Langkawi is only a short ferry ride from Penang and the mainland of Malaysia and is also very close to the Thailand border, hence the island is visited by holidaying local Malays, Thais and a number of tourists from other countries.
Langkawi really is beautiful. Before going to this island, I thought it was a “honeymoon” destination. An island full of high end resorts with high priced food and accommodation but with beautiful beaches. I was right about the beaches and luckily wrong about the accommodation. Langkawi has something for everyone!
Pantai Cenang (Cenang Beach) in the south west corner of Langkawi is the hive of tourism on the island. Top, middle and lower class accommodation can be found in this area. During the day, there isn't too much to do on Pantai Cenang except for swimming at the beach or reading your book on the beach. This makes for a very relaxing stay.
Once the sun starts to go down, Pantai Cenang changes. The restaurants / bars offer great deals for their “happy hours”, people flock to these restaurants for the cheap alcohol and not so cheap food, bringing a different feel onto the streets of Pantai Cenang.
Langkawi is actually a duty-free island, the alcohol sold on Pulau Langkawi is significantly cheaper than anywhere else in Malaysia. People flock to Langkawi just to shop for very cheap alcohol, very cheap cigarettes and very cheap Cadbury chocolate. How cheap? RM 2.00 ($0.70 cents) for a packet of 20 cigarettes cheap! No wonder why there are so many tour buses of people flocking to the duty free shops of Langkawi.
One other surprising thing about Pantai Cenang in Langkawi, was that we found a restaurant that had foreign staff working in it. The girls were American and were waitressing and cooking the food. This was strange indeed. We enjoyed our meal there, asked about how I could get a job there (out of curiosity) and was told that all I had to do was talk to the Malay owner. The food was delicious! However, the next day, the restaurant was gone! Shut down! All the cooking equipment, tables and chairs had disappeared! Perhaps the local police quietly talked to the Malay owner and asked him to shut down his restaurant before he got in trouble. Well that is what we hope anyhow.
Pantai Cenang in Langkawi is a really lovely place to go to and relax – swim, eat, read, sleep – and repeat.