Langkawi offers such a diverse range of things to do that many travellers here end up wishing they had allotted themselves a bit more time. For those who fancy taking in a few sights between sand-between-the-toes days, here are our suggestions for rounding out a week's worth of exploration on the beautiful island.
Day 1: Explore the island
A drive around the island via motorbike or car is an opportunity to see some beautiful landscapes, including rainforest, paddy, waterfalls and beaches. On the northern side of the island enjoy some down time at less developed Tanjung Rhu beach. For lunch, Scarborough’s Fish and Chips not only has some of the best fish and chips on the island, but they are smack dab on the glorious beach. While in the neighbourhood, stop into Kraft Komplex for a fix of local culture and perhaps get some hands-on batik experience.
Next take a drive up to Gunung Mat Raya, the highest peak on the island, and take in the breathtaking view of the surrounding archipelago. Finish the day with a stop at one of the many night markets to get an inexpensive taste of local cuisine -- they usually start hopping at around 17:00 for several lively hours.
Day 2: Explore the islands
An island-hopping tour is one of the biggest bangs for your ringgit in Langkawi. The standard (non-private) three-hour tour will usually visit three Langkawi islands. Booking the day before is usually required and often includes pick up and return service, with prices starting at 25-30 ringgit. You will be back in time to clean up and hit a sundowner spot, such as these places on Pantai Cenang.
Day 3: Mangrove tour
Even non-nature lovers will appreciate a mangrove tour, by boat or kayak, for an adventurous look at the island's estuaries as well as some fascinating geological formations. The four- to six-hour tours usually include pick up and delivery service as well as lunch.
Day 4: Cable Car
Oriental Village, at the base of the Cable Car, is the place to go on a bright sunny day, especially if travelling with kids. In addition to paintball and ATV riding, they also have pony rides and a petting zoo. The popular cable car gives you a ride to the top of the second highest peak in Langkawi, Mat Cincang, and a panoramic view of Langkawi as well as a glimpse of neighbouring Thailand. Afterwards take a cooling dip at nearby Seven Wells or hit happy hour at Privilege Restaurant, Telaga Harbour, from 15:00 to 19:00 -- they have a lovely sunset view of the yacht-filled harbour.
Day 5: Keep exploring
As easy as it is to rent a bicycle and explore different areas on your own, with Dev’s Adventure Tours you get a personal tour of a fishing village or a kampung, perhaps a wet market and Buffalo Park. A great budget daytrip option is to grab a lunch to go and hit one of the island waterfalls.
Day 6: Day or sunset cruise
For the ultimate offshore experience, consider a day or sunset cruise. You will get fed plenty of good eats and hopefully remember the adventure, which includes an open bar. One of the more affordable charter companies is Tropical Charters. Their six-hour day cruises cost 320 ringgit with a six-person minimum. Their four-hour sunset cruise is 260 ringgit with no minimum limit, so you could get lucky and have the boat to yourself.
Depending on the particular Friday, Hash House Harrier runs give visitors a fun way of exploring a few Langkawi back roads along with freeflowing drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) inclusive of a delicious meal at a local eatery, for 35 ringgit. Expect to meet some characters. (The Hash House Harriers were started in Malaysia back in 1935.)
Day 7: Museums, Aquariums and jetskis
For a general day in Pantai Cenang, Laman Padi Museum is worth a look in, and if you are lucky you will catch them on a rice-planting day. Perfect on a rainy or especially hot day, Underwater World Langkawi was Southeast Asia’s first aquarium. For surf and SUP enthusiasts, next to Underwater World beachfront is Chucha Sup N Surf with SUP board rentals and lessons available. Need more of an adrenalin rush? A jetski tour is less expensive than one might think and gives you more time on the water in addition to some offshore sightseeing, such as to the Pregnant Maiden and some spectacular limestone formations.
Day 8 (because we are generous): Head to Ko Lipe!
During the high season (late October to early May) the Langkawi speedboat ferries to Ko Lipe are in service, but a daytrip is also a possibility. Andaman Cruises is the least expensive with a round trip journey available for less than 250 ringgit, offering pick up and delivery as well. They leave early enough to give to up to six hours of beach time on Ko Lipe before returning you to Langkawi.
Where to go, how long to stay there, where to go next, east or west, north or south? How long have you got? How long do you need? Itinerary planning can be almost as maddening as it is fun and here are some outlines to help you get started. Remember, don't over plan!
Burma lends itself to a short fast trip with frequent flights thrown in or a longer, slower trip where you don't leave the ground. There isn't much of a middle ground. Ground transport remains relatively slow, so be wary about trying to fit too much in.
Roughly apple-shaped, you'd think Cambodia would be ideal for circular routes, but the road network isn't really laid out that way. This means you'll most likely find yourself through some towns more than once, so work them into your plans.
How long have you got? That's not long enough. Really. You'd need a few lifetimes to do this sprawling archipelago justice. Be wary of trying to cover too much ground - the going in Indonesia can be slow.
North or south or both? Laos is relatively small and transport is getting better and better. Those visiting multiple countries can pass through here a few times making for some interesting trips.
The peninsula is easy, with affordable buses, trains and planes and relatively short distances. Sabah and Sarawak are also relatively easy to get around.The vast majority of visitors stick to the peninsula but Borneo is well worth the time and money to reach.
So much to see, so much to do. Thailand boasts some of the better public transport in the region so getting around can be fast and affordable. If time is limited, stick to one part of the country.
Long and thin, Vietnam looks straightforward, but the going is slow and the distances getting from A to B can really bite into a tight trip plan. If you're not on an open-ended trip, plan carefully.
This is where itinerary planning really becomes fun. Be sure to check up on our visa, border crossing and visa sections to make sure you're not trying to do the impossible. Also, remember you're planning a holiday -- not a military expedition.