What to expect
The tremendously popular Langkawi has its shore line dotted with well-established and highly regarded luxury resorts. The prices at these resorts are what you would expect, while the setting and stimulating list of activities are sure to surprise you. There is no shortage of local resorts on the islands, though. From The Datai Langkawi through to small-time beach bungalows on Miri Island, the local tourism industry is strong, and an abundance of options for a night’s sleep is the result. The cost of a bed is always going to be a little more when the sounds of the sea accompany you to bed. That being said, there is no reason why waking up with a sea view has to break the bank, or see you scrimp on croissants and cake and other things that matter.
A stay on the beach can cost you as little as MYR 100 if you're ready to put the beauty of the view above that of the room. Beach backpackers mean you can find a cheap room that has views that are priceless. It also means you can find likeminded people to share it with! Crikey, if you're willing to be a couple of minutes away from the beach, cheap areas like Cherating can see you spending no more than MYR 40 per night!
Conversely, if you're fixing to feel giddy at the prospect of a private balcony overlooking a private beach and the miles of sea before you, then a dash more cash can make this a reality. High-end rooms at the most luxurious end of the spectrum can go for around MYR 3000.
1. Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort, Sipadan Island
The beauty of Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort is hard to put into words. Those old postcards in your draw of idyllic places probably include a shot of this resort. With no land in sight, you're very own mile long sandbank, the most astounding rooms, and an artificial reef to dive on non-Sipidan days, this place is something else. The resort offers packages that have a minimum of four nights. Those go for MYR 3400. A stay up to ten days will cost as much MYR 9000. The rooms are built over the sea and are made entirely from wood. Wherever you look, you are constantly reminded that you are on holiday and that your life is amazing.
2. Bubu Beach Resort, Perhentian Kecil
Looking for something a little more laid back? A BBQ on the beach, a balcony with a sea view and a funky owner all make for a pretty dreamy concoction of ingredients. A stay on Perhentian Kecil at Bubu Beach Resort will cost you no more than MYR 300 for the night. This is a great option for the backpacker seeking a little more luxury to rest their bones, or the couple splashing out on an experience that comes highly regarded.
3. Bunga Raya Resort, Gawa Island
Off the coast of Kota Kinabalu is the beautiful Gawa Island. All the villas and suites of Bunga Raya Resort are built in the vein of traditional Borneo architecture. They blend so elegantly into the jungle, enveloped entirely by shrubbery, save for the patch of open air that looks onto the expanse of the sea before you. Rooms vary in price and amenities but there is no compromise in beauty and attention to detail throughout. The option of spending a night in a treehouse is one of the coolest of them all.
4. Shangri-la Rasa Ria Resort, Kota Kinabalu
Should you find yourself on the east coast of Malaysia, you’d be crazy to not look up the Shangri-la Rasa Ria Resort. This resort has all the biodiversity you could imagine, and all the manners in which to go about experiencing it. The island is big! 400 acres of greenery wait to be explored on the back of a quad bike, while the 64 acre nature reserve, complete with an orangutan conservation center require a slightly more conservative approach. The beach is fantastic, the rooms and heavenly and the natural surrounds will keep you entertained for every waking minute.
5. Casa Del Mar, Langkawi
Casa Del Mar is a unique entry on this list. Of the many resorts listed here, there are few that embody the culture or architectural principles of other countries and people. The Casa Del Mar of course, does just that. The Mediterranean vibe of the Langkawi based resort is unmissable. Balconies with large hammocks complete the feel. The resort organizes fantastic sunset cruises to send the day off in style and can organize incredible picnics on secluded stretches of beaches to ensure that the days are just as entertaining. Sailing lessons, nearby beach shops and options to completely kick back, this resort fails to provide a single thing.
6. Tanjung Rhu Resort, Langkawi
The island of Langkawi is a big, busy and beautiful place. Offering sincere respite from any chaotic form of life is the Tanjung Rhu Resort, right on the northern tip of the island. It is the only resort on this part of the island, making it exclusive and quiet. The rooms are created in the classic Malay architecture design with timber floors and big wide windows. Have your pick between a garden, pool and sea view.
