LivingTravelWhere is Langkawi and how to get there?

Where is Langkawi and how to get there?

Malaysia’s most popular tourist island draws travelers from both near and far. It is loved by the locals as a weekend getaway spot. But since Malaysia is a peninsula with lots of coastline, including a chunk of Borneo, some international visitors to Langkawi aren’t even sure where their plane will take them!

Langkawi is technically the term for an archipelago made up of 104 islands, but the name most commonly refers to the largest island. Langkawi Island is located in the Straits of Malacca, approximately 18.6 miles off the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia.


Langkawi, which was declared a UNESCO Global Geopark in 2007, is part of the Malaysian state of Kedah. It is 30 kilometers from the mainland and adjacent to the land border between Malaysia and Thailand, where the Andaman Sea and the Straits of Malacca meet. The island is north of Penang, the famous Malaysian island food island.

Get there

Langkawi is very easy to reach, a factor that has likely influenced the island’s development. The two main options for getting to Langkawi are by boat or flight. Unlike Penang, the island is not connected to the mainland through the bridge.

Flights to Langkawi are cheap, ridiculously cheap, which is a catch, too good to be true. Unless you’re coming from Koh Lipe in Thailand or Penang (those are options), there’s really no good reason to take a combination of bus and boat to get to Langkawi. Airfare from Kuala Lumpur is usually as cheap as $ 15-30! Flying the 267 miles from Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi takes about an hour plus airport time.

Flying to Langkawi

Langkawi International Airport (LGK) is kept busy with more than 2 million passengers passing through annually. Although the airport isn’t even big enough for the airlifts that connect to the terminal (you’ll get the thrill of walking on the runway), the traffic moves smoothly enough.

The obvious choice to fly to Langkawi is to go through Kuala Lumpur. More than 200 weekly flights fly from the Malaysian capital to Langkawi. If you prefer Singapore’s award-winning Changi Airport for a stopover, AirAsia, SilkAir and TigerAir fly direct from Singapore to Langkawi.

Due to the nature of late-night domestic travel in Malaysia, sometimes really cheap flights don’t show up on major booking sites. Before committing to making a final purchase, click directly on the airline sites (Malaysia Airlines, Malindo Air, AirAsia, SilkAir, TigerAir and Firefly fly to Lagkawi).

As a tip, AirAsia and other low-cost airlines can operate from Terminal KLIA2 about two kilometers from the main Kuala Lumpur international airport. Check your ticket carefully if you don’t have a lot of free time. Also note that when you leave Langkawi, take care of all your last minute meals and purchases before going through security. There are many more options in the main departure lounge than on the other side of security.


After landing in Langkawi, you will find an official taxi counter just outside the baggage claim. This coupon-based system is simple, scam-free, and discourages dishonest drivers from harassing newcomers. The prices are fixed. If you’re traveling on your own, you can save a bit and reduce island traffic by doing what budget travelers do – ask others in line if they’d like to carpool.

Depending on traffic, a taxi from the airport to Pantai Cenang (the most popular tourist beach) takes about 15 minutes.

Taking the boat from the mainland

If you are coming overland from Thailand, especially Satun or Hat Yai, taking a ferry to Langkawi may be the best option. The boats leave from Kuala Perlis and Kuala Kedah. The frequency of the ferries is seasonal and depends on the weather.

Traveling from Penang

Langkawi has many activities to offer, but the glitzy cuisine isn’t really one of the highlights. The food in Penang, especially the street food scene, is world famous.

Again, flying is the easiest option to move between the two islands. Flights operated by AirAsia and Firefly can be as cheap as US $ 20 and the flight time is so short that you will barely have time to open the magazine before starting your descent.

If you’ve already flown enough on your trip and prefer to tempt the sea, one option is to go by boat. Daily ferries from Penang to Langkawi take about three hours, depending on conditions. They are not much cheaper than flights.

Ferries operate from Kuah, the main city of Langkawi. You can book through any of the many travel agencies on the island. Please arrive at the port 30 minutes before departure.

Leaving Koh Lipe

Interestingly, little Koh Lipe in Thailand is home to an immigration point. After enjoying Phuket, Koh Lanta, Railay or Krabi, you can cross the border to the south.

Ferries from Koh Lipe to Langkawi take around 90 minutes. Sea conditions can be tough enough to delay or cancel ferries in the off-season (June to October). Boats leave Koh Lipe from Pattaya Beach. Warning: Langkawi will feel very busy after not enjoying motorized vehicles in Koh Lipe.

When to go once you are there

Peak months in Langkawi are December, January, and February. A combination of drier weather and holidays really draws visitors to the island. Chinese New Year, which always occurs in January or February, is a particularly busy time.

Although there are some fun inland activities to do around Langkawi, many businesses and some boat options will close or be in limited operation as tourism becomes a trickle during the off-season.

September and October are often the rainiest months on the island. For a good compromise, choose to visit Langkawi during “shoulder” season before or after the peak months. It should have lots of sunny days but less competition on the beaches. Regardless, the monsoon starts and ends whenever you want from year to year.

Island hopping through Langkawi

With the right time and some strategic flight booking, you can put together a dream island-hopping circuit between Thailand and Malaysia that showcases the best of both countries. Call it the ‘Andaman Loop’.

Start in Bangkok; international flights are often the cheapest anyway. When you’re ready, start island hopping by flying into Krabi (airport code: KBV), a small town that served as a gateway to the Andaman Sea. Check out Thailand’s cute local carrier NokAir before assuming AirAsia is your best bet.

From there, you can enjoy Ao Nang Beach for a day and then take a long-tail boat to Railay. Take on resident macaques in exchange for stunning beaches and highly scalable limestone rock formations.

Then, leave the mainland by taking the minivan-boat combo (three hours) to Koh Lanta. After a few days, assuming you can get away from many travelers’ favorite island, head to Koh Phi Phi via the hour-long ferry to enjoy the backpacker nightlife. Phuket is also an option if the lack of family-friendly coffee chains is getting too idyllic.

If you want to avoid the loud music, bucket drinking scene, proceed directly by boat from Lanta to Koh Lipe. After enjoying a few days of snorkeling and island life without a motor, take the ferry to Langkawi.

Take advantage of the many things to do in Langkawi. From there, you can reluctantly swap sand for concrete by flying back to Kuala Lumpur (Malindo Air is a good option). But if there’s time, here’s a better idea: add one more island to the list by flying the 35 minutes to Penang.

Although the beach in Penang will pale after enjoying unspoiled sand in Lanta, Lipe, and Langkawi, the cultural fusion makes up for it. Spend a few days strolling the colonial streets and enjoying Indian food before catching a cheap flight back to Kuala Lumpur.

Fortunately, short-haul flights for such an excursion don’t have to be booked far in advance to get good rates. A few days or less will generally suffice outside of the holidays. When enjoyed in their glorious fullness, this circuit allows you to see the capitals of Thailand and Malaysia and a mix of slightly developed and well-developed islands in both countries.

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