The Langkawi Lie - Malaysia Treats Tourists With Contempt!

Malaysia is at it again. Another day, another cover-up, another threat, another round of bullying and intimidation. While they are not alone in the region, Malaysia takes the moral high ground in many areas and purports to be a fair player in South-East Asian affairs. Well, something so simple as a truthful, open and honest finding in the death of Swedish woman Carin Lofgren, killed by what her husband described as a classic case of Box Jellyfish envenomation, was obviously too difficult. Why?

Read this article in Phuketwan, read the quotes from the poor husband who witnessed the horrific death of his wife, read the comment from the paramedics and shake your head in sheer disbelief seeing a post mortum conducted by Malaysian authorities concluded cause of death as drowning! Not how. Why?

Further Reading:

This outrageous, offensive, disrespectful and completely false finding is clearly designed on the premise that ignorance is bliss so as to not draw attention to Langkawi's Box Jellyfish problem and scare away tourists. Around 2.5 million tourists visit Langkawi each year.

The Phuketwan article states that the Swedish Embassy in KL confirmed the circumstances of the death prior to the official finding being made public BUT when asked after the finding they changed their mind and could only confirm that a Swedish citizen had died. Why?

"Free" tourism-focused media on Langkawi and a major resort on the island taking the initiative and looking to warn guests of the potential danger were forced through hateful, threatening means to keep quiet while any comments looking to criticize the finding were not published through fear of recrimination.
So how many have actually been killed by Box Jellyfish on Langkawi? The official figure since the mid-90s is 3 tourists. Odd how no locals ever seem to get killed. If the Malaysian authorities go so far as whitewashing this clear-cut case then it's a reasonable guess that there have been more unaccounted for - not to mention stings that have caused near-fatal injury.

Langkawi appears to be textbook Box Jellyfish habitat with murky water, sandy bottom beaches and mangroves.

Further Reading:

If considering a holiday in Langkawi, perhaps abandon the idea and go somewhere else like Thailand. Why? There, at least, officials have learnt from similar mistakes and are now taking positive, active steps to ensure the safety of their citizens and the visitors who contribute massive amounts of money to the local economy. 

Don't feed the lie. That's why!


  1. Hi,

    This is really scary! We were on that very beach two weeks after the Swedish woman was killed. My kids got stung too, like bee stings, but nothing this serious. We should have read your web page before we left. We could have died.

    I wrote a bit about our experiences here:

  2. Hello, did you read the full article? It says that the lady in question went for a LATE-NIGHT SWIM !!!! Do you think that ANY sea is safe LATE AT NIGHT??? The sea is another world with its own predators and preys. Most creatures come out at night. In the sea one is MOST EXPOSED (I wouldn't be surprised if she was naked!). Don't blame the place if you don't take NORMAL precautions!

  3. Tourists do die in all sorts of situations and locations. Boycotting an entire island is not the answer. Best if the local govt prepares some emergency response if ever such an incident arise again.

  4. The problem is not about precautions or carelessness by the tourist but the dishonest lie all in the name of tourism dollars. This we must be against at all time less the nation fall further.

  5. @JSTOM98

    It is sad to see a man of your age react so callously towards this couple's tragedy.

    The fact is, in many parts of the world, a late-night swim by a well-lit beach is harmless as long as one doesn't get carried away by the tide. There should have been signs to warn tourists of jellyfish considering that this is not the first incident (yes you should read the article carefully yourself).

    In most parts of the world, governments and bureaucrats DO USE SIGNS ABOUT MATTERS that might seem common sense to locals. Not only has that not happened in this case, but it would appear that local authorities have actively been in DENIAL over the cause of death. That is, if we're accepting that the allegation is true.

    But you're not asserting that the authorities have acted in good faith. No, you're saying that the foreign couple should have known better. You're blaming the victim while saying SHITALL about local government responsibility.

    That you should suggest the deceased MIGHT have been swimming in the nude reveals a disrespectful sexual lechery towards women and an ultra-nationalistic contempt for foreigners who might have a legitimate complaint against us.

  6. @JSTOM98
    So what if she was naked and went for a swim in the middle of the night, what is that to you? As tourists, we should be able to do what we please as long as we don't disturb the peace of the place.
    For the government to not report the truth smacks of denial and lack of good governance. Shame shame!!! How do you expect to bring the tourists with this type of mentality.

  7. The comments here are very welcome and provide space to amongst other things question the approach of the Malaysian government on this issue.
    The issue of being naked in the water was perhaps meant to refer to a lack of clothing exposing more vulnerable skin to the likes of a Box Jellyfish. This is true. Skinny dipping is of course OK but the point with all of this is to be aware of the risks. One of the risks at Langkawi is deadly Box Jellyfish. Covering up particularly with a lycra suit provides excellent protection - this animal is not nocturnal and can sting at any time. A lycra suit like a condom is considered by many as unromantic and a spoiler of fun but in many conditions it is absolutely necessary.
    The local authorities are sweeping this under the carpet. Do we have to wait for another death before action is taken? I hope that next death is not a relative or friend of anyone who has commented here. The authorities need to take note now - this behaviour in a civilized world is unacceptable.
    This is indeed a problem for the authorities and they must take responsibility.
    Some members of the science community in Malaysia are on the move as they too seek the truth. Hopefully in the next few days there could well be some further developments in this Langkawi matter.
    Thanks for your interest!

