Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lovely Langkawi

Langkawi is one of the many lovely islands of Malaysia. It is composed of several islands (99 of them) of which Pulau Langkawi is the main island. Langkawi reminded me of Jeju Island because with its small size comes a variety of attractions and activities more than enough to fill our days. With limited vacation time though, we were only able to squeeze in a few of the many sights and activities this laid-back island has to offer.

Here’s our short but eventful 3-day pre-Christmas itinerary (from December 21 to 23) in Langkawi:

We flew to the island from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) via Airaisa. It was just a short flight and promo one-way fares cost us RM78 per person. Our flight left Kuala Lumpur at 8pm which was enough time to see what we wanted to see the most in the city (Petronas Twin Towers). We arrived in Langkawi at 9pm, an hour flight from KL.

From the Langkawi Airport there were several rental car companies as well as taxi companies. We weighed our options - we could hire a van and drive around the island on our own leisurely pace but usual designated drivers didn’t have their licenses with them. On the other hand, we could just flag a taxi wherever and whenever necessary. It was the main mode of transportation in the island and with several of us sharing the cost it was the more favorable option (and nobody had to think about driving and parking on this holiday).

We decided to book a taxi (minivan) to bring us to our hotels that night but since we booked separate hotels, we asked if the driver could bring us to my in-law’s hotel first and then to our hotel last. That meant he would be servicing 2 locations which was not allowed by the lady in the counter. We settled with one location for RM61 but when we arrived at Tomato Hotel (in-law’s), we negotiated a price with the driver so he could bring us to our hotel. He agreed for an additional RM20. Off we went to Green Village Langkawi, which was not that far from Tomato Hotel (we found out the day after that we could actually walk).

We were greeted by a friendly front desk staff, Maria, who said we were the last to check in for the day and she was just waiting for us before she rests for the night. I did the paperwork, paid for our stay, and we were ushered to our cottage room. The reception area of the resort was simple but filled with items the owner has collected from her travels. There were books, ice kacang maker, foosball, billiard table, and other antique items even up to the dining area. 

Our room was located near the pool, just past the playground. It was a very basic room, sort of disappointing though compared to the photos on the internet. I guess the photos posted on their website were taken just after their renovation, which was quite some time ago. We didn’t bother looking for another place since it was already late at night. We had to convince the boys though we had only 2 nights to spend there anyway (and only to sleep). I have to say the resort has its pros and cons. Friendly staff, nice pool and free breakfast compensated for the so-so condition of the room. The resort has newly constructed rooms which we thought could have been a better option but the rooms were all booked (most of them were westerners) so we couldn't ask for a change in room.
taking a dip 

enjoying the hammock 
We unpacked some of our stuff and headed out again to meet with the rest in their hotel for dinner at a nearby local eating place. Ordering from the menu was a big challenge. We wanted to try some of their local dishes so we ordered what some and experimented with some of those listed on the menu. Unfortunately, the boy who attended to us had difficulty explaining what some of them were. We just crossed our fingers that we won’t be given anything too spicy or something we wouldn’t want to eat. Of course, the kids had to have something as simple as chicken rice or fried rice.  

  • Morning at Pantai Cenang Beach for swimming and water sports
  • Afternoon island sightseeing
    • Mardi Agrotechnology Park - highlight for us is the tropical fruit farm visit and fruit tasting
    • Buffalo Park – hand-feeding buffalos was a hit for the kids
    • Batik factory – from batik clothes to batik paintings. We feasted our eyes with artistic creations by local batik experts. We even got to see them at work at their work area which was located on the side of the factory. No touching, no taking videos. Just admire the handiwork and respect the work space.
here's the map of our Langkawi tour 
  • Morning was spent by Pantai Tengah Beach which was just within walking distance from our hotel. It was a gloomy morning and it even rained after a while so the water wasn’t as clear as we hoped it would be. The kids didn’t care at all. They played with the sand, chased the mini waves and made the most of the few hours we have left in Langkawi.Down side to this morning were the jellyfishes in the water. My husband got stung on his foot and left red tentacle marks for a few days. Guess what first aid remedy we resorted to?
  • Late afternoon, we headed to the ferry terminal for our ferry ride to Penang. 

    Time flies when you're having fun. And we did. We only had 3 days in Langkawi and that definitely wasn't enough. There are still so many things to do and so many places to explore. We didn't have the chance to go island-hopping because it rained and we were advised of the danger it entails. We weren't able to go on the cable car ride because the famous Skybridge was under construction. We haven't seen some of its famous caves, waterfalls, lakes and marine parks. There's still so much to explore for nature-lovers like us. So Langkawi, we will definitely be back for more. Summer will be a better time for a more favorable weather.

Travel tips:
  • Taxis are not metered in Langkawi. It’s best to ask from the front desk what the estimated cost is before getting into a taxi. Short distances can be as low as RM5. Late night trips cost a little bit more. Cab drivers we’ve encountered were friendly. Sometimes you can even negotiate the fares. Make sure you do so before getting into the taxi.
  • We hired Shahrul (phone number 017-585-0678) and his van for RM160. He took us to several tourist attractions in the island (Mardi Agrotechnology Park, Buffalo Park, Barik factory) for the whole afternoon.

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