Alternative Visa Runs from Phuket
Trip Done: Apr 2003
Langkawi is an island off the west coast of Malaysia and just across the border from Thailand. It is a while ago since I did this trip but I did enjoy it and I think I might do it again.
Since I went, A Thai consulate has opened on the island. This has led many people to ask whether Langkawi is now an alternative to Penang for visa applications. The answer is no. The Thai consulate in Langkawi has been set up purely to deal with the many Thai nationals on the island. They do not process applications from foreigners for Thai visas.
I went on my own. I would have liked to take my wife but Thais need a passport to enter Malaysia and my wife does not have one (we must get round to sorting that out some time). There is a border pass arrangement between Thailand and Malaysia but it is only available to residents of the border provinces.
So I took a morning bus from Phuket Town to Satun, 400 baht and 7 hours. From Satun, there is a songtaew bus out of town to Tammalang and the ferry pier, 20 baht and 20 mins.
There is an immigration office at the pier where I stamped my passport out of Thailand.
There are four ferries a day to Langkawi between 9:45am and 5:00pm. The single fare is 270 baht and the ride takes 1 hour 15 mins.
Be aware there is a one-hour time difference between Thailand and Malaysia.
The ferry arrives at Kuah which is the capital of Langkawi. There is a Malaysian immigration office at the pier so you can get your entry stamp for Malaysia.
There are plenty of taxis waiting at the pier. I had already booked a room for 3 nights at the Best Star Resort in Pantai Cenang Beach which is the most popular tourist town. Kind of the Patong of Langkawi, well not really but it is quite busy.
The hotel was fine. Nice room, no pool but right on the beach and 90 RM a night.
Langkawi is a big island and there are plenty of attractions to check out. I rented a motorbike for the three days for 20 RM a day.
Langkawi is a duty free island. Some things are very cheap such as beer which costs as little as 1.5 RM. However, the duty free status does not seem to mean cheap prices for everything. Hotel rooms are relatively expensive. As usual, the best shopping is not in the tourist towns but in the capital, Kuah.
You should note that unless you stay at least 48 hours then there is a limit on how much duty free goods you can take out of Langkawi.
The beaches in Langkawi are good. Much better than those in Penang. The best beaches are on the west coast such as Pantai Cenang and Pantai Kok.
There is a good aquarium at Pantai Cenang, Underwater World Langkawi. It has a good range of fish and there is one very big tank with species such as sharks and rays and a walk-through tunnel.
Not far from Pantai Kok is Oriental Village. It is more of a shopping mall than a village but it has a few entertainments. There is also a cable car station up the hill providing great 360-degree views around the island.
The nightlife is quiet. There are plenty of bars and restaurants but Malaysia is a Muslim country and although they are tolerant, you really do not go for a wild time.
That was my three days filled up but there is plenty more to see. There are trips to the many smaller islands around Langkawi. One guy told me about his snorkeling trip to feed sharks. It sounded like a thrilling experience and one I will put on the list for my next visit.
Overall, I liked Langkawi. Cheap beer, plenty of good food, good sights and some nice attractions. It is not a party island but for some sightseeing and relaxation, it is a good location.