeys that like to swim. We checked out the mangroves and the critters that lived in them, like mudskippers and crabs. We went to a bat cave, and squeezed through the crocodile cave. We saw the very fresh menu items at a fish farm before having lunch in their restaurant (no fish for us!). Basically we just got to spent the day cruising up and down the estuary looking at the many different parts of the Kilim Geopark.

A monkey swimming in the sea
During our Langkawi mangrove tour we met some monkeys that like to swim
Fish with yellow stripes on their back swimming in the sea
The fish we were feeding were these lovely colourful ones
A restaurant floating on a platform in the sea
The restaurant of the fish farm where we ate
A forest of mangrove trees
Mangroves as far as the eye can see

Just as I’m thinking it must be time to be heading back (we have another tour to get to – hopefully!) our guide tells us it’s time to go for a swim! What? We have to get back! I didn’t realise that the tour we had picked also included a swim at a beach.

When I saw the finish time of 3 pm, I assumed that this was the time would be delivered back to Pantai Cenang, but no, it was instead the approximate time that we would finish swimming, and we were running late, so even that was optimistic!

It turned into a bit of a schmozzle to get us back to our car in Pantai Cenang. A special driver was organised for us and some of the others who weren’t swimming, and we got back to Pantai Cenang about 3:45pm.

We had just enough time so we could drive back to our hotel, in time to get picked up again! I had hoped to be able to look a little less sweaty and gross, but there just wasn’t time. I had a one minute (and that might be generous!) shower, no hair, no makeup, and on to the sunset cruise.

The driver for our sunset dinner cruise of course turned up right on time, and we were off. We checked in and got on the boat! Remember we have not paid for this cruise yet, and were expecting to be asked to pay, firstly when the driver picked us up, and then again when we boarded the boat.

Click here to book your own sunset dinner cruise

The cruise was on a catamaran and we probably had about twenty people on it with us. We spent the first half an hours cruising through the beautiful blue waters. You would think by now I would be getting sick of seeing the same thing over and over, but this water is so beautiful I don’t think I could ever get sick of it.

Beautiful blue sea water with an island in the background

Once the captain has found a good spot, a net is let down at the back of the boat, creating what they call a saltwater jacuzzi. It is the churning water created by the propellers that creates the jacuzzi effect. I chose to stay in my spot of top of the boat and take advantage of the cocktails rather than the saltwater, but probably half of the people jumping in to enjoy it.

A net with people in it off the back of a boat
A net was lowered off the back of the boat for a natural, saltwater jacuzzi

A tasty BBQ dinner was served, and we then watched as the sun sank into the sea, before heading back to shore.

Sunset over the sea from the deck of a catamaran
The amazing colours of sunset while cruising the waters off Langkawi

On our last morning in Langkawi we relaxed over breakfast  and took our time getting ready to leave. We checked out and made our way to Pantai Cenang again to pay for the cruise from the night before. We could have easily just got on our plane and gone without paying, but instead did the right thing.

On the way we filled the car up with fuel, and checking our cash supplies, had just 2MYR left – enough if we had to pay for parking! We also wanted to grab a quick snack before heading to the airport, knowing there was no food on the plane and we didn’t land until 4 pm in Singapore.

Finding a place that took cards was more difficult than we thought. We tried a few local cafes along the main road that was clearly popular as they had plenty of people in them, but all only took cash.

We ended up going to OldTown White Coffee, a local version of Starbucks (which, coincidentally, was also right next door). After our quick drink and snack, we went to pay, and – you guessed it! – the card machine wouldn’t work, and we had to go and get cash after all.

Now we were running a little late to get back to the airport. Langkawi airport is tiny, so I figured if we were there two hours before our international flight it would be plenty of time.

We were probably about ten minutes less than that, I was aware that most budget airlines have a check-in cut-off of ninety minutes for international flights, so we had twenty minutes to get checked in – but where was the person meeting us for the hire car? We ran around looking for her, and made a couple of phone calls, but couldn’t find her.

