Flying has become so secondary to many travellers that considering going by not-so-romantic ferries, buses or even trains can completely be left out of the equation of determining holiday plans. But not only are these options greatly available in Malaysia, they save you big bucks and their frequent scheduling can often save you time; the additional culture experiences are an added bonus. Here’s a rundown on the ferries coming to and from Langkawi — do consider them!
From Langkawi, there are two mainland Malaysia entry ports via ferry service: Kuala Perlis and Kuala Kedah (Alor Setar). (There’s also an additional destination option of Langkawi to Satun, Thailand).
The regularly scheduled departures to either of these mainland jetty locations is perfect for connecting with other mainland transportation means, such as buses, trains and even some flights in a timely manner. But although these entry ports are similar, each has their own unique advantages.
Though a bit more remote, Kuala Perlis is the quickest, time wise, of ferry options to the mainland. A trip from Langkawi to Kuala Perlis takes 45 minutes as opposed to the roughly 90-minute Langkawi to Kuala Kedah trip. Another advantage is the proximity of the town’s local bus terminal, which is just 500 metres from the Kuala Perlis jetty.
The bus terminal is relatively small and not too chaotic. Unfortunately there are few eating options at the terminal itself other than one or two simple food stalls or the ticket-seller minimart. A couple of restaurants are located in the general area plus there’s the snack-on-the-run hawkers outside of the building. For those heading to the Arau train station, you’ ll need to take a taxi, but it will only set you back about 15 ringgit.
If you’re heading south from Kuala Perlis by bus or train, you’ll be heading through Kuala Kedah (Alor Setar) — that’s about an hour south by bus, so maybe taking the ferry directly there from Langkawi would a better option, depending on your final destination — it’s really a matter of personal preference.
The ferry from Langkawi to Kuala Kedah takes 90 minutes — more if the water is rough — and although the arrival jetty is more inviting and has more eating options, rest assured you’ll be meeting a taxi driver soon. It will be a 20 ringgit taxi ride to Kuala Kedah’s larger, more trafficked bus terminal and depending on traffic, it takes 30 minutes plus. Transport from the jetty to the Alor Setar train station will be about the same.
A plus on the Kuala Kedah (Alor Setar) route’s side is that Alor Setar has an airport as well as does easy to get to Penang, which is reachable from the mainland by bridge. But travellers with Penang in mind should consider a direct route by ferry from Langkawi to Georgetown twice daily.
By Vanessa Workman
Last updated on 26th August, 2014.