In a previous post, we talked about the most popular things to do and see on the island of Langkawi. But beyond the usual attractions that we touched on – its cable car, the main beach of Pantai Cenang, cheap alcohol and chocolates, there are some other less populated spots and activities which are just as, if not more attractive than just the usual stuff.
Are you a traveller that likes to go off the beaten path? You’re at the right place.
Langkawi is home to several waterfalls which offer a picturesque and peaceful atmosphere for a picnic or an afternoon of relaxation. However, the water can be quite shallow and slow-moving during the dry season when there is not a lot of rain. The best time to visit these falls would be during the wet season at the year-end, where the waterfalls burst forth with life and stand in their full glory. The best part? They’re all free to visit!
Durian Perangin Waterfall
Named after the durian trees that flourish around the area, Durian Perangin Waterfall sits in the northeastern area of the island surrounded by lush greenery and rock formations. This waterfall has 14 tiers, which means that you can view its different sections from various heights and vantage points. Each section of the falls also has a natural pool where you can choose to take a dip in.
Lower falls section
At the lower falls section are plenty of gazebos for visitors to take a rest. Local families also seem to like to have their picnics here in the shade. Getting to the top of the falls will require a 10-minute hike. The rock steps are easy to climb, but can get quite steep in some sections. If you have elderly or young children with you, it’s best to stick around the lower falls area that is easily accessible from the carpark. There are also plenty of facilities such as eateries and small stalls with souvenirs and drinks.
Durian Perangin Waterfall is about 30km away from the main tourist area of Pantai Cenang, north of Kilim Village. Getting around is easy as the main island is small. The best way to get here is to either hail a taxi or self-drive by renting a car or scooter. If you take a taxi, keep it waiting as you won’t be able to get any transport from here for your return.
This 3-tier waterfall has a total drop of 200m. As the tallest waterfall in Langkawi, it is truly quite a sight to behold. From the carpark, the lower falls is just a few minutes walk away. However to reach the impressive upper falls and see the waterfall up close, you will have to make a steep upward climb that shouldn’t take more than 10 to 15 minutes.
At the upper falls the water cascades down a height of 30m. The rocky cliffs surrounding it adds to its magnificence and the clear waters in the natural pool is extremely inviting. We even saw some local boys climbing up the cliffs and taking a dive into the pool! So if you’re up for some cliff jumping fun, this is definitely the place to be.
But keep in mind that this is a seasonal fall. Outside of the wet season, don’t expect to see the water in its full force. Many visitors in the dry season have been disappointed by a thin stream of water when they expected otherwise. You might also note that there are hardly any facilities here with the exception of a restaurant at the main road opposite the carpark. Stock up on your food and water if you plan to spend some time here!
Located in the Datai Area, Temurun Waterfall is in the northwestern end of island, about 28 km away from Pantai Cenang. Likewise, if you hail a taxi, keep it waiting or you’ll be stranded here.
Now that we’ve touched on the waterfalls, we can’t go on about Langkawi without going into its beautiful beaches and hidden gems. Get off the tourist trail! If the populated beaches of Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah are not your cup of tea, read on to discover the secluded beaches in Langkawi.
Black Sand Beach
Is the sand here really black? Well… Kind of. The beach is not completely black, it looks more like black particles mixed in with the sand. Unlike other islands with black sands caused by volcanic activity, the black sand here is actually caused by minerals. There is a large amount of tourmaline and ilmenite from the granites of Mount Raya. These minerals are washed to the beach by spring water, which causes the “black sand”.
While this beach draws in several visitors for its memorable photo opportunities, it still offers a peaceful getaway from the island’s more crowded areas. Black Sand Beach is part of a traditional fishing village and looking right from the beach, you’ll see a fishing jetty and many fishing boats moored here. This beach is not exactly suitable for swimming and is more often used for picnicking and sunbathing instead. Families with children will also like this place as there is a playground with plenty of swings and slides.
One of the most beautiful and secluded beach in Langkawi, Tengkorak Beach is located in the Datai area. Locally known as Pantai Pasir Tengkorak, it’s literal translation is “sandy skulls beach”. You won’t find any skulls here, but legend has it that a massive storm once wrecked ships passing by the Malacca Strait and the skulls of the dead were washed up ashore.
