Golden sky at Pantai Kok, Langkawi
Langkawi is famed for its natural beauty as well as its rich history. Comprising a group of 104 islands and islets, the Langkawi archipelago is situated north-west of Malaysia’s northern state, Kedah, and borders Thailand.
The isles are surrounded by the Andaman Sea. The main and largest island is named Langkawi, and its capital is Kuah. Of all the islands, only four are inhabited. They are Langkawi, Rebak, Dayang Bunting and Tuba.
Langkawi was given the title Permata Kedah (Jewel of Kedah) in 2008 by Kedah’s Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah as part of his golden jubilee. The royal endowment is well-deserved: The island is as close to paradise as you can get.
And as an added testament, Langkawi is recently voted at the number eight spot of top 10 islands in Asia according to TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards, an initiative by the online booking and travel planning site.
“The islands in Asia have long been celebrated for their beauty and for the tropical escape they provide to global travellers around the world,” says Janice Lee Fang, Communications Director, Asia Pacific, for TripAdvisor.
Award winners were determined by the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for hotels, restaurants and attractions on islands worldwide, gathered over a 12-month period, as well as traveller booking interest on TripAdvisor.
TripAdvisor has also nominated Langkawi’s Skytrek Adventure as one of the 10 top-rated zip line tours in the Asia-Pacific region. (The rate is measured by number of sessions of zip line attractions in Asia, Australia and New Zealand on TripAdvisor over a period of one year from 1 November 2015–31 October 2016.)
Eco-adventurers in action! (Pic courtesy of TripAdvisor)
Extreme explorations (Pic courtesy of TripAdvisor)
Acknowledged as “a must-do in Langkawi”, this eco-adventure park offers three obstacle trails and a picturesque view of Mount Machinchang, the second highest peak in Langkawi. Prices depend on the trails and travellers are advised to book online for a discounted price: Little Legend (beginner trail) at US$10, Eagle Thrill (intermediate trail) for US$12 and Island Extreme (advanced trail) at US$15.
Aerial wilderness trail (Pic courtesy of TripAdvisor)
If you’re already stoked, here’s what you should know:
Its all-year tropical weather and island setting make it a haven for lovers of tropical island retreats.
However, if you want to enjoy the sun, the outdoor activities and the sandy beaches, the best time to visit Langkawi is from mid-November to April as there is less precipitation.
The weather is fair from April to August with the occasional rain. Try to avoid September, as the monsoon rain is heaviest during this period.
Langkawi has many accommodation types to choose from. From high-end hotels to inexpensive motels, there is always something to cater to everyone’s budget.
The Danna Langkawi at Pantai Kok, Four Seasons Resort Langkawi at Tanjung Rhu and The Datai Langkawi at Teluk Datai are divine choices for those who desire a luxurious stay.
There is also plenty of mid-range and budget accommodation. Mid-range stays at Bella Vista Express Hotel (Kuah) and One Hotel Helang (Padang Matsirat) will give patrons all the basic amenities needed. For those who prefer sunbathing and soaking in the sea, take a look at Pantai Tengah. Here, you can find popular resorts in this category such as Villa Molek, The Lanai Langkawi Beach Resort and The Frangipani Langkawi Resort & Spa.
History and evolution to its current status
Way before Langkawi’s present status as a tourist haven, it’s famous among the locals for the legend of Mahsuri, a fair-skinned and beautiful woman who lived in the late 18th century. Accused of adultery, Mahsuri is sentenced to death and stabbed at the stake. To everyone’s surprise, her blood is white — immediately read by the onlookers as a sign of her innocence. Before she died, she cursed the island for seven generations.
It is believed that Langkawi remained in the backwaters due to the curse — till 1986 when Malaysia’s fourth prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad spearheaded a plan to make the island a tourist destination.
Reasons for its popularity? An island paradise, mixed with duty-free shopping and natural geological wonders, makes it perfect for the beach bum, the shopper and the adventurer.
Lovely beaches are among Langkawi Island's highlights
Cenang Beach, Tengkorak Beach, Tanjung Rhu Beach and Pantai Kok Beach are among the ideal places for a seaside sojourn.
Besides the scenic beaches and luxurious beachside accommodation, here are the other main attractions.
Visitors can buy various accessories, clothing items, ceramics, glassware, chocolate, tobacco, wines and spirits at competitive prices. If you’re in Kuah town, visit the Langkawi Saga Shopping Centre and the sprawling Teow Soon Huat Duty Free. Pantai Cenang area has two famous duty-free shopping centres, the Coco Valley Langkawi and The Zon Shopping Paradise.
Langkawi UNESCO Global Geopark
Air Terjun Telaga Tujuh (Seven Wells Waterfall)
Do you know that the Langkawi Geopark is the only geopark in South East Asia and one of 120 UNESCO Geoparks in the world? Even if you’re not an outdoorsy person, this is a must when you visit Langkawi for the first time.
The Langkawi Geopark comprises locations with unique geographical and geological features. In the area, witness South East Asia’s oldest rock formation (Machinchang Cambrian Geoforest Park), the wondrous marble formations brought about by extensive changes in temperature and pressure of limestone (Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park) and karst formations (Kilim Karst Geoforest Park).
These, plus a myriad of caves, lakes and forest reserves in the area, make it a naturalist’s paradise.
Soak up the view at Mount Machinchang
For snorkellers, scuba divers and swimmers, you can visit the other islands such as Dayang Bunting, Singa Besar and Beras Basah by joining island-hopping tours.
A boat ride through paradise