Langkawi with kids! Top things to do and responsible travel tips.
Visiting Langkawi with kids can be fun and enjoyable, as long as you don’t make the same mistake we did with our first hotel! I explain everything below, and luckily there’s a huge range of places to stay in Langkawi to choose from.
Pulau Langkawi was our last destination of slowly exploring Peninsular Malaysia. After a rocky start to our visit which included all of us being sick and some terrible accommodation, we found our groove and a great range of things to do.
We spent a month on Langkawi in the end as we were unwell for nearly two weeks and had to rest and recover. We visited several doctor’s clinics and found an outstanding doctor on the third try, which I also recommend below. And as always, we travel with a focus on ethical and supportive tourism, so I’ve included some tips and thoughts about that too.
Is Langkawi a victim of over-tourism?
Langkawi is a very popular island that I do fear has succumbed to overtourism, as some of the natural wonders that must have attracted people to it initially are no longer in great shape, and many of the staff we encountered were unfriendly and seemed to be tired of the industry.
It was also very busy even though we visited before the start of the high season, and many more developments were in construction; some right on the actual beaches.
All of these signs indicate to me that too many people are trying to capitalise on Langkawi’s historic popularity, and too many people are continuing to visit at once with no regulations in place.
Several beachfront developments particularly worried me as they were the closest to a shoreline I’ve ever seen, and with sea levels rising I have doubts that they’ll be safe in years to come.
Still, Langkawi is a beautiful island in many places and has some unique things to do for adults and kids alike. If you can visit outside of the peak times, explore some of the lesser-known areas and attractions, and support local vendors and businesses committed to sustainable practices, your visit can still be beneficial rather than detrimental to the island overall.
When’s the best time to visit Langkawi Malaysia?
To lessen the tourism load on the island it’s best to visit outside of the peak season, which runs from November into April. The mid-season is from April to August and it’s a bit rainier and cooler, but you can still go swimming and the accommodation prices are lower (sometimes much lower).
The official monsoon season is September and October when it pours for about two hours a day. During this time less water-based activities will be on offer, but lush greenery and fewer tourists around will make up for it if you travel then.
And as you’ll see below, there are many great things to do in Langkawi, and plenty of indoor activities to enjoy while it’s raining!
Fun things to do in Langkawi with kids
Being an island, of course there are many beaches around Langkawi. What surprised us at first was how busy and grey the main beach seemed to be: Pantai Cenang has murky water and dirty sand, and nowhere to swim among all of the boats and watersport activities there.
We found out later that Tanjung Rhu is the best beach in Langkawi, and doesn’t have crowds like Cenang either! It also doesn’t have many shops or other tourist attractions, but if you’re looking for a public beach with clear water and beautiful sand to relax on, this is the one to choose.
Other beaches include Pantai Kok which is close to the Cable Car and some waterfalls, Pantai Tengah which isn’t far from Cenang and has restaurants and shops nearby, and Datai Bay which has has a public beach and is close to waterfalls, and boasts the prettiest sunset views of the island.
The most well-known Langkawi attractions can be found at the Oriental Village, which is a large complex full of activities. It is home to the Langkawi Cable Car, Langkawi Sky Bridge, a 3D Art Museum and much more. I’ve elaborated on the ones we visited below.
Responsible travel tips
Oriental Village used to be the home of elephant rides, a tiger show, and other animal attractions. We didn’t see any of that or know about it before going there, as the large company Panorama Langkawi dominates the Village now with 14 different activities.
I’ve since read that the resident elephant was allowed to retire and lives at a conservation center, and I hope that all of the other animal attractions have also closed. If not, it’s best not to support them if you care about ethical experiences.
We did encounter an older couple who had a huge snake with them. They were offering tourists the opportunity for a photo with the snake, and they were friendly but we didn’t accept their offer. I also advise against those sorts of interactions with animals as they’re likely to be drugged or beaten into compliance.
Also, remember to take along your reusable water bottle and snacks to avoid unnecessary plastic waste.
Langkawi Skycab, Skybridge & Skyboutique
The Langkawi Cable Car is now called the SkyCab, and it was a fairly good experience. The Skycab is one of the longest in the world and takes you to the oldest part of South East Asia. The views were spectacular even though it was very cloudy when we went, as the peak is 708 meters above sea level.
At the top station you can buy a ticket to walk across the Skybridge; the longest free spanning and curved bridge in the world. It’s not for the faint-hearted! I’m not really afraid of heights but I wasn’t keen enough to do it, even for the low price.
