Well-informed me didn’t even know Langkawi had a cable car till I started riding around the island and saw the signs for it — and with it climbing almost 700 metres, oh what a cable car it is.
Opened in 2003, the Langkawi cable car has three “stations” which you pass through on your way to the summit. All up the inclined distance is more than two kilometres in length, with a single stretch being almost a kilometre in length — you really will feel like you’re gliding through space.
The Base Station is set within the Disneyland-ish Oriental Village towards the western edge of Langkawi, a 20- to 30-minute drive from the popular beach areas of Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah. This is where where you buy your ticket and begin your trip to the summit.
The Middle Station is at an elevation of 650 metres, and has two elevated viewing platforms from where you can enjoy a spectacular look over the surrounds.
Each cable car “pod” comfortably holds four adults and the window can be opened on the right-hand side. Smaller slotted windows at the front and rear of the cab can also be opened. Having the windows open is great as you don’t need to worry about taking photos through grubby, scratched glass — and as a bonus it means you can get some fresh air in the cab when you start to freak out.
I’ve never been all that good with heights, and while I was lucky in that I didn’t need to share my cab with anyone else, I found the last stretch of the run from Base Station to Middle Station really quite unnerving as you’re suddenly covering an awful lot of altitude as you run up the cliff face. If you have problems with heights, you may want to think twice about whether this is for you.
Phobias aside, the views are breathtaking. The forest below is dense and beautiful — at least towards the start you are close enough to pick out birds (I saw a couple of hornbills fly under my pod) and out to your right you’ll see the Seven Pools waterfall. Further along to your left you’ll see another attractive waterfall. But it’s really the last run up the cliff-face that takes your breath away.
Once you reach Middle Station you’re welcome to alight, slow down your pulse and take a look around from the viewpoints that flank the station. The views are good — on a clear day you’ll see to the beaches — but unless you are totally freaking out, after snapping a few pics, jump back on. Funnily enough, the leg from the Middle Station to the Top Station is nowhere near as scary.
The Top Station offers wonderful views over the surrounds. Unfortunately it was overcast in places when we visited so we were not able to see all the way to Capetown, but the clouds and rising mists made it beautiful in its own way. The view from the “space dish” to the right overlooks the Skybridge (which was closed for maintenance when we visited) and offers the best views. Friends who have walked along the Skybridge have highly recommended it.
Once you’re done at the Top Station, you just jump back on, return to Middle Station (where you are welcome to alight again if you want) and then on back to the base station. As with the ascent, the section immediately after Middle Station is kind of terrifying in a controlled way.
A cable car ride wouldn’t normally be something we’d drive across an island to experience, but in this case, we’d say a ride on the Langkawi Cable Car is a must-do (if it fits into your budget). Do note though that they have a double-pricing policy and foreign tourists are charged significantly more than Malaysians.
We paid 30 ringgit for the ride and even though we visited during Ramadan, the extra Ramadan discount wasn’t available to foreigners.
The normal admission is 30 ringgit for adults, 20 ringgit for children. Malaysians with a MyKad card pay 15 ringgit for adults, 10 for kids.
The cable car is open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 10:00-19:00, Wednesday 12:00-19:00 and Friday, Saturday and Sunday 09:30-19:00 (with the last trip up 19:00, last trip down 20:00).
By Vanessa Workman
Last updated on 23rd August, 2014.