If you feel you have run out of beach destinations in the region, it is time you headed to Langkawi on Malaysia's west coast.
It is an idyllic place where you can indulge in a great meal, hang out by the beach, climb a couple of hills, get in touch with nature and get a bit of duty-free shopping done.
What it lacks in nightlife, it makes up for in charm and serenity. Here are some suggestions for first-timers there.
The food in Langkawi is diverse but when in Malaysia, you should always eat Malay food.
One of the most popular restaurants is Pak Malau Nasi Dagang at Jalan Makam Mahsuri, Kampung Mawar. It is closed on Mondays.
It is out of the way - book a taxi to get there - but if you make the effort to get out there, you will be rewarded with honest and simple food, and a stunning view of rice paddies and Gunung Raya, the tallest mountain in Langkawi.
Nasi dagang is a dish of rice steamed in coconut milk, with fish curry and topped with items such as pickles and eggs.
Pak Malau serves a variety of curries, so you can try more.
The fish curry is excellent, as is the beef rendang. Get there early as the food sells out quickly.
When you are done, head to the rice fields for some exercise.
Or sign up for one of Langkawi's many outdoor activities, such as treks and zip line. But a fun way to see the island and work on your tan at the same time is parasailing.
VISIT A BUFFALO
It is not often you see a buffalo farm, so visit the Buffalo Park at Kampung Nyior Chabang.
The farming lifestyle may come as a shock to city folks - when the smell hit me, it stopped me in my tracks - but these gentle creatures are charming.
You will be given grass to feed the animals, which was another first for me.
Make sure you try the buffalo milk and ice cream. The taste is akin to goat's milk, so it is another experience to write home about.
SHOP DUTY FREE
Most Singaporeans will feel the urge to shop.
One of the largest malls in Langkawi is Langkawi Fair Shopping Mall at Persiaran Putra.
Langkawi is a duty-free island, so it will be worthwhile to pay a visit. Popular items with tourists are chocolates, luggage and alcohol.
During my trip, I visited The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa at Jalan Pantai Dato Syed Omar, The St. Regis Langkawi at Jalan Pantai Beringin, and The Andaman at Jalan Teluk Datai.
The common link to these hotels is privacy and luxury.
The Westin is a sexy and romantic place with plenty of views and quiet corners.
Consider its beachfront dining too, especially if you are there with someone special.
The St. Regis is full-on luxe.
The villas are gorgeously appointed, the service is discreet, and it is so exclusive you hardly know if anyone else is at the resort.
For adventures such as forest walks and walks on the beach, the Andaman is great.
Nature is all around. Monkeys roam freely, and you're surrounded by all sorts of fauna.
Set on the edge of a 10 million-year-old rainforest, with Datai Bay and an 8,000-year-old fringing coral reef in front, it's a family-friendly place with enough space for every one to explore.
This article was first published on Jan 10, 2017.
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