  8. JSTom98's misplaced patriotism is characteristic of the main problem facing Malaysia at this juncture: the nation seems to be evenly divided between those who have attained sufficient mental and moral maturity to value integrity and justice as essential cultural traits - and those whose egos are so insecure and whose minds so immature they find themselves constantly DENYING there's anything wrong with how the country is being (mis)managed by a bunch of arrogant and greedy crooks. Face-saving is all important to these miscreants and they would rather pay millions to some Jewish PR agency to whitewash and cover up their crimes than actually do anything to rectify the wrongs.

    1. Blog Boxie, I understand you are reviewing all replies before posting them and we all appreciate this very informative blog. I personally would appreciate even more without the racial or ignorant undertones that you would think do not have a place in the 21st century. Some of the comments about the Chinese guide or the front desk personelle or the Jewish PR firm have no place in intelligent discussions and should be omitted. Please try to scan the replies as to give a lot more credibility to this informative blog. Thanks and best regards

  9. Maybe JSTom98 will have a differing if it was his wife, or daughter.
    The point is not whether the lady was swimming naked at night or not. The point is the authorities here are trying to 'cover-up' for obvious commercial reason.
    Remember the show 'Jaws'? The Mayor was in denial and people got eaten up by the sharks.

  10. just came back from langkawi, got stung by a jelly fish and was treated at the local hospital. i was extensively stung at my back and was seen urgently by a doctor. there were no signs at the beach of the resort, for very obvious reasons...the bitch at the reception suggested that i should just rub some lime on my back....

  11. Feel free to name the resort and its location to warn others seeing the resort and the local hotels/tourism association are not willing to do so.
    Also there are gazillions of jellyfish in the sea with only a small proportion being deadly box jellyfish. Many have painful stings and won't kill you though rubbing lime won't help - could kill you if it was a boxie!
    Hospitality and tourism staff NEED to be informed of jellyfish first aid.
    The problem is only going to get worse!

  12. I lived and had a business in Langkawi,the business involved boating.You can take it from me that their are many many jelly-fish around the islands
    always high season oct until end of march.Langkawi has the habit of hiding the truth
    about the coastal waters they always advertise them as Crystal clear (I have never seen clear water around Langkawi)I would never swim or let my family swim in such waters.They also never mention the abundance of dangerous snakes.I feel very sorry for the family.

  13. I agree we went on a boating trip they had a net you could sit in ( in the water )when they were sailing we saw jellyfish all the time.We will never visit the island again.They must warn tourist about this danger.We don't like swimming pools.

  14. Dear all,
    Only know I have seen the comments and this discussion.
    I was also in Langkawi in the beginning of February 2010 and my wife nearly died. She was attacked during the day by a jellyfish, and no we were not naked (if it is so important), and yes we did asked the guides and the Hotel Staff at Westin, if there was anything we should be aware off.
    The Idiot Chinese Guide said "Animals in Malaysia are your friends, there is nothing that can harm you, and you don't need your cell phone". That is the most Idiot Guide I have ever seen, hiding is bad, but lying is … (no comments)
    This type of behavior is discussing.
    The Malayan Government shows a complete lack of respect for tourists, and you can bet they will never again find me, or anyone I know in their country, ever again.
    My wife still carries the marks from the attack, and I was completely helpless without being able to HELP her. She is still afraid of going in to the Sea; even in Portugal Where we live.
    Mr. Lofgren I'm so sorry for your loss, and it's discussing that someone even thinks of making comments if heather they were naked, in a time like this.
    That is lack of character, manners, and is similar to the Malayan behavior.

  15. Thanks Anonymous from Portugal. Sorry to read of your holiday and particularly your wife's sting. If anyone anywhere says 'animals are your friends...nothing can harm you...' then obviously they are dodgy. SEAsia has many dangerous land and sea animals that can harm you big time. Guides anywhere are notorious for painting an appealing picture and should be believed at your peril. While few visitors know of Box Jellyfish in the region, some homework before booking or even departing might reveal this and other dangers - at least you can assess the risk and not rely on 'idiot Chinese guide's'.
    Certainly signage on the beach and better informed hospitality staff would be ideal and there is a growing effort to ensure that this is the case - but when the government conceals the truth you know it's going to take much longer than it should and hopefully no fatalities occur in the meantime.
    Did your wife suffer any of the symptoms desribed in this blog - screams, acute pain, cardiac arrest, whip like sting marks?? If not, the jellyfish in question was probably not a killer.

  16. As I said in my last post,their are many jellyfish
    at one time we counted 5 box in one day,that was on the way back near Pulu Singa,this was in early Feb.

  17. we stayed in a hotel called langkawi village
    it was really nice we had a chalet on the beach.
    on the first day of our holiday my husband was swimming and something wrapped itself around his arm.When he got out of the water it was a large
    jelly fish,he was in absolute agony.That is the last time we shall go one was willing to help him.

  18. What did this idiot write??? JSTOM98

    "I wouldn't be surprised if she was naked!"

    The Ingemar Bergman movie where a woman showed her breasts in a movie for the first time in the beginning of the sixties made half the world talk about the swedish sin and in some countries they really believed that the swedish women were walking around naked in the streets of Stockholm. In Sweden not even striptease is allowed and we have among the toughest laws in the world against prostitution.

    Back to your stupid comment!

    So what if she was? She deserved to die while swimming with her husband alone at night because she maybe didn't have her bikinitop on????

    The C. fleckeri-Box-jelly is so toxic that a meter of the stinging tentacles around the arms and legs at the same time is enough to kill an adult. A bathing suit or not wouldn't do much differens if someone happens to walk right into the jellyfish.

