Off the coast of Kedah is a cluster of 99 islands offering the best of many worlds: beautiful beaches, world-class infrastructure, mangroves rich in flora and fauna, ultra-cheap duty-free shopping and fascinating legends.
Langkawi has a lingering legend woven into its history. Ask anyone on the island about the tragic story of a beautiful young lady named Mahsuri, and you’ll hear a tale of love, jealousy and a curse that was placed upon the island by her for seven generations.
Today, the seventh generation of Langkawi’s inhabitants has long come and gone, but people here still believe that the prosperity and blessings the islands enjoy today and the passing of the curse is no mere coincidence. The mysticism of this legend can be felt in many parts of this island, especially at Makam Mahsuri (Mahsuri’s Mausoleum), where Mahsuri is said to be buried.
Despite what looks like a slant towards tourism, many of the islanders are actually farmers, fishermen and entrepreneurs. Experience the beautiful countryside and peaceful landscape of paddy fields by renting a car and taking a leisurely drive around the island. Some of Langkawi’s most rustic and memorable views are along the road that circles the island.
You’ll pass small villages with wooden houses framed by palm trees, and children pedalling their old bicycles on errands. Aside from experiencing the local lifestyle, there is no shortage of things to do in Langkawi. Head up the thrilling new cable car to the summit of Mount Mat Cincang – Langkawi’s second highest mountain – for an unrivalled view of the entire main island and beyond.
Other popular destinations are the Field of Burnt Rice, Hot Springs, Telaga Tujuh (The Seven Wells) and the Beach of Black Sand. Boat tours are organised to Tasik Dayang Bunting (Lake of the Pregnant Maiden), Gua Cerita (Cave of Stories) and Gua Langsir (Curtain Cave).
For a more intimate time with nature, go trekking through the pristine rainforest that covers most of Langkawi, or go on a boat tour of the mangroves. There are also opportunities to go for a dive, or play a round of golf at some of the 5-star resorts. Langkawi also has an underwater world, with an underground tunnel that runs through a giant aquarium, that has received rave reviews.
Ferries usually leave the port of Kuala Kedah on the mainland on the hour from 7am to 6pm. The ride lasts 1.5 hours. There are also ferry services from the mainland port of Kuala Perlis and the Thai port of Satun, both 45 minutes from Langkawi.
Both Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia have twice daily flights to Langkawi from Kuala Lumpur which land at Langkawi International Airport. There are also direct flights from Penang and Singapore.