LANDMARKS AND ATTRACTIONS
Explore Langkawi’s UNESCO Geopark with 90 protected caves, waterfalls and mangrove sites, where experts are still debating if there are 92 or 104 islands in the Langkawi Archipelago. Not only are the rocks ancient and fascinating but also the plant communities and the animals living there.
Ride the cable car to the summit of Mount Machincang (713m) to admire the views and walk over the rainforest canopy on a sky bridge. Return down the cable car and then climb to Telaga Tujuh Waterfall. Enjoy a half-day mangrove cruise with an experienced eco-guide to admire these tranquil coastal forests that are home to hovering raptors like sea eagles and brahminy kites. Head away from the tourist beaches and explore the rice fields around Padang Matsirat on a bicycle.
The IRONMAN Malaysia triathlon takes place on 17 November and is set to attract 1,200 athletes who will swim 3.8 kilometres, run 42 kilometres and cycle 182 kilometres in the hope of qualifying for the World Ironman Championship in Kailua Kona Hawaii. Langkawi International Music Festival from 21-22 December will attract performers invited from islands around the world, while the Langkawi International Blues Roots Aseana music festival will be staged on 29-31 December along Pantai Cenang. It’s a great way to bid 2018 goodbye and to welcome the new year.
While international hotel chains such as St. Regis, The Westin, Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons have properties on the island, several deluxe homegrown hotels such as Meritus Pelangi, The Danna, Berjaya, Dash, Tanjung Rhu and Casa del Mar are just as appealing. Boutique accommodation offers friendly and personalised service. Discover this by checking into Sunset Valley with its beautiful heritage holiday houses in an oasis of peace and calm in the centre of the island. SERAMBI Boutique Resort Home is an owner-in-residence boutique home with personalised service. Bon Ton and the adjoining Temple Tree provide boutique heritage resorts, where guests stay in 100-year-old wooden villas fitted out with contemporary interiors. Western-meets-spice cuisine served in Nam Restaurant in Bon Ton has set the benchmark for fine island food for over a decade (its desserts are divine).
EAT & DRINK
Dine at Fat Cupid, The Fat Frog, Unkaizan, Red Tomato and Gallo Nero (Chef Lorenzo’s latest outing). For fantastic Indian fusion food; try Pia's the Padi, set amid rice fields. Other recommendations are Jakes for evening meals and Charlies' Bar at The Royal Langkawi Yacht Club, which is ideal for lunch or a light dinner while taking in the picturesque marina views. Enjoy local lunches of rice, curries and vegetables. The Sunday night markets at Padang Matsirat serve excellent local snacks and fresh fruit. For fun, food and good music, visit Yellow Lounge or BamBooBar along the Pantai Cenang/Pantai Tengah strip. Thirstday Bar behind Orchid Ria is an atmospheric beach bar. Dash Resort features the hip and cool Dash Beach Club with over 50 cocktails to delight the senses. Chill with a Dash Pool Iced Tea, Cloud Nine Fizz or go troppo sipping a Palooza Punch whilst tuning into the resident poolside DJ.
The beaches are Langkawi’s biggest attraction with the Pantai Cenang to Pantai Tengah strip, the most popular. It is a linear, crowded and lively stretch covering a few kilometres with budget accommodation, shops, bars, restaurants and Langkawi’s top attraction, Underwater World, a 2.4-hectare marine and fresh water aquaria housing more than 500 fish species and other underwater life.
ISLAND HOPPING AND CRUISING
Koh Lipe within Tarutao National Park in neighbouring Thailand is just a ferry ride from Langkawi. There are morning departures from Langkawi for the 42-kilometre journey and an afternoon return service from Koh Lipe. Enjoy the waters around Langkawi with Crystal Yacht Cruises, which has been cruising the Andaman Sea since 1989 and offers a ‘seawater jacuzzi’ plus open bar on its fabulous sunset cruises. Captain Eva on Damai Inda operates sunset cruises using an old trading boat with great food and an abundance of chilled beverages.
Show the folks back home what they missed with a copy of Enchanting Langkawi, a book that provides insightful information and great photos on Langkawi’s history, culture, food and main attractions. Pick up copies from WHSmith at the airport on your way home. Scenic Langkawi was also one of the backdrops chosen by the producers of the 1999 movie Anna and the King of Siam. Starring Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-Fat, the movie of the fictionalised 1944 novel about an English schoolmistress and the King of Siam (now Thailand) could not be filmed in Thailand, so Langkawi was given the opportunity to shine through some beautiful cinematography.
The Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, has always championed Langkawi as an island holiday destination and duty-free port. Langkawi made a lasting impression when he worked here as a medical officer in the 1950s.
The Island Drum (theislanddrum.com) delivers an eclectic mix of local and regional blog posts and a steadfast obsession with listing local weekly events.
Langkawi is a duty-free island, so many items are cheaper than on the mainland. Apart from outlets like Zon Duty Free and Cenang Mall along Pantai Cenang, shop near the entrance to the cable car and at Jetty Point Complex in Kuah. The locals swear by an old-fashioned remedy called minyak gamat that includes dried sea cucumber. The ointment is said to be perfect for healing wounds.
Take a self-guided walk up the 4,270 steps to the summit of Langkawi’s highest mountain, Gunung Raya. Arrange to be picked up at the top or, more sensibly, start at the top and walk down.
Langkawi’s main island is 20 kilometres by 30 kilometres, bigger than Singapore, and is not one for walking around. Hire a car, use taxis or book a ride-sharing service to get from point to point. For the fitter ones, hire a bicycle to get a different perspective of the island.
TALKING TO THE LOCALS
Langkawi is a resort island and English is understood in tourist sites, restaurants and hotels. Learn a few words of the local Bahasa Malaysia language to impress the island folks, who live away from the main tourist areas.
- Good morning – Selamat Pagi
- Good afternoon – Selamat Tengahari
- Good night – Selamat Malam
- Thank you – Terima Kasih
- You’re welcome – Sama-sama
- How are you/Hello – Apa Khabar?
- Sudah makan? – Have you eaten?
- Yes/No – Ya/Tidak
- Goodbye – Selamat Tinggal
- Berapakah harga ini? – How much is this?
Photo Credits: Langkawi Cable Car,