26 Oct Langkawi – The beauty that survived the curse
Langkawi: The beauty that survived the curse
Langkawi islands, a group of approximately 100 islands, was recently given the name of Langkawi Permata Kedah, or Langkawi the Jewel of Kedah. A part of Malaysia, Langkawi is the largest of this cluster of islands and the most heavily populated.
Langkawi island is duty free and is one of the popular tourist destinations in Malaysia, and rightly so. Agriculture, fishing and small scale businesses thrive on this island because it is a destination that is blessed with beaches and paddy fields. You get a peek of rustic villages with traditional wooden houses that stand side by side with more modern constructions such as shopping malls and 5-star resorts.
Some of the most popular tourist destinations in Langkawi islands
- Mahsuri’s tomb and Cultural center: Let’s start with a dose of history. Legends say that Mahsuri was the beautiful daughter born to parents who had moved to Langkawi from Phuket. When her husband was away at war, she was accused of adultery falsely and was stabbed to death. It is said that she had cursed the island would suffer from seven generations of bad luck.Owing to the popularity of the said legend, Mahsuri’s tomb, also called Makam Mahsuri, is now a popular historical site. It consists of a white marble shrine for Mahsuri, a reconstructed traditional Malay house, a theatre and a diorama museum. You get to see Mahsuri’s jewellery, the dagger used to kill her, a collection of traditional Malay household and farming tools as well as traditional Malay musical instruments in the cultural center and enjoy a performance of folk songs in the music room.
- Langkawi Geopark: Langkawi Island was given the title of World Geopark by UNESCO in 2007. The island houses Machincang Cambrian Geoforest park, Kilim Karst Geoforest Park and houses rare breeds of wildlife in abundance. The Machincang Cambrian Geoforest Park consists of landscapes that are made of some of the oldest rock formations. You can enjoy a trek through the forest trail and immerse yourself in nature through this geoforest park. Kilim Karst Geoforest Park houses the reddish brown eagle which shares the name of the island. If you feel up for it, you can also visit the crocodile cave and the Bat Cave. The Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest park consists of stone foundations made of limestone marble formations. The name of this geoforest park means “The pregnant maiden” because of the lake housed in the southwestern region. The locals believe that infertile women conceive after taking a dip in this lake.
- Langkawi Cable car ride: This cable car promises to provide the steepest cable car ride in the world. This cable car starts from the Oriental village to Machinchang peak from where you can take the Langkawi Sky bridge. This cable car ride affords you a view to the forests, waterfalls as well as the sea. The experience of travelling in a cable car over the forests and rock formations is both thrilling and breathtaking.
- Beach hopping: Langkawi island is blessed with a plethora of pristine and beautiful beaches where you can choose to while away your time. Pantai Cenang, Pantai Kok, Pantai Tengah and Datai Bay are some of the popular beach destinations. These white sand beaches are peppered with restaurants and bars so that you can be rest assured that all you need to do will be having maximum fun. While Pantai Cenang is more populous and has more visitors, Pantai Kok and Pantai Tengah allows you to enjoy the beauty of ocean in silence.
- Jungle trekking and bird watching: As mentioned, the Langkawi island houses geoforest parks which houses multiple varieties of birds and animals and will be a treat for the eyes of an ardent nature lover. These forests house the colugo, the world’s only flying monkey, snakes, squirrels and flying foxes. This island also houses 238 species of birds and gives the birdwatchers an opportunity to spot the wreathed hornbill.
- By Air: If you choose to visit Langkawi Island by air, you can fly from Kuala Lumpur airport and it will set you back by approximately RM120. You will arrive at Langkawi directly and will not have to resort to ferry to get there.
- By Bus: If you choose to travel by bus, you can board a bus to Kuala Perlis or Kuala Kedah and you can take the ferry from there. The bus tickets will cost anywhere around RM30 to RM40 and the ferry tickets will cost around RM20 per adult.
- By Train: If you choose to travel by train, you can take the overnight Senandung Langkawi train to Arau station. The ticket rates start from approximately RM35 (second class berth). You can get down at Arau station which is the third last station and take a cab to Kuala Perlis. You can take a ferry from there in order to reach Langkawi Island.
There are multiple hotels, hostels and resort that pepper Langkawi islands, particularly around Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah. The budget hotels can cost anywhere around RM80 per night whereas 5-Star resorts range from RM250 per night onwards. A good idea would be to look around in the popular beach towns as this will help you stay close to eateries and tourist attractions.
Getting around in Langkawi
- Package tour: One of the options available is to book cab packages for an island tour. The average rates start at RM100 for 4 hours and RM25 for every hour after that.
- Booking taxi: You can choose to book a cab to travel but will have to ensure that you decide the rate with the driver. This is because there is no meter system and the charges are fixed. A long distance trip by taxi will cost around RM25 whereas a short distance trip will come up to RM15.
- Motorcycle: You can choose to hire motorcycle by day to go around the island which will cost you RM40.
- Bicycle: You can also choose to book a bicycle at RM12 and can choose to ride along the picturesque roads.
- Bus: You can also choose to get around the island by bus. However, it is not advised as you might not be able to cover all the tourist spots due to the limited number of stops.
The general opinion is that traveling by car can end up being on the expensive side. However, if you happen to find someone to share the costs with, it might turn out to be a good bargain for you.
If you are a budget traveler, it would be advisable to skip visiting during December and January as these months see the highest room prices charged. It is also suggested to travel to Langkawi by train as it will save you a night’s stay in hotel and you will reach Arau station by 8 in the morning the next day. While looking for eateries, always look for smaller eateries which serve authentic Malay food. You can choose to try out at the Malay buffet-style restaurants which provides a filling meal at throwaway prices. However, just make sure you reach quite early as the lunchtime starts from 10:30 am. The average entry prices range from RM10 -15 per adults and RM5-10 for kids. There are places such as Cultural Craft Complex and Taman Lagenda theme park which offers free entry as well.
If planned carefully, you can enjoy a visit to this island at as low as RM250 approximately per person per day including the return transfers.