    I feel so sorry for the woman's relatives. I've seen posts from Malaysia spreading rumours about the woman being drunk, allergic, suffering from a heart illnes etc. etc. These are obviosly lies told by people who has no idea about who the deceased woman really was.

    Why is it so difficult to tell the public that there are toxic jellyfish from Australia to Thailand to Vietnam and to the Phillipines and probably in an even larger area of the Indo-Pacific. They are not very common but it's better to know about the risque and to be informed about what to do when someone gets stung!

    This was a horribel tragedy for the dead woman and all her relatives and friends and everybody should do their best to stop this from happening again.

    I think the damage to the travel business will be less if the countries concerned are open and give correct information. People still go to Australia in hundreds of thousands every year in spite of sharks, crocodiles, spiders, snakes, jellyfish and many, many other dangerous animals.

    Swedish traveller

  19. Dear All,
    After reading the comments made on this
    site I must agree with the last post from the Swedish traveler,Malaysia seem to have this attitude in anything to do with tourism.I have known Malaysia all my life I am now 50,they have always protected the Island of langkawi ( ask we why ? ) nothing special I would without a doubt chose Thailand as a safer option if you like beach and swimming.

  20. It is just another one out of millions chances that realistic, how to warn people if the jellyfish never call before they arrive? Why blame one incident and round it up as one reason? “(odd how no locals ever seem to get killed?!)”. Why do you find it odd? Locals don’t swim in the sea when it’s dark or about to get dark because without sunlight you can’t see what is in the waters. Langkawi is not a shopping mall. It is a naturally island with natural environment. I personally find the topic very strange for a bunch of literate people, yet failing to interpret the basic balance of logical sense. We all know what jelly fish can do or where it is found and yet we ignore it when it seems fit...our own ignorance makes more sense when someone is to be blamed.
    As for the case of the lady that died, she was an elderly lady swimming late evening with the husband in fairly deep waters. She had an allergic reaction to the jelly fish sting and failed to swim. The sting from the jelly fish was not the medical reason she drowned and it was not poisonous to kill but it was enough to cause her to faint. In actual Medical forensic = “cause of death as drowning “. What is the odd of this happening? ONE in a millions!
    I strongly suggest those who want to come here understand that you are in Mother Nature’s mercy if you don’t respect her.

  21. Thanks Anonymous from Langkawi. I will post later today on the subject of lethal jellyfish in Langkawi - don't worry, they have arrived! Unfortunately your response is not only misguided but it lacks basic facts and shows complete disrespect for the deceased victim. Clearly you either work in tourism, hospitality or health (or have connections) at Langkawi as your comments reflect the baseless rubbish and perpetuation of lies that have stemmed from many in these areas trying to protect themselves and their own - strangely their customers don't rate so highly. The truth is another thing completely. We might be a literate bunch but are you Anonymous? If so then you would have read the first-hand account of the incident from the not at all elderly victim's husband - read again and please adjust your ridiculous claims of 'fairly deep waters' (wrong!), 'allergic reaction' (wrong!), 'failed to swim' (wrong!), 'not medical reason' (wrong!), 'not poisonous' (wrong!), 'faint' (wrong!), 'actual medical forensic' (wrong!)...! Good advice on not swimming at night though, I wouldn't either. But, the victim and companions were actually walking in shallow water - a bit like what local fishermen do when they're heading out on a night's fishing. Speaking of illogical, on one hand you mention nature warning that visitors are at her mercy yet shut the door on jellyfish as being a possible cause of death while offering absolutely no evidence?? In Australia the natural environment is a big seller for tourists. The Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Darwin, Broome - heard of them? All of these areas have lethal box jellyfish. It took a lot of work and there were plenty of sceptics like yourself but Australia worked with the problem and found some solutions - not foolproof but sting numbers are down and guests feel safe. Langkawi needs to follow the lead of its Thai neighbours and at least make an effort instead of denying the problem because every single time there is a sting it is going to hurt much more than just the innocent victim!

  22. I would not believe anyone from Langkawi all they are interested in is the Euro and how many punters
    they can rip off this season.With this kind of
    attitude from a supposedly local person (that I doubt)who can you trust?Best thing dont bother
    go elsewhere where you can trust the people that run a responsible tourism organization.I have never in my life seen such a bad try to cover up such a sad incident.If I was the family I would now be looking for some kind of financial settlement,seeing that all has been a maze of big lies

  23. 5th July 2010 Langkawi 14:30h Pantai Cenang
    Me and my friend asked at the beach if there were any jellyfish in the sea and the man claimed that there weren't any at this time of the year.
    I went into the sea and after 20 minutes I got stung by a jellyfish. There was no vinigar so it took 10 minutes before I got the right treatment.
    After 20 minutes I felt sick and got pain in my belly. We went to the firsthelp in the hospital. Many people came in with the same problem. They gave me a treatment with vinigar again and I could get injection with a painkiller. Normal aspirin etc.. do not work. I didn't take the painkilling at that time. In the evening the pain got worse, I got pain in my whole body, as if the gellyfish stung me everywhere, it was a horror, I had never experiences so much pain in my body....unbearable. So I went to the hospital again to get the painkilling because I couldn't stand the pain anymore. They also gave me a injection with antihistamine (anti-allergic reactions). The painkilling worked 3 hours and then everything is the same as before. It took about 36 hours to feel some relief in the pain. I didn't sleep at all for two nights. And after that I had trouble with sleeping. It was an awfull experience I never want to go through again. I think it's cruel not to tell people there are jellyfish because I wouldn't have swum there. The risc of all above is not worth a swim. It took me 1,5 week before I got my energylevel back.
    Boukje - The Netherlands

