Exploring Langkawi Pantai Cenang with Costa Victoria Cruise – Tax-Free Shopping and Beach Walking27 January, 2015
Our Costa Victoria cruise ship docked at Malaysia Pulau Langkawi port (beside Resorts World Langkawi) on Day 4 – cruise passengers can just alight at the dock without the need for tender boats so no need to make any special arrangements for the disembarkation (like queue early for tender boat tickets). Unlike Resorts World Sentosa with its Adventure Cove Waterpark and dining experiences, there wasn’t much to do at Resorts World Langkawi especially since you will be disembarking at the port at 7am in the morning and you need to be on the cruise ship by 1pm. There are a few options for you:
– Go on one of Costa Victoria’s shore excursions which brings you to various attractions on Pulau Langkawi on a guided tour (fees payable)
– Arrange your own tours with local tour companies (or hire a taxi for half a day to bring you and your family/friends around the island
– Buy a 8 USD return shuttle bus ticket (per person) from Costa Victoria which will bring you to and fro Pantai Cenang (where there is a beautiful Pantai Cenang beach, Underwater World and tax-free shopping centres)
Not quite knowing what to do on Langkawi and don’t want to spend the time doing nothing on the ship, we decided to buy the shuttle bus ticket. You can buy it from the Costa Victoria tour office the day before (the office closes at around 6pm+). I am not sure if they still sell it on the day of disembarkation itself (I assume they would have catered just the right amount of buses for the day).
We woke up to this sight of our cruise ship within the natural harbours of Pulau Langkawi. Disembarkation starts at 7am so we grabbed an early ala carte breakfast at Sinfoni Restaurant onboard Costa Victoria.
If you don’t have enough Malaysian ringgit currency, there is a makeshift money exchanger counter set up right beside the buses and the point where you disembark.
There were lots of buses waiting for us when we disembarked – we just have to show our shuttle bus ticket and we were given a sticker (to confirm that we were the bus ticket holders) and ushered up the buses. Once the bus was filled up, the bus would then depart for Pantai Cenang – the process was quite smooth and fast.
The buses would alight the passengers near the Underwater World Langkawi – one of the big attractions at Pulau Langkawi but as we arrived at around 7.30am, the Underwater World Langkawi was not open yet (opening hours daily: 10am to 6pm and for public and school holidays: 9.30am to 6.30pm). The whole Pantai Cenang area was also quite quiet except for a few tour touts offering their tour packages.
The picture below shows a map of the Pantai Cenang area – it takes its name from the long straight road called Jalan Pantai Cenang. The beautiful Pantai Cenang beach is the long sandy one by the sea – the place where the beach starts is actually very near the Underwater World Langkawi. The area is peppered with beach resorts – the more “notable” landmarks are the Macdonald’s, The Zon tax-free shopping centre (just beside Macdonald’s) and Cenang Mall (where KFC and Starbucks and other shops are located).
Since the tax-free shopping centres – The Zon and Coco Valley were not yet open (i think they open around 9am+), we went to the Pantai Cenang beach for a stroll along the beach (just a 5-minute walk from the Underwater World Langkawi). Although it was only 7am+, it was a very bright morning – thankfully Tingyi’s eyes were protected by Transitions Signature lenses which adapted to the bright sunlight quickly, turning her spectacles as dark as my sunglasses almost immediately!
Transitions had a Transitions Viewer which allowed you to find out how the world looks like through Transitions Signature lenses through the Transitions Viewer: http://www.transitions.com/en-sg/virtual-viewer/
Now they even have decals for you to paste on your clear spectacles so you can experience Transitions Signature lenses’ adaptive lens technology. You can get a free pair of Transitions Trial Decals here: http://bit.ly/1sBlowY.
There were sea sports activities being offered by a few touts on the beach – they were not as pushy as the ones in Phuket and they leave you alone most of the time so overall it was quite a pleasant experience strolling on the beach but we did notice something peculiar – thousands of small sand piles all across the beach…
… these were actually burrows dug out by very small beach crabs – known as sand bubbler crabs (each about 1cm) which look for food among the damp sand during low tide and in the process create these small sand pellets around their burrows (which they hide during high tide).
After a short walk along Pantai Cenang beach, we decided to walk back to town to get our most basic necessities – no, not food but Wi-Fi! Wi-Fi onboard Costa Victoria was very expensive (about 8 USD per hour as the cheapest rate) so once we are on shore, it was time to catch up on some emails, Facebook updates. You can get free Wi-Fi from MacDonald’s but we found that the Wi-Fi connection was not very stable – perhaps because many others from the cruise ship had the same idea as us (while waiting for the tax-free shopping centres to open).
A better option was to go to Cenang Mall – quite some distance away from Underwater World Langkawi (see map above) but well worth it as you can find KFC and Starbucks there as well as a MacDonald’s too.
You will need to purchase something at Starbucks to get a password for the free Wi-Fi in the cafe – the password is printed on the receipt and is unique to one device. So for more devices to connect, I suggest you split up your purchases so you get a few receipts so different devices can connect to the Wi-Fi. Starbucks dessert cakes and coffee is also a lot cheaper here in Malaysia than in Singapore 🙂 so it was time to catch up with some of my cravings here too.
After some time of surfing, we decided to walk around to see what’s available around town. Do note that if you want to try local food at some of the smaller kopitiams, you should go early as they close quite early for breakfast (they close typically around 9am+). For other shops selling clothes and other knick-knacks, they open typically after 10am.
The Zon tax-free shopping centre – you can find almost anything here – chocolates, watches, baby clothes, alcohol (do note that there are restrictions on how much you can bring into Singapore tax-free). Not sure if it is really cheaper because of the tax-free or just because we are shopping in Malaysia but it doesn’t happen – as long as it is cheaper, it is great. We also stocked up on some water and snacks to bring onboard.
The Zon is located side by side with Coco Valley (both connected internally so you can walk in between both shopping centres easily but you can only buy Coco Valley stuff at Coco Valley side – same with The Zon). Coco Valley is also connected to the Underwater World Langkawi exit so visitors to the Underworld World will exit at Coco Valley. Coco Valley’s entrance is also where all the buses that ferries passengers back to the cruise ship, will be parked. That’s it for our quick walk around Pantai Cenang on Langkawi – not quite the full Langkawi experience but for a quick getaway from the cruise ship, I think it was quite ok. One more tip, if you are travelling with a large group of friends or family, you might want to consider getting your own taxi to and fro Pantai Cenang (it will cost perhaps RM 20 to RM 30+ for a 4-person taxi one-way). There are plenty of taxis at the Langkawi port as well as taxis at the Macdonald’s area. This might be cheaper than paying USD 8 per person for this round trip to Pantai Cenang.