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Langkawi has been known as a popular tourist destination for many years. The sandy beaches and year round warm seas make it a preeminent resort destination for wealthy tourists in Malaysia.
But there could be a new reason for Langkawi to become popular in the coming years.
With Malaysia recently introducing a new digital nomad visa to its already popular tourist visa poilcy (90 day visa on arrival for many nationalities? Anyone?), Langkawi, as well as the rest of Malaysia, is hoping to cash in on digital nomads in the future.
With that being said, currently there is very little information on being a digital nomad in Langkawi, and the infrastructure for DN’s isn’t what it is in other hotspots in the region such as Bali and Chang Mai, but it is slowly getting there.
Keep reading for more information on becoming a digital nomad in Langkawi.
Where to stay in Langkawi as a Digital Nomad
Langkawi is an area made up of 99 islands just off the coast of Kedah. Most of the islands are uninhabited and almost all of the population stay on the main large island. The major town of Kuah offers simple hotels and duty free shops for those on day trips from the mainland, but isn’t a desirable place to stay long term.
Cenang (pronounced chen-ang), it the most popular with tourists and where you are most like to find good accommodation. Tanjung Rhu in the north has some resort style accommodation but you will be cut off from many areas of the island if you don’t have transport.
Alternatively, there are plenty of small villages, or kampungs, around the island that may offer guesthouse style accommodation that may be cheaper but in a more remote location.
As the best and most popular option for digital nomads is to stay close to Cenang, most of the information going forward is in regards to that area.
Accomodation for digital nomads in Langkawi
Most tourists to this part of Malaysia either choose resorts or one of the many hotels that dot the island. Some resorts go for more than £1000 per night!
Thanks to tourism, there are plenty of hotels that cater to all budgets, from simple rooms with just a bed and bathroom, to places that include breakfast and have a pool on site. Long term discounts for stays of weeks or months may be available is you enquire directly.
There are also a large amount of AirBnB options close to Cenang, often in the form of guesthouse style with a simple room and en-suite bathroom. Private villas can be found but are often a lot more expensive unless a large group is renting one together.
Accomodation can also be found by asking at Jetpack Langkawi with Iska, the owner, providing a list of suitable providers close by.
The main street of Cenang has food options from almost every corner of the world, from Syrian, to Indian, to western and of course Malay. Whilst street food isn’t quite as cheap and varied as it is in Penang, there are still enough options to make you happy. The night market just off Jalan Pantai Cenang, has excellent affordable options every night.
A short walk away, five corners restaurant was a staple for me due to its wide variety of buffet style local food, as well as being close to my coworking space.
On Thursday nights, there is the Temoyong Night Market with a fantastic selection of cheap local food. Try any of the satay sticks here if you want to know what heaven tastes like.
If you are looking for a most western style chilled out place, I highly recommend making your way to Smiling Buffalo for excellent coffee and brunch options.
Coworking options on Langkawi
Right now there is only one coworking space in Langkawi.
Jetpack Langkawi has been on the island since 2017 and has hosted people from over 45 countries. It is a small intimate place where you will get to know everyone immediately. The chairs are comfy, the internet is fast and the cookies that are available are amazing!
It is easy to contact the owner, Iska, via Facebook (the website is still under construction) who will be more than happy to help with anything on the island and can even arrange tours if needed.
Smiling Buffalo also has wifi available for working as does Bed Attitude Hostel if you’re staying there. Starbucks in Cenang Mall is also a popular place to work.
What’s the internet like in Langkawi
The internet on Langkawi is excellent in almost all areas since fibre internet has been installed. Even in simple cafes and restaurants, speeds of 20mbps+ can be found and it isn’t unusual to see speeds of 100mbps+ in the coworking or high end hotels. There are still budget hotels where internet isn’t fantastic, but those that can get by without streaming or large data dumps can work from almost anywhere.
4G phone signal is also found almost everywhere on the island. Overall, Langkawi is a very well connected island for digital nomads.
