MARCH 2023 - MAY 2023
In my previous post, I provided General Information about Cenang Beach including:
- Exchange Rates;
- Money / Banks / ATMs;
- Getting There;
- When to Go;
- Where to Stay;
- Accommodation Options;
- Internet / WiFi;
- Your GRANDPAcking Costs.
CENANG BEACH / PANTAI CENANG
Cenang Beach is the most popular beach in Langkawi. This sandy beach is lined with many hotels, restaurants, and bars. It is 2 km long. This is also the busiest beach on the island with jet-skis, banaboats, watersports, etc.
… Unfortunately, jellyfish are common here so watch out for warning signs on the beach.
TENGAH BEACH / PANTAI TENGAH
Tengah Beach is located just south of (and almost contiguously with) Pantai Cenang. It is 1.5 km long.
This is a peaceful and tranquil alternative to the hustle and bustle of Pantai Cenang. Jellies are found here also.
Telaga Harbour (as well a cable-car ride to the peak of Mat Cincang Mountain and the Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls) is located here.
PANTAI TANJUNG RHU
The Mangrove Tour leaves from the Tanjung Rhu Jetty.
Tanjung Rhu is made up of 2 long stretches of beach.
The nearby Burau island is also a roosting place for migratory birds.
PANTAI PASIR HITAM
During low tide you can explore the beach further west and find very tranquil spots for relaxing.
The water is clear here.
ATTRACTIONS / ENTERTAINMENT
During the month of Ramadan, no entertainment is allowed after 7pm … so much of it just stops. Otherwise, outside of Ramadan, you can find live bands in bars and on the beach.
Having a sunset beer / cocktail on the beachfront can be expensive for GRANDPackers with most bars charging more than MYR10 for a small beer. However, you can always just bring your own and have a beer on the sand (whilst still listening to the live music).
There are 3 main day tours that you can do. The first is the Mangrove Tour (above), the second is the 3 Island Tour.
The 3rd is the Sky Cable Car / Sky Bridge.
Budget accommodation is, generally, located at the northern end of Cenang Beach as well as in the back streets of Cenang Beach and Tengah Beach. You should easily be able to find GRANDPAcking Standard accommodation for less than MYR90 / US$20 per night.
Expect to pay US$30-US$40 for GRANDPAcking Standard ‘budget’ accommodation in Cenang Beach Centre … GRANDPAckers cannot afford these prices.
Langkawi Peak Season is December to March. During Off Season, hotels start to offer discounts. Some ‘last minute’ discounts can be as much as 75% off and, if you walk-in, you should be able to negotiate a discount of at least 33%.
My plan was to find a 1 bedroom apartment within 1km of Cenang Beach … and, then, rent a scooter to get around. I signed up on several Facebook Langkawi Groups and put out my apartment requirements … I got very few replies. I decided to book into a hotel for a few days and look around myself.
However, I found an excellent deal at the Sandy Beach Resort. This resort is on the beachfront and I got a ‘last minute’ deal on a Deluxe Queen Room including buffet breakfast for 2. The room had been discounted down from US$85 / night to US$18 per night. I booked 1 month.
At the end of that 1st month, I got back on my scooter and looked around. Again, I preferred an apartment but I found a Queen Room at the Langkawi Country Lodge for (an off-season discounted price) MYR1,500 per month (excluding breakfast). This is MYR50 / US$11.50 per night. I booked this room for 1 month … I liked it so much that I stayed for 2 months.
The 2 properties were like ‘chalk and cheese’. The Sandy Beach Resort had a fantastic beachfront location but was a bit ‘soulless’.
The Langkawi Country Lodge was more like living in a family home. The hosts (Yati & Mas) usually put something on once each week. When Yati cooks, she cooks a banquet … and (when I stayed) she only charged MYR10 per person.
Yati & Mas also like to throw the odd party. Sometimes it is live music … sometimes it is karaoke.
Yati & Mas know the island well and have many contacts and friends. For Hari Raya, they and all of their guests were invited to a free banquet in the rooftop restaurant at the Goldsands Hotel in Kuah.
The Langkawi Country Lodge caters for all budgets: it has a 4-bed dormitory, 8 budget rooms (at GRANDPAcker standard and prices), and 4 (more expensive) chalets. All of which have access to the communal kitchen. They also rent out scooters for better daily prices than you will get on the streets.
The Langkawi Country Lodge is so nice (and well priced) that it has many ‘regulars’ who return every year. The ‘regulars’ also fill the place up by referring their friends.
I can highly recommend this place. Yati and Mas are lovely people and as honest as they come. I suggest that you contact Yati and Mas directly to book accommodation at the best rates. Contact them on Whatsapp.
If you go to the ‘Tourist’ places, you will pay about MYR35 / US$7.50 to MYR45 / US$10 for a simple meal. GRANDPAckers cannot sustain these prices. You need to ‘go local’.
