But first a few currency exchange tips to keep in mind before planning a trip to Malaysia - Langkawi:
- Carry U.S. Dollars - they take the dollars everywhere and you get a better rate
- Do not carry INR - they may take it but you will get a poor exchange rate for them
- If possible carry some Malaysian Currency - Ringgit(RM) with you as you will require it to hire cab/eat at the airport and the exchange rate at the airport is very poor
- You will get the worst exchange rate at the cafes/retail stores/hotels etc, then at official exchangers at airport, then the national and international banks in Malaysia in that order
- But you will get the best exchange rates at the small currency exchange shops within the city (KL or Langkawi). You will find these shops in malls and all major markets.
- Take bigger U.S. dollar notes (50,100,500 denomination is preferred) to get a good exchange rate. A few agents do not accept U.S. $10 or 20 but those who will accept will give a poor exchange rate. Though you will get the same rate for all denominations at the banks.
The KL International Airport is excellent. Its been nominated the best airport for 2005 and 2006 and you will know why once you land there. The airport has three huge terminals with more than 35 gates. Whatz more, there is a train connecting terminal A and C. There is plenty of seating space to rest. The rest rooms are neat and clean and there is so much to see at the airport. You can actually indulge in a massage to kill your time and to rejuvenate yourself for further journey.
We had a connecting flight to Langkawi at 11 am (there is an earlier flight at 9 am and I recommend that if possible, you should take that one), so after freshing up at the airport we had a cup of steaming hot Milo (you will get tonnes of Milo everywhere in Malaysia... the Malays love it!) at one of the airport cafe's. We reached the terminal for our domestic departure to Langkawi and slept for sometime. The flight for Langkawi was right on time and 45 mins later we landed at the beautiful island of Langkawi. I would strongly suggest a window seat from KL to Langkawi as the approach to Langkawi airport is breathtaking.
The greenery in and around the airport is stunning. Our package included a pickup from the airport and we found our man waiting for us. We were going to stay in Berjaya Resorts and were going directly there. But I asked the driver to stop at a local shop where I could buy a SIM card. I wanted a SIM card because of three reasons:
- Connectivity at all times, your family can contact you any time
- Much Cheaper than hotel phone
- Easily available to tourists in Malaysia. You simply have to give a photocopy of your passport.
- Incoming is free
When we reached Berjaya, we found the place to be quite good. We had one secluded cottage for our own, though it wasn't sea facing. The sea facing cottages are very expensive, but you can always stay put in them for at least one night.
Berjaya has everything you would want from a Resort. It has it's own private beach, you can do a lot of water sport activities or else simply laze around in the sun and if the sea water doesn't suit you, dive in the fabulous swimming pool that Berjaya has. Whats more, you have a pool bar to serve you drinks when you tire from swimming. The breakfast at Berjaya is complimentary and is quite a spread. You can even get dal-roti (a typical Indian curry and bread) in breakfast as we did, but there are so many things to choose from, you wouldn't want to eat dal-roti.
Here are some pictures of Berjaya:
Staying in Berjaya is an experience in itself. You can get a spa massage, arrange a island hopping tour or a Langkawi tour from Berjaya. We did not take the Langkawi tour, but preferred to rent a car and self-drive through the beautiful roads of Langkawi since we had just two days and also because its very convenient. I would say its the preferable mode of transport because then you are on your own to explore the small but beautiful island. We rented a Kia Optima (automatic) for 120 RM (Rs 1440 or $36) per day. But if you wake up early you can get a small passenger car for as low as 70 RM as well. So depending upon your need and availability you can rent a car from 70-140 RM per day. You can also rent a bike/scootie in Langkawi for as low as 50 RM per day. Its a right hand drive (same as India/UK) and roads are very good. The island is very safe even late at nights. In addition the petrol is very cheap (approx Rs 21 per lt or $0.5 per lt)
After renting the car (Berjaya can help you contact the rental agency/person) you can get a map of Langkawi from Berjaya. We picked up a lot of tourist guides/maps/documents from Langkawi airport tourist information. In addition we found a map in the car itself probably left by some other tourist. You will find that the island roads are clearly marked and directions are very simple to follow. We never lost our way in the two days (we rented the car) and explored most of the island (about 90%) including a half day island hopping trip which was on day 2.
But first the places we visited on day1 - We started off driving to a waterfall, then to an artificial cave build on the road. The cave has a beautiful scenery from the top. Then we stopped at a beach on our way to the famous Eagle Square in Kuah town. On our way to the city we also went to a bird sanctuary which had variety of birds from all over the world including beautiful colored parrots, the Ostrich and the elegant peacock from India.
So the places we visited on day 1:
1) Waterfall - I forgot the name
2) The artificial caves near the waterfall
3) Cenang Beach and Black Sand Beach
4) Langkawi Birds Paradise
5) Hot Spring Village
6) Eagle Square
7) Oriental Village
Here are all the pics:
The artificial cave: View from top of the cave:
Bird Sanctuary (Langkawi Bird Paradise):
The Hot Spring in Langkawi, is a natural hot water spring which has been converted into a tourist attraction. You can go to the place for a relaxing foot and body massage which is really cheap. Foot massage: 5 RM and body massage: 10 RM. Also the person who does the massage is a really good masuse. He can diagnose medical problems (stomach related) you have while giving you a foot massage. Here are the pics of the hot spring:
Towards the end of day 1 when we returned from Kuah town, we went to a great Thai restaurant known as "Barn Thai". I will write about day 2 - including Island hopping tour and about Barn Thai in another post.