24 hours in Langkawi island, Malaysia
Langkawi, the largest island on Malaysia‘s west coast, is part of an archipelago of ninety-nine islands. Long the destination for the well-heeled, this lush island offers turquoise waters that lap onto long stretches of beaches and against vast jungle-topped limestone cliffs. Plus Langkawi offers island-wide duty free shopping. What’s not to like?
So, hire a car – petrol is cheap – and make the most of your stay on this tropical escape.
Must stay at the Danna Hotel
The colonial styled Danna hotel, with its four restaurants, the largest swimming pool in town, unabashed luxury and a fabulous seafront, yet slightly out-of-the-way location makes for a lovely retreat. But don’t worry, the bustle and a change of scene is just a short drive away – as are the activities below.
Must take a boat tour of Kilim Karst Geoforest Park
Touring the lushly hemmed waterways and tiny tributaries of the mountainous Kilim Karst Geoforest Park is both serene yet ripe with exciting anticipation. At any time you have a good chance of spotting a lazy python or a large water monitor lizard while they rest on the twisted roots of mangroves.
The air is sprinkled with sounds of the blue and white coloured kingfishers and other birds. The highlight (bird-wise) is spotting the eagles (the symbol of Langkawi). To ensure tourists get to see them they controversially throw bits of chicken skin at strategic points into the water so that eagles inevitably swoop above the tour boat.
Stop at the bat cave where mosquito-eating bat colonies hang down from the cave’s 550 million year-old limestone ceiling or fly around. It is pungent yet awesome but be sure to keep you mouth closed closed as you look up in awe. Just saying. The surrounding sound is made by the thumb sized cicados.
There is a wooden bridge walkway that stretches over a mangrove where you can mingle with the long tail macaque monkeys as they frolic with some endearing abandon.
Must ride the Skycab cable car & cross the Skybridge
The Langkawi Skycab, tucked away in the Telaga Harbour area, near Burau Bay, is located in the Oriental Village – a shopping area with some small attractions. It carries you above the dense canopy of Gunung Machincang rainforest. This is a truly steep ride up Mount Mat Cincang and you eventually arrive at the peak 708m above sea level. The view over the scattered islands from the viewing platforms are, as you can imagine, sensational.
If it’s a clear day, the coastline that emerges out of the horizon over the Andaman Sea belongs to South Thailand. The Skycab runs from 10am to 7pm, but if the day brings inclement weather, it may close, so do check first.
But there is more. It’s a little heady for some, but do ascend to the Top Station in one of the glass-bottomed gondolas. You can see the ancient jungle’s treetops below.
And there’s still more. Walk across curved 125-metre (410 feet) long Sky Bridge – most certainly one of the most famous landmarks on the island. This curved walkway dangles above a chasm from a single metal pylon and seems to wrap around the mountain.
Tip: The higher you go, the more chilly it gets. So take an extra layer just in case.
Must go jet skiing
Hopping on a jet ski has to be the coolest way to see Langkawi from the water. The whizz across the Andaman Sea atop this powerful water bike is nothing short of an adrenaline rush. We set off (four skis including the guide) in an arrow formation, tentative at first but soon learn that the jet skis are more stable at faster speeds.
The skis are nimble and we pass lofty islands getting up close up to the limestone cliff faces and checking out the caves. Then taking a few minutes to splash around in the waters.
The tour takes a break at Dayang Bunting island to swim in the specially created pontoons. There is shallow end so best pick up a life jacket – supplied.
Must go shopping for Duty Free
The whole island is a duty free zone. There are bargains on perfume, chocolates and other wares to be had, especially in the jetty area and on the shopping strip at Pantai Cenang. Electronics, sweets, alcohol and tobacco are the main attraction, all at tax-free prices. Wherever you visit you will probably see sales of the herb “gamut.” People buy this sea cucumber extract in the belief it will help ease some ailments.
Must check out the ‘Pasar Malam’ Night Market
Pasar Malam, the Malay word for night market, is a great way to experience local life. It appears in various locations – just ask anyone where the nearest one is located. The most famous is the Pantai Chenang Night Market on the beach in Kuah Town and a good place to buy souvenirs. It’s popularity with tourists of course leads to higher prices, so feel free to bargain.
Must go on a Sunset cruise
Music, food, good company and perhaps a dip onto the netting to be dragged over the water by the boat. It’s a fun experience, but more than that the sunset cruise truly delivers a gorgeous sunset vision.
It also sails by Dataran Lang where a large sculpture of an eagle is poised to take flight. This 12-metre high bird faces out to the water and and is so prominent you simply can’t miss it.
NEWSFLASH: First direct flight from Europe to Langkawi
TUI will offer direct flights to Langkawi Island for the first time from the forthcoming Winter season. From 20 December 2018, TUI will operate services to Langkawi with its Boeing 787 Dreamliner from three British airports (Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham). This will make TUI the first European airline to operate direct flights to the island.