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fieryfox Langkawi - A travel report by Farizan
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Langkawi,  Malaysia - flag Malaysia -  Kedah
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fieryfox's travel reports

Langkawi - My favourite island of Paradise

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The Langkawi archipelago is situated in Kedah consisting of 104 islands. The largest island being Langkawi Island (478.5 sq km), followed by Pulau Dayang Bunting, Pulau Tuba and many other smaller islands and islets.

Langkawi has a tropical monsoon climate with the raining season between April and October and the dry season from November to March. The local people speak Bahasa Malaysia and those originating from Thailand speak fluent Thai. English is accepted and understood by the younger generation and Chinese dialects are concentrated in the Kuah commercial centre.



View from Burau Bay
View from Burau Bay


Introduction
What is paradise if not a matter of perception? Powder white beaches, clear turquoise waters, lush ancient rainforest and a relaxed, almost surreal pace of life seems to be a starting point. Blessed with such natural beauty, the jewel in Langkawi's crown is something less obvious: hundreds of legends attached to almost every cave, island, rock and lake within the archipelago, folk tales passed down over centuries from generation to generation, a unique heritage of Langkawi Island. No wonder it is often dubbed "Isles of Legends".

Tucked against Thailand off Peninsular Malaysia's northern coast, the Langkawi archipelago contains not only one but a hundred or so idyllic islands. Scattered where the Andaman Sea merges into the Malacca Straits, there are between 99 to 104 of them – the figures vary as some of the islets are submerged during high tide. The main island and the largest of the lot is popularly known as Pulau Langkawi, about the size of Singapore. Most of the development and population are on this island, as are the places of attractions and accommodation. Pulau Langkawi is easily accessed by air or sea, through its airport at Padang Matsirat and jetty at Kuah town. The island itself is connected by an excellent road system.

How to get there
During this trip, I drove from Kuala Lumpur. It took nearly 8 hours to get to Kuala Kedah via the North-South Expressway.
It is also possible to take a flight from Kuala Lumpur or any other airport destinations in Malaysia. Taking a flight saves time but it takes away the joy of traveling along the countryside via the Expressway. If you are interested to just get away for relax and rejuvenate, perhaps taking a flight is better otherwise I would definitely recommend driving there.

From Kuala Kedah, it is necessary to take a ferry to the island. Nearby the jetty there is a complex with ample parking space. There are flat rates for tourists wanting to visit Langkawi. The last time I was there the rate was RM5.00 per day, which is not too bad considering the duration of stay in Langkawi. Transport from the mainland is not allowed. Upon reaching the island, transport arrangements may be made at the jetty. There are many car rental booths and taxis.

Since, I like to move around the island, I preferred to rent a car. Taxis from the Jetty in Kuah to any part of Langkawi cost a minimum of RM10.00 or more. If you are planning to stay in a resort, be sure to enquire if there’s free shuttle service provided. Usually there is a free transfer from the Airport or from the Jetty for Hotel Guests. As for me, since I preferred to drive around, the rental cost me RM80.00 for a 4WD. They require a deposit of RM50.00 which is fully refundable. And I was off to the hotel right after! For this visit, I stayed at the Berjaya Hotel Resort and Spa, Burau Bay.

Some background about Langkawi
Kuah, the capital town, is the island's most developed and populated place. There are many shopping complexes, offices and restaurants here. Beyond Kuah town, much of Pulau Langkawi remains (surprisingly) unspoilt. The island's centre is a picturesque composition of Malaysian countryside where brooding, rainforest mountains tower over vast expanses of paddy fields and traditional villages, while sandy white beaches hug the coastlines.

Much of the island's character is that of a rustic Malay countryside, observerable from the relaxed lifestyle of local villagers as they saunter to work or hang out with their buddies at the nearby warong (coffee stalls). A common sight is that of water buffaloes basking in the paddy fields, their dark hides contrasting with the fertile green fields.

From her early days as a place of refuge for pirates and buccaneers who preyed upon trading ships in the Straits of Malacca, the Langkawi islands have seen many changes, but the most profound impact on the islands' fortunes was when it was bestowed duty-free status by the Malaysian Government in 1987.

Since then, life has never been the same for any Langkawian, as concerted efforts to turn Langkawi into a major tourist destination resulted in more development and economic growth. No doubt it was the government’s hand which turned the tide of fortunes for Langkawi, but many local folk still believed that it was due to something less tangible, that the seven-generation curse cast on the island by Mahsuri had finally ended.

Legend of Mahsuri
According to legend, the beautiful Mahsuri was sentenced to be speared to death for adultery, a crime she was falsely accused of. With her dying breath, she cursed the island, predicting that it would not prosper until seven generations had passed. Strangely enough, Langkawi suffered a series of woes after that – crops failed, it was invaded by the Siamese and Achenese, and bypassed in mainstream development. Whatever the reason for its prosperity, today's visitors to Langkawi are spoiled for choice with over 7,000 hotel rooms to choose from.