  24. Tim Douglas-Denton facebook meJuly 25, 2010 at 6:07 PM

    Its all a cover up to protect their tourism $

    On the 7th July (my birthday) as a treat we booked a 6 hour cruise on a 55ft catmarran leaving langkawi to sail around the islands.
    there were 5 of us.
    Started off as a great day, until 2 hours into the cruise the boat operater lowered the jaccuzzi net into the water. as quick as a flash my friends asked the operater was there any jelly fish in these local waters? he said no! my 2 friends jumped in the jaccuzzi net followed by myself. I tried unsuccessfully to coax my wife and 11 year old daughter into the net as well. (so lucky they didnt follow)

    After approx 30 seconds in the water we were speedily scrambling for the ladder out as we had all been stung. This was the beginning of a 4 day nightmare for my friends and myself.

    Severe Chest Pains, cramping allover the body, pins and needles unable to walk, sit stand do anything, could not sleep for days, thought i may die from the chest pain and so on.... and my case was mild compared to one of my friends who ended up in hospital at langkawi, discharged with some very basic analgesic pain killers that would not even put a scratch on the situation. We flew desperately to Kualar lumper and rushed to a hospital where one very serious friend was stabalised and placed on a pethadine drip for 48 hours. This was a grown woman who told me, to her "it was worse than child birth and she would not wish it for her worst enemy".
    I am not religious but i still thank God everyday that i did not convince my 11 year old daughter and wife to get in the water.
    Both my friends survived, I survived and my beautiful wife and daughter were spared.

    1. We booked this cruise thru the tour office of our 5 star hotel (Sheraton Langkawi) who failed to warn or even say anything about the dangers. BIG COVER UP.
    2. The Boat Operator Point blank lied when asked if there were Jellyfish.

  25. I just arrived from a holiday in Langakawi. The sea water in Langakawi is very murky, not clear at all even if you have gogles on. On our Last day my husband was stung by a Jelly fish, and it took him three hours to recover. I should have known better, I went swimming on the same beach two hours later and was grabbed by two long tenticals on both my ankles, there was burning sensation immediately with severe pain. I was screaming for help and no one came, I told my son to get help as he was swimming with me, luckily this was in shallow waters knee deep. the fish was grabbing with its tenticales wrapping the tenticles few times over my ankles, and I had to cut myself free with my hands so I got stung by the Jelly fish on my hands as well, and I managed to get to shore. the life guards poured a lot of vinegar on my stings and had to remove the tenticales which was still wrapped around each ankle. I was in severe pain for 4 days with no sleep. Also I could not walk for 5 days only very small steps and therefore had to use a wheel chair. Now it is 6 days later and just today I started to feel better though not fully recovered. I can walk for a few minutes at a time only. I have spent my time in bed recovering. I am just glad that it was me who was stung and not my son who was swimming with me. I did mention to my husband that the pain from the jelly fish sting is much worse than delivery labour pain. I am not sure which type of Jelly fish stung me, all I know is that it had tenticals at least longer than my legs. There was a warning sign on the beach saying that if you got stung by a jelly fish to go to the boat house for medical assistant. (the medical assistance means pouring vinegar over the sting). We are not warned about how serious and dangerous these stings are. I have been stung by Jelly fish many times before, and the pain usually goes away after maximum 1/2 hour. I did go to the hospital in Langakawi, but all they can give is painkiller injection and antihistamine/antiinflammatory injection. I still got no relief from this.

  26. I couldn't help but laugh for my self when I saw someone of the locals call the victim "an elderly woman". It may be different in your part of the world but here in Sweden women 40-45 still often have children and they are supposed to work full time until 65-67 depending on work. With our average life length for women of 84 years she was in in the middle of her life!

    Swedish traveller

  27. If there are so much danger in Lagkawi i dont realy know if i want to go there. However we have booked for mid april next year. So there are no place that is safe for all the kritters there? Reading these comments has realy scared me and i know for sure that i will not go swimming in the ocean. I guss staying in bungalows is also bad becurse of all the snakes.My boyfreind is finding it all nonsens having traveled in all asian countrys, this is my first time and i want to enjoy and not be scared. Is there no hotels that have guards on the beach in case there are a problem? with so many tourist i dont understand if there is not.

  28. There's potential danger everywhere so you must weigh up the risk. If you choose to swim in the tropical sea then there are all manner of creatures that can potentially cause harm but the likely of this happening is not great. Becuase it is possible and as there have been a relatively high number of stings at Langkawi recently perhaps you should stick to the pool or purchase a lycra suit for protection - if your boyfriend cared enough for your feelings he might allay your fears with a common sense approach instead of dismissing your concerns. There are lifeguards at certaion beaches and they have recently proved effective in managing stings. Enjoy your holiday!

  29. I Hope you enjoy your holiday,their are always
    snakes around but you would be very lucky to see
    one ( unless you want to )you could go to the snake farm,I went there about 5 years ago and
    one of the guys that worked there got bitten.
    They have a show and tease the hell out of a king.
    As far as swimming is concerned take Bloxies
    advice and stick to the pool.Your boy friend may of visited Asia but seems to know very little about the environment.Langkawi has murky waters and many jelly fish period.

