Langkawi - Malaysia's tropical paradise island
Langkawi is by many people seen as Malaysia's tropical paradise. But is it also for the average cyclist visiting Malaysia? I would say: YES. Langkawi has much to offer in terms of general tourism, beaches, tropical jungles, culture, diving but few realize it's a nice island to travel around on bicycle.
If you push it, you can cycle around Langkawi in one day but you will not see too much. But for the serious cyclist, Mount Raya, Gunung Raya is a serious contest but the reward is good too with some excellent views over Langkawi.
Langkawi is a duty free zone but it doesn't mean it's rock bottom cheap. And Malaysia is not particularly a cycling country. Many people will either think you're crazy or admire you for cycling in the baking heat.
But like the rest of Malaysia, the roads, and especially the smaller roads are in excellent condition and Langkawi is no exception.
Getting there and away
Langkawi is quite easy to reach for any cyclist. Coming from Phuket and Krabi you have the choice to go to Hat Yai or Satun. Some prefer to stay a night (or two) in Hat Yai and do some bicycle shopping in the two good bike shops there before coming to Malaysia. Others choose Satun and take the boat.
I have done both and both are easy to do. Satun is probably the least interesting town to stay. More then an afternoon is a visit not worth, even though in the are there are some quite nice villages to visit.
Hat Yai is more a typical border town where you can get almost anything. And the border, Padang Besar, is about 50km away, an easy ride. From Satun a ferry brings you direct to Langkawi, it takes about 1.5 hours. See also this page.
For the more adventurous cyclist, you can cycle from Hat Yai to Yala and then Betong. From Betong to Penang is then only 110 km. See this page for details.
If you decide to cross the Padang Besar border you have two choices to go to Langkawi. The first is just across the border in Kuala Perlis or a bit more south at Kuala Kedah.
Where to stay?
Most cyclist do not prefer to stay in expensive hotels. However, if you are in for a splurge, Langkawi is an excellent location to enjoy the enjoy paradise. The cheapest hotels and guesthouses you will find at Cenang Beach though not on the beach site.
Here are some very good hotels: accommodation at Langkawi
Langkawi hosts the only Marine Park on the West coast of Malaysia: Pulau Payar. This little island is uninhabited and an excellent place to start your Malaysian diving adventures. It's closer to Langkawi then to Penang, so if you are interested in diving, you probably prefer to stay at Langkawi.
The Pulau Pangkor.com website has some ideas for diving in Langkawi available. Click here to review them.
Langkawi has no longer a good bicycle shop (checked in February 2012). If you need special repairs, I recommend Gary Yap's shop in George Town Penang.
216 Lebuh Carnavon (Carnavon Street)
What to see
As you can expect, there's plenty to do at Langkawi
And last but not least white sand beaches in blue waters with spectacular views towards some of the 99 islands of which Pulau Langkawi is the main one. But to me, cycling around the island is the preferable way to go. And it's apart of the Gunung Raya mountain road almost all flat.
Maps of Langkawi
I remember my first visit to Langkawi and had no idea how far Cenang Beach was... If I had then the maps now available on the bicycle adventures website, it would have made my life a lot easier.
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More about cycling at Langkawi
Langkawi is not known for the cycling options but it's a pleasant bikeride around the island.