Why I Don’t Love Langkawi

For 98% of humanity, Langkawi would represent paradise on earth. What’s not to love: tropical beaches, soaring karst mountains, emerald waters? What’s the problem?

Langkawi is beautiful, there’s no doubt about it. I can enjoy a nice drink in a relaxed beach-side bar as much as anyone. But when beaches are backed with nothing BUT bars and resorts and duty-free shopping centers and aquariums and over-priced restaurants and tacky souvenir stalls – I think you get the picture – my vision of paradise starts to fade.

The problem is that I belong to that other 2% of humanity who likes his nature – well – natural. I like emerald waters minus the banana boats full of screaming teeny-boppers. Yes, I know, I’m a dinosaur.

It’s the same old story, the world’s perfect places are too beautiful for their own damn good. Humanity is loving its nature to death. Blah, blah, blah.

But even here on Langkawi at the epicenter of the island’s overdevelopment, Pantai Cenang, I managed to find a calm corner to take in the spectacle of towering karst in the distance. A moment of peace in my bubble of tranquility. Although that bubble burst when I turned around to discover the Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort was setting up a beach-side buffet.

The vision of elite guests sitting down to a luxury buffet struck me as an ominous sign of things to come. Will the earth’s last few natural spots become the playground of the wealthy? Will I one day be forbidden to step foot in the world’s most beautiful places? Maybe that day is right around the corner. Maybe that day is tomorrow.

14 responses to “Why I Don’t Love Langkawi”

  1. Hi Tony,
    I just returned from a vacation in Hawaii and it was incredibly shocking to see how far gone it has become. I felt like I was in one giant ABC souvenir shop with hotels to provide a sleeping spot for the hapless shoppers. At least a city atmosphere was an enjoyable alternative for my suburban son….

    • avatar Tony says:

      Hey Heather,

      Great to see you on the site. I know, what is going on with all the tourist crap? I mean, souvenirs are one thing, but do we really need another smoking monkey playing a guitar made out of endangered sea shells. Although, I applaud Hawaii for their ban on shark fin export and shark fin soup. That’s getting some news coverage over here.

  2. avatar Kim Ho says:

    I did not love Langkawi either.Been there a few years ago. You are so right about the island- I find it very boring but managed to find some comfort in McDonalds!Please get back to Penang for there is much more for you to explore.

  3. Oh Tony. I know the pain that you’re expressing; and I know that we are in the minority. What else is new?

    I think I am a disabled traveler. I often cannot appreciate the glory of this world because I see my own presence as contributing to its ruin. I cannot bear the sadness I feel when I witness uncontrolled development destroying the natural world and indigenous people’s lives.

    Perhaps I am just too uncomfortable with humanity to be among it.

  4. avatar jon says:

    Oh god I hope not, the thing you have to try and find here is those inaccessible places that are still a while away from real tourism.

    Another place similar to langkawi is boracay, perfect location SO many hotels 🙁

    Oh and no your not a dinosaur, just a little more down to earth than the majority which I for one salute you for sir 😉

    • avatar Tony says:

      I certainly feel like a dinosaur. We keep meeting people in their twenties who have NO interest in actually traveling, the culture, the land, the food, or finding a serene hideaway. It seems like cheap beer and full moon parties are the new version of a hammock on a deserted beach.

  5. avatar soonkuen says:

    Tony. Have you ever wonder why you love nature so much? Have ever ask your inner self why you simply love the morning sunrise and the wind by the evening beach? Why you find magic in the clouds, why you find the dawn just “of supreme intelligent”? These are the images of emotions without suffering and your mind long for them. In your previous many lives you must have done good virtues.

  6. hahaha well said! Not many people would voice out their displeasure in experiencing Langkawi. It has some what lost it’s charm in the last 10 years where nowadays, the industry is catering to mass tourism coming in from the middle east and china. Plus it is still a drinking heaven for the locals.


  7. avatar timbermad says:

    Great honest opinion. BY the way you’re right about Chenang beach but there’re areas which is still untouch & suits what you’re looking far. Its a the far north side of the Island. Datai areas..

    • avatar Tony says:

      Yes, we found a couple of beaches which were less developed, but clearly the nicest places have been bought up by major resorts and developers. Really, one of the worst aspects of Langkawi is that developers have the ability to actually own the beach itself preventing non-guests from visiting. In many countries, owning the beach is not allowed. Moreover, lack of public transportation makes visiting beaches off the beaten track ridiculously expensive. For budget and mid-range travelers, Langkawi has become a much less desirable destination. But there is no disputing the fact that the island itself is very beautiful. We just wish that the people of Malaysia had insisted that the “Jewel of Kedah” be protected from overdevelopment and remain accessible to future generations.

  8. avatar Azharr says:

    You should pay my aunt a visit at pulau tuba instead

    fishing village no internet no commercial activity no petrol station at all

    now that’s 100% nature (=

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  10. avatar Joseph See says:

    I find this interesting.

    I think Langkawi aimed and missed for two groups. The partyers, and budget nature lovers…because I’ve seen people looking for a party scene dissatisfied.

    There is no public transport. Food is rather expensive. I think one could rent a motorbike to do some jungle walks to get out of the city.

    If you like to be fancy and do curated outside tours in a disneyfied atmosphere, then give it a go!

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