Located less than two hours away from Singapore by plane, Langkawi is a haven for lovers of the outdoors.
Did you know that Langkawi has been called the birthplace of the Southeast Asian region? This archipelago of 99 islands is where you'll find The Macincang Formation - the world's oldest rock formation at 550 million years old.
Another awe-inspiring rock formation you'll find in Langkawi is the Chuping Limestone at Pulau Dayang Bunting, which dates back to over 280 million years old. Needless to say, Langkawi is rich in natural history and beauty.
If you're planning a short trip, here are some ideas to get you started.
Start your trip at the main beach area - Cenang. This is where you'll find urban amenities like convenience stores, souvenir shops, and restaurants as well as the main draw - Pantai Cenang. This 2-km stretch of beach features fine powdery sand and a superb view to catch the sunset. You can also take part in water sports such as jet-skis and banana boats here. Being the most popular beach in Langkawi, however, it's also the busiest and most crowded.
If you prefer something quieter, try visiting Tanjung Rhu, which is on the northernmost tip of the island. Surrounded by centuries-old limestone caves and crags, this is the perfect spot to unwind and empty your mind. For something even more secluded, visit Pasir Tengkorak, also known as Skull Beach. It's a tiny lick of a beach, also located in the north of the island. It's truly quiet though - you won't find any facilities here; not even public toilets.
For dinner, head over to Orkid Ria for some scrumptious fresh seafood. Located along the Pantai Cenang stretch, this bustling restaurant serves up an array of seafood prepared in various styles - Malay, Thai, Chinese, and Western.
Some must-try dishes include the tiger prawns and curried crabs. Yum-my! For post-dinner drinks, pop over to the back of the restaurant where Thirstday is located. Set right on the beach and prettied up with fairy lights, Thirstday offers a cosy corner to relax with your (very cheap) drinks. Oh, did we mention? Langkawi is a tax-free island!
After a day of rest and relaxation, you're now ready to take on Gunung Macincang! Standing tall at 701 meters, this is not a hike for the faint-hearted. You'll need to be reasonably fit to take on the second-highest peak in Langkawi, but the view at the top will more than make up for it. As Macincang is also part of a UNESCO Global Geopark, you'll get to marvel at plenty of awe-inspiring millenia-old rock formations along the way.
Once you're done with the hike, soothe your tired muscles with a pampering massage at any one of the many spas dotted along the Pantai Cenang stretch. Then, kick back with a drink (or two, or three) at Ah Chong Beach Bar, located just a short walk away from Thirstday. The rustic, laidback vibe of this beach shack combined with the friendly demeanour of the bar staff makes this one of our favourite drinking spots on the island.
One of the best ways to explore the islands surrounding Langkawi is to join a boat tour. These tours are offered by virtually every tour operator on the island, and offers you an affordable way to see and experience Langkawi. A typical tour starts at 9am in the morning and ends by lunchtime.
The first stop is usually Pulau Dayang Bunting, also known as Pregnant Woman Island because of its shape when viewed from the side. You'll be given about an hour to explore the island, which holds Lake of the Pregnant Woman, a pristine freshwater lake where you can swim, kayak, and pedal-boat in.
Another island you'll visit is Pulau Singa Besar, where you'll get to witness magnificent scenes of golden brown eagles swooping in and out of the forest. Langkawi actually translates to "island of the reddish brown eagle" in colloquial Malay, so do keep a lookout for the iconic bird of prey.
In the afternoon, head over to Panorama Langkawi, where you can hop on to the Sky Cab - the world's steepest cable car ride. With 360-degree views of Langkawi spread out around you, it's hard not to feel a little breathless, especially if you're in a glass-bottomed cabin! At the uppermost station, stop for a picture or two before trooping over to the Sky Bridge, which is a curved pedestrian bridge built atop Gunung Macincang.
Perched at 700m above sea level, you can't help but feel like you're walking at the top of the world.
Round off your day of exploration at Wonderland Food Store, located in the island's commercial centre, Kuah. Like Orkid Ria, Wonderland serves up a tantalising array of fresh seafood, prepared in a variety of cooking styles. Recommended dishes include the steamed fish with ginger and lime, crabs in Kam Cheong sauce, and the tiger prawns. Because of its popularity, Wonderland is often packed to the gills, so come early!
Before you head home, make a date with a nature guide for a trek through Gunung Raya Forest Reserve. This is where you can get intimately close with Langkawi's varied flora and fauna.
As you meander through the rainforest, look out for towering hundred-year-old trees, butterflies in assorted hues and sizes, as well as other native animals such as the Dusty Leaf Monkey or the Great Hornbill. Be sure to apply liberal amounts of mosquito repellant though - the mozzies here are relentlessly persistent!
After an invigorating trek, head over to Kaki Gunung Cafe, located just a short drive away from the forest reserve. This Arab-Malay food stall specialises in deliciously aromatic briyani, served with either chicken, mutton, or both.
The meat comes in an odd reddish hue, probably due to the unique blend of spices in the marinade, but each bite is robust and flavourful. You'll want to finish every last bite. Simply sedap!
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