This is a summary (with some details) of all our expenses for the 28 nights we spent in Langkawi during August 2019. You should keep in mind that if one travels at a slower pace it's easier to make savings as especially transportation can eat into your budget quickly. In this case, we stayed in a single AirBnB apartment for 28 nights which gave us a substantial monthly rate cost saving. That being said, there are many great AirBnB apartments available in Langkawi at varying rates. Staying in an apartment meant that we were also able to cook for ourselves. We found that if one can contain accommodation costs and avoid specialised or fine-dine restaurants, Langkawi is a pretty affordable destination. That being said, you don’t need to cook for yourself, there are plenty of fantastic and cheap street foods and restaurants available all over the island. Although it was not our first time in Langkawi, we still visited many of the typical ‘tourist attractions’ as we had a friend staying with us for a week, but we did try to limit our spending on entrance fees where possible.
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(Note that the following spending does not include flights to and from Langkawi.)
Langkawi, 28 nights
(AirBnB 2 Bedroom Apartment)
The two bedroom apartment is situated in Pantai Cenang area, within walking distance to the popular Pantai Cenang Beach and convenience stores, but a little inland amongst the fields and a few kilometers from a suitable grocery store. The apartment itself was very spacious with couches and coffee table, a working desk space, dining table with 4 chairs and a basic equipped kitchen (full fridge, 2 plate gas stove, kettle & toaster). The bedrooms were both air conditioned and each had a double bed, small side table and wardrobe. The bathroom has a separate shower, basin and toilet. There was a lovely undercover patio with table and 4 chairs as well as a hammock. Overall, we found the apartment to be very comfortable for our needs and we enjoyed our month stay here. Location was perfectly suited to us as we were just 5 minutes walk away from Pantai Cenang Beach and the closest Thursday night food market. We also really enjoyed being able to run between the rice fields in the mornings. would run most mornings. Overall this apartment was great value for money.
We generally try to eat like and with the locals. In Langkawi this is very easy with the exception of breakfast. We prefer a western-style breakfast so, for this reason, we choose to rather prepare our own breakfast at our accommodation. The most traditional local breakfast dish would be nasi lemak (rice cooked with coconut milk) with various accompaniments.
Traditional cuisine in Langkawi is incredibly diverse, mainly due to the diverse cultural history of Malaysia. You will find Malay, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian and Bornean cuisine with strong influences from Thai, Portuguese, Dutch, Arabian and even British cuisines. You can also find western food fairly easily available in the more touristy areas but at a slight price premium. We also found that Indian food carries a fair price premium even though it is fairly easily available.
We ended up preparing our own dinners most of the time and eating out at night markets or small local eateries around twice a week. It can definitely be slightly cheaper to eat local dishes (particularly rice and noodle dishes) all the time, however, we prefer to be able to vary our diet with salads and vegetables where and when possible. The choice of fresh products in Langkawi is somewhat more limited than the rest of Malaysia and also less predictable, however we were always able to find something suitable and we found it easy to cook for ourselves.
Langkawi is a duty free island and alcohol is significantly more affordable. Here we purchased beer as well as Gin & Tonic from the supermarkets to enjoy on our patio daily.
Langkawi does not have much of a public transportation system other than the local minibusses that serve the island. Metered taxis and Grab are however easily available and fairly affordable. If you stay in the Pantai Cenang area, you will be able to walk to the beach and nearby convenience stores and restaurants. The best way to get around, visit the sites of Langkawi and explore the island is by means of a rental vehicle, preferably a scooter if you are comfortable riding one. We rented a scooter for a few days during our 28 day stay to explore the island. Scooter rental is fairly affordable with a “newer” model scooter including half insurance costing us MRY30 per 24 hour period from a reputable rental shop.
CELLPHONE & DATA
Being very dependent on data for getting around and rather heavy data user generally, this is one of the first things we investigate when staying in a country for a period of time. We already had local prepaid Tune Talk SIM Cards (which cost MYR 10 each but are not included in this expense report). We each purchased 1GB of high-speed data and unlimited calls between same network valid for a period of 30 days for an additional MYR 10 each for our month in Langkawi. There are generally plenty of free wifi spots all around Malaysia, although we never had the need to connect to many of them. All our accommodations also had free wifi included.
Our "General" category includes everyday expenses like toiletries, medical, laundry & small shopping items.
We generally try to stay away from very touristy places and prefer to explore independently. In Langkawi there are many “tourist activities”, many free but also some rather expensive ones. We had a friend visiting us for a week, so we did end up spending a little more on sightseeing than we usually would. Our best value for money excursion was a Langkawi Island Hopping Tour, for only MYR30 pp for a half day trip to three islands including visiting the Pregnant Maiden Lake. We also went up the Langkawi SkyCab and walked across the Langkawi SkyBridge (MYR55 pp). A fantastic free activity is to visit the 7 Wells Waterfall. We also spent MYR180 to rent a boat for the three of us to tour Kilim Geo Park which was well worth the experience and worked out to a similar cost compared to joining a group excursion.
Public toilet facilities are available at most tourist attractions, and although they may often be pay facilities, the fee is usually very low. Just keep in mind that the facilities are very seldom western-style toilets. They are usually the Asian style (hole in the ground) without any toilet paper provided.