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Langkawi, Malaysia: 10 reasons to visit

Bathing in the warm aquamarine Andaman Sea, Langkawi is an archipelago of 99 Malaysian islands just shy of the border with Thailand. White sand beaches backed by dense rain forests provide a base for relaxing holidays. But Langkawi is also a base for adrenaline infused adventures too. The Oriental Village The Oriental Village is an ideal place to start an exploration of Langkawi. Our visit there was organised by Langkawi Development Authority and there you can take the world’s steepest cable car to ascend through the lush rain-forests. This is a location designed for Instagram; every view back down over the dense emerald forests, over the verdant valleys and across to Thailand, is another one to snap. Then there is the Sky Bridge, a crescent of steel and glass, suspended in the blue void where the stupendous vertical views are between your feet. Back down at ground level, 12 projectors at the SkyDome puts Langkawi and the planet into a spectacular 360 degree dramatic perspective. A 3D adventure at Skyrex gets up close and very personal with dinosaurs from the days when they roamed the planet. Umgawa legendary adventures zipline So much of Langkawi is soaring rain-forest that a zipline through the UNESCO recognised geo-park with Umgawa Legendary Adventures is a must-do event. Even if you think you lack a head for heights both the graduated course of 12 ziplines, peaking with a 200 metres run, and the friendly staff soon build your confidence. Starting with a short descent you soon feel ready to go hands free and turn at 90 degrees for the best views of Seven Wells waterfalls. The staff can spot monkeys, flying snakes and flying squirrels at a distance, before you finally abseil back down onto terra firma. Sunset dinner cruise Late afternoon, sail from the harbour with Avante Yacht Charters, there’s a relaxed good times vibe on the warm breeze. Sailing between the tall craggy island cliffs that make up the Langkawi archipelago, anchor is dropped for guests to swim. Then, after dinner has been served, and with drinks still flowing, the catamaran sails into a blood red sunset. Jet-ski safari You could opt for 30 minutes of fun, courtesy of Mega Watersports, zipping through and skimming over the warm ripples of the bay. Salt spray flecks those essential sun glasses. Or you could head off into the Andaman Sea for a 35 kilometres jet-ski safari, your tour guide leading an arrowhead formation of thrilled jet-skiers heading for adventure. Moor up for much a needed drinks break and a cooling swim in a pure spring water lake. Then your guide will take you close to an island’s cliffs to view trees growing out of the merest fissure and birds’ nests only accessible to those who can fly. With so many islands uninhabited, some even submerged at high-tide, your party can claim as their own, for a 20 minutes break, a Robinson Cruise spot of paradise. Langkawi Old Charm experience Step back into Langkawi’s past for an evening run by Dev’s Adventure Tours. After a welcome at a traditional Malaysian house, take a guided walking tour through the rice paddy fields. To a soundtrack of cicadas, your guide tells the never-ending food-chain battle of insects, frogs, snakes and eagles in this water-logged environment. As we chop chicken, heat spices, slice mango and create roti in the kitchen, the hosts gossip of shopping in the markets and families divided over smelly durians: you either love’em or hate them. Chatter continues over a gently spiced chicken curry, surprisingly tasty as we have cooked it ourselves. Worryingly our hosts speak of changes to the rice seasons, the rainy season is no longer as regular as it was, and the crop is dependent on man’s irrigation systems. Mangrove cruise First stop on Dev’s Adventure Tours’ mangrove cruise is a vast cave system filled with insect-eating bats; an eerie subterranean limestone cathedral of stalactites and stalagmites. Cruising through the islands you may spot snakes basking on branches and eagles swooping for their lunch. Dropping anchor off a sandbar, there may be a chance to swim in the clear waters of the Andaman Sea. Then it’s time for a lunch-stop. The Danna Langkawi With architectural echoes of luxurious colonial living, the Danna Langkawi is an elegant 5* hotel. White frangipani flowers float romantically on the vast infinity pool. An immaculately curated palm-fringed white sand beach completes the paradise. Days begin with champagne breakfast in Planters restaurant, a sumptuous buffet where western breakfast meets oriental tastes too. As well as spacious rooms around the hotel’s Garden of Eden planting central courtyard and pools of giant Koi, the Danna offers detached villas featuring private swimming pool and beach access. The Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort and Spa, Langkawi One kilometre of beachfront, sun loungers waiting under Casuarina trees shaped as umbrellas, makes the Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort and Spa, Langkawi a favourite with visitors to the archipelago. The Spice Market, at the heart of a hotel designed in the style of a Malaysian village, offers a huge variety of Chinese, Indian, Malay and Thai dishes throughout the day. Though CBa with romantic dining on the beach, as the sun sets, is a bar and restaurant that is popular with the honeymooners. Ambong Pool Villas A stay at Ambong Pool Villas, a stylish rainforest resort, designed into the hillside, provides the opportunity to appreciate Langkawi’s natural environment. Each of the villas, furnished with traditional dark wood, provides either a sunrise or sunset view from its own private infinity pool. Huge glass windows, invite you into the rainforest with its birdsong, chattering monkeys and hornbills flying from tree to tree. Private dining is an option, beginning with breakfast served on your patio and a chef to cook a BBQ in the evening. Though it’s definitely worth calling in at the Rimba restaurant for the Ambong Signature Skewers or the Whole Fish Bakar with Air Assam or Squid Ink Sambal Spaghetti. Qatar Airways Taking a Qatar Airways flight to Langkawi is the way to make air travel easy and luxurious. Winners of the Skytrax 2019 Airline of the Year Award, Doha’s modern fleet, attentive service and Oryx entertainment system make the hours pass quickly. With Doha, Qatar’s capital, as the heart of its Qatar Airway’s hub, a stop of a couple of hours is an ideal opportunity to stretch your legs. If you are flying Business Class – and Qatar Airways also took the Skytrax 2019 awards for Best Business Class and Best Business Class Seat – you can enjoy the facilities of Qatar Airway’s Business Lounge too. Disclosure: Our visit was sponsored by The Danna Langkawi, Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort and Qatar Airways

