There’s a paradisal quality to Langkawi, which is anchored off the west coast of Malaysia, in the Andaman Sea. Things are pretty laidback in the island’s premier town, Kuah, which has a waterfront that’s home to family-run shops and rustic bars, plus a huge statue of a swooping red eagle. In the north, you can take boat trips into vast cave networks, and the centre of the island’s dominated by rice paddies and the tree-draped Gunung Raya Mountain. Sleepy fishing villages are dotted around the unspoiled coastline, with meringue-white beaches punched between them.
- If you’ve got a head for heights, take the Langkawi Cable Car to the top of the Gunung Machinchang Mountain. Soak up the views from the peak and the Langkawi Sky Bridge. This suspended walkway curves high above the leafy canopy, and offers the best panoramas of the island.
- Tanjung Rhu delivers one of the best sunbathing scenes in Langkawi. Rocky islands out to sea are like a scaled-down version of Vietnam’s Halong Bay, and you can explore limestone caves and mangroves when you’re not on the pale sands.
- At Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls, you’ll be able to dip your toe in Langkawi’s top-rated natural attraction. The name translates as ‘Seven Wells’, but what you get is a series of pools and channels with waterfalls trickling between them.
SHORE EXCURSIONS► View all EXCURSIONS
Cable car mountain ride►
The main attraction on this trip is Langkawi’s mountain-scaling cable car. To start the day, though, you’ll spend time at the Rice Garden Museum. View the traditional tools that are used to tend paddies, and learn about the island’s history of rice cultivation. Next, you’ll visit the Oriental Village – an entertainment and shopping complex that’s themed like a local settlement. It shares the same postcode as the cable car’s base station, so you won’t have to walk far to start your ascent. Take a seat in one of the gondolas, and you’re ready to begin the steep climb up Machinchang Mountain. The sweeping panoramas are only bettered by the views from the top, so remember to pack your camera. You’ll be able to see the tree-blanketed hills melt into the Strait of Malacca from up here, and when you’re back at ground level, there’s a wedge of free time to grab a bite at the Oriental Village.
Experience of Langkawi►
From soaring statues to tapping trees, this trip takes in an armful of Langkawi’s best bits. You’ll start with a visit to Dataran Lang – or Eagle Square in plainer terms. This star-shaped platform juts out into Kuah Bay, with a 40-foot statue of a flapping eagle perched on top. The whole thing’s a nod to Langkawi’s name, which is an old Malay mixture of the words helang and kawi – which mean eagle and reddish-brown. Next, you’ll head to a museum that’s packed with thousands of gifts and awards that were heaped on Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister. Things get rural after this, as you visit a rubber plantation on the outskirts of the town. Watch as incisions are made in the bark of rubber trees, and latex is extracted in a process known as ‘tapping’. Last up, you’ll pop to Atma Alam – an art village where pretty batik fabrics are designed and printed.
Sunset catamaran cruise►
You won’t set off until mid-afternoon on this trip, which will take you out to sea in time for sunset. After boarding a smart catamaran at Awana Porto Malai, you’ll plot a winding course around the islands of the Malacca Strait. Hit the onboard bar for a chilled beer or a cocktail, then pick a spot on deck where you can soak up the scenery as the light starts to fade. There’ll be a buffet spread to tuck into while you sail, with options like Malay chicken curry, barbecued fish, and rice noodles. The main attraction of the trip comes when the sky turns a burnt shade of orange, and the scenery takes on a whole new look. Snap a few pictures, then kick back with a drink as your captain steers you back to port.