You’re traipsing through Peninsular Malaysia and have time for just one west coast island and the two most frequently considered are Penang and Langkawi — but which should it be? In an ideal world we’d say stretch your leave form for another week and visit both, but if you really only have time for one, here’s our take on which you should go for.
Are you a beach bum?
If you’re primarily looking for slow time spent lazing on a beach, with some afternoon watersports and the occasional cocktail thrown in, then Langkawi wins hands down. It has, by far, the better beaches of the two islands. Plus it is surrounded by a cluster of other smaller islands that can be visited on day snorkelling and diving trips. Even without leaving the main island there are plenty of beaches to choose from — from Cenang to the more isolated and almost lovely Tanjung Rhu.
This is not Penang
Penang’s beaches on the other hand are really quite ordinary. Batu Ferringhi is seriously overrated and while there are a few other strips of sand on the island, Penang just isn’t in the same league as Langkawi when it comes to beaches.
Langkawi 1; Penang 0.
Are you a food lover?
What’s the point of having great beaches if there’s nowhere decent to eat? Penang, and in particular Georgetown with its strong Chinese influence, excels when it comes to food. We can’t recall ever having an ordinary meal here (never ever have the guesthouse breakfast!) which isn’t something we can say for Langkawi. Georgetown boasts fantastic street food and there are also excellent Georgetown food walks and cooking classes that the culinarily inclined will want to savour.
Back to Sharing Experience Menu