I spent one month being a Digital Nomad in Langkawi Malaysia! I lounged on beaches, hiked mountains and explored waterfalls while working on my online business and earning money on one of South East Asia’s most under rated islands.
Langkawi is Malaysia’s popular Duty Free holiday island. I intended to spend only a few days here, drinking a few cheap beers and relaxing on the beach before moving on.
I thought the island would be over touristy, over priced for everything except alcohol and lacking in things to keep me there.
All my preconceptions were wrong.
I found the beaches were beautiful, quiet and relaxed. Exploring the island took longer than I’d anticipated, the rugged nature of Langkawi is absolutely beautiful. I found waterfalls, mangroves, karst limestone cliffs and white sand beaches.
It was cheaper than I’d imagined too. While it is possible to spend big money here- there are five star resorts, private islands and upscale restaurants- for the most part I found myself eating at local Malay, Indian and Chinese restaurants. The beer was cheap, the WiFi was great and Malaysia even gave me a three month visa on arrival!
Here’s The Travel Continuously Guide To Being A Digital Nomad In Langkawi Malaysia!
Widely available across the island, but some cheaper guest houses can be less reliable, so ensure you check the reviews specifically for WiFi before booking anything, especially long term. Mobile internet packages are cheap, and coverage is excellent, however few Malaysian Sims allow tethering to other devices such as laptops.
The best provider I found for mobile data was Hotlink who have great deals and giveaway loads of extra data daily for things like Facebook. They have the widest 4G coverage across Malaysia too. You need to show a passport when purchasing a Sim, but the phone shops will easily help set it up for you.
Food And Drink: 8/10
Langkawi is a Duty Free Island, that means alcohol is ridiculously cheap, especially in comparison to mainland Malaysia where prices in bars are more akin to Western Europe. One can of beer for instance in the shops will cost you only 1-3 Malaysian Ringgit depending on the quantity you buy.
Just make sure you take your Passport as ID for the bigger shops, it’s compulsory for this to be scanned and documented. The small corner shops don’t bother with this though. The cheapest place to secure drinks is Warisan, a large Duty Free outlet at Cenang Mall, by Cenang Beach. they have the best range and lowest prices on the whole island. Trust me. They even stock English Pimms.
Food isn’t as good as nearby Penang which is famed for its delicacies, but you can still find a huge variety of cuisines. There’s the standard Malay, Indian and Chinese eateries which tend to be the cheapest.
The best food is at the local street stalls, where the prices are also the cheapest. Expect to pay between 5-15 Ringgit at these places. There’s a large Middle Eastern community too, particularly Syrian, and there are a large number of Falafel and Kebab shops which are good quality and cheap.
There’s the standard fast food outlets- KFC, McDonalds, Pizza Hut etc- and being a bit of a holiday island there are also more expensive restaurants serving dishes from around the world- Mexican and Italian were particularly popular. I tried a few of these out and always came away disappointed for the excessive price. You are looking at least 30 Ringgit a meal. It’s best to stay local.
There’s also an excellent night market which takes place every Thursday near Cenang Beach, and moves around the island daily. The food here is cheap cheap and delicious. This is real local stuff.
Accommodation is where Langkawi falls down slightly. Compared to other Nomad destinations in Asia such as Bali or Chiang Mai the available accommodation is of a lower quality for similar prices.
I spent most of my time staying at Gecko Guesthouse, a nice place just a five minute stroll to the beach where I could have a private room for 50 Ringgit a night. There was a bar, a nice common area and great wifi.
There are plenty of places very similar too, all along Cenang Beach, and this is really the place to stay, as it’s the hub of Langkawi. Cenang Beach is where you will find bars, scooter rental, restaurants and the lively yet somehow relaxed beach!
For the low price though you won’t get A/C or swimming pools, but you will be right on the beach. Fancier accommodation is aimed at the holiday makers, and this tends to be much pricier.
Public Transport is none existent on Langkawi. There are no public buses anywhere. Taxis are overpriced and you will save yourself a fortune using Uber or Grab. An Uber from the ferry port or the airport to Cenang Beach should cost around 25 Ringgit, as opposed to a taxi which could be twice that amount.
Scooters are the best way to see the island and can be rented for around 35-50 Ringgit a day. The best place to rent from is T-Shoppe on Cenang Beach, who offer a 25 Ringgit early morning special, and even sell fully comprehensive insurance for cheap too.
Getting to Langkawi is easy though. There are ferries from Georgetown Penang, and from the mainland too at Kedah. There are fast boats to Koh Lipe and to Satun, where you connect onward to anywhere in Thailand. Travel packages can be booked at the multitude of tour agents in Cenang, but it’s best to shop around first.
Langkawi has an International Airport, with flights to major Asian destinations. There are also ridiculously cheap domestic flights to Kuala Lumpur from where you can then fly anywhere from!
Visa Situation: 9/10
For Digital Nomads the visa situation in Malaysia is great! A great number of nationalities are given a 3 month Visa on Arrival at entry points into the country. No onward ticket needed. It’s hassle free and worry free, and if you end up wanting to stay longer, a few days in neighbouring Thailand will sort that out for you!
63 nations are covered under this policy, including EU countries and most Western countries. Visa situations can change though, so always check the relevant policy for your passport before travelling.
Things To Do: 7/10
I intended on staying only a week on Langkawi, I thought this was enough time to see everything.
And yes, I could have seen and done everything in this time, it’s a small island after all that can be traversed in a day.
The great thing about Langkawi though, and the reason I stayed much longer, was the relaxation factor. Yes, it’s a holiday island first and foremost, but like much of the rest of Malaysia, it’s chilled.
No one harasses you for business, and few people try and rip you off. The roads are quiet, sometimes empty and the beaches around the island, including popular Cenang, are always quiet and relaxed, and super clean too.
There’s beautiful waterfalls to explore, incredible views to be seen from the top of the Langkawi Sky Bridge and beaches around every corner.
Day trips to the nearby islands can be arranged for great value, and further afield there are snorkelling and diving opportunities.
The best thing to do in Langkawi though, is to simply sit back on Cenang Beach with a cold beer in hand while the sun sets.
Overall Travel Continuously Digital Nomad Rating For Langkawi: 7/10
A note on currency:
Prices shown are based on my experience in January 2018. At that time, 1 GBP was equivalent to 5.5 MYR and 1 USD was equivalent to 3.5 MYR
Travel Continuously is a community based platform, and we want you to get involved.
Do you travel continuously? Are you a full time traveller, digital nomad or expat?
We would love to hear from you! Get in contact to share your story with us, to be featured on Travel Continuously, to let us know what we’ve missed, what you want to hear and even what we’re doing wrong! Together we can help inspire others to follow their dreams and travel the world!