Many a tourist has found themselves on the north side of Langkawi, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Depending on the time of day, the Tanjung Rhu area may often appear like a ghost town, with shops closed and perhaps even a few tumbleweeds rolling by. But don’t pass it by, because there’s a whole lot more going on here than meets the eye. Tanjung Rhu Beach is one of the best beaches in Langkawi. Although some of the beach is indeed private property — complete with security guards — you can still easily stake out your own private landing strip for the day.
The two large resorts here, Four Seasons and Tanjung Rhu Resort, take their guests’ privacy very seriously, but beyond that you can easily find yourself alone on this long stretch of beach. And the views of the outlying islands and Thailand are spectacular.
Outside of the two five-star resorts there isn’t much in the way of accommodation here, but a few spots are noteworthy. The Isa Motel is just off the beach with great views and almost always have a decent on-shore breeze drafting through the rooms. It has six deluxe rooms at 140 ringgit per night and eight standard rooms at 120 ringgit per night. All offer flat screen TV, air-con and a mini fridge. The on-site restaurant is soon to open but until then local food can be delivered, or right across the street on the beach is the reasonably priced Scarborough Fish and Chips. You can get some excellent fish and chips for a mere 15 ringgit and being the only non-resort Western restaurant in the area they also serve wine and cold beer.
But if sand between your toes isn’t a priority, you can go inland a bit to Padang Lanang village. There you’ll find Nor Motel on Jalan Ulu Melaka, with eight standard air-con rooms for 80 ringgit per night. The Red Door Apartments are just down the road and offer families and long-stay visitors fully equipped apartments with all the amenities. Though at 400 ringitt a night it’s not cheap, substantial discounts are offered for long stays and the owner is sometimes negotiable. The beauty of this area is that there’s an amazing Friday night market that attracts locals from all over the island.
Just to the east off nearby Black Sand Beach is Motel Tanjung Puteri. The location is excellent and the grounds are park-like and offer picnic tables overlooking the Andaman Sea. It’s a bit more remote, but well maintained and quiet. Air-con rooms are 90 ringgit to 120 ringgit for a family of four. Again, the most inexpensive dining options are a few local restaurants serving seafood, Malay and Thai dishes. And at the far end of the Jalan Tanjung Rhu is a small beachside cluster of shops that offer some interesting souvenirs as well as a Thai seafood restaurant. Also nearby is the Tanjung Rhu Boat Quay, where quite a few tour options are available, such as island hopping or mangrove tours. Don’t be put off by the nearby resort security checkpoint; we’re told it’s to limit the overall number of people at the end of the beach.
The Tanjung Rhu area offers a true kampung experience but isn’t far from some tourist hotspots and activities. The Komplex Kraft (Craft Complex) is a pleasant surprise; entrance is free, and guided tours are too. There are quite a few interesting historic and cultural bits within this large compound, including displays of craft and woodworking examples from the 13 states of Malaysia. They also have a great batik boutique and they take credit cards.
Lastly, now you don’t need to leave those water sport options back in Pantai Cenang, because recently joining this quiet stretch of paradise is a new parasailing and jet ski business. This may or may not be a good sign of things to come — time will tell.