The main question I am often asked is if Langkawi is a party island or not.
I understand very well why people ask this. With its predominance of Malay Muslims and a constant reputation as a buttoned-up country, it’s obvious that pairing “Malaysia” and “partying” seems like an oxymoron.
But you’d be surprised as there are quite a number of cool bars in Langkawi.
If you didn’t know already, one of the reasons why Langkawi is such a popular destination [and was the first port of call for Malaysia’s reopening after Covid-19 closures] is because of its duty-free status — meaning that alcohol here is the cheapest in Malaysia.
Forget the prices of bars in Penang: in Langkawi, you can have a bucket for RM50 — which these days are a mere 10 American dollars, and that’s almost half the price of most booze in Penang.
From some of Langkawi’s best beaches, kayaking among mangroves to the popular Langkawi sunset cruises, Kedah’s holiday island has plenty to do during the day — follow our 3 days in Langkawi itinerary to know all the scores — but when the sun goes down, these are the bars you should hang out while in Langkawi.
Best Langkawi Bars in Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah
This is the longest-running, most established bar on the island. It sits on the upper end of Pantai Tengah, its iconic signboard and thatched roof unmissable.
Think the perfect mix of an American bar with games of darts and a spacious pub with wooden tables and stools that spill to a cosy alfresco area that extends kerbside. Besides a selection of beers, there are plenty of cocktails to choose from, albeit prices for these are not that discounted.
Nights go late here — Wednesdays have trivia night and Sundays are fun karaoke nights where you get to pick what you want to sing.
2The Sunset Deck @ Bon Ton Resort
One of the best hotels in Langkawi of course must also have a special place to drink. Set above a stunning countryside setting where a lagoon nestles into paddy fields, this wooden pavilion is an amazing choice to kick off your night with a sundowner and superb views of a burning planet disappearing into the sea.
On Sunday nights, the deck turns into a music stage with the performances of resident or visiting musicians from Kuala Lumpur and beyond.
Not enough poetry? Well, try to stay at Bon Ton resort then.
No Southeast Asian island should come short of a reggae-themed bar, and One Love is Langkawi’s own. Set in Pantai Tengah, this hole-in-the-wall club opens every night, honours Ladies Night on Wednesdays, and gets packed with beats and revellers who dance at the rhythms of a motley crew of local DJs. Reggae, Dub, R&B, and hip hop is all game here, as long as the music will hijack your night away from your control. Intoxicate responsibly, please.
4 Kalut Beach Bar and Cafe
The pandemic has changed the face of Pantai Cenang, literally harvesting a lot of the many beach bars that lined its large beachfront. But the ever-popular Kalut Beach Bar and Cafe has survived and is back in full swing. Colorful beanbags spill on the sand, with an extra offering of seats and high stools sheltered under a chic and cool wooden bungalow.
Kalut is a charming place for sunset cocktails and watching the sea, and hosts the occasional fire show after darkness has taken hold of Cenang beach.
5Sunba Retro Bar
Hidden behind a characteristic wall of bamboo, this loud, thumping Pantai Tengah bar is one of Langkawi’s oldest and most popular. It has beers on tap and mean cocktails, pool tables and a stage for the occasional live band to rock the night.
6Ah Chong Bar
No frills, friendly and loved by locals and Langkawi ex-pats alike, Ah Chong’s charming and rustic wooden tables and beachfront setting are the perfect backdrop to rest your beer can and chill. Don’t forget the cocktails, voted among the most face-smashing island-wide by a slew of long-term residents.
The mix of driftwood planks, potted plants, sand and exposed bricks is just the perfect place to while away one or several nights on Pantai Cenang without the tourist hordes.
The restaurant of La Pari-Pari boutique hotel serves some delectable Nyonya and fusion food, and even if it’s not a bar per see, after dining hours it also turns into a sociable, chic and especially offbeat drinking den. You won’t be allowed to swim if you are not a guest, but the poolside makes for a great spot to chill and wine.
Not only it is hidden in a very quiet location that’s still within walking distance to most other bars and restaurants in Pantai Tengah. The highlight here is getting to chat with the owner and book author Karina Robles Bahrin, who won Singapore’s Epigram Book Prize in 2022 with her explosive novel “The Accidental Malay”.
Best Langkawi Bars in Kuah Town
Self-proclaimed as the “best draught in town”, this upmarket beer den and restaurant in Kuah Town is completely far removed from any tourist action and mostly attracts a clientèle of local Chinese. Their 2-litre beer bags to go are a great idea to bring the party home or to your Langkawi hotel room. There are cocktails on offer and Asian-Western fusion dishes, too.
Kuah has another premium drinking club that came hot on the heels of Penang’s speakeasy trend and touts itself as a “whiskey bar”. That’s what you’ll get in spades, not forgetting all the other concoctions and shades of alcohol. The place is tiny and filled with bottles, so finding a spot may not always be too easy, but it’s great for a night out drinking from a team of expert mixologists.
They often organize theme nights, often fly in estimated international bartenders for guest shifts and have a menu of dishes and desserts — thumbs up to their Baileys-infused Tiramisu.