The Skyboutique is also at the top station with heaps of mechandise and other gear for sale. We didn’t escape without a three-year old tantrum to buy something!
What wasn’t good about this experience was the constant pushing to buy photographs. At each of the three stops along the way, we were amazed to find our photo had not only been taken, but printed as well!
If visitors don’t buy them (for an exorbitant price of course) they are destroyed. What a huge waste. We didn’t out of principle but I was torn because I didn’t want to create rubbish either.
Responsible travel tips
I’m not sure if it’ll work, but if you don’t want photos, try to inform the staff before you head up in the cable car. Or let them know your views about their practice of printing before booking your tickets! Hopefully, it will stop some unnecessary waste from being created.
Also, please don’t feed the monkeys that hang around. They’re obviously used to humans but are still wild animals that aren’t meant to eat our food. There are signs asking tourists not to feed them which, unfortunately, we saw many people disregarding.
A SkyCab ticket for non-Malaysian adults is RM55, and children 2-12 are RM40. This also includes entrance to the SkyDome, SkyRex, and 3D Art Museum.
You can also pay a premium for the Express Lane, and other packages are available which include more attractions.
It’s a very touristy thing to do, and our kids liked it but not enough for me to recommend it as a must-do experience. If you’d like to see the amazing views and learn a bit of history along the way you’ll probably enjoy it, but if you don’t like big crowds or pushy salespeople, then don’t bother.
3D Art in Paradise Langkawi
These amazing art installations are popping up all over the world. They’re a visual treat, with huge, detailed artworks all over the walls and floors that you can step into. When photographed, it appears as if you really are in the scene thanks to clever positioning.
We spent quite awhile exploring all of the different zones and getting some great photos. It was a lot of fun, for kids and adults equally! There was a huge range of visitors there with us and it really is a fun activity for any age to enjoy.
Non-Malaysian adults are RM38, and children are RM28. The entrance fee is also included in several of the packages by Panorama Langkawi.
It’s a great family friendly activity if you haven’t been to a 3D Art Museum before. If you have already you might be surprised to see that many of the artworks are the same as you’ve already encountered, although there are some location-specific ones as well, like this one:
One of the most interesting places in Langkawi was the Upsidow house. The house has been created from shipping containers and is a replica of a modern home, except everything is completely up-side-down! You can take wacky photos everywhere and turn them around the other way to make it appear that you’re somehow defying gravity.
I loved it for its creativity and also because it was also a very sustainable attraction, with all of the furniture and furnishings being salvaged and/or upcycled for the project.
We spent a fun couple of hours there, and Dante especially was thrilled to find full-size Transformer models on the roof when we finished up (also made from salvaged materials).
The only thing that spoilt the experience a little was that the shipping containers were on a bit of a lean, like Pisa. After some time there I felt a quite off-balance, especially as the surrounds were also hard to get my head around at the start!
There’s a food court around the back of Upsidow House, also in refurbished shipping containers. It was in pretty sad shape when we attended with bored and uninterested sellers, and not very fresh-looking food. Goes without saying that we didn’t eat there! Hopefully, it’s improved since our visit.
Responsible travel tip
Remember to take your reusable water bottle to avoid buying plastic while you’re there.
For non-Malaysia adults it’s RM25 and children are RM20.
It’s a great rainy-day activity for families and anyone who enjoys sustainable attractions or wacky photos. The friendly staff inside can assist with photo recommendations or taking pictures of you and your group.
Kilim Karst Geoforest Park and Langkawi Mangrove Tour
We all loved this day trip through the mangroves of the UNESCO-designated Geopark. We chose a responsible tour company that had great knowledge of the area and a commitment to ensuring we enjoyed the day while not harming the environment at all. We saw a great range of animals (without disturbing them), explored bat caves, rested at a stunning secluded beach, and ate lunch at a floating restaurant, too!
For more pictures and information about the day please see my full post about our excellent Langkawi Mangrove Tour.
Adults are RM240 and children 5-10 years old are RM170. Younger kids are free. The cost includes lunch, plastic-free bottled water and hotel transfers. The same company runs many other tours also — including kayaking and hiking — all with a focus on ethical and responsible exploring.
It was a fun and engaging tour around the ancient and amazing areas of Langkawi that would be impossible to access otherwise. We highly recommend it for families and single/couple travellers alike, and think it satisfies desires to go island hopping and wildlife spotting.
