Made up of 99 islands, Langkawi is a wonder on Malaysia’s west coast. Beset by turquoise sea, the main island’s interior is a mixture of jungle-clad hills and picturesque paddy fields. If you’re intent on carting off cigarettes, duty-free alcohol and chocolate, this is the place. Still, adventure junkies and nature lovers will find the archipelago just as beautiful.
Langkawi is the essence of visitor brochures that don’t creep on descriptions such as ‘paradise’ and ‘sun-kissed.’ The good news is that the beaches live up to the hype, but it’s also a region that maintains its Malay roots. If like most, Langkawi is the only stop on your itinerary, you can be rest assured that you’ll still get the opportunity to experience numerous things.
The Mystery Behind the Name
The name “Langkawi” has two potential origins. First, it was thought to be linked to Langkasuka’s kingdom, a translation of the Malay Negeri Alang-Kah suka (“the land of all one’s wishes”), focused in modern-day Kedah. Second, it could be a mixture of the Malay words ‘helang’, which means “eagle” and ‘Kawi’, suggesting “strong” or “reddish-brown” in old Malay.
How to reach Langkawi?
With so many available modes of transport available today, traveling Langkawi has never been easier. An unbelievable number of visitors crowd the Kuah Jetty after boarding ferries from the mainland.
On the other hand, Langkawi flaunts an International Airport, located 12.4 miles (20 km) away in Padang Matsirat, for tourists and locals with a little more budget to spare.
Top Attractions in Langkawi
Kilim Karst Geoforest Park
The dock near Tanjung Rhu is the central departure point for boat trips into the boundless mangrove forests with striking limestone formations that edge much northeastern coast of Langkawi. Itinerary generally involves a stop at Gua Kelawar (a cave that’s home to bats), eagle-watching, and lunch at a floating restaurant.
The range of freshwater rock pools at Telaga Tujuh, situated at the tip of a waterfall inland from Pantai Kok, makes a delightful alternative to dabbling about in the ocean. To get here, stroll the road from Pantai Kok past Oriental Village until it ends at a car park. From here, it’s a calm 10-minute climb through the rainforest to the wells at the peak of the falls.
SkyCab is the principal highlight of this family-friendly amusement park, a cable car that speeds visitors to Gunung Machinchang (713m). For an extra RM6/4 (adult/child), you can walk along the 100m-high SkyBridge for knee-trembling views across the forest canopy. Arrive early to dodge long queues at weekends and throughout school holidays.
On the northern coast, Tanjung Rhu is one of Langkawi’s more expansive beaches, bordered by magnanimous limestone stacks that bend the sea into a bright bay. On rainless days, the sunsets here give the word ‘astonishing’ new definition. The sea is shallow, and during low tide, you can stroll across the sandbank to the nearby islands.
Things to do in Langkawi
- Rent a scooter/bike: The best way to explore the island is by renting a scooter or a motorcycle—numerous rental shops along Jalan Pantai Cenang are accessible.
- Go-Karting: In Langkawi, Morac International Karting features a 1,000-m track. If you are traveling with kids, it will be a memorable experience to take a short car drive.
- Play Golf: There is a world-class, 18-hole golf course situated near the Datai resort.
- Jungle trekking: Follow any of the many jungle trek routes accessible throughout Langkawi. The vegetation is not thick. Still, it will be an unforgettable experience.
What to eat in Langkawi?
If you can’t stand spicy food, I have a piece of bad news. Langkawi loves their food hot and even if they tone everything down at your request, you may still find your food challenging to eat. However, you can try one of the many seafood restaurants alongside the beach for some sweet and sour seafood options. Don’t forget to feast on the popular freshly-prepared banana leaf-wrapped nasi lemak (steamed rice in coconut milk).