When we first heard about Langkawi we were in a forum searching for developed islands in Southeast Asia to travel and possibly live in. In need of a clean island with gorgeous landscapes and a secure internet connection to work from Langkawi fit the bill.
Langkawi lies to the Northeast of Malaysia. It’s not actually an island, but an archipelago of 99 stunning islands cloaked in ancient jungles. When doing research we found the island is most well known for being a resort island and beach escape for people around the world
While there are a number of public beaches the majority of travelers will find solace in resorts around the island. We spent our time in a number of resorts around the island and can safely recommend a number of great places to stay on your holiday, or at the very least regions. If you’re looking for where to stay in Langkawi this list will have you putting up some serious debate as all are incredible options.
The island has several distinct sections each with their own distinct characteristics. The majority of travelers stay on the Southern side of the island that can be divided into two sections Kuah Town and Pantai Cenang. Kuah Town is the more developed city. If Langkawi had a capital it would be Kuah Town. With a few resorts and hotels, Kuah offers a selection of restaurants, a harbor, and even a couple of bars.
Pantai Cenang is the largest beach on the island and has a long stretch of restaurants hotels, hostels, small shops, and beach bars. Cenang is a short drive from the airport and is the one area on the island with a good backpacker scene and cheap spots to stay.
The Northern section of the island is not as developed with a number of resorts, most notably The Andaman and The Datai Langkawi. They are both five-star resorts and fetch a high price; however, we found a good deal can be found at The Andaman based on room type.
Where to Stay in Kuah Town
The Westin is one of the best hotels in Langkawi for honeymoon relaxation. Just outside of Kuah Town in Langkawi lies the Westin Langkawi Resort. Set on 76 acres with lush gardens and it’s sister property, The St. Regis Langkawi, you have a full-service experience with little need to leave the resort grounds. The hotel is one of the oldest resorts on Langkawi and was built in a charming fusion of Malay architecture.
While the hotel’s age shows from the outside the interiors have been renovated. Throughout the hotel, we found wonderful touches in the new restaurants, facilities, and rooms. The main bar offers stunning views of the surrounding islands and is the focal point once you enter the resort. It was our introduction to the resort as we enjoyed some afternoon mocktails before we set off to explore.
There are four pools at the Westin with the first three on a series of terraces that include a kids pool. We didn’t have enough time to properly explore the pools, but if we had to pick a pool it would have to be the pool attached to the Heavenly Spa as it was quiet with few guests.
Don’t worry we did have enough time for two spa treatments. They were fantastic with wonderful private rooms suites that included everything you could need for before and after our massage. The professionally run spa it tastefully decorated with high-end products and a wide range of services available.
Come sunset we made it straight to the long jetty for views over the bay and neighboring islands. It was one of the most impressive sunsets we’ve ever seen. No crazy edits needed to make the sky pop, as it was a fiery cotton candy orange with a vivid blue compliment.
We had one evening free to check out the resorts main beach restaurant. Year round it typically serves international island grill food. However, we were in luck as they had Bhar, a middle eastern pop-up restaurant in its place. The restaurant is intended to cater to Arabic clients, but we could not have been happier dining with mint tea, spiced olives, dukkah, dates, zataar aubergine. I’m particularly fond of Middle Eastern cuisine with its wide use of spices and the fact it steers away from heavy oils like many Asian cuisines.
If you want comfort and style with a familiar brand that you can trust in Langkawi. The resort is also close to a large number of activities around the area. The only drawback we could see would be the beach since it rocky and close to the main part of town. It also has the classic resort feel which could be a drawback for some.
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Where to Stay in the North of Langkawi
One of our favorite resorts on Langkawi would have to be The Andaman. After years of travel and participating in all sorts of tourists activities, we like intimate resorts. The Luxury Collection property is just that, as it set in a 10 million-year-old jungle in Datai Bay. It’s this mysticism of the spot that enables the resort to break away from that large resort feel despite having 180 rooms. If you’re looking for where to stay on Langkawi with a family, The Andaman is a great choice as they had a complimentaty kids club.
What amazed us was the luxurious offerings in the wild setting. We’re massive fans of small eco-resorts and we definitely understand why they’re not for everyone.