  30. Just read all your comments,at last someone has given all a chance to tell their Langkawi story.
    About 6 years ago my wife and I took a short break from a business trip in Kuala-Lumpur
    3 days Langkawi.We stayed at the sheraton near the town ( nice hotel ) The Sheraton had a special net rigged up on the beach to stop any jelly fish from entering the area ( we were told it was to keep visitors away from the rocks,but the staff informed us otherwise.So the problem has been around for a long time.We went sailing and saw many jelly fish the captain of the cat confirmed that they were rife ( that was when he was sober ) we decided to swim in the pool at the hotel and not to take chances.One of the guests had received a nasty sting that stretched round his leg twice but the staff of the hotel really helped and also the spar staff,the family were swimming in pantei chenang ( sorry about the Malay spelling)
    we shall not be visiting that Island ever again,to tell the truth not worth the effort it takes to get there.

  31. 25th August 2010 Langkawi 1845 Pantai Cenang
    Me and my family at the Pantai Cenang beach.
    I went into the sea and after 30 minutes I got stung by a jellyfish. I was given first aid treatment by rescue team with vinegar spraying

    i had breathing difficulties was taken to
    Langkawi GH got injection with a painkiller. Normal aspirin etc.. do not work. I didn't take the painkilling at that time. In the night the pain got worse, I got pain in my whole body, as if the jellyfish stung me everywhere, I had never experiences so much pain unbearable. So I went to the hospital again to get the painkiler because I couldn't stand the pain anymore. The painkiller worked for few hours and then everything is the same as before. I didn't sleep taht night And after that I had trouble with sleeping. It was an awfull experience I never want to go through again. I think it's cruel not to tell people there are jellyfish because I wouldn't have swum there. Once Im back home i was admitted again in one of the medical centre for treatment. . now it has been almost 2 weeks after the incident.

  32. Thank you everyone for your valuable contributions, your stories will help make the beaches of Langkawi safer for future users...if you have a report or story to tell can you please do so at the following post where there are some questions which will help: also you can email and remember that ALL contributions and emails are 100% confidential. Thanks once again!

  33. Please tell me how you think this will make the beaches of Langkawi safer?the problem still remains and will never go away as long as Langkawi do not warn about the situation.
    It Is most important to keep everyone informed
    of this appalling situation.I shall be writing to all the major travel operators in Europe and inform them that anyone so foolish to swim in these waters should recon with the worst.

  34. Action as a result of knowledge of the facts will make the beaches safer. Awareness and safety on the beaches utilizing effective prevention and treatment techniques will ultimately reduce stings and potentially save lives. There is a genuine concern in many sections of Langkawi for the first time. People are being properly informed for the first time. Changes are inevitable as is scientific research into the problem. It won't happen tomorrow but give it time. By all means contact travel operators and express your concern as this could hasten the process of properly addressing the issue.

  35. OK, I am the boyfriend of the woman who wrote on August,16.

    I have been more than 20 times in countries all over Asia and was lucky enough not to experience bad things with animals although I swam everywhere.

    Coming to the jellyfish : A few years ago a female doctor from Holland was injured by an obviously less dangerous jellyfish at an Island not too far from Sihanoukville, Cambodia. The water was clear and only knee-deep, the jellyfish could be seen but not the stinges. She got only red stripes on the skin.

    Now coming to Malaysia :
    We had tickets for April 2011 and they are not-refundable. So we have to go to Malaysia and now we are looking (I take the fears of my girlfriend serious) for a less dangerous place than Langkawi.
    Do you think that Penang, Pulau Pangkor or the east coast with Pulau Tioman or Pulau Rawa is safer ? Of course I am not talking about a 100 % safety which does not exist but a much lower risk would be acceptable for me because I hate to go to the pool if the nature is right in front of me.

    Thank you in advance


  36. Frank good for you for enquiring. Firstly the Cambodian sting while not sounding dangerous sounds very much like a box jellyfish with the red stripes and the location though perhaps it was not a very dangerous species - there are numerous. Secondly I have no idea what places are safer or otherwise. In fact, I imagine no-one knows. There has been no research that i know of, none. As far as I know there have been serious stings at Penang and Pangkor - as there is no data and the government has nothing to show it is guesswork based on travellers reports to sites like this and others. My advice take it or leave it is to go and enjoy your holiday - though take precautions if you are concerned. As I say throughout this blog, wear a lycra suit when in the water (same as wearing a wetsuit when diving but far more comfortable) and ensure a generous supply of vinegar is close by just in case. I know of people who like you have travelled extensively throughout SE Asia without incident until....

    I recommend everyone travelling to Malaysia to send an email or call an official government authority (tourism, hotels or marine biology etc) and express your concern about box jellyfish - maybe then they will do something positive and constructive to maximize the safety of their guests and citizens who use the water.

  37. Thank you for your answer and I will contact Malaysian authorities and hotels to make them aware of the problem.


  38. Thanks for all the info!! We're going to Koh Lanta for the winter. At first we had planned to finich the trip @ Langkawi - but have now cancelled those plans.

    When booking Lanta we had no idea about this problem. I thought it "only" was a problem in Australia. Two questions:
    1. Does anyone know about the current jellyfish situation in Koh Lanta (or near by)?
    2. Where can you buy proper lycra suits? In Thailand or somewhere online?

    Thanks again

  39. Since the 2008 death in Koh Lanta locals are aware there are dangerous jellyfish around the area. However, this just means that if someone gets stung then perhaps they will get some appropriate treatment - i wouldn't be too sure.
    No-one knows the current situation and no monitoring of the water is done.
    You can get a lycra suit online i believe - alternatively, long board shorts and a long sleeve lycra shirt (quicksilver, piping hot etc make them) would provide reasonable cover - note that it is more often the legs in the shallows that are at most risk.
    Don't worry you will more than likely be ok, these stings are not common. Carry vinegar just in case, and have fun.