Ominous stories aside, this place has everything a beach lover needs – trees as shelter, soft white sands and clear blue waters for swimming. You won’t find many foreigners here but this place is a locals’ favourite haunt, especially on weekends and public holidays. There are also many beachfront huts, tables and benches, but they are usually snapped by the local families pretty quickly. Other facilities include toilets, shower rooms and even prayer rooms.
Hiking isn’t usually the first activity that people go for in Langkawi. But if you’re willing to put in the hard work, Mother Nature will issue her rewards accordingly. Not to mention, these hikes are completely free. That’s right, you can climb to the top of Langkawi’s two tallest mountains without a single cent.
If we can pass on any advice for these hikes, it is to wear good hiking shoes and carry along lots and lots of water.
Gunung Mat Cincang (Mount Mat Cincang)
View from the summit of Gunung Mat Cincang
Remember Telega Tujuh Waterfall/Seven Wells? We mentioned it in our first post about Langkawi as the most impressive waterfall on the island, but what we didn’t reveal to you is that there is a hiking trail at the top of the falls that leads to the summit of Mount Mat Cincang. This hike is arguably the best kept secret of Langkawi.
Cross the river at the very top end of the falls to get to a bench which marks the start of the trail. You’ll see a board that says that the distance to the peak is 980m. That doesn’t sound too bad right? Once you embark on the journey you’ll also find that the first part of the hike isn’t too challenging. But uninformed tourists who are fooled into thinking that this would be an easy hike couldn’t be further away from the truth.
After some distance, you will reach a signboard that warns of the difficult hike from this point forward. It even tells visitors to make a U-turn if they are unprepared. Are you ready to trudge forward? Follow the track to the left and the trail will get quite narrow. Go around a cliff and cross over the loose rocks. When you get to the series of ropes, you will notice that the incline is significantly steeper. These ropes are meant to serve as support for your climb up and they lead all the way to the summit.
You’ll know you’ve reached the top when you come across a green sign that says “Gunung Matcincang, 701m/2300ft”. Here at the peak, you’ll see unrivalled views of Langkawi. Better yet, there’s a good chance you’ll get it all to yourself, since there aren’t many people who attempt this hike (and understandably so). Feel free to revel in a “I am the king/queen of the world!” moment.
All in all, this hike is not meant for the faint-hearted. It is a full body workout that will see you using both upper and lower body strength. Also note that this hike is only suitable in the dry season, as the trail gets slippery when there’s rain. You’ll take at least two to three hours for the hike up and another two hours to come back down (not including the time you’ll take to climb up and down the waterfall). Hopping into the natural pools at Seven Wells after your descent will be a sweet relief. Take some time to relax your body now – you’re sure to ache over the next few days.
Gunung Raya (Mount Raya)
View from summit of Gunung Raya
Standing at 881m above ground, Gunung Raya is the tallest mountain in Langkawi. With the trail made up of 4287 concrete steps, this hike is much less challenging as compared to Gunung
Mat Cincang. However, in our opinion the view from Gunung Raya is less impressive than its counterpart. So if you intend to take on both hikes, we’d suggest to do Gunung Raya first so you won’t be disappointed. Also, it provides a great training ground to prepare you for the arduous hike at Gunung Mat Cincang.
The trail starts from Lubuk Semilang Recreational Park. Unlike Gunung Mat Cincang, you can undertake this hike even if it’s a bit rainy since the concrete steps are well-built with railings at the side. Its incline is also manageable although it gets steeper as you go along. This hike should take you about two to two and a half hours going up and one hour down, depending on your level of fitness.
It’s not the end of the trail yet when you get to the top of the stairs. Turn left and follow along a paved path to get to the viewpoint of Gunung Raya. There’s also a viewing tower here where you can see the view from an even higher vantage point for 20 RM. We should also mention that unlike Gunung Mat Cincang, you might not get this place all to yourself since its summit is also accessible by car. So if you want to avoid all the hard work, take a transport here instead.
So there you go! Here are some of the lesser known (but still beautiful) places to go if you’re serious about exploring Langkawi. This island might not be an obvious addition to most people’s itinerary (even I was initially unsure if I would have fun here), but it turns out that even on seemingly touristy islands, there are still off the beaten track adventures to be had!