The Langkawi archipelago in Malaysia consists of 99 islands located where the Andaman Sea meets the Straits of Malacca, very close to Thailand. The archipelago was the first Unesco Geopark in Southeast Asia – a title given to sites with a strong geological heritage, aimed at promoting the economic development of the local community, especially through sustainable tourism. The destination is a unique ecological treasure, with ancient tropical forests, mangroves, and rocks over half a billion years old, which tell not only the history of the planet, but also how Malaysia has been shaped over the years by natural forces and processes, giving its form today.
Langkawi is a place attracting families, couples, partners taking advantage of the best age and nature lovers. The best time to visit is from December to March but, after talking to some locals, they said that the weather in recent years has been very unpredictable, and that storms can be expected at any time. Therefore, the ideal is to stay at least 4 days (to take advantage of the hotel, to do at least one tour and to have extra time in case it rains).
What to do in the Langkawi archipelago, in Malaysia
Hire a guided boat tour to the Mangrove Safari to visit the ancient mangroves. Along the tour you will see crabs, fish that seem to be walking in the mud, the famous eagles symbolic of the island, monkeys trying to get food with boatmen, snakes, vipers, caves with stalactites and stalagmites, and cliffs of 550 million years old.
Visit the Sky Bridge, a pedestrian bridge standing 660 meters above sea level giving the experience of walking on a rainforest; on a clear day, you can see Thailand in the distance. To reach the top, you will need to take a cable car, considered one of the steepest in the world, (entrance from 55 MYR) and then follow the path to the bridge (5 MYR, going up 300 steps, or 15 MYR, using the cable car – choose the options as soon as you arrive, since tickets are purchased at the entrance). As the cable car soars up the mountainside, you will see the Telaga Tujuh Waterfall, which is composed of 7 natural pools interconnected and fed by 7 different waterfalls (and can visited on its own). From your hotel, you can take a taxi to the entrance at the foot of the cable car (ours charged us MYR 120 for a total of 4 hours).
In Langkawi you can also practice water sports, try your hand at batik (an Indonesian dyeing technique) and visit rice plantations. With a little bit of time, it is also possible to go to Underwater World (an aquarium that has as main attraction a tunnel of 15 meters) and to go shopping, as the island is duty free.
How to get to the Langkawi archipelago, in Malaysia
Langkawi is directly accessed by flights departing from Kuala Lumpur and Penang, in Malaysia, Singapore and some cities in China. In addition to the air routes, you can also reach the island by sea, in boats leaving from Kuala Kedah, Kuala Perlis and Penang, in Malaysia, and Satun and Koh Lipe in Thailand.
Where to stay in the Langkawi archipelago, in Malaysia
Four Seasons (daily rates from MYR 2,400)
The Four Seasons Langkawi has almost 20 acres and a 1-mile private beach, has two pools – one for adults with private cabanas and one for families – and three restaurants. The rooms have Moroccan décor and, depending on the choice, you can have a balcony with sun loungers, private swimming pools or outdoor hot tub. The hotel offers bicycles and golf carts for guests to get around the property.
The Datai Langkawi (daily rates from MYR 2,100)
The resort was closed for renovation when we were on the island but promises to open as early as September 2018. It is located within the rainforest, just minutes away from the beach, and has suites and private villas with spectacular views.
St. Regis (daily rates from MYR 1,700)
With a modern décor, the St. Regis has a variety of rooms ranging from basic to over-water villas, and has a pool and butler service. One difference is that the St. Regis has a lounge with comfortable seats and food at Langkawi airport, which is quite simple and without much option of what to do / eat.
The Westin (daily rates from MYR 800)
The Westin, with its 4 pools and 6 restaurants, is a more economic option with quality service on the island.
Bon Ton (daily rates from MYR 520)
A small boutique hotel with 8 villas with Malaysian decor, which is 10 minutes away from the airport and a short walk from the beach
Currency and Visa
The currency of Malaysia is the ringgit (MYR). In Langkawi, many hotels also operate as a currency exchange office and major currencies like dollar, euro and pound can be exchanged there.
Citizens of a few countries must have a visa to get in Malaysia. Please check the list here before planning your trip.
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