Beyond the usual attractions and things to do in Langkawi – its cable car, Pantai Cenang, cheap alcohol and chocolates – there are some other less populated spots which are just as, if not more attractive than just the usual stuff. Are you a traveller that likes to go off the beaten track? You’re at the right place.
1. Picnic at Durian Perangin waterfall
Named after the durian trees that grow in the area, Durian Perangin sits in the northeastern area surrounded by lush greenery and rock formations. This waterfall has 14 tiers, which means you can view from different sections, heights and vantage points. Each section of the falls also has a natural pool where you can dip in!
At the lower falls section there are plenty of gazebos where you can take a rest. Local families also 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 around, such as eateries and small stalls with souvenirs and drinks.
Durian Perangin is about 30km away from the main tourist area of Pantai Cenang, north of Kilim Village. Getting around is easy, as the 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, pay extra to keep it waiting – you won’t be able to get any transport from here back!
2. Cliff jump at Temurun waterfall
This 3-tier waterfall has a total drop of 200 meters! 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. But to reach the impressive upper falls and see the waterfall up close, you will have to make a steep upward climb.
At the upper falls the water cascades down a height of 30m. The rocky cliffs surrounding it add to its magnificence, and the clear water is extremely inviting. We even saw some local boys climbing up the cliffs and diving into the pool! If you’re up for some cliff jumping fun, this is definitely the place to be.
One thing to note is that Temurun is a seasonal fall. This means that outside of the wet season, there is very little water. Many visitors in the dry season arrive disappointed! There are also hardly any facilities here, with the exception of a restaurant on the main road. So stock up on your own food and water if you plan to spend some time here! And if you hail a taxi to get here, keep it waiting or you’ll be stranded here.
3. Sunbathe at Black Sand Beach
Is the sand here really black? Well… Kind of. The beach isn’t completely black, it looks more like black particles mixed amongst the sand. Unlike 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. Spring water washes these minerals to the beach, creating the “black sand”.
While this beach draws in some visitors for its memorable photo opportunities, it mainly offers a peaceful getaway from the island’s crowd. Black Sand Beach is part of a traditional fishing village and you’ll see a fishing jetty and many fishing boats. This beach is not exactly suitable for swimming, but great for picnicking and sunbathing instead. Families with children will also like this place, as there is a playground with plenty of swings and slides!
4. Swim at Tengkorak Beach
One of the most beautiful and secluded beaches 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 caused some shipwrecks 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 it’s 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.
5. Hike (or drive up) Gunung Raya
Hiking and trekking aren’t the most popular things to do in Langkawi. But if you’re willing to put in the hard work, Mother Nature will reward accordingly! Not to mention, hiking in Langkawi is a completely free activity.
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 (more about this next!) However, my personal opinion is that the view from Gunung Raya is just a tad less impressive. So if you intend to take on both hikes, I’d suggest going to Gunung Raya first! 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. You can do this hike even if it’s a bit rainy, since the concrete steps are well-built with railings. Its incline is also manageable, although it gets steeper as you go along. The hike should take you about two to two and a half hours for the ascent and one hour to descend, depending on your level of fitness.
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 20RM. If you’d rather do without the hard work, the summit is also accessible by car.
6. Then hike Gunung Mat Cincang
Gunung Mat Cincang is arguably one of the best kept secrets of Langkawi. At 850 metres high, it’s got to be a pretty easy hike, right? Even the first part of the hike isn’t too challenging for most people. But just wait, it gets better… Or should we say, worse?
After some distance, you will reach a signboard that warns of the difficult hike ahead. It even tells visitors to make a u-turn if they are unprepared! If you are ready to trudge forward, Follow the track to the left, and the trail begins to 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 will support your climb up and they lead all the way to the summit.
You’ll know you’ve reached the top when you come across the sign that says “Gunung Matcincang, 701m/2300ft”. Here, you are rewarded with unrivalled views of Langkawi. There’s a good chance you’ll get it all to yourself, since there aren’t many people who attempt this hike. Feel free to indulge in a ‘I am the king/queen of the world!’ moment.
This hike is not meant for the faint-hearted. It is a full body workout that will see you using both arms and legs! Also note that this hike is only suitable in the dry season, as the trail gets slippery when there’s rain. You’ll need at least two to three hours for the ascent and another two hours to descend. The trail begins and ends at Seven Wells waterfall, so most people will end the hike with a dip in the natural pool. Take some time to chill out – you’re sure to ache over the next few days!