  41. Actually I am out to provide people with factual information so that they can make an informed decision as to the extent of the risk posed by box jellyfish and as to whether they want to take that risk on their holiday. This blog is made of facts, scientific facts, scientific and medical facts devised by experts. Of course I express my views based on this information. The comments like yours are real. The life threatening injuries detailed are real. The deaths in Thailand and Malaysia from box jellyfish are real. The trauma suffered by the victims loved ones are real. There is not one word in your cowardly comment that is real, but thnak you for taking the time to read this blog and try and enforce your view in capital letters without a semblence of knowledge, facts and compassion. If this issue is continually treated in the manner you have taken the problem will continue to get worse; injuries and deaths, not my words on a blog, will ruin the reputation of Malaysia as a safe holiday destination. Final word, lycra suits are scientifically proven to protect against jellyfish stings and thousands of swimmers in tropical northern Australia do not "die of heat stroke" - so if you have anything credible and constructive to say please let us all know.

  42. Hi is a Lycra suit to be worn like a condom?

  43. Only by pathetic little dicks like you anonymous (10/18/2010 2:32) - reminds me I need to discuss how to restrict breeding of mindless blobs of jelly one day soon. But thanks for mentioning lycra suits...
    For those interested in protecting their loved ones particularly children and yourselves, here is some information from the Surf Lifesaving Association in Queensland, Australia:
    "Surf Life Saving Queensland recommend that individuals entering the water wear protective swimwear designed specifically to reduce the incidence of a marine sting, such parameters include:
    •a mesh size no greater than 200 microns (200/1000th of a mm or 1/5 of a mm)
    •opaque clothing which offers a high degree of sun protection
    •synthetic smooth fabrics are preferable as there is less of a chance that tentacles will stick, possibly leading to secondary marine stings
    •heat-retention properties should be appropriate to the environment
    •clothing that covers over 75% of the body’s skin surface, i.e. a full-body Lycra suit or equivalent which will provide a reasonable measure of protection from life-threatening marine stings
    It is important for swimmers not to rely on standard stinger protective swimwear to provide adequate protection during times of heavy marine stinger infestation. Protective swimwear should also be regularly inspected for holes, loose threading, broken or damaged zippers and other causes of decreased effectiveness, and where required replaced or repaired.
    It is possible to be stung on exposed skin, such as hands, face and feet, but most stings occur on parts of the body that are typically covered by protective clothing. Pantyhose are less desirable than Lycra because they may easily run, providing less protection. Be aware of loose or billowing clothing that may trap jellyfish against the skin; tuck in any loose fitting clothing."
    What is REALLY imnportant to note is that a swimmer of course only needs to put the lycra suit over bathing clothes (bikinis, speedos, board shorts etc) when in the water. When out of the water there is obviously no need to wear the suit so you will still take home a great suntan - just a like a neoprene wet suit when SCUBA diving - so there is NO CHANCE OF SUFFERING ANY HEAT RELATED ILLNESS!! And every chance of avoiding a jellyfish sting (every species including annoying sea lice!!)
    May I remind right minded readers that almost 200 cases of box jellyfish (Irukandji stings) were reported by the Langkawi Hospital in July/August 2010 - 200 cases! Records are available at reception if you ask nicely :)

  44. I had been planning a trip to Langakawi in March next year and won't be going now after reading this. I am wondering if people feel that Ko Lipe is safer in terms of jellyfish?

    Has anyone heard of stingings on Ko Lipe?

    I was on Phi Phi Island in 2008 and had absolutely no problem with jellyfish and didn't meet anyone who had.

  45. I had been planning a trip to Langkawi in March next year and won't be going now after reading this. I am wondering if people feel that Ko Lipe is safer in terms of jellyfish?

    Has anyone heard of stingings on Ko Lipe?

    I was on Phi Phi Island in 2008 and had absolutely no problem with jellyfish and didn't meet anyone who had.

  46. Sorry but have not heard anything about Koh Lipe. Never had reports of serious stings at Phi Phi - it doesn't seem to be a habitat for box jellyfish, however ...

  47. BB - given you seem to know a lot about the jellyfish situation in SE Asia - would you swim at Langkawi and base a beach holiday there? Seems to me that it is the number one spot for jellies the area.

    We don't want to wear a protective suit and would rather just go to another beach with less risks.

  48. This is the problem, as no research is being undertaken by government in Malaysia, it's difficult to know what is a less risky beach. You are probably best served asking the question on Lonely Planet Thorn Tree or Tripadvisor and see what those on the ground/beach say is occuring at that point in time.
    As you are asking me if I would base a beach holiday at Langkawi I would say perhaps but I would wear a suit. But because of what I know, I would wear a suit all through SE Asia without any issue. This says a bit about where I am coming from. If I didn't know what I do and there was less fuss about box jellyfish then I would probably swim happily at Langkawi without a suit. Stings don't happen that often so you take your chances. Stings do happen all through SE Asia - this year lots of info came through about fatalities in Indonesia for example but do you hear about them?
    I can't see the problem of wearing a suit. When in the snow you wear a protective suit, when SCUBA diving you wear a protective suit, kids and most adults when at the beach in Australia wear protective 'suits' (a rashy lycra top, hat, layers of sunscreen and long board shorts), there are many examples, these lycra suits slip on and off at the waters edge so you only actually wear them when in the water and they feel fine, you still get a suntan if that's what you want, people seem to be more concerned about how they look, the sensation of water on skin is nice sure but save it for the shower or pool.
    I'd be basing my decision about Langkawi more on activities, culture, food, hotel etc etc because there are jellyfish all over the place, not in massive numbers it seems, but they're around, only no-one knows where exactly.
    Enjoy your holiday!

