Here’s Why Langkawi Should Be Next on Your List
Unspoiled, tranquil and impossibly beautiful, Langkawi Island is part of an archipelago of 104 islands 18 miles off the mainland coast of Malaysia and less than an hour’s flight time from the capital city, Kuala Lumpur. For years this Asian paradise hub has been the pillar of ecological research and environmental interest, in part because Langkawi’s oldest geological formation was the first part of Southeast Asia to rise from the seabed more than half a billion years ago. Because of this, rocky headlands and sandy bays characterize much of Langkawi’s coastline.
Unlike the more touristy parts of Asia (like Bali and the islands of Thailand), Langkawi still enjoys a laid-back atmosphere despite attracting a fair share of travelers who want to experience luxury and nature amid magical sunsets and sunrises. Two-thirds of the island are densely populated by rain forest, mangroves and foliage that are some of the oldest on the planet — and there’s always the chance of spotting wild animals, too.
Two species of monkeys can be found in Langkawi. One is the ubiquitous long-tailed or crab-eating macaque, which is common throughout Malaysia. The other is the dusky leaf monkey or spectacled langur. Grey-black in color, this species is quite shy, is small enough to seem like a baby monkey and is easily recognised by the white rings around the eyes, which give the animal a constantly startled expression. They are best spotted during dawn or dusk, as they spend most of their hours either deep in the jungle or sleeping.
Flying lemurs may be seen at dusk. These animals are not related to the lemurs of Madagascar, and they glide rather than fly. There are just two species of flying lemur worldwide, and one of them is located in Langkawi. As with most creatures of the rain forest, these fascinating animals are arboreal and nocturnal. The gliding membrane extends to each body extremity including the tail, giving it a kite-like shape when gliding.
Most of the animals on Langkawi are friendly to humans (they won’t hurt you), and they feed on fruits, flowers and other vegetation. The only advice one would give is not to touch or feed the wild animals, no matter how tempting the cuteness may be.
Langkawi Sky Bridge
Situated nearly 2300 feet above sea level on top of Mat Cincang mountain, this 410-foot-long curved pedestrian bridge offers an exhilarating view of the Telaja Tujuh waterfalls, the lush rain forest and several islets surrounding Langkawi. The bridge is accessible via the iconic Langkawi Cable Car, which is located in Oriental Village and is one of the world’s steepest cable car rides.
Langkawi Art in Paradise 3D Museum
Also located next to the Langkawi Cable Car is the Paradise 3D Museum. Featuring more than 200 impressive artworks that appear almost lifelike when photographed, this is the largest 3D art museum in Malaysia and the second largest in the world. With its nine interactive zones within a three-story building, this unique attraction is definitely worth a visit.
Langkawi (and Malaysia in general) is known the world over for amazing cuisine like nasi campur, a mixed rice dish that is a staple throughout the country as well as in Indonesia and Thailand. This must-try would not be complete without sambal, the spicy chili sauce served on the side. Seafood is a big thing in Langkawi, and while places such as Cenang have an abundance of places serving fine local cuisine for under a dollar, Langkawi also caters to the high-end diner. Try Jala at the Andaman Resort. Jala is where you get to choose the fresh fish that has been caught that very morning from the Andaman Sea, and then select how you’d like it cooked. A highlight of the menu is the grilled red snapper with a green curry sauce, accompanied with out-of-this world pak choi and coconut-infused basmati rice. Honeymooners can take this one step further and dine under the stars on the beach.
Where I Stayed
Perched on the north coast, the Andaman, a Luxury Collection Resort is a truly exceptional, 5-star vacation spot. The property is cradled by lush ferns and ancient forest with a view ahead of Datai Bay, which turns from sparkling blue to deep turquoise to a silver-flecked navy as the day progresses. The beginning of the spring season is the best time to visit the island — the temperature is bearable and the consistent nighttime showers leave everything clean and crisp during the day.
If you want the perfect honeymoon or a family holiday in Southeast Asia, without the hassling crowds and noise, then book a place at the Andaman. Honeymooners should try to secure suite 139, otherwise known as the Honeymoon Suite. We spent five nights here and it was the time of our lives. Nothing beats enjoying Veuve Clicquot with your feet in the sand at the beach bar, watching the sun setting and leaving a glorious red sky behind, or spending an afternoon enjoying an open-air couples massage to the sound of crashing waves.
How I Got There
We took the short one-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia Airlines, which, in addition to Air Asia, offer numerous daily nonstop shuttle flights from the capital city and Langkawi. Most people take a short stopover in Kuala Lumpur before coming to Langkawi. Malaysia Airlines also offers seamless one-stop air connectivity between Kuala Lumpur and several major cities in the U.S. through a codeshare arrangement with American Airlines and Japan Airlines, its partner airlines in the oneworld alliance. It’s also possible to fly first to Singapore on Singapore Airlines and then take a short, connecting flight to Langkawi from there.
About the author: Navjot Singh, a well-known British author, journalist and photographer, takes us on a tour of the beautiful island of Langkawi in Malaysia. For more of his travel exploits, visit his website.