I feel like travelling overseas, but am not keen on the horrible exchange rates right now. One day, while happily browsing Google Flights and dreaming of Europe (use it! You get to save money on flights), I found cheap tickets to Langkawi. RM102 for return tickets, including fees. Even though I didn’t exactly have a burning desire to go to Langkawi, I couldn’t resist the price and booked it on the spot.
And that’s how I went on a 4 days 3 nights Langkawi weekend trip. This guide is suitable for those of you going solo/duo travelling and wants to be somewhat comfortable but on a budget. Because of the weather (it rained 80% of the time I was there), this guide is also more general and flexible in nature.
There are a lot of places to stay in Langkawi at various price point. If you want action/nightlife/tourist vibe, stay in Pantai Cenang. If you want laid back small town, stay at Kuah. If you want fancy as shit hotels, there are a few hotels at a few private beaches – be prepared to pay a lot for those, I’m saying RM1000+ and more per night.
My budget for accommodation was just RM500 for 3 nights. That turned out to be fairly easy, but I think you have to book a couple of weeks in advance for the top-rated places. To make the trip more fun, I booked accommodations at two places instead of one (both at Pantai Cenang).
Langkawi is cheap for a few things, but these 4 things stand out:
- Alcohol. Sighted RM2.50 cans of beer.
- Chocolate. My sister asked me to get her Pepero. Price in Langkawi: RM21.90. Price at airport: RM42.90. BIG DIFFERENCE OK
- Tobacco. Sighted RM6.60 packs of cigarettes.
- Seafood (selected places, mostly Malay restaurants). Had a huge dinner for two and ordered a whole bawal emas, tomyam, vegetables and an egg dish – the bill was just RM50+.
I know Langkawi is also famous for a few outdoors activities. I didn’t go on any of them, but I did manage to snap this picture for you guys. It’s good for your budgeting if you want to try any of them. (The first one is RM35 in case you can’t see the price).
Savings tip 1: I saw the flight on Google Flights, but booked my flights via Shopback (note: referral link) for the 1% AirAsia cashback.
Savings tip 2: Check if your bank has collaborations with travel websites. I was going to book my accommodation via Shopback for the 6-8% cashback, but found out that CIMB offers 10% discount for bookings on Expedia. I checked across several websites and found that this was the cheapest option for me at the point.
Savings tip 3: Use a cashback credit card, and layer them as much as you can. I got 5% cashback from my credit card, and received AirAsia BIG points for this trip as well. Read my how to layer in my cashback credit card article here.
Day 1 – Arrival to Langkawi
As soon as we landed, it started raining… and didn’t stop until end of Day 3. In fact, it was full-on storm. I would complain, but the same storm flooded parts of Malaysia and Thailand and (last I heard) killed 18 people. So yeah, no complaining from me.
I booked Night 1 at the famous Tubotel and drove there with my rented car (collected at airport). It was full of college-y white people, but the place itself was nice. I thought they only offer tubes, but they also had container rooms – dorms fitting up to 16 people in a room.
I got the tube with sea view, and liked the experience. The only thing was the price. At RM196.91, this was a bit higher than what I wanted to spend for a small (albeit novelty) bedroom without attached toilet. And this price is after the CIMB discount, too. Even if I thought they were pricey, to their credit, Tubotel’s breakfast service was great – really enjoyed the freshly baked bread and drip coffee. And the bed was comfortable and I got the company of this sexy lady, so.
Savings tip 4: Try to go during low season. Accommodation, car rental and other services are cheaper. Low season means non-school and non-public holidays. Weekends are not considered peak – I know this because I was charged low season rates.
Savings tip 5: Unless you just want to stay in one spot, rent a car – taxis are expensive. Apparently it costs RM20 from the airport to Pantai Cenang, one-way. My rented Myvi costs just RM200 for 4 days 3 nights (pick up and return at Langkawi International Airport). I used this car rental service. Was good, no complaints.
Day 2: Langkawi Cable Car
On Day 2, I checked out from Tubotel and left for Skycab area – the home of Langkawi Cable Car and SkyBridge. I thought it would be boring, but this turned out to be the highlight of my trip – rain and all. You can easily spend a whole day there, and I think as an attraction it was extremely value for money! Here are the packages they offer (accurate as of time of writing).
Not knowing any better, I took the Basic Package for RM30. It includes:
- Cable ride to the top. Absolutely gorgeous view. Try to spot the two waterfalls, one of them the famous Telaga Tujuh Waterfall. SkyBridge is at the top, but it was closed due to the weather. Still had an amazing time.
- SkyDome. Ever wanted to ride a roller coaster ON FREAKING MARS? Didn’t expect this at all, but super fun, almost VR-experience.
