Langkawi in a wheelchair: between disillusion and satisfaction
17th of July, 2017. It’s been already 3 weeks since we arrived in Malaysia. We just left Penang and we are now in Langkawi main island, in the very north-west of the country. We are so close to Thailand that our mobile operator welcome us in Thailand!
This island, also called “the jewel of Kedah”, is well-known for its white sand beaches, clear waters and forests. Plus, we read that it hasn’t been alter by mass tourism. So after a few days strolling on Penang’s bustling streets we were quite impatient to lie on one of these heavenly beaches, away from that restlessness, listening to the waves sound.
Unfortunately, as soon as we landed on the island, it was quite the disillusion. After we settled in the hotel, we decide to walk to “Cenang beach”, the main beach (the nearest also!), to relax. What a disappointment! Mass tourism is overwhelming. Souvenirs shops are stacked up one another, hagglers are trying to get all our attention to dine in their restaurants and many tourists are wandering around town in bikinis… Long gone is the charm of Chinese, Indian and Malay cultures, which look like have been replaced by western clothing outlets, duty-free shops, filth and a lot of construction work… to build more resorts!
As for the beach itself, it is far from the “dream beach” that we had in mind. Cheap lounge chairs for hire and hagglers are everywhere. In the sea, there are also many jet-skies or banana boats. We didn’t even stop to rest there. We decided to walk further to find an access to a quieter part of the beach. After more that 1km, still no luck: hotels are blocking every other access. Just one day, and I already wonder whether or not we should go back sooner than expected…
In the end, we decided to head back to our hotel, take our rented car and go north in the Island, to Pantai Kok Langkawi beach. That was a good choice to turn away from Cenang Beach: no more jet-skis on the horizon. Just us, and a few Malaysian enjoying the warm water and this beautiful golden beach… surrounded by hundreds of crabs! They are so tiny and transparent that you can only see them when they move around. Don’t worry, they won’t bother you at all. It is more the other way around, as they quickly flee as soon as you get close to them!
Langkawi sky bridge
Accessibility : To enjoy the view on Langkawi island and its shores, going to mount “Gunung Machinchang” summit is a good shot as it reaches 708 meters. To go there you need to ride the sky cable which costs 55MYR for a non-malaysian adult. There is no official special price for disabled people but I took the express line without paying for it. Instead of climbing stairs, wheelchair users use a wheelchair lift to get to the skycable onboarding zone. Be careful when you get in the gondola as the cable car slows down but doesn’t stop. The sky cable stops at an intermediary station and at the summit but wheelchair users can’t stop at the middle station. From the top station there are two ways to access the skybridge : by stairs or by taking the skyglide which costs 15MYR per adult. Many non-disabled people take the skyglide instead of taking the stairs so you might need to wait for quite a long time. There is no priority for disabled people.
Mangroves and wildlife in Langkawi
Accessibility in Langkawi
- To get to Langkawi you will have to cross the strait of Malacca (or you can fly there!). Unfortunately the ferries are not wheelchair friendly. It is necessary to walk or agree to be carried. Once you get to Langkawi ferry terminal you will find accessible toilets. When you will buy your ferry ticket, ask for a disabled fare (oku) even if this fare is not mentioned at all: you will pay 10MYR instead of 15MYR (from Kuala Perlis).
- Transports: There are no public transports on the island. The easiest way to get around is to rent a car but unfortunately I didn’t see any adapted car. If you rent one don’t hesitate to bargain. To give a basic idea I can already tell you that we paid 50MYR per day for a small manual car.
- Sidewalks are sometimes in bad shape, the pathway can be obstructed and curb-cuts can be damaged. So it is necessary to roll on the road on some occasions.
If you would like to have more information about travelling in this country you can read about all our travel destinations in Malaysia and their wheelchair accessibility and discover our travel budget and itinerary.
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Fantastic post and great tips about beaches! I have linked to it on the Malaysia page of wheelchairworld.org so that other wheelchair using travellers can read your experiences. http://wheelchairworld.org
Thank you Susie!