For locals and backpackers alike, Langkawi is an idyllic weekend get-away. It embodies the holiday holy trinity: sunshine, sea, and sand. In my opinion, Langkawi has much of the same charm as many of the Thai islands: pristine white sand, stunning sunsets, and a relaxed vibe. Aptly nicknamed the Jewel of Kedah, Langkawi stands out to me as a personal favorite place to unwind. It is a duty-free haven; alcohol, cigarettes, and chocolates (!), are available for purchase at a fraction of the normal cost.
SkyCab & Bridge
If ever you were keen to visit the world’s steepest cable car, this is your chance. At a whopping 42 degrees, it’s hard to rationalise your mind that it’s not a vertical ascent. The journey lasts about 15 minutes, and offers stunning views of the islands below. On a clear day, southern Thai islands can be spotted in the distance.
Once you reach the top, you can pay an extra 5RM to walk across the SkyBridge. The views are breathtaking, and frankly, standing in the open air at such a height is always weirdly enticing. Situated in a UNESCO geopark, there’s an abundance of wildlife in the canopy below. We even spotted a few cheeky macaques tearing up the signs!
The descent down is rapid and just as terrifying as the way up. Yet, the panoramic views of this gorgeous archipelago make the ride worthwhile. The basic SkyCab ticket costs 55RM and includes free entry into a 3D art museum and a 4D dinosaur ride. Sure, it’s a little cheesy, but it’s free!
Inside the Sky complex, there’s a rabbit pen. Yes, you read that right. It sounds as out of place as it actually is. Yet the unusual opportunity to feed and play with the rabbits certainly caught my attention. I spent at least 20 minutes there; when they wheeled out the 2-week-old bunny, my heart melted.
Evening Night Markets
Every night in Langkawi, there’s a night market. My personal favourite was Bohor Tempoyak, the Thursday night market. The markets attract hundreds of visitors, eager to spend their coin.
An egg benjo (burger) cost me 1.50RM, and a drink of watermelon juice, or an iced Milo, was 1RM. There are plenty of food options available for every taste and every budget.
If you’re looking for other goodies such as clothing or cheap electronics, this is your go-to spot for a bit of evening retail therapy.
Bike or walk the 13km journey from the base to the peak of Gunung Raya. It is Langkawi’s highest point and should not be missed.
On the winding road up to the peak, I spotted some rhesus macaques and a family of spectacled langurs (oh my word, they were cute!
From the viewing tower, you are greeted with a 360 view of the island. There are power lines placed in somewhat awkward positions. It could have been picture perfect... but then there’s a giant electricity tower partially obscuring the view.
The viewpoint costs 10RM, and closes at 7pm, so you don’t have the chance to stick around for the late night sunset. Previously a resort, it is now all closed to the public, except for the viewpoint. It really felt like I was on a horror movie set - no one else was around for miles. What an eerie vibe!
Board Games at Rainbow Cafe
Rainbow Cafe is my favourite breakfast/lunch/dinner/drinks spot in Langkawi. The menu is extensive, and they have specials that change every day. For only 10RM, you can enjoy a hearty stack of fruit & yoghurt pancakes, and sample the local coffee for 3RM. Perfect!
The atmosphere is bang on. I can bring my laptop and work for a few hours - no problem. I can sit and chat with the staff, or even have a go at one of their many board game options for the afternoon. (Incidentally, it re-sparked my enjoyment for chess. Turns out I could never play well, and I still can’t, but it’s fun!)
It’s extremely budget friendly, but this isn’t the only appeal of Rainbow. The amazingly friendly staff go out of their way to make you feel welcome and are always chatty. Over the 2 weeks I spent in Langkawi, I frequented Rainbow most days.
Sunsets on Pantai Cenang
Pantai Cenang is the popular tourist beach of Langkawi, but it is for good reason. It has fine, white sand, stunning views, and the sunsets are to die for.
The most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen in my life.
Anyone who comes to an island and doesn’t spend each evening at the beach watching the sun go down is a heathen in my book. Most nights, I would sit with a bottle of Belgian beer on the beach of Pantai Cenang (thank you duty-free Hoegaarden - 3.80RM), and just watch the sky turn from blue, to purple, to red.
If you’re inclined, there are a variety of water-sports available. Paragliding, jet-ski, banana-boating all for a reasonable price. In the evenings, the beach front bars light up by candle-light and some even have fire performers on show. I’d recommend Thirstday and Kalut for drinks or dinner on the seafront.
Rebecca Da Silva is a small business owner (seriously, she’s very tiny) and freelance writer. She is the founder of Zero menstrual cups and spends her time breaking the taboo around menstruation. Visit www.zerocup.co.uk to learn more about sustainable period products. Rebecca enjoys living out of a tiny backpack, calling new places “home” - for a short while, at least - and slow, long-term travel. You can follow her journey on Instagram @_becular or stop by her blog becular.wordpress.com.