- SkyRex. A Jurassic World-ish ride. Better than you think!
They also have a bunny zoo, free entry. I bought bribes (carrot sticks) for RM2 per cup. Worth it for the temporary love and affection <3
At this area, there are a lot of shops selling Langkawi knick-knacks and prices are surprisingly fair, considering this place is a tourist hub. Plenty of food options at affordable prices, even if a restaurant staff did get possessed while I was having lunch. She’s OK, it only lasted a few minutes.
Next time, I would love to try other packages containing more attractions 🙂
Savings tip 6: Bring your MyKad because you need that for the (cheaper) Malaysian rates at SkyCab. Non-Malaysians, you’re out of luck. They will apparently check if you buy the Malaysian tickets.
Muslim tip: Bagi salam kat sini wei. Macam keras sikit.
After this, I went to check in at a budget accommodation called The Cottage. Booked a Malay-style cottage for 2 nights. Budget-wise, this was more my style – 2 nights here was cheaper than one night at Tubotel, and with attached toilet too! RM145.56 in total. I would recommend it – you can walk to the beach and the shops from here, yet it’s still far enough from the noisy crowd. They have friendly cats and roosters that wake you up in the morning.
At night, we just walked along shops on Pantai Cenang. There were a lot of construction and roadwork, but I think in a couple of months it’s going to look beautiful.
Day 3: MawArt and Night Market
So I was travelling with a friend who has never tried Nasi Dagang (!!!) Browsed online and apparently Nasi Dagang Pak Malau was recommended. Drove there. Alas, the shop was closed as he’s on holiday -_- So we made do with a breakfast at a local warung/small restaurant.
By chance, another customer, a real friendly guy called Jay said hi to us. He recommended the Pulut Nasi, then invited us to come over to his friend’s batik art studio nearby. Charmed, we did. And I’m so glad, because we actually bumped into the good people of MawArt – they are local artists from Langkawi! Fun fact: They’re called MawArt because the village they stay in is called Kampung Mawat.
I loved chatting with them. The house is very artsy and they have a very good vibe and super hospitable. They henna-tattooed me – my favourite souvenier from Langkawi 🙂 Their modern batik paintings are damn cool. See their Dragonball batik at their Facebook page!
After this I went back to The Cottage and just chilled out. It was raining so we watched Netflix’s The Crown series (it’s very good btw). The staff at The Cottage was friendly and gave us a great tip – Night Market/Pasar Malam at Beras Terbakar near the airport. Google ‘Beras Terbakar’ and you should pass by it.Went there, was not disappointed. It’s a local’s market with plenty of dinner and snack choices. It’s there every Sunday from 6pm onwards. If you’re going for a Langkawi weekend trip, definitely make a stop here.
Savings tip 7: Food at Cenang Beach was expensive. Tourist area. Drive around to the less-touristy areas to enjoy better food prices. Just find a place where locals eat and the food should be good. When in doubt, find Malay food – they tend to be cheaper.
Day 4: Duty-Free and back to KLIA2
I was ordered to bring back chocolates, so I went to a couple of Duty-Free shops to try and compare prices. They were quite similar actually, so feel free to just go to one place and buy everything from there. If you buy a variety, the cost should even out.
Some of the things they sell at duty-free shops: Local and international chocolates and candies, tobacco, alcohol, luggage, sports/swimming attire, durian products (freeze-fried, coffee, chocolate), fish satay, shrimp crackers and squid snacks, seashell bowls and plates, batik, cookware (Pyrex, Tefal) and gamat (sea cucumber) products. Some places sell local medicinal items, too. I tried tongkat ali tea and almost spat it out. No, I don’t feel my batin improving.
Total cost for my Langkawi weekend trip
In total, I spent RM1239.47 for this trip, all-in. It would have been cheaper if I shared some expenses, took the train and did not spend too much on chocolates, but I’m happy with the savings from Accommodation, Flights and Car Rental. If you cap your meals to RM10 per meal (definitely possible), shared rooms and car rental, and spend less on shopping, you can easily make the same trip for under RM1000. Breakdown below:
Want to know anything specific about travelling to Langkawi? Ask in the comments – I might not know but others reading this might ? Liked this? Share it!
|Item||Budgeted (RM)||Actual (RM)|
|House to KLIA2 (return; Grabcar)||150||145|
|Food+Drinks||180 (20 per meal x 9 meals)||200|
|Accommodation||500 (for 3 days)||342.47|
|Car Rental||240 (80 per day x 3 days)||200|
|Flight tickets (KLIA2 – LIA)||102||102|
|Shopping/Entertainment||300 (100 per day)||250|