Looking for a Backpackers Guide to Langkawi, Malaysia?  Look no further!  I’ve visited Langkawi on three separate occasions now, and I know you’ll love it as much as I do.  Officially known as Langkawi the Jewel of Kedah, Langkawi is an archipelago of 104 islands in the Andaman Sea, around 30 km off the mainland coast of northwestern Malaysia.  It’s right at the border of Thailand, and is a popular place to visit for traveller’s going north/south between Malaysia and Thailand.

It is often overlooked by south-east Asia backpackers, and I think that’s a huge mistake.  Even if you only spend two-weeks in Malaysia, I definitely think that Langkawi should be a priority in your travels!  It’s a gorgeous island with lots of incredibly sights to see, affordable accommodation options, and tax-free booze!  ;-)  

It’s an absolute must for anyone traveling from Singapore to Bangkok Overland, and truly one of my favorite islands to visit in Asia.

Planning a trip to Malaysia…?  I’d recommend picking up a copy of the Malaysia Lonely Planet Travel Guide.  It can come in super handy to have while backpacking Langkawi!  If you don’t buy one, be on the look-out for it in hostels, and give it a browse because it can be super useful!

Backpacking Langkawi

Where to Stay in Langkawi

While there are a few decent areas to stay on the island, you absolutely have to stay in the Pantai Cenang beach area.  It’s definitely the most happening area on the island with plenty of delicious restaurants & bars, moto / car rental spots, and a beautiful beach with stunning sunsets every night!  

Langkawi Dormitorio:

Centrally located right in the middle of Pantai Cenang, with tons of shops and restaurant just footsteps away.  The hostel rooms are cheap, the facilities are great, and the beds are super comfortable.  You’ll meet tons of fellow backpackers, and it’s the perfect place to stay for your Langkawi explorations!  Check for rates & availability.

Sweet Monkey Backpacker Hostel:

For those backpacker’s on a tight budget, this is going to be your best bet!  You can stay in a 15-person dorm bed for less than $7 per night.  The location is excellent, the decor is awesome, and it’s a super social vibe.  Read Reviews & Check Availabilty

Cenang Plaza Beach Hotel:

If you’re looking for a bit more privacy, then I’d recommend this spot.   It’s got excellent reviews, is centrally located in Pantai Cenang, and has affordable rates for private rooms.  You’ll have free wi-fi in the rooms, air-conditioning, and the staff are super friendly.  Check rates and availability

Best Hostels on Langkawi

Top Things To Do in Langkawi

Whether you want to spend each day relaxing on the beach, or make the most of your time on Langkawi by exploring the island as much as possible!  If you want a full list and description of each, check out my article on the 10 Awesome Things to do on Langkawi.

The highlights include:

  • 3 Stop Island Hopping Tour
  • Mangrove Tour
  • Oriental Village
  • Cable Car/ Skybridge
  • Pantai Cenang
  • Berjaya Resort
  • Eagle Square
  • Sevel Wells Waterfall
  • Temuran Waterfalls
  • Watersports
  • Sunba Retro Bar

Things to do on Langkawi

Food and Drink:

  • Tomato:  This is honestly one of the best parts about going to Langkawi, is being able to eat at Tomato for pretty much every meal.  They serve some of the best Indian food I’ve ever had.  They have a decent sized menu of items to choose from, and also have a self-serve option where you pick out what you want.  A meal at Tomato will be really cheap, but also delicious.  Make sure to try to the Butter Chicken, and Garlic Cheese Naan!  
  • Little Mexican:  If you’re missing Mexican food, there’s a great restaurant that will definitely fix that.  They have big portions, and everything I tried was delicious.  The only problem is that this restaurant is a tad bit expensive compared to a lot of other options in Langkawi.  (Just don’t get this confused with 3 Amigos, another Mexican restaurant that is actually terrible.  
  • Istanbul Kebab:  The drunken late night snack that always satisfies.  Located at the end of the main boulevard on the corner, this restaurant has delicious kebabs and hummus.  They are also budget friendly, and perfect to eat during the walk home from Sunba.  
  • Oriental Village:  This is not located in Pantai Cenang, but is a 30 minute drive away.  This is where you’ll catch the cable car up to the skybridge!  They also have a food court with tons of different local and foreign foods.  Not too pricey, and very good.        
Tomato Langkawi


How to Get There:

From Malaysia: Langkawi is very accessible by plane from Kuala Lumpur, as well as other parts of the island.  You can use Skyscanner to find flights, but the cheapest flights will always be with AirAsia or Malindo Airlines!

You could also book a bus or ferry ticket online to Langkawi, but there’s also tons of tons of small travel agencies that can easily organize all your transportation to / from the island!