We needed to check in, but strangely, to get to the check-in counters at Langkawi you need to go through a security point. So we rushed back to the car and left the keys in the ignition – what else could we do? We went through check-in, and came through the doors at the other end – straight back out into the main terminal!

Now that we were checked in, we had time before going through security and immigration into the international part of the airport, so Simon went to check the car again – and finally, the person we were supposed to meet was there! That was a relief, and visions of stolen cars and huge bills could now be cast aside.

As we boarded the plane we had another one of those strange Scoot seating arrangements. I was in an A seat, and Simon was in the F seat of the same row – and there was no one seated in between!

During our stopover in Singapore we left the airport to meet up with Simon’s cousin Tricia for dinner at a Japanese restaurant.

We had a great catch-up as always, and too soon we were back on our way to the airport for the flight I had been dreading – overnight from Singapore to Melbourne on a budget airline!

The seating gods had not smiled on us this time either. We were separated, which, while annoying, was not the end of the world, but we were both in middle seats! Yuck! When we landed in Melbourne I had pretty much not had any sleep at all.

We still had one more flight to go to get home to Adelaide, and my overly cautious approach when connecting from a budget airline meant we had a few hours to wait. It wasn’t so bad though, because I had booked a Qantas flight and we could spend the waiting time in the lounge.

I spent the whole time either eating or drinking, just trying to keep myself awake. I was so tired  by the time we boarded I fell asleep before we even took off! I probably only slept for fifteen minutes, but since I so rarely sleep on any form of transport, it was saying something!

The Verdict

A view from a beach across beautiful blue water to an island beyond
Another beautiful beach view

While it might sound like a lot of things went wrong, they were really all just annoyances, and I actually enjoyed my time in Langkawi. I liked the nature and local food the best. I’m sure you noticed I just loved the colour of the water, and the sand was white and soft.

The beaches were clean and not crowded. While we didn’t partake in any of them, there are a myriad of water sports available from jet skis to parasailing.

Much of the time I felt like Langkawi just has so much potential, if only they could give it a coat of paint and a bit on maintenance, places like the Ayer Hangat Village, Oriental Village or Underwater World could be so much better. They just need a bit of a spruce up!

Simon felt five nights was a perfect amount of time to visit, but I think a couple more days would have been perfect.

The night markets are the best place ever to get good, cheap, tasty food. Even though we went four nights in a row, there were still more things to try, and I would have happily continued going.

To get around the island you really do need to hire a car. We found driving to be easy, even in the busier parts of Pantai Cenang and Kuah.

If you don’t have a car you will need to rely on Grab or taxis to get around. Most tours will pick up from your accommodation in Pantai Cenang and Kuah for free. We were a bit further out, and some wanted to charge us for the pickup, others were free.

Click here to see prices and availability of rental cars

Langkawi Accommodation

The Smith House, Lot. 297, (HSM. 772), Bandar Padang Matsirat, Bandar Padang Matsirat, 07100 Pantai Cenang, Malaysia

The Smith House hotel room
The new modern room at The Smith House
Two cakes on a plate
The welcome gift waiting for us at The Smith House
A view over a hotel rooftop pool with red umbrellas over chairs next to it to the hills in the background
The view to the hills from the rooftop pool
A room lined with bookshelves. There are tables to sit at and some beanbags on the floor too
A well-stocked library to swap your book or just chill out for a while
A small bar
The small bar at The Smith House (although this was taken at breakfast hence the coffee!)
Hotel dining room at The Smith House
The Smith House dining room
A hotel breakfast buffet
Part of the breakfast buffet

If you are looking for some good mid-range accommodation in Langkawi, then The Smith House might be the place for you! It’s a four star hotel located just minutes from the airport in the centre of the island.

Right up front, let me say this is not on the beach front, and would be a good choice if you have a car to get around. It provides plenty of free parking to help facilitate this.

For under $100AUD per night including breakfast, we thought it was a great deal and were very happy with our choice.

Click here to see prices and availability for your dates

You might also like these other posts
Langkawi Itinerary – 5 Days in Langkawi
Travel Diaries – Malaysia
Climbing Mount Kinabalu
Things to do in Singapore on a Budget

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