  49. Hi Blog Boxie, thank-you for all the insightful and informative knowledge you have provided me with. I have planned a holiday to Langkawi for a couple of days in January 2011, but after reading all these comments, I am scared to go swimming. What other types of activities do you suggest doing in Langkawi besides swimming in the ocean? And would you happen to know if there are any box jellyfish or dangerous marine creatures on Pulau Payar as we are planning to go there on a tour to snorkel. Any help would be much appreciated thanks! :)

  50. see my post july24 2010

    to all those people asking or re considering their trip.

    Malaysia is a fantastic place to go for a trip and you shouldnt change your exciting plans,all you need to do is JUST TAKE WARNING from what you have read here and dont swim in the sea water. If you want to swim, use your hotels pool. Swimming in the sea is absolutely not worth the risk and if you knew the pain we experienced you would understand.
    Even after all that happened to me and my friends I will still always go back there but i will NEVER EVER AGAIN swim in the sea.
    Its a beatiful place with beautiful people and should still be enjoyed. Happy holidays!

  51. My comments about being naked is NOT a criticism about her morality but about not wearing protective clothing in a hostile environment just as @Blog Boxie says. I remember the tragedy of the Crocodile hunter. One can be so carried away as make the sea our 'home' when in fact it is not.

  52. I had booked my holiday to Langkawi before I discovered about the jelly fish problem. I accept that I will not be able to swim in the sea unless I wear a stinger suit. However, one activity that I love doing on holiday, is walking along the beach, just where the waves break on the beach where the sand is damp and firm. If the jellyfish are washed up onto the beach are they still a threat if one steps on them? Would surf shoes be enough to protect my feet and ankles?
    Many thanks in advance for any advice and information.

  53. There may well be a lot of box jellyfish around Langkawi but the sea's a big place, tourists tend to stick to specific areas and there are not great numbers of tourists there so bad stings are not common. But they do happen.
    It sounds like you need the feeling of sand between your toes so go for it. Box jellyfish do not tend to wash up on shore, they have a visual system that allows them to navigate, so what gets washed up is the floating blobs that are virtually harmless. No need for surf shoes, just step around or over them.
    But FYI the stinging capacity of a box jellyfish tentacle still exists around 5 years after it dies.
    Enjoy your holiday!

  54. Thanks for that, I take it the same goes for the Irukandji jellyfish. I will carry a bottle of vinegar just to be on the safe side!!

  55. Yes same goes for Irukandji. Box jellyfish (or cubozoa) have 2 types being multi-tentacle and single-tentacle, then within these types are numerous species. Irukandji is the name of one of the species in the single-tentacle group. Vinegar carrying is very sensible. You'll be fine!

  56. I'm on Penang in Malaysia and was stung by a jellyfish this afternoon at the Merromictic Lake in the national park. There's a marker on the map they hand out that encourages swimming at this location. It wasn't a box jellyfish, but it was and still is incredibly painful. Shortly after I was stung I saw a woman and her very young daughter swimming right around the area I had just been stung in. I warned her that there were jellyfish, and she said one of the boat operators told her she was safe if she stayed near the mouth of the river. He told her jellyfish don't like fresh water. I did some research, and from what I found she was completely misinformed. Just wanted to let people know.

  57. I have just returned from Langkawi, and have stumbled upon this page after a Google search regarding jellyfish-stings around Langkawi, as I got stung by a box jellyfish. I will refrain from commenting on the tragic death of the lady, as I don't know the facts, and quite frankly, I don't believe merely reading an article, which may or may not be biased, will supply the facts.
    The sting was extremely painful, and I still have severe welts 10 days later.
    After getting stung, in pretty clear waist-height water, late morning, early February, I hobbled over to the reggae bar/water sports rental place, where friendly and helpful locals immediately helped me by pouring vinegar on the affected area, and also offered advice and suggested going to the hospital and asked whether I knew how to get there. I can't comment in the treatment at the hospital since I didn't go. All in all I appreciated the help and I didn't feel mistreated or disrespected as a tourist. My guess is that it might be because I asked for their helping as locals, respecting them as possibly having more knowledge on the topic than I did as a VISITOR in their country, and not with a sense of entitlement because I pay with Dollars or Euros. I did not blame them or the island of Langkawi or the ocean or the goverment of Malaysia for the very natural occurrence of being stung while in the ocean, and I certainly didn't have an 'idiot Chinese guide' or 'bitch at the front-desk' attitude. Might just be me, but I always figure having the above mentioned attitudes/approach when visiting in someone else's country can sometimes evoke resentment or lead to people not being as helpful or forthcoming with truthful advice, information and warnings as they might have otherwise. I surf and I strongly believe we are ALWAYS visitors in the ocean; therefor we should respect the ocean and always enter it knowing that there is a risk of harm as we are on(/in) in someone/thing else's turf. If we truly belonged in the ocean we would have had gills. We don't put up signs outside our houses saying 'Don't enter!', yet if someone trespasses into your house at night(and this is most definitely not a reference to night-swimming but merely creating a situation where you find a trespasser in your domain unexpectedly) you would take action and you will feel very justified doing so! Langkawi was beautiful, the water was pretty clear in my opinion, and I took the sting as part of exploring unknown/traveling and the associated risks thereof. Maybe I was lucky and my sting wasn't as severe as some others, or yet again, maybe I didn't let the sting ruin my vacation and make me vow I will never return to Malaysia, because I don't believe that my white western skin or the Dollars/Euros in my pocket should/will protect me from any harm. I didn't go to Thailand instead like suggested by some, as I have been to Thailand several times, and wanted to try some place new. Much the same reason I guess why most other people on this page travel. But the same way as trying something new on the menu at a restaurant...maybe you won't find it to be good; but you are the one that decided to order it... Also, by that same advice of rather going somewhere else: do that! Go somewhere else, or if your own country is that much better, why go somewhere else for a vacation then? Just stay there! And finally, a note to the self-proclaimed 'literate bunch': Google it, phone a friend, even ask a Chinese guide or a minimum-wage paid lady at a front-desk, but please just activate spell-checker!!