Underwater World Langkawi
Underwater World is a large aquarium that many families like to visit in Langkawi, which includes a tunnel that you can walk through to be surrounded by sea life, as well as many different sections for animals from around the world.
We didn’t visit Underwater World or the Langkawi Wildlife Park and Bird Paradise, as we don’t support animals in containment as a general rule. Seeing local animals from afar on our mangrove tour was an awesome wildlife experience for us! But I understand that many families like to visit aquariums and some of them do excellent conservation work. If you’re unsure about the ethics of this kind of activity, please do some reading about it or contact the aquarium and ask your questions.
Non-Malaysian children from 3-12 are RM33 and adults are RM43. Kids under 3 are free.
Where to stay in Langkawi with kids (and where to avoid)
There is such a big range of Langkawi accommodation to choose from, it’s a bit overwhelming. And if you’re eco-conscious, it’s also easy to get greenwashed if you don’t do your research properly, like we did. We chose our first hotel quickly as it was cheap and seemed to be eco-friendly, but it wasn’t even remotely sustainable and it ended up being the worst place we stayed on our four-month trip through Southeast Asia.
So, we can say from unfortunate experience DO NOT stay at Green Village Langkawi! We had a terrible experience there, with a mosquito-infestation in a dirty and unsafe room, and money stolen, too. Had we read the reviews properly we would’ve seen that other travellers warned of exactly that happening.
We requested a refund when we first saw the room but they wouldn’t, so we stayed for a week in a safer and slightly cleaner room. It still wasn’t relaxing but some of the staff were nice and helped us as much as they could.
The second hotel we tried was better but we still don’t recommend it. Our room had no windows and other groups of visitors were extremely loud each night, which our complaints to the staff didn’t manage to change.
For our third booking, we tried an AirBnB and went to view the apartment before we committed! It was finally somewhere pleasant for us to stay and recover, as we were still feeling very low by that time. The apartment was owned by a Malay businessman who employed a local staff member to care for the property, and we enjoyed meeting and supporting them.
So where do I recommend for a family stay in Langkawi? Locally-owned AirBnBs can be a great choice, or a resort that employs local staff (be sure to ask about their policies if it’s unclear). Our apartment was within a resort complex that wasn’t in the main tourist areas, and it was lovely for our kids to have access to a little playground and pool.
If you’d like to decide based on their location around the island, this post details Langkawi Family Hotels and resorts in different areas. Tanjung Rhu
And if you’re interested in specifically-sustainable accommodation, be sure to read my Ultimate Guide to Malaysian Eco Resorts and Sustainable Accommodation. It includes several recommendations for Langkawi for different budgets, and all are suitable for families.
Where to eat in Langkawi with kids
You’ll find any cuisine you could think of in the main tourist areas of Langkawi, so families will never find it hard to eat out. However if you’re looking for something laid back with great food plus toys and games for kids to play with, you have to go to The Kasbah (except if you have cat allergies as there are several roaming around the cafe!)
We went there three times and always had excellent service and amazing food. They have Western options and traditional Malay dishes, and my eggplant and pineapple pajeri was by far the best meal I had on Langkawi.
They have a large range of fresh smoothies and juices, and all drinks are served without a straw, or your choice of a reusable bamboo or metal one. The Kasbah also offers customers free use of their Tupperware to go shopping at the nearby Night Market to further reduce disposable plastic waste. Love their initiatives as much as their food!
The best doctor for visitors to Langkawi
Global Doctors Clinic Langkawi is the excellent clinic we found on our third attempt. Anthony had a strange thing on his foot for several weeks, and we were all feeling run down. Our doctor was very caring and interested in what was going on, and ordered many tests to determine what was going on.
He even called us out of hours when he had new ideas and persisted until he worked it out, which contrasts with the other clinics who just gave Anthony creams and left it at that. It turned out to be ringworm which we probably contracted on Tioman Island during our time volunteering with the Juara Turtle Project, and we all were treated for it just in case. (Side note: don’t walk around barefoot on the sand when there are a lot of stray cats around!)
I hope our recommendations from our month in Langkawi will help you plan your trip! The best thing about owning a travel blog is being able to share what we’ve done with you, as you’re interested in where we’ve been and can learn from our experiences. Thank you!
Read more of our destination guides for responsible travel with kids:
- Things to do in Battambang with kids + the many benefits of supporting local people: from our time in Battambang, Cambodia
- Things to do in Pattaya with kids! Fun activities & responsible travel tips: from our time in Pattaya, Thailand.
- Uluru for kids! Activities, food & family travel tips. From Australia’s red centre.
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