It has long be known to all for its exquisite beaches, but like one of its exotic butterfly species, the Malaysian archipelago of Langkawi is finally revealing itself as a true holiday destination for those who look for more than just a beach bumming getaway. Below are nine other great reasons why would you want to visit Langkawi, “The Jewel of Kedah”.
THE ‘FLYING FIVE’
“Langkawi is home to what I call the Fabulous Flying Five,” says Malaysian TV’s famed ‘JungleWalla’, naturalist Irshad Mobarak. “Africa has its Big Five but we have flying snakes, flying squirrels, flying foxes, flying dragons…we even have flying lemurs.”
The fascinating facts that Langkawi has these amazing iconic habitats living here is a proof that there are a lot of exciting things to discover in Langkawi. The rarely seen cloaked monkey is the world’s only flying primate and can only be seen at Langkawi’s Datai Bay, located in the far northeast of the main island. In fact they can only be spotted right there in its very own unique habitats far from the threat of humans. Datai Bay is also known for its superb beach too as far as we know.
Leading a truly intuitive nature walks from The Datai Langkawi that has the potential to leave you with a completely different outlook on natural history, Langkawi unveils its uniqueness. Langkawi is also providing these nature lovers with more demanding treks and expeditions. It’s possible to trek to the summit of Machinchang in a two-day roundtrip but unfortunately you need to carry your own tent – or, better, a jungle hammock.
Technically over half the size of Singapore, Langkawi is home to various species of birds (more than double the numbers of butterflies available here) with many of the spectators naturally drawn to the once in a lifetime sightings of the rarely seen wreathed hornbill and the great hornbill (the latter sometimes measured around 1.3 meters from its beak’s tip to the tip of its tail). If you are lucky you can also spot eight species of kingfisher across the archipelago too.
As the oldest mountain in Malaysia Peninsular, Gunung Machinchang is one of the must see attraction there. Five hundred and fifty million years ago it was still part of the supercontinent of Gondwanaland (comprising that would later become Australia, Africa and South America). Then about 200 million years ago, a tectonic force pushed the mount above the surface of the sea and become Langkawi. At the moment Gunung Raya is still the highest mountain on Langkawi (at 881m) but you can easily reach the peak in just half an hour by car by driving across a series of attractive, jungle-shrouded corners.
Famous to most Malaysians and locals, Langkawi is the home for attractive waterfalls and also its breathtaking beaches. The highest to date – a cascading wall of water that drops 200 meters, through the levels – is Air Terjun Temurun (Temurun Falls, located right in the Gunung Machinchang Forest Reserve in the northwest area of the main island).
Just in the inner side from Pantai Kok nearer to the center of the island, Seven Wells Waterfall cascades off the border of Machinchang Mountain and has seven of its natural pools at the top. You can visit it on the way down from the summit or via 600 steps leading from the carpark at its base.
Being recognized by Unesco in 2007 as a site that is unique with its geological heritage, Langkawi is an adventurous sighting and also a learning experience whether you are a geologist type or average Joe kind of explorer that is struggling to grasp 550 million years of tectonic formation. The Langkawi Geopark also offers a series of inspiring exhibits that will put everything in context. Exciting activities such as horse rides, row boats and Segway tours are also available.
LANGKAWI CABLE CAR
Nevertheless, Langkawi is also made famous for its cable car that runs from the Oriental Village open air mall that located just nearby Pantai Kok, to the peak of Gunung Machinchang. The car climbs through two sections with a short flight of steps that lead up to the peak itself where there are breathtaking views, and plenty of affordable souvenirs shop that you can get yourself busy with. From the top of the mountain, you can also walk along the SkyBridge, a 125m steel pedestrian suspension bridge that stretches between both peaks. They have also installed a glass-bottomed section on the walkway to make the bridge walk more exhilarating.
KILIM KARST GEOFOREST PARK
The 100 kilometers strip of giant limestone formations, captivating beaches, lagoons and mangrove swamps that comprise Kilim Geoforest Park in the far northeast of the island are best to be explored by boat ride. Most tours available there also take in the floating fish farms and even a rare chance to feed the stingrays still kept as a tourist’s attraction. Some operators compete in chances to promote the vast amount of activities such as feeding wild eagles, kites flying and monkeys, but this practice that can transform wild animals scene into picnic area fest, is not recommended. Also you can find great stalls and restaurants offering delicious lunch menu here which also act as one of their common attractions here.
MAHSURI’S TOMB & CULTURAL CENTER
Mahsuri is Langkawi’s own folk heroine. According to local legend, the beautiful maiden was wrongly accused of adultery and sentenced to death, but before she could be executed she cursed her wrongdoers (and, by association, the island as a whole) to seven generations of bad luck. Langkawi remained an economic backwater for the next 200 years. When Wan Aishah (the seventh generation descendent of Mahsuri) returned to Langkawi from Thailand in 2000, the whole island celebrated, and, coincidentally, it henceforth began to emerge as one of Malaysia’s top tourism drawcards.
As if Mahsuri’s tale is not enchanting enough, the cultural centre, located about 17km northwest of Kuah, offers a great insight into Langkawi’s history and local life up until current times. A modest, marble tomb commemorating Mahsuri’s death can be found in the garden, allegedly marking the spot where she was originally buried.