7. Danna Langkawi, Langkawi
The Danna Langkawi is yet another Langkawi based gem. Being the popular tourist destination that it is, this comes as little surprise. The Danna Langkawi falls in line with other lodgings with the same level of attention to detail and the highest quality finishing. The rooms are a sleek mix of local and British colonial design while the modern amenities are responsible for the distinguished feel they exude. The resort is five stories high, with superb views that stretch away from Pantai Kok.
8. The Angullia, Terangganu
The Angullia on Palau Terangganu has been around for a good amount of time. Its success is easy to understand when you consider the impressively low price of a beach bungalow. For just MYR 100 the bungalow is yours. There are the island-wide famous BBQ's at night and boats off the resort to take you diving in the day. For the pennywise traveller, it is difficult to imagine a better deal.
9. Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, Redang
A stay on Redang is well suited for those who don’t want the sounds and disturbances of overly abundant travellers disturbing their peace. The Taaras Beach and Spa Resort is one of the few fantastic places on the island. The rooms are moderately affordable considering the list of attractions and the exclusivity of the island. Rates begin at MYR 600 and reach up toward MYR 1100. The resort has as many as six restaurants to choose from, turtle watching tours to embark on and sunset and sunrise cruises to enjoy.
10. Tanjong Jara, Terengganu
Tanjong Jara offers an authentic Malay experience in the most luxurious of accommodations. The resort is entirely enveloped by the tropical forest. With the architecture of the resort, the activities available the luscious rainforest around you, there is a sense that everything just belongs. Start the day with some yoga, embark on a tour to visit local Malay tribes, go on an eco-cruise of the Marang River, trek for hours in the jungle, and spend some time in the spa when you are done. Don’t forget to check out the baby turtles. Tanjong Jara resort couldn’t be more authentic and down to earth if they tried.
11. Golden Sands Resort, Batu Ferringhi
The Golden Sands Resort is located in the ever popular Batu Ferringhi beachfront. Much like the beachfront, the resort is intended and best suited for the most socially inclined amongst us. Regular live bands, sunset cruises, and three outdoor pools are all there to keep the good times rolling. The resort is family oriented with a playground dedicated entirely to youths! Rooms are not excessively expensive considering the quality of the hotel with an approximate price of MYR 700 for a room for two.
12. The Japamala Resort, Timon Island
The Japamala Resort on the luscious Tioman Island is for the nature lovers. The resort stands near to the beach, tranquil and luxurious in its stance. The resort has a whole bunch of specialised dives and can also help you get your open water license. Treks through the jungle should be followed by time at the spa and then drinks on your balcony. Thai and international cuisine await you at the profoundly impressive open air restaurant. The elegant rooms are perfect and begin at MYR 700. The most luxurious of luxurious suites goes for around MYR 2300 a night.
It's always a strange idea that you will pay different prices for the same thing depending on what point in it's orbit of the sun the earth currently is. Indeed, we live in a mixed up world with many layers and reciprocating influences. The markets of the world, and the associated weekly work schedules of everyone with a job gives way to the wonder of high and low season. Low season is where the magic happens. Discounts on rooms, appropriately populated natural wonders and the soft sounds of the earth that are otherwise inaudible in the stampede of the high season. Should you be able to get the time off, it would be wise to plan your adventure accordingly.
Next up, plan in advance! Prices are always significantly lower when booked months in advance. Trying to get a room at The Westin after you hop off the plane will almost certainly end in a sour face and feeling of regret.
The special packages that tourist agencies offer at the last minute are always so incredibly cheap. How the price can be that low and still be profitable makes one wonder how good the tourism industry is in full flow! However, think less about that and think more about how you can get off work next week.
These trips require a high level of flexibility and readiness to depart at the drop of a hat. It may just be time to become a digital nomad.