is the foremost of a group of 104 islands lying off the coast of Kedah, in northwestern Malaysia. Clustered together
in a confusing, labyrinthine mass and situated along a major trade
route, the Langkawi islands have--like the Islands of the Bahamas--a
long history as a refuge of pirates. Also like the Bahamas, the
Langkawi islands have in recent times become an internationally-known
resort destination, since the same attributes that made the islands
so advantageous for piracy makes them ideal for tranquil, romantic
holiday escape. With a wealth of soft, powder-sand beaches, limestone
hills wreathed in mist, and cool emerald green jungle forest, the
natural beauty of these Malaysian islands is irresistible.
In addition to their natural beauty
and checkered past, the Langkawi islands are notable for the wealth
of legends with which they are associated. The most well-known
of these tales is that of Mahsuri, a lovely maiden executed after
having been falsely accused of adultery. As the blood flowed out
of her dying body, Mahsuri laid a curse on the island--that Langkawi
would be barren for seven generations. Soon after, the Siamese
attacked the island and ravaged it. Evidently seven generations
have passed, as the island today possesses an abundance of enchanting
flora and fauna in addition to a wealth of world-class holiday
Among the many leisure activities
available on the islands are snorkeling, scuba diving, boating,
water skiing, wind surfing and parasailing. There are many scenic
beaches on Pulau Langkawi, among them Pantai Cenang, Pantai Rhu,
Pantai Kok, Pantai Tengah and the black sand Pantai Pasir Hitam.
The seas around the island teem with fish, and fishing trips can
be arranged through your hotel. Car rental is readily available
for visitors interested in exploring Langkawi's interior; the roads
are good, the scenery beautiful. Rustic Malay kampongs, rubber
estates, scenic padi fields, and placid water buffaloes all mark
the landscape. Migratory birds favor Langkawi, and the islands
are also home to a number of species of butterflies not found anywhere
else in the world.
Exploring the Langkawi Islands:
The main town of Pulau Langkawi,
it has a population of about 11,000. Located on the southeast of
the island, the town offers handicrafts of shell and local marble
as well as duty-free shopping. Its single main street runs along
Located about twelve kilometers
from the main town of Kuah on Pulau Langkawi. Mahsuri is the island's
most famous legendary figure.
Air Hangat Village
Formerly a popular hot spring
known as Telaga Air Hangat, Air Hangat Village is now a combination
spa and cultural experience park. Located on an extensive site about
sixteen kilometers north of Kuah, the village presents performances
of Malaysian and Southeast Asian dances and traditional games as
well as cultural shows and activities such as trained elephant performances
and padi planting. The hot springs have been converted into an impressive
three-tiered fountain that is accompanied by a hand-carved stone
mural of their origins. Air Hangat Village also offers duty-free
shopping, as well as fine Malaysian, Thai, and Indonesian cuisine
served in its on-site theatre restaurant. Air Hangat is open from
10 am to 10pm daily.
Taman Buaya Langkawi
(Langkawi Crocodile Farm)
The crocodile farm is situated
at Teluk Datai, about thirty kilometers from Kuah Town. The farm
has more crocodiles than one can easily imagine--over 1000 in all,
including several rare species, as well as some alligators. Although
there is an exhibition centre with displays on the life cycle of
the crocodile and many specimens and photographs of every conceivable
aspect of crocodiles, the real draw here are the lurking thousands
of live animals. The farm has conveniently divided its ponds so as
to satisfy a whole range of common fascinations. The ponds include:
- The Species Pond. A good place
to start for those who are still a little fuzzy on that crocodile/alligator
- The Breeding Pond. A glimpse into
the intimate lives of average crocodiles.
- The Bridge-Over-Pond. The litmus
test of people's crocodile fears, this pond allows the visitor
to get a little more up-close-and-uneasy.
- The Feeding Pond. An incontrovertible
demonstration of the fact that crocodiles are way too fast and
dangerous to be your friend.
- The Show Pond. Man versus crocodile.
An opportunity to ponder why anyone would ever decide to wrestle
The Lankawi Crocodile Farm is registered
with The Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species
(CITES). The farm includes dining and parking facilities as well
as a souvenir shop. It is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm daily. Admission
Fee: Adults RM5, Children RM3.
Located about fourteen kilometers
from Kuah Town, the attraction of this modest village is that it
offers visitors a chance to participate in a number of traditional
Malaysian cultural activities. Kampung Tanamas is open daily from
8.30am-6.00pm. Entrance Fee: RM1.00 per person. (You can enter free
of charge if you have the receipt to enter Mahsuri's Tomb.)
Pulau Singa Besar
Located about forty minutes
by boat to the south of the main island of Langkawi. Because of its
diverse ecological environment, this small, undeveloped island has
been designated as a Bird and Animal Sanctuary. While there isn't
much to do here other than to observe nature, the nature of Pulau
Singa Besar rewards such attention.
- By Air: Malaysia Airlines
has a direct flight to Pulau Langkawi from Kuala Lumpur and also
from Penang. There is also direct service from Singapore.
- By Rail: Rail services are
available from Kuala Lumpur to Alor Setar; then take a taxi to
Kuala Kedah for the ferry to Pulau Langkawi.
- By Road: The North-South
Expressway makes driving pleasurable from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala
Perlis, a journey which takes about 5 hours. From here board
a ferry to the island. (Regular ferry services are available
from Kuala Kedah and Kuala Perlis on the mainland to Kuah, the
main town on Pulau Langkawi. The trip takes about an hour.)