Until the 1950's, Kuah was nothing more than a collection of kampung houses, not much different from other kampungs in Langkawi. Since then, it has seen rapid growth, particularly from the early 1980's, with new buildings and commercial shophouses being built.
By year 2000, the population of the mukim of Kuah has reached 26,000, making it the most populous mukim in Langkawi, followed by Ulu Melaka. Most of the commercial businesses are run by Chinese traders who moved there from Kedah mainland and Penang. There aren't any big shopping malls in town of the same calibre as those in Alor Setar or Penang. One of the big ones is Langkawi Fair Shopping Mall.
There are only a few main roads in Kuah. Persiaran Putera is the coastal road. Most of the government departments are located along this road or within its vicinity, including Langkawi Anti-Corruption Unit (Badan Pencegah Rasuah Langkawi), Langkawi Development Authority (Kompleks Lada), Cooperative Development Department (Jabatan Pembangunan Koperasi), Langkawi Lower Syariah Court (Mahkamah Rendah Syariah Langkawi), Langkawi District Education Office (Pejabat Pelajaran Daerah Langkawi), Langkawi Public Library (Perpustakaan Awam Langkawi), Langkawi Traffic Branch Police Station (Balai Polis Cawangan Trafik Langkawi), and Langkawi Fire & Rescue Unit (Balai Bomba & Penyelamat Langkawi).
Many of the tourist sights of Kuah is also located within sight of Persiaran Putra. This includes Eagle Square (Dataran Lang) and Lagenda Park, two of the biggest sights in town.
Persiaran Putra starts from the Kuah Jetty, and proceeds westwards where it becomes Jalan Padang Matsirat after the junction with Jalan Air Hangat. Jalan Air Hangat is the other main road in Kuah, as well as Langkawi. It goes north to Air Hangat on the northern coast. Three roads linked Persiaran Putra are simply called Lencongan Putra 1, 2 and 3, a reflection of the haste in which Kuah was developed.
Kuah town does not have a very long documented history. Until the mid 20th century, it was still nothing more than a collection of kampung houses. Most of the commercial buildings in Kuah date from the late 1970's. Its proximity to Kuala Kedah was the main reason that Kuah was chosen to be the main town of Langkawi. There are other villages on the island such as Padang Mat Sirat and Ulu Melaka that are probably had a longer human settlement.
A quarrel erupted during the wedding, when the groom farted twice, producing the two islands Pulau Kentut Kecil and Pulau Kentut Besar. The groom claimed that he suffered the indignity because of the half-cooked rice served by the bride's family. This caused a fight to break out, and in the turmoil, gravy was spilled at Kuah, hot water splashed at Air Hangat, and crockeries broken at Belanga Pecah. The wedding ring was tossed off at Tanjung Cincin. Eventually the fight was broken off with the intervention of a mutual friend, Mat Sawar, who is represented in the geography of the island by the hillock, Bukit Sawar, standing between the two mountains.
Most people arrive in Kuah by ferry from Kuala Kedah, Kuala Perlis and Penang. The telephone number of the Langkawi ticket counter at Kuah Jetty are 04 966 1125 and 04 966 1126. There are ferry services from 7:00 am in the morning to 7:00 pm in the evening. Check with the ticket counter on the schedule.
From Kuala Kedah
The trip takes approximately 1 hour 45 minutes. The fare is RM23 one way and RM46 return. Kuala Kedah Ticket Counter: 04 762 6295, 04 762 6296
From Kuala Perlis
The trip takes approximately 1 hour 15 minutes. The fare is RM18 one way and RM36 return. Kuala Perlis Ticket Counter: 04 985 1899, 04 985 2539 and 04 985 2690
There are two ferry services with Penang daily. The one from Penang leaves at 8:15 am (stopover at Pulau Payar) and 8:30 am (direct). The return trip from Kuah leaves at 2:30 pm (stopover at Pulau Payar) and 5:15 pm (direct). The trips take 2 hours 45 minutes direct, and the fare is RM60 one way and RM115 return. Penang Ticket Counter: 04 264 2088
There are 4 daily ferry trips between Kuah and Satun in Thailand. The trips take approximately 1 hour 15 minutes, and the fare is RM30 / Baht 300 one way and RM60 / Baht 600 return. Satun Ticket Counter: +66 74 725 294
Arriving by Flight
If you are arriving at the Langkawi International Airport, you can easily catch a taxi to Kuah town. The fare is around RM15, not too bad considering you are going right across the island.