Two boys stand with a lettering sign that says I Love (heart) Langkawi, The blue sea is in the background

A budget family stay on beautiful Langkawi, Malaysia (2024)

Langkawi had been recommended to us by so many people before we left the UK; we definitely wanted to include some beach time on our Malaysia itinerary and this seemed like the perfect spot! Langkawi is also a great choice for a budget family stay. It was one of the most affordable weeks of our year-long travels!

We had a fab week on Langkawi – it has some stunning beaches, magical sunsets, great food and a lovely chilled vibe. 

Where is Langkawi?

Langkawi is an island off the Western coast of peninsula Malaysia, right on the border with Thailand. It’s a popular holiday destination for Malaysians as the whole island is duty-free; it’s also firmly on the itinerary for many overseas visitors to Malaysia although it’s not as absurdly busy and popular as many of the islands in Southern Thailand.

How do you get to Langkawi?

The easiest and quickest way to get to Langkawi is a flight in to it’s international airport. There are regular and reasonably affordable flights from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, as well as other destinations across South East Asia (particularly through AirAsia). The flight from KL takes less than two hours so it’s also a quick transfer if you wanted to fly in to KL from overseas and head directly to Langkawi for some beach time.

Alternatively you can take the ferry to Langkawi from mainland Malaysia; ferries run from Kuala Kedah and Kuala Perlis. 

The ferry from Kuala Perlis takes around 1hr20mins; it goes from near the bus station so it’s not too difficult to get a bus to Kuala Perlis and then transfer on to the ferry. There is also a car ferry from Kuala Perlis to Langkawi if you want to get your own wheels across to the island.

The ferry from Kuala Kedah takes around 1hr30mins and leaves five times a day.

Two boys in blue stinger suits stand in shallow water on a white sand beach. In the sea beyond two longtail boats sail past
Sign on karst limestone cliff says Kilim Geoforest Park. Sea to the foregound is a deep green

How do you get around Langkawi?

There is no public transport on Langkawi. The only way to travel around the island is to either hire a car or a scooter or use Grab.

We opted for car hire – it’s really inexpensive and much easier as a family of four to get around. The roads in Langkawi were easy to navigate and there wasn’t much traffic, even around the airport when we picked up/dropped off the car.

There are dozens of car hire places at the airport all vying for your attention when you come through arrivals. Most are little local independent companies and you can usually negotiate the price down. We paid £87.50/RM510 for a family sized car for a week. We only had to fill the car up with petrol once during our stay, which cost a total of £5.15/RM30. This meant we had complete flexibility! Plus it was really budget friendly for our family stay on Langkawi.

Where to stay on Langkawi

We looked in to the various areas around Langkawi and opted to stay in the North of the island as it looked a bit more chilled than the area around the airport in the South. 

We booked in to D’Villa Guesthouse, just a short drive from the gorgeous Tanjung Rhu beach on the northern tip of the island. This ended up being one of our favourite stays in Malaysia! The family rooms sleep four and are big, light and airy with lots of storage and a decent bathroom. There is a TV but only for local channels, plus a small fridge and a kettle and some basic crockery/cutlery. This meant we were able to make breakfast (cereal or bread and jam) and very basic lunch/dinners for ourselves (these were usually just noodles).

View out across lush green rice fields as the sun starts to set. Branches from a palm tree hang in to view across the top of the frame
Swimming pool with metal steps into the pool in the foregrounds. The pool is tiled with blue tiles and to the rear of the image you can see the blue roofs of the hotel buildings

The best bit about a stay at D’Villa Guesthouse though are the glorious views across the lush green rice fields and the beautiful shared swimming pool. We spent hours first thing in the morning and in the evenings swimming in the pool (we were usually the only ones in there) and sitting outside the room watching the sunsets and listening to the call to prayer echoing across the rice fields. 

D’Villa Guesthouse was also a total bargain, coming in at only £165/RM965 for seven nights for the four of us. The perfect place for a budget family stay on Langkawi!

