There are many tour companies in Langkawi – you really need to do your research to make sure you get a good one. I suppose it’s the same in other locations too. Anyway – I have been on good and bad tours in Langkawi – so I did a bit of research this round (in advance) and I shortlisted a few companies for the Mangrove Tour specifically. One of them had a special arrangement with the hotel we were staying at – so I thought it would be very convenient to book them via the hotel. So that’s the one we decided on in the end – Dev’s Adventure Tours.
Dev’s Tours offer several tours – we booked the Mangrove Tour by boat – best option when you are travelling with young kids. They also have Mangrove Kayak Tours, Jungle Trekking etc.
What To Expect
Dev’s Tour picked us up from the hotel in a minivan. They were very punctual and professional – very happy with that. We were brought to the entry point to the Kilim Geoforest Park. There we waited for a bit for the remaining folks who will be joining the tour coming from the other side of the island.
The boat tour starts in the morning, it’s about 4-5 hours excluding transfers and ends with lunch which is included in the price.
You’ll be in the boat in the mangrove swamp for most part – so comfortable clothing is best – T-shirt and pants. There is no hiking and all, so sandals will be fine.
There is a short stop at the beautiful Tanjung Aru beach so if you want a quick dip you may want to wear your swimming suit under your shirt. We packed for the little ones, only. We didn’t bother bringing our own suits because it was a quick stop anyway. Thought it was better to drive back to the beach at a different time for a longer stay – picnic and all. But if you want a quick dip – the beach and the water is gorgeous.
You may want to bring sunblock if you burn easily especially. The sun was not that strong on the day we went, so it wasn’t bad. Plus maybe because we were in the swamp area for most of the time. It was a bit hot at the beach which was around 1pm by then.
There are a few shops before the jetty, you can get some snacks in case you haven’t had breakfast. Suggest not to take food along with you on the boat, there will be monkeys (a lot of them), you don’t want them to target your boat, if you know what I mean.
There is a toilet facility at the entry point – I didn’t check it out. But if you need to go, best to do it before you start the boat ride.
What You Will See & Do
Dev’s tour provide a ‘naturalist’ with the tour – who will explain to you what you will see – the plants, wildlife and the functions of the mangrove etc. I found this to be quite good because like I said I have been on other tours where they just bring you around the different stops and you just go ‘click click click’ – and that’s about it. Also Dev’s is one of the few companies that offer ‘responsible’ tours – basically they are committed to help preserve the natural environment. For example, one of the things that they will do is take you to the island called Pulau Singa Besar where you will see eagles flying and perched on tree branches. A number of the tour guides in Langkawi will feed these eagles with chicken skin to get them to fly about for the tourists – but Dev’s Tours is committed not to engage in this kind of ‘show’ as it disrupts the eagles’ natural diet and has an impact on the quality of their eggs.
'Hang' out with the bats at Gua Kelawar (Bat Cave)
Just a few minutes from the jetty – we arrived at our first stop – the Bat Cave. We went into the cave quietly – easy walking path (you must be able to walk – no wheelchairs/strollers ie. not disabled friendly). You can carry your little one if needed – its very safe and quite comfortable. I have been to the kind of cave where you have to hold on to a rope as you walk through the cave, and crawl at some point – remembered there was a snake eating a bat on top of my head at that time. Well this is nothing like that. You just walkthrough a raised platform/passage through the cave. You can see the bats ‘sleeping’ on the cave’s ceiling.
Cruise around the mangrove trees
As we slowly cruised through the swamp, our guide briefed us on the function of the swamp ie. how it filters things from the land before they flow into the sea, why the mangrove trees roots are above ground, the impact human activities are having on the water – those kind of things. I found it quite educational, and at least you appreciate more what you see. Although I must say that the kids were more interested in looking out for monkeys and crabs.
Check out the wildlife
Feast your eyes on the 'Mighty Eagles'
Next, we stopped for a bit near Pulau Singa Besar, an island sanctuary for birds (especially the eagles) and other wildlife. You will not get off the boat here but you will be close enough to admire the birds flying around in the sky etc.
Take a dip in the clear waters of Tanjung Rhu
Next stop – Tanjung Aru beach.
Tanjung Rhu Resort was on my list but I settled on the Danna on this trip. On the map, Tanjung Rhu seems to be too far compared to other locations. But when we got there, I just fell in love with the beach. So clean and there weren’t that many people. We just strolled along the beach this time but we came back the next day for a nice swim. It was super hot though – splashed a lot of sunblock on us and the kids. You can get refreshments nearby and there are shops selling souvenirs and sun hats. Mentioned sun hats – because I bought them – desperately needed them.
Get close to the international waters looking out to Thailand
Just for the fun of it – the boat will take you close to the international waters – you can see Thailand in the distance. In fact – if you look at your phone, you will probably see Thailand mobile network rather than Malaysia’s.
Have lunch at the floating restaurant
Lunch is included in the tour fee. You get rice, a choice of spicy tom yum soup or non-spicy soup, and chicken or prawns. They also have a vegetarian option if I’m not mistaken. Of course you can buy other stuff from the menu if you want. I thought the tom yum was ok – didn’t fancy the non-spicy plain soup so much. Lunch was alright – don’t expect anything fancy.
After lunch, you can have a quick look at the fish in the farm. It’s a small setup. They have a few ‘pet’ stingrays that you can pet also.
Nice Day Out
I have always loved Langkawi. It’s beautiful, quiet, and if you love nature – this is the place. If you want to do a Mangrove Swamp tour, I would recommend Dev’s Adventure Tour. If you have small kids, the boat ride is probably best; with older kids or adults – you can also try the Kayaking or jungle trekking option to experience the area.