BUDGET / CHEAP EATS (EXAMPLES)
You will be hard-pushed to find a budget eatery around the centre of the beachfront road. The budget restaurants are found at either the northern or southern end … others can be found on the Tengah Beachfront road. The Thursday Night Market is worth a visit and there are several budget restaurants along that road running east.
Many of the budget restaurants only open for Breakfast and Lunch.
PAI KIN CFOOD
The Pai Kin Cfood restaurant just makes it into the budget category because they do have some well priced local food options but, otherwise, it is mid-range.
The Curry Lab is 4 doors down from the Pai Kin Cfood.
The Bella is found nearer the centre and is very popular for Breakfast and Lunch.
WARONG MAK SOM
The Warong Mak Som was recommended by Yati & Mas. It is a little way out of town, so you will need transport to get there. It is open in the mornings and does an amazing (and cheap) selection of local food.
My favourite was 3 Roti Cennai and a cup of tea for MYR4.
WARONG MAK SOM
This place is very similar to (but not quite as good as) Warung Mak Som.
My favourite was 3 Roti Cennai and a cup of tea for MYR4.50.
FIVE CORNER RESTAURANT
The Five Corner Restaurant is a little way out from the north of town … but it is walk-able from the Langkawi Country Lodge.
From about 10am to 3pm they do a Nasi Campur. This is a selection of dishes. The price you pay depends on what you choose. You can eat in or take away. You can get a simple, 1-option meal on rice for as little as MYR4-MYR5.
The Warung Selera was recommended by Yati & Mas. You won’t find it on Google Maps but it is located opposite the Hanaz Roomstay.
The D’Moon Cafe was recommended by Yati & Mas. You will need transport to get here … but, it is worth it. The D’Moon has a nice (but rustic) rural setting. This place is VERY popular with the locals … and it can completely fill up after 8pm at night.
MID RANGE (EXAMPLES)
The Islandish is one of the few budget eateries in the central area. It is located opposite the Underwater World.
ZHONG HUA LOU
The Zhong Hua Lou Seafood restaurant is found at the southern end of the Cenang Beachfront Road.
This was one of my personal favourites with lots of decent options for about MYR20 with MYR5 for a small can of Tiger Beer … however, the meals can be a bit ‘hit and miss’ 🙂
The Red Sky is located at the northern end of Tengah Beach.
A nice meal is about MYR25. A pint of draught Tiger Beer is MYR9. On ‘Ladies Night’ Friday, ladies can buy a House Red / White wine and get unlimited top ups for free.
Typically, a small can of Tiger Beer goes for MYR8-MYR10 … a glass of House Wine MYR12-MYR20.
Watch out for the Happy Hours … many places (e.g. La Bodega) offer a decent Happy Hour where you can get a Tiger Beer for as little as MYR5 … but, these Happy Hours end early (5pm-6pm), so this targets ‘afternoon drinkers’.
At the ‘upper end’, a pint of Tiger at Rockafellas is MYR18! … but it does have a great atmosphere … and lots of screens displaying many different sports.
BUDGET BARS (EXAMPLES)
The Ah Chong is a ‘tiki bar’ located at the northern end of Cenang Beach.
It is (probably) the cheapest place to have a beer on the beachfront. A can of Tiger Beer is MYR8.
The Wundabar was one of my favourites. It is usually very quiet and often plays jazz / light music in the background. They have a 2-1 Happy Hour between 4pm and 8pm. On Saturdays, Happy Hour last all night and they bring out the karaoke.
This Happy Hour is meant to be just for beers … but they also seem to include wine and shorts (e.g. Gin ‘n Tonic) in their 2-for-1. They have a Pool Table downstairs.
The Rainbow Lodge (Salahbar Cafe) is another one of my favourites.
It is a quiet bar that plays great music, has a free Pool Table, and a big screen TV for sports. A draft Tiger Beer is MYR5 and a can of Skol is MYR4.
Brian’s Bar is tucked away behind Casa Fina Fine.
A Tiger Beer is MYR5.
MID RANGE (EXAMPLES)
The Kalut Cafe & Bar is located at the northern end of Cenang Beach.
They have bean bags on the beach and play a lot of reggae music. They have a very short Happy Hour between 5pm and 6pm (buy 2 get 1 free).
A small draft Tiger Beer is MYR9 … a large is MYR12.
Cinamon’s doesn’t really ‘take off’ until about 9pm.
SUNBA RETRO BAR
!!! AVOID THIS BAR !!!
A tourist gets badly beaten up in this bar at least once per week … I’m talking being ganged up on by 10-15 young lads kicking the shit out of you as you lie on the floor protecting yourself … broken noses and other serious physical damage.
There are many Minimarts to choose from. The 7 Eleven seems to be the most expensive for many items.