They also have bigger family apartments that sleep larger groups which are worth checking out if you need a bit more space.

What are the beaches like on Langkawi?

Our favourite beach was at Tanjung Rhu, a short drive from the hotel. Tanjung Rhu is simply beautiful – a long stretch of perfect white sand, clear seas and dramatic rocky outcrops on the horizon. There are also shady areas to escape from the heat under the trees, where at the weekends the local pitch tents and camp overnight.

Tanjung Rhu also has a handful of stalls selling cold drinks and snacks, plus a couple of little restaurants at the end of the road that are very affordable. Great if you’re on a tight budget for your family stay on Langkawi as we were!

The sunsets are stunning in the evening, and it’s a lovely time to visit the beach and chill out with a drink, watching the sun go down.

Young boy in dark blue stinger suit and googles swings on a wooden rope swing on a white sand beach with the sea in the background
Sunset at Tanjung Rhu beach, with an orange sky behind the rocky outcrops at sea

We also visited the beach at Pantai Cenang for the day. Whilst not as beautiful as Tanjung Rhu, there are a lot more shops and restaurants along this strip of beach and more options for water-based activities like jet skis. We found the whole area a bit too busy (we’d probably been spoilt by Tanjung Rhu!).

One note about swimming in Langkawi – we visited in January and there were a LOT of jellyfish in the water. There were barely any locals swimming and when we asked around they were not too encouraging about going in to the water! We only saw smaller jellyfish around the shore but were warned that there had been sightings of Box Jellyfish too. All this obviously put the boys off and they hardly went in the water at all (despite the fact that they were wearing stinger suits). So the beaches here are very beautiful but if you’re hoping to be able to splash about in the waves then check the details of jellyfish season carefully before you go!

Where to eat on Langkawi

We found food to be really affordable throughout Langkawi. For reference, we have a total budget for the four of us of £35 a day for food, drinks, snacks, transport and anything else we need to cover (outside of the accommodation costs). This was easily enough for us to eat out at least once (twice sometimes) a day on Langkawi.

There are a number of restaurants that line the road that leads to Tanjung Rhu. There are several very cheap food stalls with plastic seating outside, then there are also full restaurants that are a bit more expensive. These all have a fantastic view of the sunset in the evenings. 

We also found a number of really affordable Thai restaurants not far from our guesthouse where the food was excellent.

There is also a travelling night market that moves around Langkawi and stops at a different destination each night. We missed this but the food stalls here are also said to be fab!

What else is there to do on Langkawi?

In general we really enjoyed the relaxed vibe on Langkawi and spent a significant chunk of our time on the beach, by the pool or generally just chilling out. Between the chilling out though we did find time to do a few other things!

Mangrove Tour

The boys are both big fans of wildlife spotting so were really keen to get out and see some of the flora and fauna on the island. 

There are dozens of companies offering tours of the mangroves in the North of the island; most ply a similar route with a couple of hours on the boat cruising the waterways between the mangroves followed by lunch at a floating restaurant (this is sometimes included in the fee, sometimes paid for when you arrive – check with your tour guide before booking). 

After asking around and doing a bit of research online, we opted for a tour via Dev’s Adventure Tours. The vast majority of the tour companies will feed the monkeys and the sea eagles as part of the tour (to make sure you see them up-close-and-personal); this obviously has a negative impact on the ecosystem. We really wanted the boys to understand that tourism should be sustainable and that interacting with the wildlife in this way is not really ethical, so I was reluctant to take them on a tour that was a bit questionable in this respect. The tours via Dev’s Adventure Tours are more expensive than many of the other tours on offer but for us this was worth the investment to make sure we weren’t negatively contributing to the environment.

They have thousands of five star reviews here on TripAdvisor which is also really helpful!

