Malaysia's top resorts: Langkawi

Malaysia’s top resorts: Langkawi

Although long considered ‘cursed', this spectacular island retreat has been remodeled as a tropical tourist paradise. To give it its official title, ‘Langwaki the Jewel of Kedah',


lies off the western coast of Peninsular Malaysia. It is scarcely a single location – in fact, Langkawi is a collection of islands lying some 30 kilometres off the Malaysian coast, in the azure Andaman Sea. Altogether there are over 100 islands in this archipelago.

They form part of the Malaysian state of Kedah, which runs alongside Thailand to the north. The largest of the Langwaki islands is Pulau Langwaki, which has a population of around 65,000. It is popular among visitors for being duty-free. Nearby is the island of Pulau Tuba, the only other inhabited island in the vicinity. The remaining islands vary in size and degree of isolation, but naturally this sense of being remote makes them popular with tourists escaping the hustle and bustle of contemporary life.

Because Langkawi is an increasingly popular visitor retreat, it has developed a world class tourism infrastructure. Its facilities include a contemporary international airport, well-maintained roads and a modern marina. Its hotels enjoy excellent reputations and it also boasts award-winning luxury resorts. Langwaki's golf courses are considered superb by all who have teed-off on their luscious, palm tree-fringed fairways. There is also a host of other recreational activities to collect the appetite.

The beaches every bit the picture postcard vision: white sands lapped by turquoise seas. The unpolluted waters are crystal clear, making them a magnet for snorkelers or divers. The coral reefs are a habitat that is teaming with a diverse range of marine wildlife. Divers immersing themselves in this underwater paradise will find themselves tracking shoals of brightly-coloured fish, like constantly shifting rainbows. Larger species include marlins, giant groupers, barracudas and sharks.

For visitors wishing to explore further afield, boats can be chartered for a spot of sport fishing. Those wishing a more sedate Pacific adventure can indulge in dolphin or whale spotting from the comfort of the deck, the cocktail of choice close at hand.

For landlubbers there is also much to see in the rainforests making up the hinterland of Langwaki. Guides will explain the variety of different species that scuttle around the forest floor or flutter around the canopy. The incredible biodiversity includes beautifully-coloured butterflies, an exotic array of birds, and many different varieties of mammals. The good thing about the rainforest here is that you can explore to your heart's content, knowing you are never too far away from civilization.

A cable car will take you to the peak of Gunung Mat Chinchang where you can access the Langwaki Sky Bridge. This 125-metre long walkway towers over the surrounding rainforest canopy at the height of 700 metres. This pedestrian bridge is curved and anchored by cables. Its spectacular setting has been used in an Indian action movie; but for more down-to-earth visitors it offers an unbeatable vantage point for views over the landscape.

After your long day of exploring the natural beauty of the island, you can retreat to Kuah Town, the commercial centre of Pulau Langwaki. The architecture here is a mixture of charming colonial-style housing and modern buildings. There are plenty places here to dine and unwind.