The Jewel of Kedah, Langkawi Island

Discovering Langkawi’s Paradise Island with Local Wonders and a Duty-Free Shopping Heaven

 

Langkawi, an island rich in folklore and natural wonders is a magnet for adventure junkies who seek for the ultimate travelling experience. Blessed with its gift from Mother Nature, this island is the ideal getaway, from experiencing a peaceful retreat to exploring adrenaline-filled activities that can even keep the most finicky traveller satisfied.

Langkawi, Its Origins, Appeals and Attractions

Giant Langkawi eagle statue
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. Visit the symbolic Langkawi Square, the best place in Langkawi for an Instagramable shot that will mark your presence here in the Eagle island! 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. 

Although it is relatively small in size, Langkawi is quick to become a holiday magnet that attracts millions of visitors each year. Not only this island is rich in its biodiversity, Langkawi is home to some of the five stars luxury hotels and offers a plethora of adventurous activities. This Jewel of Kedah would make an ideal holiday destination for travellers looking a peaceful natural retreat, to those seeking for adrenaline-filled activities.

Top Rated Tourist Attraction

Bird's eye view of the Langkawi archipelago
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

Getting to and around Langkawi

In terms of weather, the best time to visit Langkawi 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. Getting to Langkawi is never a hassle as there are various of options and alternatives you can choose from. 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 (3 hours ride). Alternatively, you can also fly from Kuala Lumpur or Penang, with fares as low as RM 70 for a one-way flight. International flights from Singapore are available via TigerAir and AirAsia. Due to island’s strategic location that is adjacent to Thailand’s border, it is also a departure point for a boat ride away from Langkawi Koh Lipe.
cable


Getting around this compact-sized island will be an easy business as taxis and car rentals are easily available. Due to the competitive rates offered here, you can easily get a car rental service for a price as low as RM 40 a day for a basic Perodua car. The latest launch of UBER and Grabcar in Langkawi has also made travelling in Langkawi much easier and convenient. The drive from one end to the other end of the island can be completed within a three hours drive. So, get ready for a road trip if you are up to a scenic drive around the island! Although the public transportation service is not available here, transportation issue should be the least concerned matter as this island is well connected.

Langkawi's History, Folklore and Legends

Mahsuri's tomb
The legendary Mahsuri's Tomb

Before going into all the interesting places 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 and was put to death. 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. The Mahsuri’s Tomb, locally known as Makam Mahsuri, is now a mausoleum-turned-attraction that memorializes the lady behind the rise and fall of Langkawi. Mahsuri’s tomb is located only 20 minutes from Langkawi International Airport and is open to visits.

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.

Langkawi's Sunset by the Beach

Beautiful Cenang Beach
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 Langkawi. 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. If you are looking forward to catch the spectacular sunset view while chilling on the sun-kissed Cenang beach, get ready to witness the descending sun at around seven evening.

If you are up for activities that will promise you a good time, you should definitely experience the water sports in Langkawi! Jet ski, parasailing and banana boat are among the fun-filled activities you can do in the Andaman waters. Navigate around the cluster of islands with the best water sport facilities that can be found here in Langkawi, including the motorized and non-motorized beach treats.

The serene Tanjung Rhu beach
A calm and serene beach, Tanjung Rhu

If you’re looking for something quieter, head north to Tanjung Rhu. Tanjung Rhu beach is said to be one of the Langkawi’s best beach that has the 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 Tanjung Rhu 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.

Dip in Lukewarm Waters - Pregnant Maiden Island

Serene Dayang Bunting lake
Blissful dip in lukewarm waters, Dayang Bunting Island

Island hopping in Langkawi is a famous thing-to-do 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. Island hop your way to discover Langkawi’s waters and explore the beaches while running your toes through the white sands. 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 Place for Romance, Blessed by Nature

sunset yacht cruise
A romantic cruise for love birds

For couples looking for a luxurious 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. The sunset cruise experience will definitely make your holiday to Langkawi as wholesome and memorable one!

Breathtaking Underwater World, a Sight to Behold

pulau payar underwater, marine wildlife
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 for all snorkelling and diving enthusiasts. This attraction is extended over two miles and is a collection of smaller islands, Pulau Kaca, Pulau Lembu and Pulau Segantang with Pulau Payar being the main island. Blessed with its fortunate geography, Pulau Payar is famous for snorkelling and diving activity. Among the features is the coral garden, encompassing colourful corals gorgeously protected and preserved. Daily return trips to Pulau Payar from Kuah are available as it is an uninhabited island. Fishing here is strictly prohibited by the Fisheries Department of Kedah to maintain its pristine condition.

Explore Langkawi’s Highest Peak & Its Surrounding Rainforest

Green fields near Gunung Raya
An irresistible challenge for all hikers, Gunung Raya Mountain

Calling for all the hikers and mountain climbers! 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 Gunung Raya mountain is said to be the cursed form of the giant Mat Raya, who once resided on the island.

Brave The Heights, the Langkawi Sky Bridge and Cable Car

Langkawi skybridge
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. The cable car ride towards the Sky Bridge is one of the best place in Langkawi for a bird eyes view of the eagle land. 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

The Enchanting Seven Wells Waterfall

Telaga Tujuh, Seven Wells Waterfall
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 Telaga Tujuh 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. Enjoy the mesmerizing waterfall by splashing into the cool and refreshing water!

Experience the Wonders of Kilim Karst Geoforest Park

Kilim Karst Geoforest Park
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. 

Oriental pied hornbills
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!

The 'Fabulous Flying Five' in Datai Bay

Flying Lemur
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!

In a Nutshell

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:

Lonely Planet’s Langkawi Beyond the Beach: 9 Great Reasons to Visit the Jewel of Kedah

Rough Guides’ 7 Reasons Why Langkawi is Malaysia’s Ultimate Island Escape

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!