However, when it came to The Andaman we subbed a beach cottage with a fan and no A/C for a spacious suite with multiple TVs, a large bathtub, mini bar, Nespresso machine, closet, outdoor shower, and a plunge pool. Needless to say, we welcomed the change.
We were upgraded to an executive pool suite, which was spacious and had it’s own plunge pool steps away from the ocean. We loved our welcome drinks here, a refreshing make your own drink set with a fresh coconut shaker.
The beach here delivers stunning views of verdant mountains and wonderful white sand. Since the rooms are set just off the surround the beach no matter your room choice you’re always a few steps away from Datai Bay. There is no mystery as to why National Geographic named it the 9th best beach in the world.
The large forested bay feels wild and remote with birds, monkeys, giant squirrels, and monitor lizards going about their daily lives. We were even introduced to an animal we’d never seen before, the flying lemur. All these amazing animals can be spotted on The Andamans free wildlife walk every morning.
While most people want to sightsee, we want a spot where we can relax. That’s not to say The Andaman is without a plethora of activities it just means we don’t have to hop in a car to enjoy them. The main large pool is set in the jungle and blends seamlessly between the hotel and the beach.
Food at The Andaman has to be some of best in Langkawi. We ate at two of their restaurants, Jala and Tepian Laut. Jala is primarily a seafood restaurant that displays the wonderful local catch and allows diners to select their fish and style of cooking.
Our meal consisted of wonderful prawns, squid, and a whole fish along with some tantalizing side dishes. The setting was wonderful for a seafood meal as we the restaurant sits right along the beach with sand floors, in fact, we didn’t wear shoes for dinner.
Tepian Laut is a modern interpretation of Malaysian dishes. There are a wide variety of options from roasted lamb to curries and noodle dishes. Just about everyone could find something on the menu. We weren’t sure what to expect since we’ve had local Malaysian food before, but we were blown away by the high quality and had a very memorable meal.
On our last evening at The Andaman, we were pampered at their V spa. When we entered our open-air treatment room we found ourselves on top a hill surrounded by lush vegetation high above the beach below. The view was stunning and we proceed to have a 2.5-hour spa treatment that included a pain-inducing belly massage (we’re told it’s very good for you).
I could probably write a whole post on the feeling of a stomach massage, but I’ll spare you the image of my wincing face. However, the rest included a head and shoulder rub, full body oil massage, natural salt scrub, and lemongrass wrap. It was all tantalizing and encapsulates the resorts message of total wellness. To which they name five pillars hence the spas name is V.
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Where to Stay in Pentai Cenang
Casa Del Mar Langkawi
We weren’t sure what to expect with Casa Del Mar set on the busiest beach in Langkawi. However, it surpassed every expectation we had and turned out to be one of our favorite boutique resorts in a long time. The most stand out features of the hotel is the staff, vibrant gardens, and super inviting rooms. All of this combined makes Casa Del Mar one of the best hotels on Langkawi.
Service at the hotel is a clear priority and it is not something unique to our stay. Take one look at their reviews on Tripadvisor and you’ll see literally thousands of glowing five-star reviews. We felt so at home here and it starts and ends with great staff and management.
The hotel is located on Cenang Beach the primary tourist hub in Langkawi with a number of restaurants and beach bars. It is the busy hub of the island, but Casa Del Mar’s location at the end of the strip allows for complete guest relaxation.
Our room was a sumptuous deluxe room that had a small courtyard leading right out to the beach. It was so spacious with comfortable seating, a table and a desk. We work from the road and love a large comfortable desk so we felt right at home. It only got better with an espresso machine and a TV with HBO/Showtime (we love movies). To make us even more at home the bed was wonderfully comfortable and the towels were some of most plush we’ve ever had in a hotel room.
A service that stood out to me was the turndown service. For turn down they dim the lights, play jazz music, light candles, spray a relaxing room spray, and have mugs ready to go with your choice of chamomile tea or hot chocolate – It is instant relaxation.
The gardens and exteriors of the resort carry a lot of Spanish influence with bougainvillea working their way over tan building edges. It’s an attractive property which would explain why outside guests love to walk onto the property to snap their photos.
