Langkawi, a cornucopia of gustatory delights with free-flowing cocktails; fringed by primitive rainforests given life by silvery streams that are teeming with wildlife and bestrewn with pristine, sun-drenched beaches to keep even the most finicky traveller satisfied.
The majestic eagle statue
Langkawi, known as the Jewel of Kedah, is the stunning archipelago of 99 islands (or 104 islands at low tide) in the Andaman Sea. The origin of the name of Langkawi has several interpretations. In common Malay, Langkawi means reddish brown eagle and hence the symbol of Langkawi used as a landmark sculpture in Eagle Square in Kuah, is the majestic eagle. Another interesting interpretation would be in Sanskrit, where ‘langka’ meant island and ‘wi’ meant many. Read Condé Nest Traveler: Langkawi, Malaysia is the New Jewel of Southeast Asia for more about the Jewel of Kedah and what makes this underrated getaway so special.
A cluster of paradise islands
This island attracts so many tourists every year for many reasons. Not only is it known for its pristine white sandy beaches, Langkawi is also a duty-free island, which means cheap booze, tobacco and most importantly, chocolates! Langkawi Island has also been granted the status of World Geopark by UNESCO back in June 2007. Machincang Cambrian Geoforest Park, Kilim Karst Geoforest Park and Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest park (Island of the Pregnant Maiden Lake) are three of its main conservations. Attesting to its allure, it is even rated top ten of the best islands in Asia. Read more at The Star: Langkawi Ranked 10th Best Island in Asia.
In terms of weather, the best time to visit the beautiful island would be from December until February as that will be the dry season. March to November is usually the long raining season, with September being the wettest month. When you’re ready to adventure to Langkawi, you can enter the island via ferry or flight. Ferries are available from Kuala Kedah (1.5-hour ride), Kuala Perlis (45 minutes ride) and Penang. Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia provides twice daily flights from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) to Langkawi International Airport. International flights from Singapore are available via TigerAir and AirAsia.
The legendary Mahsuri's Tomb
Before going into all the attractions and outstanding activities you can experience in Langkawi, let’s start off with some historical background of the island. With a fairly eerie history, Langkawi used to be home to the Orang Laut (sea people) such as pirates and fishermen. According to local legends, in the late 18th century, a beautiful maiden named Mahsuri was wrongly accused of adultery by many who was envious of her. As she was tied to a tree and stabbed to death, white coloured blood flowed out of her, proving her innocence. With her dying breath, Mahsuri cursed the island for seven generations.
True enough, not long after Mahsuri’s death, there was the invasion of the Siamese army in 1821. The locals decided to starve the enemy and force them to flee by burning down the village granary. Despite their efforts, the Siamese captured the island and took the lives of their leaders in May 1822. In 1909, the British ruled the islands under the Anglo-Siamese Treaty and the island fell into a slumber.
Be it superstition or coincidence, Langkawi lasted as a silent backwater until seven generations had passed and then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad revamped Langkawi into a major tourist haven. Nowadays, Langkawi attracts international and domestic travellers and is a prime vacation destination. The island holds many mythical legends and folklore but Mahsuri’s tale may be the most famous one yet. Mahsuri’s tomb is located only 20 minutes from Langkawi International Airport and is open to visits.
Irresistibly beautiful, Cenang Beach is a perfect getaway
Well known for its crystal clear emerald waters, Langkawi has spectacular beaches. The ocean temperatures here fluctuate between 28-30°C (82–86°F), the optimum temperature for enjoying a swim in the sea. However, keep a lookout for jellyfish as they are abundant here. Langkawi’s most popular beach, Pantai Cenang is along the south-west coast is lined up with cafes, duty-free outlets and restaurants and is one of the more well-developed beaches on the island. There are water sports along the beach that promises a good time.
A calm and serene beach, Tanjung Rhu
If you’re looking for something quieter, head north to Tanjung Rhu. The beach is said to be one of the island's most dazzling shorelines with crystal clear waters and pristine sandy beaches. The secluded beach, its tranquil atmosphere and lukewarm waters that beckon a swim, is perfect for those looking to enjoy some quietude. A popular spot for lovebirds, sunset at this beach is the personification of romantic love by Mother Nature; ethereal beauty painted with a flurry of colours across the vast canvas that is the sky.
Blissful dip in lukewarm waters, Dayang Bunting Island
A famous activity in Langkawi would be to go island hopping and there are many tours that offer that, making a pitstop at Dayang Bunting Island (Pregnant Maiden Island) which also attained its name from a legend. Whilst it is most common to go on boat tours (Adventoro: Langkawi-Island Hopping Adventure), there is also an option to do it on jet skis as pointed out by CNN Travel: Langkawi Jet Ski Tours: The Coolest Way to See Malaysia’s Most Beautiful Islands. Don’t take our word for it, give it a go and experience it yourself!