From Thailand:  You can catch a ferry from Koh Lipe, or head down to the jetty in the Satun province.

Backpacking Langkawi

Where to Next

Thailand – Well, most people who come to Langkawi are traveling north up to Thailand.  All over Langkawi there are different travel agents that can help you book tickets for onward travel.  I have done this trip twice.  You take the ferry from Langkawi – Satun (Border Crossing), then hope on a bus to wherever your going.  The busses normally go from Satun – Trang – Krabi – Phuket.  You can also reach Surat Thani for Koh Tao, Phangan, and Samui.  

Penang – If you came to Langkawi from Thailand, then your next stop should most definitely be Georgetown, the capital of Penang district.  This island is absolutely beautiful, with so much to do and explore.  There’s ferries that regularly go from Langkawi-Penang, and any travel agent can book that for you.  

Kuala LumpurAirAsia, Malindo Air, and Firefly airlines all have regular flights to/from Langkawi to KL.  You can find extremely cheap flights, and save yourself from a long bus ride.  

Perhentian Islands – If you’re continuing your travels in Malaysia, I’d strongly recommend taking a bus over to the beautiful Perhentian Islands!

Cameron Highlands – Perfect for a couple days of exploraing beautiful green hills and tea plantations.  Read my Backpacker’s Guide to the Cameron Highlands.

Backpacking Langkawi

Langkawi Resources:

I hope you’ve found some useful information in this backpacker’s guide, but below are some resources that could be beneficial for your time on this beautiful island:

Have you ever been to Langkawi?  What did you think, and what was your favorite thing to do?

Backpacker's Guide to Langkawi

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18 replies
  1. Cat says:

    Hey, great article, thanks! I’m thinking of getting the ferry from Penang to Langkawi, then the ferry to Thailand. Do you happen to remember the cheapest ferry to Thailand? Cos we looked online and it’s pretty pricy at $140… But I figure it must be cheaper there? Thank you! Cat

    • Jones says:

      No it doest cost that much at all! Penang to Langkawi is around $15-18 (60 MYR), and Langkawi to Koh Lipe (only available during high season) is around 140 MYR, or you can take the ferry to Satun, Thailand which is much cheaper.

  2. Ellie says:

    hey, just found your blog and so glad I have – loads of useful bits of info for a first time traveller like me! I’ve got a week spare between Thailand and Sri Lanka – supposed to be visiting somebody in Penang for a few days but figured I might go somewhere else for a few days prior – guessing Langkawi is it!! I won’t get long to stay here, but as I’ve never ever travelled by myself before I think a few days is good! enjoy your travels, keep writing (please and thankyou)

    • Jones says:

      Hey Ellie! Thanks so much for the kind words. You just made my day! :-) you will Love Langkawi, and it’s a great spot for just a few days! Make sure you rent a moto and explore the island. Sooo beautiful! ENJOY! Feel free to email me with any questions! Cheers

  3. abdulghani says:

    Hey Jones,

    Just wanted to mention that the second guest house you spoke of which you said “This is located just next door to Gecko’s”, is actually called “Daddies” Guesthouse. The name you mentioned “Daddy’s Guesthouse” is on the other side of the Island.


  4. Azizi says:

    great article! something i would look forward to. currently going there by flight, any idea where i could rent a motorbike? beside the one at ferry terminal? won’t want to spent alot on taxi if i could. Thans mate!

    • Dave says:

      Just rent the moto in Pantai Cenang. They’ve got tons of different shops. The taxi from the airport to PC shouldnt be too much. try to share with people at the airport. Everyone stays there. Feel free to message me with any other questions. I love Langkawi!

  5. Sati says:

    Hi Jonas, thanks for the post (and many others), it’s just exactly what a backpacker needs to know, short and informative!
    Do you know if one can get the Thai visa upon arrival while crossing the border by ferry from Langkawi to Koh Lipe? Any tips on that?

    • Dave says:

      Yeah you can. That depends on where you are from though. Being an American, we get visa on arrival in Thailand. I think most people do, so I wouldnt worry about it

  6. khail says:

    Hi im Khail im palnning to go to Langkawi this coming chinesse new year its my first time going there
    and i dont know if there will be alot of peoples there since its holiday.
    any advice do i need to book a hostel or any place to stay or is it alright to just go in PANTAI CENANG
    and look for a place to stay?

  7. Elisa says:

    Hi Dave! The beautiful photo with the blue sea under “where to next”, is it taken in Langkawi?? Where is it exactly?… I will go to Langkawi in February :)

  8. Ana says:

    Thanks for your blog! It’s really useful and interesting.
    I was wondering if you can still remember the name of the third spot to stay in Langkawi, since only two of them are named and have the link on them.
    Thanks a lot in advance!


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