13 things to do in Langkawi with kids
One of the most beautiful islands I’ve visited, Langkawi manages the tricky combination of idyllic tropical paradise and somewhere which is perfect for a family holiday. Beyond the golden sands and luxurious hotels with pools you can’t resist diving into, there’s plenty to discover.
The lush green jungle is home to eagles, bats and unspoiled mangroves, there are attractions to make you giggle or take your breath away, there are shady air conditioned escapes for the heat of the Malaysian climate or places to get out and make the most of the sunshine.
One word of warning: between all the choices and the chilled-out lounging, you’ll need longer than the half dozen days we allowed ourselves to try all my top things to do in Langkawi with kids…
1. Skycab – the Langkawi cable car
One of the unmissable things to do on the island – if your timing is better than ours. Looking forward to the incredible views across the jungle and mountains to the sea, I discovered we’d booked our week right in the middle of two weeks of maintenance (dates change every year).
A good reason to go back though, with the 15-minute cable car ride whisking you up to 708 metres above sea level to mount Mat Cincang, passing jungle waterfalls, and covering over 2km along the way before ending with more fabulous views and a cool breeze to enjoy.
The steepest cable car in the world, it starts from Oriental Village (very close to our hotel, The Danna Langkawi) with ticket packages including some of the other attractions at ground level, such as the 3D 360 degree SkyDome, 6D Cinemotion and SkyRex simulator, all with different interactive experiences.
The basic ticket for the cable car costs 55RM for adults, with glass bottomed gondolas and express lane tickets available to skip one set of queues, as well as the chance to get off at the middle station and take a guided trek up to the top station.
The longest free span and curved bridge in the world, the 125 metre long Sky Bridge is suspended from an 82 metre high pylon, a knee trembling 100m above the ground – as close as you’ll come to flying over the jungle canopy without wings.
With space for 250 people, and two platforms to make the most of the unbeatable views, it’s easily worth the extra 5RM (less than a pound) even if you’re not a fan of heights. You can only get to the bridge by taking the cable car, tickets are available from the counter at the top station (or included in a tour with cable car, trek and other ground attractions) as well as the base station.
Be prepared for a walk to get to the start of the bridge unless you pay a bit extra for SkyGlide, a sort of glass lift which skips the 15 minute jungle trail to the bridge.
3. 3D Art Langkawi
If you thought the cable car and bridge sounded scary, that’s nothing compared to escaping from ferocious dinosaurs, fire-breathing dragon and a panda who’s using you to season his soup. Posing in front of a string of pictures might not sound enormous fun, but after almost two hours at Art in Paradise, Langkawi’s 3D (or trick eye) museum, I can promise that it’s hilarious.
Also in Oriental Village, it’s the second-largest museum of its kind in the world – and the biggest in Malaysia. My daughter had my phone out of my hand in seconds, directing me in how to stand and what faces to pull in front of more than 100 paintings. Before furious giggles from both of us at the results.
At 38RM to get in, you’ll need a smartphone, someone to snap the photos and a willingness to ham it right up for the camera! Check out some of our best photos and more tips here, including my daughter trapped in a bubble and our narrow escape from a hippo…
Although Oriental Village is home to various other attractions, including an ATV Quad bike adventure and Duck Tour, not to mention the other cinematic experiences, I’d only make a special visit for this or the SkyCab/SkyBridge.
4. Mangrove tour
Even the brightly painted scenes of Art in Paradise can’t compare to Langkawi’s breathtaking natural scenery – towering karst hills reflected in the waves of the Andaman Sea or the still green waters of the mangroves at Kilim Geoforest Park. The eagles which give the island its name still soar and spiral overhead, swooping down to feed, while hundreds of bats roost in a cave not far away.
Spot snakes, swimming lizards and snack-happy monkeys along the way, plus fish feeding, floating restaurants and a speedy visit to one of the gorgeous little desert island style coves along the coast. There are a variety of tours, but we loved Dev’s Adventure Tours which are both child-friendly and ethical. Discover why else we loved it with our full review.
With more than 150 different species, and over 2,500 birds, the wildlife park is home to monkeys, pythons, raccoons, meerkats and deer, plus the chance to feed some along the way (for a small extra fee).
Walk into the aviary or spot more of the birds by the 15 metre manmade waterfall, perfect for younger animal lovers.
6. Jet ski tour
Climb onto a jetski and hop from island to island – Langkawi’s main island is just one of 99. There are various different jetski tours lasting up to four hours – some are better if you have more experience, others are led by a guide and some are suitable for kids aged five and up, accompanied by a parent.
Take your pick whether you want to squeeze in eight different islands, the chance to snorkel a little or a visit to Pregnant Maiden Island along the way. Don’t forget to pack a hat…
6. Sea safari
If your kids are too young (or too reluctant) to hop onto a jetski, or you simply fancy a more laid-back way to discover the island’s coast, try a small boat sea safari – Pregnant Maiden Island with its freshwater lake and the legends which have grown up around it is a favourite stop, as well as beach visits and the chance to spot more wildlife before the sun sets.
After our fantastic mangrove tour, we stuck with Dev’s Adventure tours for our sea safari – discovering how Pregnant Maiden Lake got its name along the way, but you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to island hopping tours.
Whether your kids are as obsessed with marine life like my daughter, or you’re looking for something to do out of the heat of the sun, it’s tempting to head underwater without a snorkel and discover the sea creatures which live here.
There are over 500 species split into several different zones, from tropical rainforest to sub-Antarctic, as well as a ‘penguinarium’. But the highlight is the 15m long walk through tunnel with 600,000 litres of seawater, to spot sharks, stingrays and green turtles, plus there’s a coral reef area and seashell display too.
9. The beach
It wouldn’t be a family holiday without some time at the beach – especially somewhere with so many tempting stretches of sand as Langkawi. A lot of the hotels border a beach, and will often have a jellyfish net as well, with many open to the public too. Tanjung Rhu in the northeast is famously one of the loveliest, with its white sand and shells.
Pantai Cenang is one of the busiest, but ideal if you want a beach with bars and restaurants, or to check out the watersports. And for a beach with a difference, head to Pantai Pisar Hitam whose black sand is caused by minerals in the sand, unlike the volcanic black sand beaches of Europe.
10. Go on an ATV tour
Another option that’s ideal for older kids, there are ATV tours on Langkawi that you can try with younger ones too – Langkawi Adventure has options for five and up – although with mixed reviews for some of the companies, it goes without saying to check the safety.
11. Rice garden museum
Discover how rice grows, with a visit to a paddy field and a small museum at Laman Padi. Don’t expect high tech interactive but it’s a peaceful spot for kids to learn, and even sometimes get hands on.
Themed around Langkawi history and folklore, this park/outdoor museum stretches over 50 acres of reclaimed land. A series of 17 scupltures tell tales of its legends , from ogres and giants to princesses, with signs in English to bring it to life.
If you don’t fancy exploring on foot, there are also buggies to hire, or enjoy some of the shady paths and water features.
13. Eagle Square (Dataran Lang)
The symbol of the island, a 12m sculpture of an eagle poised to fly dominates this square in Kuah, a few minutes from Taman Lagenda and Kuah Jetty.
You can take tours of the city, as well as island history tours which stop here, or simply wander through as you explore the waterfront. You could also stop by as part of a visit to the night market, which moves around the island every night, taking place in Kuah on Wednesdays and Saturdays with some great food.