Public participation in planning is regarded as a good and progressive exercise because it offers the opportunity for the diverse interests of stakeholders to be incorporated, and it accords with people's right to participate in decisions that affect their lives. Various models and typologies, such as those developed by Arnstein, Brager and Specht, and Pretty reflect similar basic characteristics. It is commonly agreed that a complete public participation process will not exist without the elements of information availability, consultation and empowerment. However, additional elements such as knowledge of the planning process, representativeness of participants, and a high degree of political sophistication also contribute to effective public participation. This paper reviews existing typologies of public participation and evaluates the public participation process for tourism planning in the Langkawi Islands, Malaysia, against them. The paper concludes by proposing an alternative public participation framework for tourism planning for Langkawi Islands.