I spent the last two years of my high school in the state of Kedah, one of the smallest states and definitely it has the hottest climate in Malaysia! It is located at the northern part of Peninsular Malaysia and is very near to the border of Thailand. You can see paddy fields everywhere in Kedah as it is known as the main supplier of grain rice in Malaysia besides its neighboring state, Perlis. This entry will be a bit different as I will only be focusing only on the most popular tourist destination which is the Langkawi Island located in the state of Kedah itself. Tourists rarely spend their time at the mainland, but you can see hundreds or perhaps thousands of them on Langkawi Island.
Getting to Kedah itself is fairly easy. You may take buses from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) or even take a flight from the KLIA to the state’s domestic airport in the state capital, Alor Setar. If you are planning to fly straight to Langkawi Island from KLIA, you may do so as the island does have an airport, the Langkawi International Airport. It will not cost you much to fly to the Langkawi Island actually. Or else, you can always take the ferry from the mainland straight to the island. Once you are on the island, it is advisable for you to rent a car for your own convenience. Taxis are available, but personally I suggest you to drive on your own, the island is not too big though and the traffic is fine.
It is undeniable that Langkawi beaches are some of the best in Malaysia. In fact, they are fabulous! Chenang Beach is one of them, the longest beach on the island and the most popular among the tourists, perhaps one of the most visited. Meanwhile you can do parasailing and jet-skiing at the Tengah Beach, located next to the Chenang Beach. At the northwest corner of Langkawi, lies the Datai Bay, an exclusive beach off-limits to all except guests of the two luxury resorts built in this area, which are The Datai Langkawi and The Andaman. If you are a golfer, then you may find a golf course at the Datai Bay Golf Club. Basically the Datai Bay is a public beach. There are more public beaches available and promises great views and activities for you to enjoy on the island. You might want to pay a visit and take a swim at the Pantai Kok (Kok Beach) as well, a long and attractive beach shaded by casuarinas trees. The Summer Palace scenes in the movie of Anna & The King (1999) were filmed here, however, the buildings created for the set were damaged in the tsunami incident in 2004 and only remains can be seen.
The island hopping activity is one of the cheapest and popular boat tours you can find on the island. It usually covers three spots; the Tasik Dayang Bunting (Pregnant Maiden Lake), eagle watching activity at Pulau Singa Besar and a visit to Pulau Beras Basah (Wet Rice Island). Let me give you some tips for a cheaper rate for the island hopping tour. The travel stalls at the Chenang Beach will offer you a cheap and affordable rate. You can book through your hotel as well, but the rates will be higher.
The Tasik Dayang Bunting is practically Langkawi’s largest lake and it resembles the shape of a pregnant lady lying on her back. It is believed by the locals that the waters of the lake possesses a mystical power that any woman who is unable to conceive a child will be able to do so after drinking the water from the lake as it has been blessed by a local princess. The lake offers you a scenic view that you can never forget, being a part of UNESCO World Heritage Geopark. Few activities can be enjoyed at the lake including swimming, solar paddle boating, natural catfish spa at designated areas or walk through the forest and see the Miracle Border where the lake is separated from the sea by a thin rocky ridge.
Next will be the eagle feeding activity at the Pulau Singa Besar where you will remain seated on the boat while watching the show. You will be able to witness the wild eagles at a close range as the boat will drift slowly for you to see the various kinds of eagles including the White-bellied sea eagle and the Brahminy Kite.
The last stop will be the Pulau Beras Basah where you can enjoy hanging around the white sandy beach and soak up the sun or have a splash in the turquoise-blue water of the Pulau Beras Basah. Water sports activities are also available such as the banana boat, jet skiis and you can even do some snorkeling here, but you have to bring your own equipments as they are not provided on the island. It is definitely a great spot to do so.
I dare to say that based on my experience, this is one of the best marine parks I have ever been to in Malaysia. Yes, the entrance fee is quite expensive, but has faith in me please, it is definitely worth it! 45 minutes on a speedboat and you will arrive at the inhabited island that is strictly regulated by the Fisheries Department of Kedah to preserve the original condition of the marine park. Diving enthusiasts will never miss the opportunity to dive and enjoy themselves at the marine park. If you are not a keen diver, then you can just do some snorkeling activities. The equipments are provided, so do not burden yourselves by renting it from your hotel or from any equipments stalls. Join a tour group, and they will bring you to one of the best spots for snorkeling or diving such as the Coral Garden. You have to obtain permission from the authorities before you do anything in that area, however, everything will be settled easily if you join any of the tour groups.
