The best thing about working in Southeast Asia is the ease of traveling to exotic and beautiful locations in the region. Flights are cheap on Air Asia, Tiger Air, and other discount airlines and in a couple of hours you can escape the bustle and crowding of big cities like Singapore, Manila, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok and transport yourself to a picturesque tropical beach where hotels are cheap, drinks have umbrellas in them, and the point of life seems, for me at least, to be quite obvious.
An excellent place for a quick weekend getaway is Langkawi, Malaysia. A quick hour from KL and other regional cities, Langkawi has several advantages for the single dude traveler.
First, it’s beautiful, with around a hundred islands (depending on ocean levels) and you can chose between fun party locations and more remote secluded places. Generally I prefer to party and that the greatest thing about Langkawi compared to the other hundreds of beautiful pristine Southeast Asian beaches is the ease of access to the main beach Pantai Cenang. It’s a ten minute taxi ride from the airport so you can literally be on the main beach within half an hour of landing. There’s all the usual water sports available, as well as a famous cable car for excellent views.
Also, Langkawi is cheap. When I took my favorite Bulgarian girlfriend to Langkawi last year we had a hotel room with a balcony facing the main party beach for less than US $30. It wasn’t the Ritz, but it was clean and with air conditioning and was a comfortable and private place to pass out or have sex, which is all I really need in a hotel room. Who needs fancy overpriced hotels if you have a beautiful beach and someone you really like to enjoy it with?
The other critical advantage of Langkawi is it’s a duty free zone. That means, say goodbye to the grossly overpriced drinks of Singapore or Kuala Lumpur and say hello to dollar beers and liquor so cheap you can get as drunk as you want without having to consult your stockbroker first before you order. You can theoretically only bring back a bottle or two with you to KL duty free, but people fill their whole suitcases with booze and the lazy Malaysian airport staff is completely uninterested when you put it though the X-Ray when you leave. If you want to have a party in KL, you will save money with a cheap ticket to Langkawi for a combination beach vacation and liquor run.
Now the only time I went, I brought a girl with me, but the impression I had was that it would also be a good location for the Single Dude Traveler. The beach was littered with tourist girls in bikinis and for some reason it seemed like the majority were Swedish and Finnish. It may be a seasonal thing, so maybe different times of year you might get travelers from somewhere else, but it was certainly a good place for blond chicks when I was there. it was actually a little confusing looking for my hot blond girlfriend on the beach when there were blond girls in bikinis everywhere. I know, tough, right?
One night we were out partying until last call and upon getting back to out hotel we felt like looking for more party (she and I really are bad influence on each other that way) and so we headed down to the beach at 4 AM, where a large group had gathered around a bonfire that had been built on the beach, where people were throwing palm fronds on the fire and then taking turns jumping over the flames. There we met these three Yemeni guys who to this day are some of my favorite party friends in Asia. They had just been in Zouk in KL a couple of days before, where they met 3 Swedish girls and at last call had decided to take the after party straight to Langkawi, where they partied for 3 straight days more. That’s what I call having a real committment to party.
The only drawback in Langkawi are the pests. There are little unseen things that fly through the air, crawl through the sand, and swim in the water, and all of them like to bite and leave little itchy bumps on tasty gringos like me. The locals rub sand on themselves as a remedy, and that definitely seems to help at least for the invisible waterborne pest bites. At any rate, bring some bug spray and also look out for jellyfish if you’re out in the water.
Restaurant recommendation: The Red Tomato Cafe is my go-to breakfast place and coffee shop and has delicious everything. It’s great for those lazy hungover Langkawi afternoons. At night, walk down the beach at night and you’ll find plenty of nightlife, although since it’s a slightly hippie island so it’s better if you like to chill out instead of really party, although up the island a bit are the requisite boom-boom clubs.
All in all, Langkawi is Single Dude recommended. It’s easy to get to, cheap, there isn’t too much prostitution or a ladyboy infestation like in Boracay, and at least sometimes there’s a plethora of blond girls in bikinis. Enjoy and go ahead and jump over that bonfire for me.