We spent a lot of time relaxing on the resort gourds and swimming in the central pool. I don’t know what it is, but something about a sparkling blue tile pool looks so inviting and luxurious. It’s a spot where you can truly unwind and catch up on a book. Tasha and I both got some time to read our books, The Great Alone & Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (Tasha’s love novels & I love non fiction books).
The bar and restaurant are probably the nicest in Pantai Cenang so it’s well worth having lunch or a romantic dinner here. We were lucky enough to have several meals at the restaurant and were able to try a wide range of their food. It was all great and we loved sitting at the bar on a sunny day in between dips in the pool.
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Where to Stay in Pentai Tanjung Rhu
Ambong Ambong is a small property with just a few villas set on top of a lush jungle-covered hill ideal for those looking for a quiet place to stay in Langkawi. Birdlife is an abundance and we climbed the hill up to our room we saw a troop of the cute dusky leaf monkeys waiting to welcome us home. The property is a small collection of rooms and villas with only 11 units set a few minutes outside of Cenang Beach.
It’s location never presents any issues as upon guests are provided a mobile phone to call a free ride service. It shuttles guest up and down the properties large hill and to the central part of Cenang. We were surprised at the speed at which the ride service was and never had to wait more than a few minutes.
We had one of their suites located on top of the hill with great views of the jungle and out to Langkawi’s stunning coastline. All of this was best enjoyed from the elevated Japanese wood bathtubs.
A standout feature here is there a yoga platform and classes. Unlike many popular spots in Southeast Asia and eco-destinations Langkawi has not caught onto the yoga craze. Ambong Ambong helps fill the gap with classes three times a week. It’s perfect as a guest to head down the hill before breakfast and wake up with a morning yoga class.
We struck out when it came to Ambong Ambong and the Langkawi decided to turn in to “RainKawi.” However, we persevered on account of it being Natasha’s birthday. We were in good luck though as the property is a neighbor to Unkaizan a Japanese Restaurant. Which is likely the best independent restaurant on the island and considered one of the best in Malaysia.
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Ambong Pool Villas
Following the success of Ambong Ambong they expanded with a new property across the street with Ambong Pool Villas. The rooms are far more luxurious as they’re massive villas with large pools multiple bathtubs, a large outdoor seating area, lounge, and spacious bedroom. Similar to Ambong Ambong they’re in the middle of the jungle and great for those wanting seclusion.
The villas, like at Ambong Ambong are located outside of Cenang Beach and you can take advantage of their complimentary shuttle service. However, if you don’t mind a short walk you can head to Pantai Tanjung Rhu on your own.
We loved our villa and room so much we hardly left during our time at the Ambong Pool Villas. It did help that it was our second week on the island and we had already got some great beach time and seen the major sites on the island. We were more than happy to hang out in our villa and spend the day playing in the pool and relaxing with the forest monkeys.
The pool villas offer a higher level of service with a nice breakfast spread that can be delivered to your room. We love having breakfast in our private garden while listening to the sounds of nature and monkeys. They also offer room service for lunch and dinner from their restaurant, but we never had a chance to try out the restaurant with a number of places in Pantai Cenang calling our names. We found the WiFi to work great here and found ourselves completely comfortable in the lush rainforest.
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Plan Your Trip to Langkawi
- Travel Insurance: We never travel without travel insurance with World Nomads. Natasha is a bit of a worry wart and would rather stay safe than sorry. World Nomads is ideal for flexible and short-term travel plans!
- Water: We like to bring a travel water bottle and fill up from the large tanks which can be found almost everywhere. Southeast Asia has a huge plastic waste problem so try your hardest not to contribute to it. One of our favorites is the Lifestraw Go.
- Adapter: Malaysia uses the Type G plug similar to the U.K.. Pick up a good universal travel adaptor before you arrive. It’s good even comingU.K. the U.K. because a few rooms have Euro-style plugs.
- Packing: There are a number of hiking options on the island and leaches are common. It would be a good idea to bring a nice pair of hiking boots with high ankles. If you’ll be spending time at the beach make sure to check out our beach packing list.