Pulau Langkawi does not have any official public transport system so holidaymakers here must make do with private taxis and minibuses for most journeys. Renting a car or motorbike is also a good choice and relatively painless. Two ports on the mainland – Kuala Kedah and Kuala Perlis – offer regular ferry services to Langkawi Island’s Kuah Town.
Getting around Pulau Langkawi
In the absence of a local bus service, most local people on Langkawi get around by private transportation such as motorbikes. These are economical to run and many tourist choose to rent them from hotels and guesthouses as a easy and fun way to tour the region.
Taxis are plentiful and easy to find all over the island, while most hotels and tour agencies can book minibuses to take guests to the ferry jetty or airport. A taxi from Kuah Jetty to Pantai Cenang is around RM25.
Motorbike rental is great value at around RM25 per day (RM45 for a classy scooter), although four-wheeled vehicles are a little more expensive. As this is a duty free island petrol is relatively cheap, and the main consideration when hiring a vehicle is ensuring the company has the correct type of insurance. Other than the usual international firms with representatives in the airport, the Tourist Need Shop is a well-run outfit with small cars for rent at around RM70-100 per day.
Ferry travel from Pulau Langkawi
Other than the airport, the main gateway for arrivals is Kuah jetty just a few minutes outside the town centre. Services to Kuala Kedah leave every half-an-hour (one hour 15mins, RM23 e/w) and hourly Kuala Perlis(45mins, RM18 e/w) which is slightly farther north on the Thai border and only five kilometres from Alor Setar transport hub for onward connections.
Two daily boats travel south to Penang at 14:30 and 17:30 (returning 08:00 and 08:45 from Penang) and take two hours 30mins for RM45 e/w. Four daily departures travel direct to the Thai port of Satun at 09:30, 11:30, 13:00 and 16:00 each day (one hour, RM60 e/w). Speedboat also serve the route to the Thai resort island of Koh Lipe during high season (two daily, one hour, RM128 e/w), though not from July to October when the monsoon seas are too rough.
Langkawi International Airport
Flying to Pulau Langkawi is a good option as the small airport is easily accessible from all over the island. Situated in the northwestern region, there are direct connections to Penang, KL, Hat Yai, Phuket and Singapore with a variety of air carriers including Firefly, Tiger Airways, AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines and SilkAir.
There are also car hire booths with all the big international firms at the terminal, plus a taxi rank waiting to whisk passengers to their chosen hotels.
Bus travel from Pulau Langkawi
Direct bus services link KL with the Kuala Perlis ferry terminal from Pudu Raya Bus Terminal (six daily, nine hours). Otherwise, getting to nearby Alor Setar is the best option for onward connections to all major Malaysian transport hubs. Alor Setar’s express bus terminal has direct services to Ipoh (three daily, three hours), Butterworth (hourly, 30mins), Johor Bahru (two daily, 15 hours), Kuala Lumpur (two daily, five hours) and Kuantan (two daily, ten hours) amongst others.
Train travel from Pulau Langkawi
For those who wish to travell north to Thailand, daily services leave Arau (16kms east of Kuala Perlis) towards the border and through Hat Yai all the way to Bangkok. Passengers must disembark for customs and immigration before climbing back onboard and resuming their journey. Alor Setar has a station which is the best place to head for travelling south towards KL and Singapore.