Yet despite these changes, Langkawi has still managed to retain her identity through the ages. It is still very much a land of kampungs, beaches, rice fields, legends and easy going people. Langkawi's magical charm is one which you have to experience for yourself, a spellbinding adventure for all who set foot here.


Favourite spots:
A Traditional Malay house next to Padang Beras Terbakar
A Traditional Malay house next to Padang Beras Terbakar


Sight Seeing in Langkawi
A great place to start your sightseeing tour is to begin at Kuah town itself, where the tourist information centre is based (next to the town's mosque). Grab all the brochures and maps which you may need and you're ready to go.

Within the vicinity of the jetty and the tourist information center is the harbourside's parklands which houses the Dataran Lang and Lagenda Park – the former a landscaped square with a concrete statue of the Langkawi eagle and the latter a 20-hectare park commemorating the island's legends in sculptural form.

Heading west from Kuah town will take you to the rural countryside surrounded by paddy fields. On the way to Pantai Cenang, you will see signboards for Makam Mahsuri (Mahsuri's tomb) and here you can trace the legend. It's quite exciting for me having learned of the folktales to now visit this tomb and see it for myself.

Laman Padi, a "rice museum" is located at Pantai Cenang for those interested in all aspects of rice farming. The Underwater World, a colossal aquarium with a fascinating collection of freshwater and marine life is further down the same road.

From Pantai Cenang, take the route to the airport. A go-cart racing centre is situated along the way for those who are game to participate. Past the airport is the small town of Padang Matsirat where the very disappointing Beras Terbakar or "Field of Burnt Rice" is located. Legend has it burnt rice still appear, the remnants of an 18th-century crop which was put to torch by local villagers to prevent invading Siamese troops from taking it. At the most, you will see a pitiful bowl of burnt rice in a plastic casing flanked by a signage.

From the Padang Matsirat junction, follow the signage to Pantai Kok, a picturesque stretch of beach which some say is the finest in Langkawi. You will come across a red Thai-style structure along this road which was actually a Hollywood prop for the film Anna and the King starring Jodie Foster and Chow Yuen Fatt. Built as the Summer Palace for the Siamese monarch in the story, the structure has since been "recycled" as a tourist attraction. The admission charge is a bit steep but the place itself is well maintained and worth a visit. Cultural performances also are carried out at regular intervals here.


What's really great:
Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls (Seven Wells)
Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls (Seven Wells)



Tracing Legends of Langkawi

Makam Mahsuri
From Kuah, let the road signs lead you to Makam Mahsuri, the grave of the island's legendary heroine. Being the island's most popular legend, this tomb/shrine is to Langkawi what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris

Beras Terbakar (Burnt Rice) in Padang Matsirat
Past the airport is the small town of Padang Matsirat where the very disappointing Beras Terbakar or "Field of Burnt Rice" is located. Legend has it burnt rice still appear, the remnants of an 18th-century crop which was put to torch by local villagers to prevent invading Siamese troops from taking it. At the most, you will see a pitiful bowl of burnt rice in a plastic casing flanked by a signage.

Gunung Cincang Legends
Burau Bay is actually a delightful cove flanked by the mysterious peaks of Gunung Mat Cincang. Two resorts sit on both ends of this cove: the Burau Bay Resort and the Berjaya Langkawi Beach Resort, both built to blend with the surrounding environment.

Telaga Tujuh
Further up from Burau Bay is the waterfalls of Telaga Tujuh (Seven Wells), a playground of fairies according to local folklore. Only the fit and enthusiastic outdoor-type should attempt the thirty-minute hike up the falls.

Tasik Dayang Bunting
Top on the list of must-see island is Pulau Dayang Bunting, the archipelago's second largest island with a freshwater lake in the center famed for the Dayang Bunting Legend.





Accommodations:
View of Chalets in Berjaya Hotel Resort
View of Chalets in Berjaya Hotel Resort



There are many international standard hotels in Langkawi and these two are top rated amongst local and foreign tourists. For other choices, please have a look at my travel tips on Langkawi.
Generally the ambience for both the above hotels are of Malaysian architecture with peaceful and tranquil atmosphere.




Berjaya Langkawi Beach & Spa Resort Langkawi Island, Malaysia
ADDRESS: Karung Berkunci 200, Burau Bay, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia
PHONE: +604-959 1888
WEBSITE: http://www.berjayaresorts.com/

The Andaman Datai Bay Langkawi
ADDRESS: Jalan Teluk Datai, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah Malaysia
PHONE: +604-959-1088





Nightlife:
View from Burau Bay
View from Burau Bay


The Dallas Karaoke
c/o Jalan Penarak
Langkawi, Kedah 07000

This place is strictly for karaoke lovers only. Those who enjoy crooning to the songs of yesteryear, or even modern tunes, can do so here. There is no need to feel shy.