It has a wide variety of goods and everything is MYR2.60. This is a great place to pick up ‘bits and pieces’ as well as snacks.
PL SOON HUAT
This is a wholesale supermarket. Many local expats shop here for the best prices.
GECKO MINI MARKET
The Gecko is located at the junction of Cenang Beach and Tengah Beach.
This place is chocker full of everything that you may want. It is so full that you (almost) have to walk sideways down the narrow aisles. Reasonable prices.
The Cenang Supermarket is located just out of town on the way to the airport.
It has a good selection at reasonable prices.
DUTY FREE SHOPS
The Duty Free shops are not really ‘duty free’ … they are more like discount stores. However, alcohol is significantly discounted.
Coco Valley next to the Underwater World is the biggest and, generally, has the best prices.
However, other Duty Free Shops can compete on some items … and Warisan Duty Free (in Cenang Beach centre) often has wine on special / clearance .
Shops usually display prices or have price tags on the items. Street stalls rarely do … you will need to negotiate. Their asking price may be nearly double what you will ultimately pay. As an example, a named brand (e.g. Under Armour) sports top may start at MYR50 but can be negotiated down to MYR30.
GENERAL / OTHER
If you get away from the beachfront, you can find the same on the B roads for a couple of MYR less.
I strongly recommend that you download the GRAB Mobile App.
GRAB is 25-50% cheaper than a standard taxi cab. A one-way trip anywhere around Cenang Beach costs MYR4 (for the car … not per person). A GRAB from Cenang Beach to the Airport is MYR18. A GRAB from Cenang Beach to Kuah Jetty is MYR28.
MY GRANDPAcking COSTS
I provide my costs for information purposes. Read About – GRANDPAcking Costs if you don’t know how to interpret my figures.
In summary, costs are broken down into Cost Of Existence (COE) and Cost Of Living (COL):
- COE: Is the basic costs of just being there;
- COL: Is the additional costs that make being there fun.
AVERAGE EXCHANGE RATE / TOP SECTION
I lost an average of about 2.27% on cash that I took out of ATMs. I used my Wise Debit Card to pay for flights and accommodation whenever I could (losing only 0.55%).
COST OF EXISTENCE (COE) / MIDDLE SECTION
I managed to get great prices on all of my accommodation. I averaged less than MYR65 / US$15 per night with 1 month of my 3 months including Breakfast.
FOOD & BEVERAGES
I eat to live … I do not live to eat. I don’t eat lunch. I eat in budget restaurants … I rarely eat in ‘tourist’ priced restaurants. My Food & Beverage costs are always significantly lower than other people. My average daily cost was about MYR25 / US$6 per day.
SIM CARD / MOBILE DATA
I purchased a new ‘U Mobile’ SIM card package in a 7 Eleven (at Kuah Jetty) for MYR34.90 / US$8. This came with the Prepaid U25 plan (MYR25 / US$6): unlimited texts, calls, and data for 1 month (data speed was limited to 3 Mbps).
This start up package also added a MYR9 credit to my account.
VISA EXTENSION / NATIONAL PARK FEES
The Sandy Beach charged me a Langkawi ‘Heritage Fee’ of MYR1 per day.
My Backpacker Level Travel Insurance policy has been apportioned (calculated as 88 days of my annual rate).
I rented a scooter for MYR400 / month (about US$2.50 per day). It cost MYR5 to fill up the tank from empty.
I caught a GRAB Car from Kuah Jetty to Cenang Beach for MYR30 (including tip).
COST OF LIVING (COL) / BOTTOM SECTION
I went on the 3 Island and Mangrove Tours.
Other than that, I spent MYR30 / US$7 per day on other things like evening drinks and ‘personal habits’, etc.
IN / OUT COSTS
I paid MYR175 for the speedboat from Ko Lipe to Kuah Jetty. The Country Lodge dropped me off at the airport for free (they include free pick up and drop off for all guests). I paid for 2 GRAB cars to get me to and from my Kuala Lumpur hotel (MYR30 / US$7 each way).
My COE was MYR111 / US$25 per day (41% of my daily budget).
My COL was MYR35 / US$8 per day (13% of my daily budget).
On paper, Langkawi should have been one of my most expensive target locations.
However, by doing so well on my accommodation costs, eating where the locals eat, shopping for groceries in the right places, and drinking in non-tourist bars … I spent only MYR146 / US$33 per day (54% of my daily budget).
I could do this because I had a rental scooter … I was not limited to what was immediately around me.
I could have spent another MYR129 / US$29 per day if I wanted to … and still stay within budget. But, the truth is, I didn’t need to … more money doesn’t buy more happiness.
Normal people, will spend a lot more on Food & Drink than I do 🙂
Could you afford to retire here on a GRANDPAcking budget? YES. Would you want to? MAYBE … your problem will be ‘Rainy Season’.