Why go to Langkawi?
Traditional Malay villages against a backdrop of limestone islands and alluring beaches
A car is needed to see the more authentic side of the island
This understated destination amazes with its spectacular beauty
Langkawi Cruise Port Facilities?
There are no facilities of any kind at the Star Cruises Jetty. It's just a concrete dock, and passengers must be driven from there to get to any activity. The closest town is Kuah, which has shops, ATM's and other facilities nearby.
The main attraction of Kuah is Eagle Square, where you'll want to head for one of the best photo ops in town. The square's iconic and imposing statue, with its wings outstretched toward the sea, is what visitors see first when approaching the island by air or sea (even cruise ships not docking directly in Kuah). So, there's no better way to commemorate your visit to Langkawi than by striking a pose underneath this massive, 39-foot-tall bird. You'll also find a number of souvenir kiosks at the nearby shopping and performance pavilion. And, if you don't pick up a fun trinket there, the Langkawi Fair Shopping Mall is an easy 10-minute walk from the square.
Good to Know?
Langkawi is an extremely safe place for tourists. Many locals depend on tourism for their livelihood, so you're almost certain to be met with friendly faces everywhere you go. Although the island is practically crime-free, you should still protect your valuables. Don't invite someone to take something from you by leaving it unattended, no matter how comfortable you might feel.
If you decide to head out on your own, the easiest -- but most expensive -- option is to hire a taxi for the day. (They hover as you're disembarking.) This will run you about 15RM an hour, but drivers will negotiate, depending on how much of the day will be spent driving versus waiting.
The more economical choice is to rent a car, starting at approximately 80RM for the day. You can book a car in advance or rent one once you get there from locations near downtown Kuah or Pantai Cenang. And, if the car company does not offer pickup at the dock, a taxi can take you from there to the rental place. For a wind-in-your-hair kind of ride, motorbikes and bicycles are also available for rent.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
The Ringgit (RM) is the official currency of Malaysia. Some tourist shops will take U.S. dollars, but those places are few and far between. And, despite Langkawi's proximity to Thailand, store owners will not take Baht. The best places to exchange money are at the airport, banks and some of the larger resorts. And, if you find yourself running low, there are several ATM's in Kuah and at the Kuah jetty near Eagle Square. For current exchange rates, visit XE.com.
Bahasa Malaysia is the official language, but you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't speak -- or at least understand -- English. And, since Langkawi is a popular tourist destination, a great deal of the signage is also translated into English.
Where You're Docked?
The Star Cruises jetty, where many big cruise lines dock, is about eight miles west of Kuah. Aside from a few resorts, this port isn't close to any of the main tourist attractions, so when you dock you'll need to either rent a car or take a taxi to explore the island. If you've booked a tour, the buses meet you right at the dock to start the excursion.