Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Langkawi, Malaysia

Executive summary by darmansjah

Best For Avian Watching

in a spectacular location in the foothills of Langkawi’s highest mountain, the Langkawi Bird Paradise is Asia’s first fully covered wildlife park, home to plenty of exotic birds (60 4 966 5855; 1485 Jln Kisap; off Jln Air Hangat; adult/child US$5 / US$2.50).

Best For Kids

At southern end of Pantai Cenang is the Underwater World, Malaysia’s larget aquarium, featuring 200 different species of marine and freshwater creatures. Some exhibits, like the rainforest walk, are especially well-executed, though it is in general a great place for the kids (60 4 955 6100; underwaterworldlangkawi.com.my; adult/child US$13/US$9).

Best For Views

Head inland from Pantai Kok to the station for the Langkawi Cable Car, which will take you on a vertiginous 20-minute trip to the top of the majestic 708m-tall Gunung Machinchang, with some incredible views along the way (60 4 959 4225; adult/child US$8.50/US$6).

Best For A Splash

Telaga Tuju, ‘Seven Wells’ in Bahasa Melayu, located at the top of a waterfall inland from Pantai Kok, is a series of small pools connected by a thin trickle of mountain flow. The smooth rut between pools is slick enough to slide down, especially towards the bottom; doing so is great fun.

Best For Heritage

Kompleks Kraf Langkawi is an enormous handicrafts centre where you can watch demonstration of traditional crafts and buy any traditional Malaysian product or crafts. There are also a couple of on-site exhibitions devoted to local legends and wedding ceremonies (60 4 959 1913; free).

Why Go?

Langkawi is synonymous with ‘tropical paradise’ swaying palms, a cool colour contrast of jungle green and ocean blue offset by brilliant red, rich purple and golden mellow come sunset. The island has not been overdeveloped so get a little ways off the main beaches to experience idyllic rural Malaysia.

When To Go

langkawi’s climate is sunny and hot almost all year round. The island generally has the most rainfall between September till October, as a result of monsoon winds, and even then downpours don’t last long and you’ll still enjoy hours of sunshine.

How To Go

From Singapore, fly direct to Langkawi International Airport with either AirAsia (airasia.com) or SilkAir (silkair.com). from Kuala Lumpur, fly direct to Langkawi with either AirAsia or Malaysia Airlines (malaysiaairlines.com).

Eat & Drink

Built in traditional Maly style, Kantan looks like a kampong house on steroids. Inside, the menu focuses on upscale executions of traditional Malay food like rending and fish cooked in coconut milk (60 4 959 2336; Pantai Tengah; mains from US$6).

A popular Thai restaurant, Wan Thai is always bustling. Cheap and consistently tasty and spicy Thai dishes make it a hit with big families. Do try their special otak-otak, chockfull of seafood goodness, as well as their flavorful green curry (60 4 966 1214; mains from US!0).

At Bon Ton Resort, Nam boasts a well-executed menu of fusion goodness, from pistachioencrusted haloumi to a nine-course sampler of Strait-Chinese cuisine and at night, amid Bon Ton’s starry jungle grounds, the setting is superb ( 60 4 955 3643; Pantai Cenang; mains from US$10-US$23).

Built in the style of a limas, a traditional Malaysian home, ikan-ikan is the dining crown jewel of Four seasons Langkawi. The menu highlights authentic Malay cuisine, done up with class, and heavily features fresh seafood from the region, including tiger prawns and all sorts of fish. The star dish is no doubt their fried snapper with tamarind sauce (fourseasons.com/langkawi; mains from US$15).

One of the more popular bars along Pantai Cenang beach, Little Lylias Chillout Café, as its name suggest, is a great laid-back spot to admire the sunset, with down the night and if you’re still up for it, catch the sunrise (60 4 955 7072).


Malibest Resort is a friendly place with a great variety of rooms set among palm trees right on the sand.  These range from slightly older but still comfortable wooden chalets to more modern brick bungalows, to ‘treetop’ chalets that sit atop tall wooden pylons and enjoy uninterrupted sea views ( 60 4 955 8222; langkawibaronreservations.net; from US$40-US$75).

Lying just off Pantai Cenang, the mall island of Rebak Besar plays host to the exclusive Rebak Marina Resort, which offers spacious and elegant chalets in beautifully landscaped grounds. They even have an international-standard yachting marina (60 4 966 5566; rebakmarina.com; from US$130).

Bon Ton Resort consists of eight distinct Malay still houses perched over a coconut plantation and a pool, each decked out with dark wood and positioned to catch the breeze. It’s somewhat regal and rustic all at once, with its organic accents and traditional craftwork (60 4 955 1688; bontonresort.com.my; from US$195-US$385).

Past the headland at the northwestern end of Pantai Kok beach, the oversized Berjaya Langkawi Beach & Spa Resort has some 500 rooms spread over a vast area. The waterfront suites are the most attractive, while the others look out onto the lush rainforest (60 4 959 1888; berjayaresorts.com; from US$185).

Occupying a superb location overlooking the Andaman Sea, the Four Season Resort is a truly luxurious amalgamation of ‘pavilions’ and villas with all the indulgent comforts and modcons you would expect from this international chain. The villas come with large, open lounges, marble bathrooms and gorgeous sea views (60 4 950 8888; fourseasons.com/langkawi; from US$615).


Getting Around

There is effectively no public transport on the island though taxis are available. It is highly recommended to rent either a car (from US$25 a day) or a motorbike/scooter (from US$12 per day) to get around

Typical Costs

Mid-range meal US$17-Us$ 15, Mid-range hotel US$75-US$200, High-end hotel from US$250

More recommendation

Hot Date With Spring

Towards the north of the island not too far from the turn off to Tanjung Rhu, Air Hangat Village is known for its hot sprins. Apart from watching the water gush along artificial channels and buying souveniers, there are the occasional ‘cultural shows’ that take place (60 4 959 1357; culture shows adult/child US$1.50/US$0.50).

Be One With Nature

The Kilim Nature Park at the northeast tip of the island is spread over an area of 100 sqkm including the riverbanks up to the river estuary. The park features a beautiful mix of well-protected green mangrove forests, isolated wihthe beaches and blue lagoons. The best way is to take the sights here is to take a leisurely, scenic and educational cruise down the Kilim River.

Side Trip

Strung out like several green jewels in the turquoise waters is the Pulau Payar Marine Park, the focus of Langkawi’s dive and snorkeling expeditions. Most trips come to 2km-long Pulau Payar, although you probably won’t see the interior of the island – all the action centres on a diving platform and horseshoebend of coast. When the waters are clear, you don’t even have to snorkel to be treated to some wonderful views of tropical fish.

Find out More

For more information see Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei guide or download the chapter on Kedah and perlis from lonelyplanet.com. visit tourism.gov.my for more planning information.

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