Michael Edwards

Michael Edwards is a travel writer from Oxfordshire, UK. Although Michael had his first travel pieces published nearly four decades ago, he is still finding new luxury destinations to visit and write on.

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  1. I admit that my geography is terrible but I never had a clue as to where Langkawi is, to be honest I never even knew it existed. This piece has been a real eye opener. I’ve obviously been missing out on a real tropical paradise. If Langkawi’s like this then the rest of Malaysia must be quite special too.

  2. I love jet-skiing and always try to do 30 minutes of an hour when I go away on holiday. I never knew that you could do longer trips. A 35 km jet-ski safari sounds awesome. I’d like to do that one. I know it would be expensive but do you think that they’d do a full day safari?

    1. As there are 99 natural islands in the archipelago I can’t see why you can’t do a full day as there’s plenty to explore, it’s not as if you are going to run out of islands. Incidentally there are are also 2 man made islands too, bringing the total to 101 islands in the Langkawi archipelago.

      We stopped at an island where you could have got some lunch and used the loos. Perhaps the only issue is refuelling but I expect the jet-ski company could probably sort that one.

      There were 4 jet skis in a group. I expect they would stipulate a minimum group size.

      It would be quite an adventure.

  3. Langkawi must be absolutely beautiful but it seems to me that you need a head for heights with the zip line and the sky bridge. I think I’ll just do the boat trips and the beach. I’d be more than happy with those as I really don’t do heights.

  4. Not sure that Qatar Airways should be last on the list. I flew with them recently and was very impressed. There can’t be many lists in 2020 where Qatar takes the bottom place!

    Don’t under-estimate the importance of the journey. There are quite a few places on my bucket-list but having to take 2 or more flights and also enduring long-layovers has put me off travelling to them.

    I think one of the reasons for the growth of these Middle Eastern airports and airlines – Etihad, Emirates, Qatar – is that so many people like to split their journeys. Psychologically two 7 hour flights is easier to face than one 12, 13 or 14 hour flight. Also getting off the plane, having a walk and some fresh air is probably far better for you.

  5. I’ve been to the mangrove cruise in Langkawi and it was amazing. First, the majestic limestone cliff that stood out against the sky and then the forest of greens is mesmerising. You need to keep your eyes peeled for the small animals that inhabit the mangroves though and when you do spot one, it feels like finding a treasure. My kids definitely loved it. For me, it was a relaxing activity and a chance to breathe in some fresh air. It was really affordable too with a per person fee plus the boat rental fee.

  6. A friend has been to Thailand a few times but I’ve never known anyone that’s been to Langkawi I don’t think. I’ve heard very little about it really. Malaysia does have a good rep for beautiful beaches and scenic places to stay though. And now I know Langkawi has he steepest cable car in the world! Yikes. How long does it take to ride it up to the top? I’m not one for heights so I may have to give that and the jungle gym stuff a miss but there’s so many other things to do. I guess I anticipated lots of beaches to laze on and boat trips and maybe some water sports so it’s pretty eye opening. I hope it gets more airtime as a destination because I don’t think it gets much promotion.

  7. I didn’t keep a check on how long the cable car took, I was too busy looking at the views, but it didn’t take too long – maybe around 10 minutes or so.

    Langkawi has definitely got everything that you would want for a holiday. There were some people who just lazed on the beach at the Meritus and enjoyed all its activities – others, often with a head for heights, set off seeking adventures.

    You’re right it, Langkawi isn’t that well known but I see that some of the package holiday people now sell it, presumably with direct flights. Though the journey with Qatar Airways, from Britain, is perfect with a couple of hours stop over in Qatar to stretch your legs.

  8. If you live in a city that is busy most of the time, you will surely enjoy destinations like this. The stunning view will make you feel more relaxed, and the activities that you can try will make your vacation memorable. Aside from these things, I think that a luxury accommodation is something to consider since I think all the traveling and adventures would wear you out and what you’d need at the end of the day is some serious pampering. Malaysia is so big and has many hidden treasures I’m sure. It will definitely not disappoint tourists who seek for relaxation and serenity even with the humid weather.

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