For travel from Penang to Langkawi by Boat the boats leave the mainland pier daily at 08.30AM and 14:00PM from Georgetown’s Swettenham Pier found near Fort Cornwallis in the east port area of Georgetown (directions here). One way is 60RM and it takes 2h30mins to 3 hours with the earlier stopping at Pulau Payar. Full routes, schedules and fares for Penang to Langkawi by boat are found on the Langkawi Ferry Website. The website also includes boat routes from Penang to other various ports in Malaysia as well as Thailand.
Penang to Langkawi by Flight
Alternatively, it is possible to fly from Penang to Langkawi the low-cost carrier Air Asia offers daily flights to and from major Asia and Southeast Asia destinations. And, with advance bookings, it can sometimes be a similar price to travel by air. However, the airport is far out from the Georgetown tourist areas, and it’s just a lot more stressful.
Langkawi Pier (Kuah Pier)
The boat from Penang to Langkawi arrives at the main pier (Kuah pier) where you just go straight through the adjoining mall area to find the taxi stand out front. So taxis on the island have a fixed price starting at 6 RM. Although, to the popular beaches such as Pantai Cenang which is the main tourist stretch of the island, it costs a fixed price of 24 RM. And while you can try haggling, it will end in the same result.
Langkawi Timezone (GMT+8)
Timezones can be confusing at first when arriving from Thailand, where we would be ready for evening drinks at around 18:00 PM only to find the blazing sun won’t fall until 19:00 PM. This is because Langkawi is not far from Thailand (it’s pretty much on the borders) so sunlight is similar to the southern Thai islands. At the same time, the Malaysian timezone adds an extra hour to the day. And most restaurants and bars don’t open until after sundown and daytime the streets feel deserted.
Eating in Langkawi
Much of my love for Malaysia is in the diversity of food, and the same diversity of food does follow from Penang to Langkawi, although Penang will always be the better food city. Anyway, one of the better places in Langkawi is the 24-hour Nasi Kandar Tomato (pictured below) on Pantai Cenang which offers Malay ‘Nasi Kandar’ dishes, a tandoori corner, a roti stand and various western foods (full list of Malaysian foods here). However, local eateries are harder to come by during the day time hours, as the evenings (19:00 PM) most areas come to life with foods popping up on every corner.
Duty free in Langkawi
Unlike the rest of Malaysia there is no added ‘sin tax’ in Langkawi meaning alcohol is cheap. Prices are also significantly cheaper than the duty free airports of Langkawi and KL. For 2 liters of Johnny Walkers (Red) it was 75RM, over half the price of mainland Malaysia and neighbouring Thailand. This was the same with popular new world wines i.e. Penfolds, Wolf Blass. A good place to pick up duty free is at Underwater World beside Pantai Cenang. High sin taxes in the country have brought rather bizarre extra-strong beers and local minimarts stock many 12% to 14% alcohol beers including the Weidmann Extra Strong (pictured below) 8RM.
Exploring the Island
There are tours and attractions on Langkawi to keep anyone busy. Take your pick. The basic, cheap and non-intensive tour is the island hopping and eagle feeding tour starting 25RM. (Pulau Dayang Bunting – Pulau Singa Besar – Pulau Beras Basah). The Langkawi cable car