Langkawi is a lovely archipelago comprising 99 small islands in the Malacca Strait, approximately 30km off the coast of mainland Malaysia. While rather small in size (only about 478.5 km²) there is plenty to see and do and it's small size makes it ideal to easily travel around and explore everything that this beautiful place has to offer.
Langkawi cable car & skybridge
One of the main attractions in Langkawi, and a place that you have to go to before you leave, is the Langkawi Sky Bridge. Take a ride up on the cable car starting from Oriental Village and witness amazing panoramic views of the archipelago from the top of Langkawi's second highest peak. The cable car ride takes about 15 minutes allowing you plenty of time to observe lush rainforest, mountains, islands and the Andaman sea. There are many photo opportunities with a stop about midway up before you arrive at the very top and access the sky bridge; a 125m long curved pedestrian bridge above Mount Mat Cinchang, and considered to be one of the world’s longest curved suspension bridges. If you are feeling brave, step onto the glass floor and look straight down into the vast valley below.
Don't forget to stop by the Seven Wells Waterfall before you leave; it is just a few minutes up the road from the skybridge car park. Park at the bottom and follow the short trail up to the waterfall. Look out for cheeky macaques on the way. They seem to be everywhere in Langkawi, particularly where there are people and potential food to steal. It is advisable to keep all food hidden and bags closed as they are very intelligent and will easily snatch food from you when your back is turned.
Mother and baby long-tailed macaque, Langkawi
Kilim Geoforest Park
Visit the Kilim Geoforest Park, an impressive 100km² expanse of lush mangrove forest and impressive limestone rock formations with numerous islands, beaches and caves. Here, the easiest way to explore is to take a boat trip through the beautiful mangroves, stopping off at a number of view points on route. The first stop off is at Kelawar Cave where you can observe stalactites, stalagmites and a large colony of bats roosting within the caves. It is thought that three different species of fruit eating bats roost here. Bringing your own torch is recommended otherwise you can rent one there as it does get quite dark within the cave, although take care not to disturb the sleeping bats! Next you can watch the birds of prey being fed and get some fantastic close up views of the white-bellied sea eagles and brahminy kites swooping down for fish; they are very impressive birds. After sailing along the coastline, you can then stop off at a secluded beach within the Geoforest Park to relax and unwind before heading back via Crocodile Cave, so named due to the rocks resembling a crocodile, not because there are any crocodiles there. It is a natural tunnel that has formed within the limestone that the small tour boats are able to navigate through. On the way back, there is also an option to stop at the floating fish farm for lunch. I do not eat seafood myself, however, this is the ideal lunch spot for seafood lovers and is a good place to stop off for refreshment, use the facilities and sit and enjoy the beautiful landscapes.
At 881m above sea level, Gunung Raya is the highest point on the island of Langkawi. If you are feeling fit, then you can hike up to it. Alternatively, it is possible to drive up to the top. The steps up to the peak start at the Thousand Memories Eagle Stairs just off of Jalan Padang Gaong Road and leads up through lush rainforest. Stop and catch a breath while keeping an eye out for birds and monkeys moving through the trees. Once at the top, enjoy breath-taking panoramic views all across the island. There was once a cafe at the top of the mountain, however, this is now closed so ensure to bring sufficient food and water on your hike as there is nowhere on route to get refreshment.
There are so many islands surrounding Langkawi and the best way to get around and explore is by boat. Therefore, island hopping is a very popular activity in Langkawi with multiple tour operators offering trips to the various islands within the archipelago. Trips start from the jetty at the southern tip of the island at Pantai Tengah where the majority of the surrounding islands are just a short boat ride away. The island Pulau Dayang Bunting is one of the main islands to visit. It is the second largest island within the archipelago and is said to resemble the silhouette of a reclined pregnant lady from afar. Here you can follow a short trail to the Lake of Pregnant Maiden where you can relax, swim and get refreshments. Next you will be taken to another island where you will have some time to relax on the pristine beaches and take a swim in the ocean. Keep an eye out for those pesky macaques though who are always in search for an easy meal! During the boat trip there is also another opportunity to watch feeding of the majestic white-bellied sea eagles and brahminy kites as they soar overhead and dive down to the water.
Despite being quite a small island, being so close to mainland Malaysia, there is an abundance of wildlife to see. The birdwatching in particular is amazing and you will see so many colourful and exotic birds wherever you go. In order to see even more birds, we went on a trip with the local tour group Junglewalla. If you aren't familiar with the birds in the area, it is definitely well worth booking a trip with an expert. Our guide was so knowledgeable, superb at spotting birds and knew exactly where to go on the island to find them. We visited a number of different habitats including rainforest, plantations, scrub and wetlands and saw a total of 37 species in just a 4 hour tour. We got some amazing views of all species; particular highlights include crested goshawk, mountain hawk-eagle and a great hornbill landing in a tree right in front of us.
It's not all about the birds on Langkawi though. The island is also rich in insect life with lots of colourful butterflies, plus two species of monkey: the long-tailed macaque and the less common dusky leaf monkey (above).
As you can see, despite the small size of the island, there is plenty to see and do here. We spent just five days on the island which was enough to do everything we wanted but we could easily spend a week or two here to have even more time enjoying the lovely, relaxing atmosphere, beautiful scenery and amazing wildlife!
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