Written by HankFontaine on 27 Jan, 2005
Any trip to Langkawi would be incomplete without a visit to the Pulau Payar Marine Park. This little gem of an island is located about an hour's boat ride away from Langkawi and is a protected natural area. The waters are crystal-clear, and there are…Read More
Any trip to Langkawi would be incomplete without a visit to the Pulau Payar Marine Park. This little gem of an island is located about an hour's boat ride away from Langkawi and is a protected natural area. The waters are crystal-clear, and there are an abundance of colorful tropical fish and even many sharks and a few barracuda.
To get there, you have to use one of two companies that offer snorkeling trips. There is at least one more company that offers dive tours, but I haven’t been able to use one of them, as my wife doesn’t dive. The two companies that offer snorkeling are "Coral Island" and "Langkawi Coral". Both companies include pickup at your hotel at no extra charge. Both will get you there via fairly modern boats and in air-conditioning, but the real difference comes when you arrive.
The Coral Island tour operators have a nice, covered pier-type structure and offer you a sack-type lunch or a buffet that takes place back on the ship. The buffet runs about RM20 extra, and I think it’s worth it. They have a wide selection of foods, and you can feed the barracuda pieces of chicken off the side of the boat. Otherwise, you get a simple sack lunch of some chicken, rice, fruit, and water. Both are fine, and most people opt just for the sack lunch. The day we chose to go to the buffet, we were the only people out of 50 who did, so we had it and the ship all to ourselves.
The other tour operator, Langkawi Coral, has its own floating pier. This pier is really quite neat. It has a section underneath that is all glass and submerged in the water so you can view the fish. It's almost like a submarine. The only option for lunch here is a hot buffet. You see a lot more Westerners take this option, but it is RM100 more expensive.
Both tours give you all the gear you may need: snorkels, life vests, fins, mask, etc. The equipment on both seems to be of decent quality.
The water is amazingly clear, and the fish are very friendly. You can hand-feed them, and they will often nibble at your arm, and if you have some, leg hair. It disconcerting for some, but it doesn’t hurt; it just surprises you. I have seen shark up to about 8 feet long swimming within 10 feet of me, but they never seemed hostile, and no one got bit. The bottom of the sea is a mixture of coral and sand, so there isn’t too much worry about hurting your feet. This is a good attraction for kids, as fish are even in the shallow areas, and the kids can feed them safely. The water is also very calm, with no undertow, and water temps are very warm.
I would be sure and pack lots of extra water, as the island isn’t developed, and buying water there is expensive. You may want to pack several liters of fresh water to wash up with. There is a small shower facility on the island, but it isn’t adequate.
The whole excursion takes until about 5pm, so plan a whole day for this trip. The cost is anywhere from RM80 to RM240, depending on the tour operator and your bargaining skills.
Written by HankFontaine on 30 Jan, 2005
There are four main ways to get to Langkawi from Kuala Lumpur, and I have tried three of them. Each way has its goods and bads. The most common for tourists is to fly of course, but you can also go by tour bus or…Read More
There are four main ways to get to Langkawi from Kuala Lumpur, and I have tried three of them. Each way has its goods and bads. The most common for tourists is to fly of course, but you can also go by tour bus or train or rent a car and drive yourself. I have done all of these except for driving myself, and I hope to do that sometime this year.
For those of you whose main point is to lounge on the beach, dive, and snorkel or are limited in time, flying is still the best option. You can take MAS or Air Asia, as both have daily flights to Langkawi itself. MAS is an excellent airline and Air Asia is the budget alternative. I have covered those somewhat in other reviews.
The first trip I made to Langkawi was by bus, and I’m actually glad I went this way. I wasn’t on a limited time schedule, so it worked out rather nicely. There are several different companies running buses to Langkawi, and the prices range from RM20 to RM25 one-way. Actually, the buses take you to Kedah, where you take a boat to Langkawi. The cost of the ferry is RM12 one-way. You can catch these buses at the Puduraya Bus Station in Kuala Lumpur. They leave about every hour on a daily basis.
Beware, though, as the journey can take as much as 12 hours. To make matters easier, most of these buses are really nice. The chairs are all nice recliners that are similar to business class seats on an international flight. Many of the buses have TV’s at the front, but they will be playing a Malay language feature. The buses do stop at least two times at rest areas, and there will be hawkers and food courts there. What are the big advantages of this you may ask? Well, if you are traveling with several people, you will save some money. The main advantage to me, though, is really seeing the country. You get to have someone else drive you while you see the scenery. If you aren’t up for a round-trip this way, and I wouldn’t be again, you can take a bus one-way and fly back.
The train is also an interesting way to get to Langkawi and can be quite nice and a bit romantic for a couple. The cost of a train will run anywhere from RM18 per person one-way for a basic seat to RM100 for a private cabin with a small table, beds, and a sink. It can be quite romantic and a nice way to travel in first-class on a train for a cheap price. They have a dining car that serves both Western and Malaysian dishes at a fair enough price. It’s also a good place to strike up a conversation or play a game of cards with other passengers. The journey takes about 10 to 11 hours; the train runs every day and can be caught from Kl Sentral.
I recommend the private cabins for a couple, but the highest grade seats aren’t too bad; they are better than coach on an airplane but not as nice as business class. Once again, you can take the train to Langkawi and fly back, as a round-trip journey would be a little redundant. It’s a nice experience but I like trains, and they are preferable to the bus. The trains information and timetables can be found here. Remember, when searching for fares on the site, that the KL terminal is called "Sentral Kuala Lumpur" and the train is called the #8 EKSPRES LANGKAWI.
Malaysian Train KTMB
I have yet to rent a car, like I have said above, but it looks to be an interesting journey. From riding on the bus, I can tell you that most roads are pretty good. Its mostly a four-lane highway, and there are towns spaced equally along the way that may make for interesting exploration. There is also parking at the pier once you get to Kedah and take the boat to Langkawi. You cannot take your car onto the island from what I understand.