Think great adventures and captivating scenery, think Langkawi! The enthralling Langkawi island or sometimes known as Legendary island as it is enshrouded with legends and myths is an archipelago of 104 islands overlooking the panoramic Andaman Seas and Straits of Malacca. Do you know that the largest islands here are even bigger than Penang island? Well, that’s another matter. Other surrounding islands popular among tourists are Island of the Pregnant Maiden (Pulau Dayang Bunting), Beras Basah Island and Lion Island (Pulau Singa Besar). This island derived its name from the abundance of eagles on the island. The reddish brown eagle statue poised for flight in Dataran Lang (Eagle Square) best represents Langkawi.
Of course the main tourists attractions on the island are idyllic white sandy beaches with swaying coconut trees and crystal clear blue water. Legend has it that Mahsuri once laid a curse on the island for seven generations because she was executed for infidelity and adultery (but yet she bled white blood during her execution to prove her innocence). But it seems that her curse is over since Langkawi is now a popular tourist destination in Malaysia with thousands of tourists every year. Once a sleepy fishing town, the island is now a major shopping hub following government’s decision to declare it as a duty-free zone. Thus, you can easily recognize the differences and developments on the island as the beautiful countryside and panoramic landscape of paddy fields have turned into tourist attractions catered to sightseers.
Therefore, Langkawi island is a shopping haven for shopaholics as you can pretty much get everything from liquors to cigars, chocolates to fashion apparels and many more at tax-free lowest prices. In terms of population, majority of the folks here are Malays (up to 90 percent) while the remaining 10 percent comprise Chinese, Indians and Thais. The island has a population of around 65,000 people and most of the other islands of the archipelago are inhibited apart from Pulau Tuba. Besides well-known as a shopping haven, the Island has also been named World Geopark by Unesco in June 2007. The three main conservation areas are Island of the Pregnant Maiden Lake, Kilim Karst Geoforest Park and Machincang Cambrian Geoforest Park.
You can easily get to the island via ferry from Kuala Perlis or by taking flights from Kuala Lumpur operated by AirAsia. The island is not only geared towards tourism because majority of the local folks are either skilled fishermen, farmers or entrepreneurs. To further boost tourism industry in the island, government has initiated The Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) development programme by upgrading and improving facilities on the island in an effort to push the island as a world-class tourist destination.
Langkawi Island is a renowned tourist destination which means that tourism remains as one of its main economy. The agro-based industry here has been practiced for generations before tourism became popular. The locals are known to be involved in padi and rubber planting and fisheries as well. It is part of the NCER or Northern Corridor Economic Region development programme.
Through NCER, government is working hard to drive more developers to operate world-class hotels and holiday resorts on the island to accommodate the growing number of tourists every year. In addition to that, more attractions such as adventure tourism, exhibition centres, day cruises, zoo and factory shopping outlet would also be introduced to diversify the tourism attractions to appeal to travelers from abroad. Based on statistics, it is believed that the island is the busiest island in Peninsular second to Penang. The top hotels include Andaman Resort, Langkawi Seaview Hotel, Lanai Beach Resort, Hotel Grand Continental, Langkawi Lagoon Resort, The Datai Hotel and D’Coconut Hill Resort.
More facts about Langkawi Island
Langkawi Island is known as Langkawi Permata Kedah which means ‘The Jewel of Kedah’. Being one of the top tourist destinations in Malaysia and the world, it has a motto of Bandaraya Pelancongan which means ‘City of Tourism’.
Located within the state of Kedah, Langkawi Island is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world with a population of about 100,000 people.
Naturally, Langkawi Island is actually made up of an archipelago of 104 islands which are all located in the beautiful Andaman Sea. It is situated about 30kilometers from the mainland of Peninsular Malaysia and is popularly known for its duty-free status.
Province : Kedah State
Country : Malaysia
Latitude : 06 19 N
Longitude : 99 50 E
Langkawi Island is located just off the coast of North Western Malaysia, about 30 km from Kuala Perlis and 51 km from Kuala Kedah and close to Thailand. The archipelago of Langkawi contains 99 islands during high tide whereas during low tide, the number of islands can be as many as 104. Sanctuary of some of the most ancient rainforests in the world, they are teeming with exotic flora and fauna. the island itself is the largest among the archipelago, measuring about 478.5 sq km, is the only one with any real settlement. It fringed by lovely beaches scattered along its coast. The island is still very much a rural landscape with villages and paddy fields.
The name Langkawi is said to have been derived from the name of the reddish-brown eagle which is locally known as ‘helang’ which is found in abundance here. The most common species here is the ‘Lang Merah’ or Brahminy Kite. Meanwhile, ‘Kawi’ is the Sanskrit word for marble and is very unique here as well.
Reaching Langakwi Island is very convenient where there are airline services coming here daily through Malaysian Airlines and Air Asia, among others. Besides that, boat and ferry services are available through the Langkawi Jetty Point that comes here from the likes of Penang, Kuala Kedah, Tamalang and Kuala Perlis as well as from Thailand’s Satun and Ko Lipe Island.
Drive to Kuala Kedah or Kuala Perlis, the main take-off points by ferry to the island. The journey from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Kedah takes about six hours while Kuala Perlis is another hour away.
Malaysia Airlines and budget carrier AirAsia provide direct air services from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). There are direct flights to the island from London twice a week.
Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) or Malayan Railway provides economical and comfortable rail services from Kuala Lumpur to Alor Star in Kedah and Arau in Perlis (north of Kedah). From these points, take a taxi or bus Kuala Kedah and Kuala Perlis for your ferry to the island.
Express ferries provide regular services daily from both Kuala Kedah and Kuala Perlis. The journey takes about 1 hour 15 minutes and 45 minutes respectively. From Penang to the ferry takes about 2 hours 30 minutes. The island is also a stopover for Star Cruises, one of the largest luxury cruise lines in the world.
Mention Langkawi to any Malaysians and you will be told of the rich folklore and legends of the island. Within the archipelago, almost every cave, lake and forest of Langkawi is linked to a certain legendary story. Among the most popular here is the story of Mahsuri who was falsely accused of adultery and sentenced to death. She cursed the island for seven generations before her death where many problems sufficed after that.
Langkawi comes under the jurisdiction of the Kedah state which has a total land mass of nearly 48,000 acres. The main island is the most popular place here where hundreds of thousands of visitors and tourists come by every year. The oldest geological formation here is the Gunung Matchincang.
Similar to other parts of Peninsular Malaysia, Langkawi Island experiences tropical weather all year round. As it is on the western side of the peninsular, it experiences the rainy season between March and November. Between December and February meanwhile, Langkawi Island experiences the dry season. Among all the 12 months, August is the wettest month of the year.
Most of the locals here are of Malay origin which makes up about 90% of the total. Malays here are Muslims while the Chinese people are primarily Buddhists and Christians. Hinduism is practiced by the Indian people here while there are a small group of Thais as well.