Long ago, in a far away land there was a girl named Mahsuri, who lived on a beautiful island- Langkawi. Mahsuri had breathaking good looks and everyone in the land was jealous of her. One day, she married her true love- Warrior Wan Derus, but unfortunately he had to leave her and fight a war with Siam. Whilst he was gone, her mother in law grew tired of being jealous of Mahsuri’s beauty and accused her of adultery, she plead her innocence but nobody on the island believed her. Mahsuri was sentenced to be executed and was stabbed to death, as she died she bled white blood whilst birds flew above to cover her body-proving her innocence. In Mahsuri’s dying breath she cursed the island and it was said that it would have bad luck for the next 7 generations. How depressing! I’m pretty sure I would curse my homeland too if I was killed despite being innocent- you go girl. Apparently some locals still believe this legend, and see it as an explanation as to why Langkawi has suffered terribly over the last few centuries- strange huh?
Langkawi is possibly the dreamiest place I’ve ever been. I mean it’s pretty perfect; white sandy beaches, stunning clear blue oceans, hot tropical climate, 100 + islands to explore, luscious, green mountains to explore, what could possibly be wrong with this place? Well…I can only think of one, and that is that it’s bloody expensive. Langkawi would be heaven on Earth if you were here on your honeymoon or some other romantic getaway or of course if money was no object. There’s constant talk of Jet Ski’s, Paragliding, Helicopter tours and cruises here which is great…but, I’m a backpacker and I have very little money. So, what is there to do here that won’t set you back an arm and a leg?
1. Go to the Beach
There are SO many stunning beaches on Langkawi it’s practically impossible to visit them all on your stay and of course, laying on a beach all day doesn’t cost a penny. Get yourself a scooter (which only cost us 35MYR- £7 for 24 hours), grab a map and whizz off to explore the white sands of Langkawi. The best beaches are in the North of the island and most of them are so quite you’re likely to be the only ones there. Be careful though- there’s little shade on most of the beaches and the Sun is VERY hot (ask my sunburnt face) so make sure you cream up regularly.
2. Get High
Now now, I’m not talking about anything illegal here; I’m saying you need to hike, drive or jump in a cable car- anything that will get you off the ground so you can see the spectacular 360 views this island has to offer. The most popular option for this is the cable car and skybridge- which I’ll admit are fantastic. However, it is the most expensive thing I did whilst in Langkawi. The cable car alone costs anything from 55 MYR p/p, just to get to the top of the mountain, bridge access is another 5MYR minimum on top of that. It’s hard to say whether it’s worth the cost or not, the views are spectacular, being herded like cattle as it’s so bust wasn’t quite so. But, I’d say a trip to Langkawi isn’t the same without selling your soul just to get in a cable car. If you don’t fancy that, there are cheaper options (Phew!). Get in a rental car or scooter and drive to the top of Gunung Raya mountain (which according to folklore is actually the dead body of a giant? What is with these people?). Once you’re finally up there you’ll reach D’ Coconut Hill Resort- a really run down (shame) hotel. It’s saving grace is it’s 10 storey high tower which you can climb for only 10 MYR, from the top there are some pretty amazing views of the whole island-plus you get a free cup of tea on arrival. Make sure you get there early or the clouds will pretty much spoil your view.
Langkawi has so much to offer, yet I found it quite difficult to plan exactly how I wanted to spend my time here. In the end we picked one big activity for the day, headed off on our scooter in that general direction and tried to find interesting stuff along the way-needless to say we weren’t disappointed. We came across numerous waterfalls, wild monkeys doing indecent things on the side of the road, stunning marinas and rice paddy fields all in one day. Langkawi is one of those places where unexpected beauty is around every corner- you just have to look for it.
4. Get up to watch the Sun rise…or stay up to watch the Sun set
Our hotel (Saluna Guesthouse) has the most amazing gardens to relax in, I would really recommend staying here if you’re planning a cheap trip to Langkawi. There is a really cute little cabana here where I sit each morning and wait for the sun rise to rise over the nearby fields, I watch the calves play with their mums and I watch the birds sit on the water buffalo’s backs (whilst having my feet attacked by the kitten who lives here I might add)- it truly is the best part of my day. Sun rises and sets are actually magnificent here, the whole sky looks as if it may set on fire at any given moment I’ve never seen anything quite like it. So head to your nearest beach, plonk your bum down and keep you eyes peeled, you’re in for quite a show.
5. Visit the Night Markets
The night markets here are in a different location each day;
- Monday- Jalan Ulu Melaka
- Tuesday- Kampung Chenek Kura
- Wednesday- Pekan Kuah
- Thursday-Kampung Lubok
- Friday- Jalan Padang Gaong
- Saturday- Lencongan Putra
- Sunday- Kampung Padang
Although they don’t compare to the markets in Chiang Mai or Pai; they are a great place to grab a bargain. Joe and I bought some fried rice and noodles all for 2 MYR (less than 50p) each, so that was tea sorted. There are also lots of great fruit, drink and dessert stalls- make sure you check out Apam Balik (think crispy pancakes with ground peanuts) it’s vegan and delicious!