  58. Hi
    Next week we will start our 3 weeks holiday in Malaysia, we have 3 stops Penang, Pangkor and Kuala lumpur, we have heard on television that its raining heavely in Malaysia at the moment ? does that meen that the jellyfisch comes closer to the koast? I hate to think of being on these beautiful places and cant go in the water, dont realy like the pool. Thanks for youe advice

  59. Yes rainy weather does tend to bring the jellyfish in closer to shore. I suggest you wear a lycra stinger suit - it is the ONLY way to be sure IF you are concerned. If it is raining or not I would think there is a risk in these areas. No-one knows the seasons or habits of jellyfish in Malaysia because no research has occured yet. You can be in beautiful places and not swim because of sharks, or dangerous currents, etc etc. In Malaysia there is a risk - not big - of box jellyfish no matter when. Same in Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines etc. You'll be fine, just be aware and prepared.

  60. Hi
    Thanks for your advice, we have now got our stinger suits and felt good untill some freinds of us told us about the irukundij jelly fish that also, after what they said, is in the area of malaysia, are we still protectet from this little jelly with our stinger suit since they have a stinger, can they hurt us through the suit ?, i am really worried about this,sorry to ask so much but you are a spacialist and can tell us if there are a risk in these waters. Have read in internet that they mainly are in Australian waters.

    Thanks again

  61. Irukandji can be found from southern Australia to the UK. Yes they are a big problem in Australia but they are also in Malaysia as the photos on this blog from Langkawi taken only last year demonstrate. If you have a lycra stinger suit you are protected from ALL jellyfish, if you have a suit from the Stinger Suit company made of a fine mesh then there are doubts as to whether you are protected against small Irukandji. Independent scientific tests (sorry don't have the detail at hand now) show that the tentacles can penetrate the mesh thus exposing the skin - but these little guys are known to latch onto the neck or face or foot anyway from time to time so there is always a degree of risk. The point is your protection is so high with a suit that you automatically significantly reduce what is a relatively low risk anyway - unless you swam into a bloom or a high risk beach. Don't be worried, just ask questions before you swim and have fun!

  62. Well... I've returned from Langkawi about a month ago... And YES, there were jellyfish. We've met some different species. Orange, white, not so big, but painful. Stings are a bit painful, but not dangerous for us. It depends on skin type and maybe somewhat else. Locals told us that they are immune to stings - dark skin is more resistive to them. So we have nice holidays there, but after some stings we have tried to avoid jellyfish. It was difficult in Langkawi water, but it still possible.

  63. after reading your post,we were there.
    the places to avoid are ( as far as we are concerned many jelly fish) Panti chenang beach
    the area of the Beach garden hotel? i think it is called that.A very good place to swim is Dati bay near the anderman hotel.
    but it takes a bit of time to get there.Alternatively you could always carry a tin of brown boot polish to apply before swimming,if its down to skin colour.

  64. Dear Bloxie
    Are you by any chance the agent for
    Lycra suits in Asia?
    Please could you advise where we would be able to purchase a few,and how do we send in the sizes
    Kind Regards

  65. Please see the August 2011 post on skin colour - the boot polish comment is uncalled for but there have been questions about this so have a read, Box Jellyfish DO NOT discriminate!

    ALso on the suits, no not agents just advocates. You can buy suits in Asia. There is a place on Phuket I believe. The sizing is complicated but manageable online. Google them as I am unsure of the name off the top of my head. I will try and find a link.

  66. It's been noted that a few comments posted on this topic by readers have caused some offence. Apologies to all if this is so. Please keep all comments on topic. Your input is greatly appreciated and serves to bring the problem of box jellyfish to the attention of those who can make a positive difference. Thanks!

    1. Hi Blog Boxie,

      Are there any new developments on jellyfish in Langkawi? Havent seen any updates here since last year. Has the situation in Langkawi improved from a jellyfish standpoint and is there better control at the beaches now? We are headed to langkawi this weekend - any advise on the situation this time of year? Is it better at the beaches near Datai and Tanjung Rhu? Thanks for your help/advise.

  67. DO not see any update on jellyfish in Langkawi post Feb 2012. Has anything change in Malaysia an Langkawi in particular with regards to government and local authorities attitudes to dealing with jelly fish in Langkawi? Will be in Langkawi for a beach holiday with the family next week. Looking for some recent updates on Jellyfish risk before we go.

    Thanks for the help.

  68. it's been quite a while since any contact with Langkawi. Admittedly we have not been on the ball as far as monitoring Malaysia is concerned. We get no support and little or no feedback. As you can read the Berjaya Resort has incorporated safety measures and it's understood it is quite effective. Aside from that, no news. I doubt much has changed. Follow the advice offered on this blog and you should be fine. Thanks for the question.

  69. I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog!….. I’ll be checking in on a regularly now….Keep up the good work

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