Young boy in profile looks out from the side of a boat across the blue water, with mangroves in the distance
Golden Macacque monkey sits on the side of a mangrove waterway holding baby

Our tour guide and boat captain were both absolutely brilliant throughout. We spotted a large viper in the trees, lots of monkeys and the famous sea eagles. The sea eagles were being fed by the other boats, so there’s a bit of a sense that our tour group benefited from this by also getting to see the sea eagles more closely (but I’m not sure what the answer is to this!).

The boys did get a bit bored during the second half of the trip when the boat went out to sea – there wasn’t really any wildlife to see and the route seemed to be designed just to get us in front of the big Kilim Geoforest Park sign on the cliff face for photo opps! But this was soon followed by a return to the floating restaurant for lunch, which was delicious (and included in the price of the tour).

In total we paid £82/RM480 for the four of us. You can book directly or via

Durian Perangin Waterfall

We drove the few minutes from our guesthouse to these waterfalls for a morning swim – it was a lovely spot to spend an hour or so in.

The waterfall is around a 10minutes walk up the trail from the main (free) car park, through the jungle and down over some rocks to the base of the waterfall. We saw a number of monkeys and a couple of huge armies of ants on the walk up; Griffin also spotted a Hornbill at the falls themselves!

Young boy in swim gear stands in shallow water at the base of a waterfall
Image shows narrow stone steps cutting through lush green jungle

There were only a couple of other people at the falls when we visited – it’s quite easy to get in/out of the water and it’s a lovely spot to cool off in. You can swim right up and under the waterfall itself. There is no entry fee which makes this a good option if you’re tryin to stick to a budget during your family trip to Langkawi!

Panorama Langkawi

One of the pricier attractions on Langkawi but a day out that came highly recommended to us. Panorama Langkawi is located on the North-West tip of the island and comprises a number of attractions, including a SkyCab cable car ride up to the top of the peak, SkyBridge – the world’s longest free span and curved bridge (up at a dizzying height!), a SkyDome, 6D cinema, 3D art gallery and an Oriental Village for shopping, eating and drinking.

You can book a range of packages on the website that include the various different attractions; we opted for the package that included the SkyCab, SkyDome, SkyBridge and 3D Art Gallery. This came in at £15/RM89 per adult and £11.30/RM68 per child. This was one of the more expensive activities we booked during our family stay in Langkawi but we’d saved on our budget with other aspects as the cost of living was so cheap.

I would say that we struggled to book via the website. You can use GetYourGuide here as an alternative. You can also check out the reviews for Panorama Langkawi on TripAdvisor here.

On arrival, whatever package you have booked, if you plan to ride the SkyCab you will need to go to the desk to book in a timeslot and get a wristband for this. Once we’d sorted this, we headed over to the 3D Art Gallery as we had some time before our booking. 

This was unexpectedly BRILLIANT. We spent ages moving through the various pieces of interactive art in the gallery, taking pictures with pretty much every image. We all LOVED it and I would highly recommend making sure you have plenty of time to include this in your day.

Two young boys lie on the floor and pretend to cling to a wooden rope bridge above a deep waterfall on a 3D art image
Two boys sit in front of a 3D art image which makes them appear to be sitting in a glass bottle in the sea with a pelican sitting on top

Now, I would love to be able to talk through the SkyCab and SkyBridge part of the day (as this is really the core of the day out at Panorama). Unfortunately Griffin fainted in the queue for the SkyCab (most likely due to the intense heat) and so our day was cut short. I would say though that all the staff were absolutely fantastic and really helped us through a slightly scary situation. 

We’ll have to come back in the future to review the SkyCab and Skybridge in full!

The verdict

We loved the chilled out vibe on Langkawi and the beautiful beaches. Overall it was one of our cheapest weeks of travel for the four of us, even including the mangrove tour and the tickets for Panorama Langkawi. We’d all love to visit again, although I would definitely check out the jellyfish seasons next time to make sure we can take full advantage of that gorgeous sea!

Planning a family trip to Malaysia?

If you’re planning a family trip to Malaysia – whatever your budget – check out our other posts here for more reviews and tips on where to go and when!


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