Backpacking from Penang to Langkawi on a tight budget

Soldiers Charging against the Red Shirts

With a headline like “Battle in Bangkok”, no wonder tons of tourists are flocking to Malaysia for safety, at least till things cool off. “Which we don’t think will be any time soon, especially with their Leader Khattiya Sawasdipol who was just shot in the head by a sniper recently.

Langkawi and Penang being the two nearest places to Thailand has seen an influx in visitors. Malaysian Tourism Council and the newspapers have published that Malaysia wants to lure these so called “trapped” tourists who have a dilemma of heading to Bangkok, to come to Malaysia instead.

So if you are in Penang Malaysia and want to get to Langkawi, here are the alternatives to taking the RM 60 express ferry from Penang Port to Langkawi Ferry Terminal. A return ticket will cost you Rm 120! Which is way expensive for me.  We are going to try using the Kuala Kedah route.
From Penang Island, you will need to get to Weld Quay Jetty. There is a free CAT (Central Area Transit) bus that plows most of the main city streets. Once you have got here. Walk to the Ferry Terminal

Backpackies version of a cheap cruise

1) Taking the ferry to Butterworth is FREE, you will only need to pay RM 1.20 is you are coming back to the island on the ferry.

2) Once at Butterworth, walk down to the Bus Station. It is about 5 minutes walk.

3) Take the MARA bus heading for Alor Setar or Pekan Rabu. They are the same bus.

4) The bus to Alor Setar will cost you RM 9.90. It is air conditioned and pretty comfortable to sleep through the journey.

5) If you are going to snore it off, make sure you let the driver know you want to stop at Pekan Rabu. Travel time takes around 1 hour 45 minutes (roughly).

Once at Pekan Rabu, get off the bus, and ask around for the bus to Kuala Kedah. im not really sure of the bus number but there are a few busses heading there. You can opt for the air conditioned bus or the normal non air conditioned bus. Bus ride to the pier takes about 30 minutes.

The ferry terminal is just opposite the road. There are plenty of counters at the terminal. Doesn’t matter which one you buy from the rate is still the same. Adults RM 23, and Children RM 17.
Once you have purchased your tickets, do take a stroll along the jetty. There are plenty of colorful fishing boats parked there. If you are lucky you might catch the fisherman rolling out his catch of the day!

Fishing boats parked in Kuala Kedah

Since the whole journey from Kuala Kedah to Langkawi takes around 1 hour 40 minutes, its wise to have something in your tummy. There are some malay food stalls selling fried rice and simple Malay dishes. A meal will set you back maybe around RM 3/ person, without drinks.

Village fried rice (nasi goreng kampung) with mini anchovies

Cramped up and A/C to the max ferry

The ferry i got was pretty old and cramped up. I guess its up to your luck, as the ferry i got coming back was pretty new and good.

Arriving in Langkawi, my first mission was to get to where all the backpackers were and most importantly where most of Langkawi’s activities are. CENANG BEACH! Taxis cost RM 24 one way to Cenang beach. Its a standard price. It used to be RM 20, but has increased price since. No use haggling with the cab drivers to lower the price. The taxi is worth it if you are travelling in a group. As the taxi can fit in 4 people. Im not sure about the taxi vans. I heard that they are the same price.
So being here SOLO, i needed a cheaper alternative. The best i could get was a bike rental for Rm 30. It is more economical this way. I save on the journey to Cenang and back. But this also means that i am stuck with the bike throughout my whole holiday. So take note. This maybe applicable on a short trip or with extra allowance for bike rental.
* If you rent a bike in Cenang, the cheapest might be RM 20 if you bargain hard enough. But remember you need to return the bike back to the shop where you rented it. You cant return the bike at the jetty!

I stayed in Rainbow lodge. This is the picture of the room i slept in. It costs me Rm 30 a night. You can find cheaper alternatives. Maybe a dorm if you are alone for Rm 15. Check out the link above on Rainbow Lodge.

Rainbow Guesthouse Langkawi

When in Langkawi, head over to Babylon Bar. The live bands playing there are one of the best bands on the island. Beers for RM 5 each!

"Argueably" the best beach bar on Cenang

I took this picture in Kuah town. This new shop sells all types of alcohol and wine!  The items you see here are not for sale unfortunately. The miniature Absinth looks tempting!

Dear duty free alcohol

Is this either an UNHEALTHY or HEALTHY breakfast?

Cenang is full of breakfast bars and restaurants that serves both oriental and continental breakfast. But because most of these bars cater for the tourist crowd, most of it is over priced. I mean come on, RM 10 for 2 toasts, 1 fried egg and MAYBE coffee? ok so we forgot to mention that they also give you SOME butter and jam as well, but for Malaysian standard this is the same as day light robbery! Well we @ backpackies wont concent to that.

Check TOMATO nasi Kandar out! They are the regular mamak (indian muslim)restaurant. They serve fried bread like roti canai, tosai or indian naan, assorted curry, and even noodles and rice! For a hot bowl of noodles, will cost you around Rm 2.50. And 2 pan fried bread with lentil curry will cost you Rm 1.80! That certainly beats the killer breakfast bars! Oh and make sure you try the local teh tarik. And do mention “Kurang Manis” which means : Less Sweet. They always have the tendency to pour extra condensed milk into it. Teh Tarik literally means pulled tea! Its a technique of “pulling” the tea from one cup to another at arms length. It creates froth and also acts to cool down the tea’s temperature.

Beside that all the other attractions that you see on www.backpackies.com . I managed to visit the Rice Museum or rather known as Laman Padi in Malay. It is located on the corner of Cenang, opposite Casa Del Mar! Great place to visit! and its free. Make sure you ask for a tour guide!! Happy backpacking!

Colours of the Rice Museum Langkawi

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