Black Henry Pub & Disco
Sheraton Langkawi Beach Resort
Teluk Nibong
Langkawi, Kedah 07000

This popular nightspot is located within the grounds of Sheraton Langkawi Beach Resort. As there are not many other nightspots on the island, it gets very crowded, especially when there are live performances. Patrons can indulge a game of darts or pool, or just dance the night away on its reasonably large dance floor. The Black Henry Pub is popular with locals as well as tourists from all over the island. The bar serves beverages only, including liquor. Exotic cocktails are also available



Hangouts:
Cenang Beach
Cenang Beach



The Burau Beat Pub

Here is the place to let your hair down and boogie the night away! Enjoy some hot music from the live band, which plays every night except Mondays. If you fancy a particular tune, just make a request. Karaoke lovers can check out the karaoke room. You could also indulge in a late night dip at the resort's pool. Contemporary in design, the Burau Beat Pub offers a dimly-lit, cosy spot for a fun evening. Only light snacks are available but the drink menu is extensive.

c/o Berjaya Langkawi Beach & Spa Resort
Karong Berkunci 200, Burau Bay
Langkawi, Kedah 07000


Restaurants:
Seafood chowder among hundreds of other dishes in the Buffet spread
Seafood chowder among hundreds of other dishes in the Buffet spread


Pantai Cenang, the island's liveliest beach, has some colourful dining outlets serving all kinds of food. A popular place for good Chinese and western food at reasonable cost is the Hot Wok Cafe. For Malay and western fare, try the Restoran Pantai at the northern end, a more pricey establishment but with fine ambience. In between, there are The Backofen, a German restaurant, and The Champor-Champor, a garden restaurant serving western and Asian cuisine. Some of the hotels and resorts here also have in-house restaurants which offer good food, especially the buffet meals. There is also the Boat Restaurant, in Pantai Cenang which is a nice and cozy restaurant run by a German proprietor. Prices are reasonable for such a widespread menu.

The Berjaya Langkawi Beach Resort at Burau Bay houses a unique restaurant on stilts 200metres at sea where diners' only access is to take a short boatride from the resort's pier. Called Restoran Kelong Seri Melayu Langkawi, this upmarket restaurant serves seafood/Malay cooking for those willing to splurge.


Other recommendations:
View of Roads along Kuah Town
View of Roads along Kuah Town


SHOPPING

Padang Matsirat and Kuah Town are shopping havens. Tourists may realise upon arrival to Malaysia that alchoholic drinks are extremely taxed. In Langkawi, liquour and alchoholic drinks are tax free, so take advantage and have a party! Cigarettes are also cheap and are must buys! Please note however, that when leaving the island each person is only allowed one bottle of alchoholic drinks and one pack of cigarettes. Anything more than that will have to be declared.

ECO ADVENTURES AND ISLAND HOPPING

Eagle Feeding
Watch Brahminy Kite Eagle and White Belly Sea Eagle in action trying to outwit each other during the "Eagle Feeding"

Island of Dayang Bunting
The second largest island within the Langkawi Archipelago and the largest fresh water lake in Malaysia!Separate from the sea by a very thin ridge of limestone.

Pasir Dagang Beach
Enchanting lonely beach that beckon to those in search of sun & sea.

Limestone
Along the way be mystified with the limestone caves and coves that lends character to the environment.

Mangrove Jungle
Virgin mangrove jungles hover above the water's edge.Crabs, Mud-Skippers & abundant bird lifes thrive in this relatively uninhabited.

The Lake of Pregnent Maiden
Virgin mangrove jungles hover above the water's edge.Crabs, Mud-Skippers & abundant bird lifes thrive in this relatively uninhabited.

Cave
Cave exploring for the adventure type and young-at-heart

Fish Feeding
Dare you to "UNHEAD" of massage (Cat Fish massage)

Fun Fishing
Casting their lures with high hopes for a catch. Feel the thrill of fun-fishing!



Published on Tuesday August 31th, 2004


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Thu, May 01 2008 - 09:49 PM rating by brucemoon

Amazingly comprehensive.

A great credit to you.

all the best.

Sun, Dec 18 2005 - 02:54 PM rating by jorgesanchez

5 points for your effort!

Wed, Sep 01 2004 - 04:01 AM rating by britman

I think that your report is outstanding. Guide books tell us little about Pulau Langkawi and it's great to have the insiders view.

Incidentally, I noticed that several over anxious members rated your report with just two stars before you had even finished downloading it. Their impatience ruins your effort getting its just reward!

I have no hesitation in saying that this is one of the better reports on Globosapiens and your deserve *****

Thank you I enjoyed reading it and I almost forgot to say - great pictures!

Wed, Sep 01 2004 - 12:34 AM rating by khan18

Hi Farizan,
My family and I are planning a trip to Langkawi in December and your article is a great guide. Very informative indeed!
Regards.
Khan.

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