Downtime in Langkawi
As Langkawi is still an up and coming destination for digital nomads, there isn’t a full social scene like in other places.
For those that like being social, there are plenty of bars and restaurants to enjoy along the beach, with many beach bars having music until late. An upmarket favourite is Hidden Bar that has a fire show every night. For those on a budget, hostels are Cenang will have plenty of backpackers looking for friends to hang out with once their days exploring has been done.
Relaxing on the beach is one of the main ways to spend your downtime, with Cenang being popular and convenient but Tanjung Rhu, Pantai Serama and Pantai Tengah also picture perfect beaches.
If being active if more your things there are gyms at the Nadias Hotel which provides a pay as you go option for 30RM, a muay Thai gym close by and a more traditional gym a 10 minute scooter ride away at Eagle Fitness which offers a monthly pass for 100RM.
Things to do in Langkawi
As a major tourist destination there is plenty to see and do apart from working and lying on the beach.
Kuah is the main city with a wide variety of duty free shops, shopping malls, parks and mosques. The Maha tower provides views of the bay and Datarang Lang has the iconic eagle statue as a welcome to Langkawi.
Kayaking through some of the oldest mangroves in this part of the world is offered by Farley at Xtreme Langkawi, getting to see the beautiful Kilim Geoforest Park.
Tanjung Rhu has one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen and a place to relax and enjoy a morning, an afternoon, or even an entire day relaxing.
Langkawi SkyBridge and the Seven Waterfalls (Telaga Tujuh) will give those looking for a short hike and incredible views the necessary adventure.
But if you really want to stay close to the water, Cenang beach has jetski, SCUBA diving, and banana boating activities available from a variety of huts dotting the beach.
With all the activities on offer, you may not be able to find time to actually relax!
Getting around Langkawi
Unfortunately there is no public transport on Langkawi. Getting to and from the island via boat or plane is fine, but you will then struggle to move around.
Taxi’s are available using the Grab app with prices starting from 15-20RM from the airport to Cenang. If you are looking to go any further afield, Kuah or the northern beaches, taxi’s become expensive and a tour may be a better deal to provide some flexibility.
Those staying on the island for a long time should rent a scooter for the ultimate in freedom and flexibility. There are a variety of options available from companies all over the island who can drop it off at your accommodation for you. Petrol costs 2RM per litre with 5RM filling my tank and getting me about 100km around the island.
Langkawi as a digital nomad hub – the future?
Whilst Langkawi isn’t a major hub for digital nomads yet, it has all the ingredients to become one in the near future.
It has everything that digital nomads want, fast internet, warm weather, great amenities and being extremely affordable. It already has a lot of the infrastructure from the tourist boom that happened since the 1980’s and has fibre internet installed.
It is also one of the places that the Malaysian government is highlighting as a hub for digital nomads in the future as part of its De Rantau program, which also has the option of a one year digital nomad visa.
If you are looking for a fantastic place to be a digital nomad with great weather, fantastic food and general affordability, without the crows of Indonesia or Thailand, then Langkawi could be the place for you.
Check out my other posts for travelling around Malaysia:
- Visiting Bako National Park From Kuching: A Detailed Guide
- How To See Orangutans at Semenggoh Nature Reserve
- Visiting Mulu National Park: The Essential Guide
- How To Get From KL International Airport To The City Centre
- What To Do In Kuala Lumpur: Top 10 Things
- Which Lounge Should You Choose at KLIA
- Petronas Twin Towers vs KL Tower: Which Is Best To Visit?
- Visiting Pantai Pasir Panjang, Penang from Georgetown
- The Best Coffee Shops in Georgetown, Penang
- What You Must Eat in Penang: Top 10 Foods To Try
Dan is an avid traveller from London. His first big adventure was in 2010 living in Malaysia for 3 months and becoming a divemaster. He has been on the road almost constantly since 2015 travelling to destinations that aren’t on the mainstream tourist trail.