During my September term break (which is a misnomer because I still had to report to work every day, it was just that I didn’t have to teach), I decided on a lark that we should go on a holiday.
Work had gotten in the way and I was so completely and utterly drained that I realised I needed a break. Plus, the haze was so, so awful, we were dying to see clear blue skies and breathe in clean air.
I’m really a beach girl at heart and I decided that I wanted to be by the sea. There’s just something soothing about the crashing sea waves and the glow of stars in the night sky. Being at the beach makes me feel at peace and contented. The husband thought it would be fun for us to check out a new beach in the region which was child-friendly and so Langkawi it was.
We opted to fly via AirAsia as the timings were suitable for our needs – we would arrive in Langkawi at about noon and be back in Singapore in the late afternoon. The flight duration was just nice, about an hour and a half. With Zac flying with us, we were wary of taking a long haul flight. This boy CANNOT sit still so a trip to somewhere that’s a skip and a hop away from Singapore was perfect.
Once we reached the airport, we took a taxi to the hotel. The 30-minute trip cost us about RM20.
I settled on Meritus Pelangi (in the Pantai Cenang area): The reviews were good, it was right at the edge of the beach and it was centrally located. Plus, the virtual reviewers raved about its child-friendly facilities and staff, which swayed me.
The interesting thing about the resort was that it was built in a kampung style. The accommodation is two-storey thatched cottages with timber stairs that creaked and groaned when you climbed them, with each cottage housing four rooms.
Seeing that the four of us would be piling into a room, I booked the slightly larger Pool Terrace room. It was done up in a rustic way, think timber floorboards and high ceilings. There was a lovely large balcony attached to it, which was great for the boys! When husband and I needed to decompress, they would entertain themselves by running in and out of the balcony.
However, the room was also a little dated and run down. The air-conditioning was pretty wonky in our room – the distribution of the cool air was uneven. Zac and the husband were freezing at their end of the bed while I was sweating on the other end. And it’s not like our bed was the size of an Olympic swimming pool.
But it was not all bad. The room was conveniently located next to one of the two swimming pools of the hotel, which delighted Aidan because it meant that he could swim as often as he wanted. The pool was large and had an accompanying bar. While it could get crowded, we never felt claustrophobic. The downside was that we were located far away from the lobby and dining halls. Every time we needed to go out or grab a meal, we had to call for the buggy which could take a while.
The hotel was also located right in front of the beach. Oh, the beach. Unfortunately, having two littles in tow meant that I couldn’t chill in a deck chair and read the day away – something I would have done back in the day! I loved that the beach was relatively quiet and free from touts (something we experienced quite a bit in Thailand and Bali).
The greatest minus? It was pretty pricey! We paid almost S$300 per night and it DID NOT include breakfast. Having said that, I know that Meritus Pelangi isn’t the most expensive option there and we did appreciate its accessible location in Cenang beach so you get what you pay for.
This would have to be one of the resort’s strongest suit. It was like heaven for the kids!
There are two pools on the grounds, one that’s specifically targeted at kids. We did not utilise this pool because it was far from our room, plus, the other pool was right at our door step.
There is also a spacious air-conditioned Kids Club within the resort. The boys had so much fun running amok! It was also empty during the times that we were there so they literally had the room to themselves. The only thing that marred my experience there: we found a dead cockroach lying belly-up near the plastic benches. Urghs. It was quickly disposed of by a disinterested staff sitting outside the room.
We also loved that the beach was just steps away from our room. The sand was clean and I had no qualms letting the littles walk barefoot. There were deck chairs and umbrellas thoughtfully placed for beach goers to relax by the water too. Mostly, though, they were happy to play with the sand with the beach toys that we had brought along.
We rented a car in the second half of our trip and the husband drove us around the island. We got to explore the other beaches and, wow, Datai Beach took my breath away. Soft powdery sand, beautiful view and so few people. The only downside was that the haze descended upon us that day and we could not stay outdoors for too long, sobs.
So do rent a car! It was quite the adventure.
Another highlight of the trip was the cable car ride. Located about 30 minutes away from the hotel, it rose high up above the cliffs and offered us such an expansive view of the area. Truly beautiful. Remember to pack along your sunglasses and hat as the sun could be brutal! It can get crowded too and the queues can be mad so best to go during off-peak hours.
We were pretty conservative and ate in-house most of the time. For one, the weather was scorching and I wilted at the thought of walking out with the boys. Also, I had to get food that was suitable for my little fatty baby and the Chinese zi char available was definitely not what I had in mind.
We did venture out to buy dinner from Orchid Ria one night and it was okay. When we got the car, we finally drove out to grab some nosh. Sadly, most of it was forgettable.
EXCEPT. On our last night, we went to a Japanese restaurant, Unkaizan, and it was really good. Easily the best meal we had. The staff was helpful and friendly to us and the boys, and the food was delicious. We ordered a grilled salmon for the kids to share and I had a unami kamameshi. Can’t remembered what the husband had but we easily polished off everything. It’s not cheap though but definitely worth the money.
The food within the resort was actually not bad and we dined at CBA, the beachside restaurant, quite a bit. The wait staff can be frustratingly slow and clueless at times so patience is truly required. For instance, we were sitting at our table, waiting for the menu to be given to us. It never came, I had to grab it myself at the bar counter.
We had breakfast at the hotel’s Spice Market Restaurant for three of the mornings. The buffet spread had a good spread and we loved their local offerings like nasi lemak, kway teow soup and teh tarik. But the annoying thing was that when I made payment, I was not informed of a 35% discount for Standard Chartered credit card holders. I found out about it too late, and could only utilise it for our last breakfast there.
Taxis are plentiful and they are not expensive at all. A trip to the town centre cost us between RM10 and RM20. Check on the price before you board the taxi.
On our second last day, the husband got so bored of doing nothing that he rented a car with two (dodgy) car seats. When the car arrived, our jaws dropped. It looked nothing like what we had seen on the website!
Thankfully, it performed its job well. We traversed the island in the car and the boys fell asleep in the car seats. It was pretty easy to navigate the roads in Langkawi and the drivers were orderly. As part of the deal, we returned the car at the airport on our way home. All in all, a very fuss-free transaction.
Overall, we had plenty of fun. The husband, who is not a beach-lover like I am, was a little bored (hence the car rental) but for a self-contained, fun holiday with the kids, Langkawi gets my vote.