Most international flights into Malaysia land at Kuala Lumpur Airport. After spending a few days in the hustle and bustle of one of the world’s biggest metropolises, head north to the peaceful tropical island of Langkawi, where white sandy beaches meet crystal-clear water.

How To Get To Langkawi From Kuala Lumpur

There are a number of ways to get from the Malaysian capital to Langkawi. Here are some routes to suit all budgets and schedules.

1. Budget Flight

The flight time between Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi is a short one hour. Budget airlines like AirAsia and Malindo Air offer cheap flights to Langkawi from Kuala Lumpur’s LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal). Fares often stay the same, even if you’re booking the day before, so this is the perfect option for those booking last minute.

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Once you land at Langkawi Airport, you can grab a taxi to your accommodation. The main beach at Cenang is just a 10-15 minute drive from the airport, and the luxurious secluded resorts and pristine beaches of the north are around 40-minutes away by taxi.

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Cost: From RM60 (US$ 14.5) one way

2. Train & Ferry

If you have the time, the train and ferry journey to Langkawi will reward you with beautiful views of the Malaysian countryside from the train window. Night trains and day trains run from KL Sentral to Alor Setar station near the west coast. The journey time is roughly five hours and travelling overnight requires a change at Butterworth. The train trundles past palm oil trees, rice terraces and little villages, so make the most of the journey by going during the day.

Once you reach Alor Setar station, it’s a short taxi journey or bus ride to the ferry port at Kuala Kedah. Boats leave every half hour and there’s no need to pre-book. Sailing time to Langkawi is an hour and a half.

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Cost: Varies, depending upon the class of travel and train times, but can be booked for as little as RM110 (US$ 26.5)

3. Private Tour Or Transfer

Perhaps you have loads of time in Malaysia and you want to see a bit of the country on the way to Langkawi. Many tour operators in Kuala Lumpur can organise a private trip to Langkawi from the capital, and you’ll stop off and see some of the greatest spots in Malaysia on the way.

You could choose to stop off for a night in colonial George Town on Penang Island. This UNESCO-protected city is the second largest in Malaysia and is a popular spot to break up the journey to Langkawi. Or you could spend a night in an eco lodge in the Cameron Highlands, and stretch your legs hiking through tea plantations during the day. This is a great option for first-time travellers looking for some help navigating public transport in Malaysia.

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Cost: Packages start from RM16,500 (US$ 3,990)

What To See & Do In Langkawi

Langkawi was made for outdoor activities. You can fill your days with jungle treks, kayaking, watersports, or just relaxing on the beach.

1. Scuba Diving

Langkawi is the best spot on the west coast for scuba diving and snorkelling. A world of colourful marine life can be explored under the tropical shores of the island.

Pulau Payar Marine Park is a popular place for divers, where protected reefs house a plethora of sea life. The dive sites here are suitable for all levels of divers, including beginners. Shallow sunken wrecks make for a dramatic diving experience, where you might come face to face with giant groupers and schools of barracuda.

2. Jungle Trekking

Head to the forested foothills of Gunung Raya to discover the tropical flora and fauna of Langkawi. Flowering plants and fungi look like the pages of an exotic botany textbook, while geckos scuttle in the undergrowth.

There are hikes and guided walks to suit all levels and ages, some designed for families with wildlife-curious kids. The trees rustle with birdlife, and you might get the chance to spot hornbills, kingfishers and sea eagles through the leaves. Guided walks often stop for a wild swim in a jungle creek to cool off.

3. Relax On The Beach

Langkawi is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Malaysia. The main stretch of Cenang is lined with beach bars and sun loungers, perfect to while away a day in the sun. Watersports like jet skiing and paragliding are available for adrenaline junkies.

For a more chilled-out vibe, check out the secluded beaches in the north of Langkawi. Golden sand meets calm turquoise waters, which makes it perfect for swimming. As the sun sets over the sea, sip a sundowner at a quiet beach bar and relax.

4. Kayak To A Mangrove Swamp

On the east of the island, experience the unique ecology of the mangrove swamps from the seat of a kayak. Explore a protected shoreline, where monkeys swing through the vines and sea eagles soar above, diving into the water for fish.

If you don’t fancy paddling your own kayak, companies also run boat tours through the mangrove swamps.