Take a ride on the SkyCab cable car and enjoy the amazing view due to the stunning backdrop of the 450 million years old of Mt. Mat Cincang, which is the oldest rock formation that can be found in the South-East Asia. There are three stations where you can disembark at the second station and take photos before boarding the cable car again to reach the top station where you can find twin viewing platforms and catch the cooling breeze while enjoying the panoramic views over Langkawi and the surrounding area. A small café and a gift shop are available at the third station. Think you are brave enough? Then try walking at the SkyBridge, world’s longest curve suspension bridge, suspended from a 82 meters high single pylon and hangs at about 100 meters above the ground.
Located nearby the Langkawi Skycab, just around 5-10 minutes drive away, it will be a shame if you skip visiting the waterfall. Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls or the Seven Wells Waterfalls is named after a series of seven connected natural pools fed by seven separate waterfalls in Mt. Mat Cincang. The gorgeous flora in that area will definitely fascinate you and have a dip inside the cool water and refresh yourselves. You may even want to climb up to the top of the waterfalls, past the huge rocks and through the seven pools that will take you approximately 45 minutes to reach to the top.
A three-storey building with a large exhibition space located just next to the iconic Langkawi SkyCab is the largest 3D art museum in Malaysia and second largest in the world, featuring more than 200 impressive artworks that appear almost lifelike when photographed. It is a place where you can have lots of fun, laughing and wondering how the creators of each art can ever think of creating such an interesting masterpiece. The 3D art museum is divided into different nine interactive zones including aquatic, safari, castles, fantasy, optical illusions, Egyptian and Malaysian zones. Some of the artworks even feature the iconic building in Kuala Lumpur; the great Petronas Twin Towers and the magnificent Sultan Abdul Samad building. As for the Egyptian zone, do not miss to photograph the arts related to the Sphinx, pyramids and pharaohs, each are painted very well so that they seem to come to life in photographs.
Located at the southern end of the Chenang Beach, you should pay a visit here, which is basically like a giant aquarium that houses more than 200 different species of marine and freshwater fish. The enormous Amazon Arapaimas, the world’s largest freshwater fish are also on display in a medium-sized tank near the entrance door. The Underwater World Langkawi is divided into three sections which include the Tropical Rainforest, Temperate and Sub-Antartic. The penguins at the Sub-Antartic section usually become one of the main attractions at the section. Another interesting place that should not be missed during your visit there is the giant walk-through six million liter underwater tunnel tank that houses various types of sea creatures including the sharks, giant stingrays and giant turtles. Bring your kids and let them explore the sea world at the Underwater World Langkawi.
Among the locals, the complex is better known as Taman Burung Langkawi, located not far from the Jetty. It houses thousands of birds and is divided into few sections. In some sections, the birds are flying freely and each section resembles the natural habitat of each species of birdlife. You can easily spot birds such as canaries, eagles, owls, flamingos, toucans as well as hornbills. The Langkawi Wildlife Park & Bird Paradise also offers you to enjoy for a walk through the walk-in aviary with a 15 meters manmade waterfall. There is also a souvenir store within the complex where you can shop for crystals and ornaments from Brazil and China. Children will love to experience this the most, after spending your time at the beaches, do drop by and pay a visit at the park.
The Malaysians, the local citizens especially are familiar with the legendary story of Mahsuri. In short, according to the legend, once there was a beautiful princess named Princess Mahsuri who married her lover during a time of conflict with the Siamese. Her husband then joined the fight and unfortunately, her mother-in-law who was being jealous of Mahsuri’s beauty vengefully accused Mahsuri of adultery. She was then sentenced to death by the villagers and she was stabbed even though she protested and claimed that she was innocent. She bled white blood after being stabbed as a sign of her innocence. Before she died, she cursed the island with seven generations of bad luck. Soon after, the Siamese conquered Kedah and invaded the state. In order to stop the invaders, the villagers were forced to set fire to their staple crop and poisoned their wells. The bad lucks kept on coming following to the curse of Mahsuri. That is what the legend says. Today, Mahsuri’s Tomb, the site where she was killed was being preserved as a historical site and a museum that houses Mahsuri’s jewelries and the weapon that killed her was set up and opened to public.
So, let’s not waste anymore of your time, pack your bag and enjoy your trip to Langkawi Island. Well, you can still visit few places on the mainland of Kedah if you have more time. There is nothing much to see on the mainland, but still you can drop by and look around!
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