Langkawi is an archipelago of 104 islands in the Andaman Sea, located in the state of Kedah, 30km off the mainland coast of northwestern Malaysia near the Thai border. For years, Langkawi has developed a reputation of being more liberal and relaxed than mainland Malaysia, thanks largely to its status as a duty-free haven…a win for tourism in Malaysia!
We visited Malaysia for 2 weeks, trying out the different hotels and bars on the island, which we summarise in this detailed gay guide to the island. Whilst the island maintains a more relaxed approach compared to mainlanders, this is still very much part of an extremely conservative country, with all the anti-gay sentiments that compliment it. We explore this in more detail below, but our big takeaway tip for LGBTQ travellers to gay Langkawi is that you will have an awesome time here, but we recommend avoiding any PDAs to be on the safe side.
Is Gay Langkawi Safe?
On the one side, it’s easy to dismiss Langkawi as a dangerous place you shouldn’t set foot on – it is after all part of a country that criminalises homosexuality and had a local newspaper publishing a ridiculous article about how to “spot” gay people! (In case you’re wondering, if you’ve got a beard, abs and wear branded clothes, then you’re bound for gay jail!)
Yet on the other side, Langkawi is well known for not only being more relaxed than mainland Malaysia, but thanks to tourism, the island is very international. There are many people from all around the world living/working in Langkawi, a large proportion of who are members of the LGBTQ community. Islanders are therefore used to seeing people from all walks of life.