A romantic cruise for love birds
For couples looking for a romantic time, enjoy your time aboard a cruise, indulging in the bbq buffet dinner as you watch the beautiful sunset painting across the sky. Check out Adventoro's Sunset Dinner Cruise for a glimpse of what you will experience. As you take in the smell of the salty ocean and refreshing breeze in your face, help yourself to the free flow of drinks at the open bar.
Awe-inspiring underwater world
Next attraction up on our list would be the Pulau Payar Marine Park (Adventoro: Pulau Payar Exploration). Only 45 minutes away from the Kuah jetty point, you can get there either by speedboat or catamaran, Pulau Payar is the ultimate destination here in Langkawi for all snorkelling and diving enthusiasts. This attraction is extended over two miles and is a collection of smaller islands, with Pulau Payar being the main island. Among the features is the coral garden, encompassing colourful corals gorgeously protected and preserved. Fishing here is strictly prohibited by the Fisheries Department of Kedah to maintain its pristine condition.
An irresistible challenge for all hikers, Gunung Raya Mountain
If you have a love for hiking, then Gunung Raya is the perfect place for you! The highest peak in Langkawi is a popular hiking spot. The breathtaking panoramic view of the island is so rewarding. This famed mountain is said to be the cursed form of the giant Mat Raya, who once resided on the island.
Marvel at Langkawi's modern architectural wonder
Take the time to experience a marvel of architecture, the Langkawi SkyBridge. The sky bridge fits into the ranks of the world’s best curved suspension bridges with its unique design and concept. Unlike straight bridges, the curved sky bridge allows tourists to enjoy the scenery from various angles. With the vast forestland beneath it and the blue vista of the Andaman Sea, the view along the sky bridge is no short of spectacular. To reach the Skybridge, you would have to take a cable car—better known as SkyCab. Suspended at a dizzying height, you would get to experience 15 minutes of pure excitement as you ascend above treetops and the wide expanse of nature’s bounty. Aside from the cable car itself, the oriental village and lake located at the base of the SkyCab platform offer several water activities and more sights to see!
Langkawi Skybridge // Add: Cable Car Station, Oriental Village, Burau Bay, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia // Daily 0930 to 1900 // Tel: +60 4-959 4225/1225 // Website: http://www.panoramalangkawi.com/skybridge /// Admission: Adults RM5; Child RM3
Seven enchanting pools to banish the weariness
Adventure enthusiasts can also conquer the steep climb to the top of the Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls (Seven Wells Waterfalls), a series of seven natural pools that are connected and fed by seven separate waterfalls in Mountain Mat Cincang. The journey up to the waterfalls by foot is about 45 minutes. Along the way, you may come across hornbills, macaques or even giant squirrels. Another of the island’s myth is that the waterfall had once entrapped the hearts of fairies and became their bathing abode. Hence, it is believed to contain healing powers and medicinal value.
A breathtaking geoforest park for nature lovers
As famous as the white sandy beaches, Langkawi is also known for its geological riches, lush rainforests and abundant flora and fauna. Get onboard a boat at Kilim jetty and head towards Kilim Karst Geopark Forest (Adventoro: Langkawi Geopark Exploration Cruise) for opportunities to spot bonnet macaques at feeding, pythons slithering between mangrove roots in the swamp (Check out Adventoro's Mangrove Tours) and swarms of bats hanging from the ceilings of limestone caves existing back to 550 million years ago. The best way to experience this would be to go on an adrenaline pumping kayaking adventure (Adventoro: Kayaking Adventure at Kilim Karst Geopark) through the mangrove geopark. The Star Online even featured the geopark at The Star Online: Langkawi’s Kilim Karst Geoforest Park Proves Worthy of its UNESCO Status, further proof of why you should definitely be there.
Rare Oriental Pied Hornbills engaged in people watching
Home to more than 200 species of birds, including the rare Oriental Pied Hornbills, birdwatching here becomes a wonderful experience. The best time to visit Kilim Karst would be the migratory seasons from September to March as you will be able to approach varying species of birdlife, such as the White-bellied Eagles, Kite Eagles and even Kingfishers!
An adorable Flying Lemur scoping its surroundings
Whilst Africa has its Big Five, a highlight here at Langkawi is the ‘Fabulous Flying Five’, compromising of the Flying Squirrels, Flying Snakes, Flying Foxes, Flying Dragons and the unique Flying Lemur. The Flying Lemur, being the only flying primate in the world can be spotted at Langkawi’s Datai Bay, in the far north-west of the island, so make sure you don’t miss out on this!
All in all, Langkawi is the ideal destination to forge everlasting memories as it brings you on a roller-coaster ride of senses. The many mysteries of the island, coupled with its undeniably enchanting natural bounties and cultural richness promises to pull travellers back! One would have never imagined that such a haven could exist in this small corner of the globe. Just Google it and you’d find a plethora of articles mentioning WHY you should be in Langkawi:
Itching to travel to Langkawi this very instant? Check out Adventoro’s Langkawi Tour Packages and get the ball rolling. Enjoy cruises along mangrove swamps, geoparks, island-hopping, jungle trekking, countryside cycling and snorkelling; and make every day a holiday!