Langkawi Island (Pulau Langkawi)
"For Tropical Beaches, Rainforests, And Wild Adventure"
Langkawi Island is the perfect place to take it easy. Lounge on the beach, sip fruit juice and turn toasty brown.
Tucked away in the northwest corner near Thailand and the Andaman Sea lie the Langkawi Islands, a cluster of 99 tropic isles surrounding the big island dominated by the tall peak of Gunung Raya (881 meters) and the skyline panorama of the Machinchang Range.
But as a haven for wildlife, the main island offers easy access to its wild inhabitants when cruising a mangrove forest or doing some jungle trekking. No need to fear the terrain, you can make observations from jungle paths and mountain roads traversing island habitats to allow everyone a better chance to find fauna up close.
Despite the explosion of modern development, Langkawi Island retains much of its natural goodness in its forest reserves and recreational parks.
For those seeking a nature outing more than an adventure, take advantage of the well-maintained trails and walkways that meander through the jungle and road trips up the mountain. Explore the scenery at night with torchlights to find another world of curious creatures that come out in the darkness.
All it takes is a little initiative, some curiosity and a vehicle to ferry you to the island's display of biological wonders. And save a day for diving or snorkelling among the staghorn, table and boulder corals at Pulau Payar Marine Park, just an hour or two away from the main jetty.
Natural Things To Do
Langkawi Island: Nature Attractions
Cable Car Langkawi Trails
The lure of Langkawi's panoramic cable car attraction is not to be missed. The gondola ride rises right over the rainforest canopy, a view seldom seen and never dull. Where else can you perch above the tropical jungle before shooting up the shear cliffs of Gunung Machinchang?
Nothing can beat the spectacular perspective of the grandeur of nature from inside a capsule floating in the air. It is fifteen minutes of silent ecstasy. After taking in the big scenes from atop the viewing platforms, take a simple 30-minute hike between the two structures.
The trails starts from the far end of the new sky walkway and leads you back to the first platform. It's an easy stroll through the hilltop forests and a great start to get you in the mood for more nature romps.
For those seeking more a longer rainforest romp, you can spend half a day and walk the mountain trail. Either start from the Oriental Village and climb up or enjoy a downhill trek after riding the cable car to the top. The trail begins from behind the second platform and there are one or two shelters along the way to wait out thunderstorms. Prepare plenty of food and water for a long hike or in case bad weather causes delays.
Seven Wells (Telaga Tujuh)
Nearby the Oriental Village, a 90-metre tropical waterfall cascades into a series of large pools etched into the rock. Located in prime hill forests, Seven Wells offers plenty of premier habitats to observe wildlife.
Bands of macaque monkeys greet you in the parking lot and hang out near the souvenir and food stalls clustered at the base of the hill. A hard 200-metre climb rewards you with a short forest path to the falls, where picnic huts and shallow pools await to cool you down.
Linger for a while first, then climb the stairways to the upper pools to a large viewing platform next to the stream. Spend some time wandering in and out of the adjacent forest and relax along the way.
As the highest peak in Langkawi Island at 881 metres, Gunung Raya stands tall as a great wildlife haven. Just follow the main road that traverses from the big trees of the hill forests to mountaintop mossy habitats.
The best thing about going up Gunung Raya is that you cross habitat extremes from your car or via the jungle trail. And you'll never know what you'll find. Do this trek once during the day and another at night.
Keep your eyes pinned to the ground to note quick animal movements, but don't forget to look up. The swooshing sound of black and white Oriental pied hornbills often sweeps through the sky.
At night the snakes and civets come out. Flood the tarmac with headlights and watch out for cat-sized civets scampering on the sideroads and pit vipers on the road. Yes, poisonous snakes with triangular-shaped heads. If pit vipers are seen, keep cool and keep at a distance. Use binoculars.
Hutan Lipur Lubok Semilang
Probably more popular with local residents than tourists, recreational parks are some of Malaysia's hidden gems. Lubok Semilang is no exception.
At the foothills of Gunung Raya, lush vegetation surrounds a modest stream and a steep stair-step trail that goes to the top of the mountain.
No need to climb, just hang around the water, cross the bridge and follow the tarmac trail on the opposite side back to the parking lot. At night this trail is awesome in its bounty. Enclosed by huge tropical trees and dense foliage, creatures big and small appear.
The array of insect life is fascinating and if you're lucky you'll spot a flying lemur clenched to thick branches above or watch it glide to a nearby tree trunk.
Mangrove forests protect Langkawi Island from coastal surges and provide critical habitat for wildlife, shellfish and fish.
Take a boat tour of the Kilim forest reserve to view this unique wilderness full of fiddler crabs, monitor lizards, otters and dolphins, and a variety of birds from diving kingfishers to majestic eagles and kites.
Most mangrove tours start from near the Tanjung Rhu fishing village jetty, where fishermen and guides offer half-day outings to cruise the forests and a pit stop at the bat cave.
Many of Langkawi's isles, made from limestone, shelter both plant and animal species from bats and trapdoor spiders to rare orchids and palms. Besides being valuable for conservation, these smaller islands provide great day trips and photographic landscapes.
Head to Pulau Singa Besar, a wildlife sanctuary, to observe some introduced species like the mousedeer. Visit Pulau Dayang Bunting (Lake of the Pregnant Maiden) for a swim or paddleboat in a semi-freshwater lake.
Or just enjoy a walk around in the forest to watch monkeys and other wild things. There are strong legends associated with the island, so be sure to ask about them.
Check out some of the other islands for homestay programmes with fishermen families or cruises through the mangrove forests.
Pulau Payar Marine Park
For an underwater experience, Pulau Payar offers choices for everyone. Dive among a group of rare pristine coral reefs found on Malaysia's west coast to explore massive boulder, staghorn and table corals, sea anemones and sponges, and spectacular marine life.
A large floating pontoon keeps visitors right over the reef for easy access by snorkellers. Staff from the Marine Park Information Centre assist in keeping visitors safe and providing basic services for day-users. Daily cataman runs from Langkawi Island (Kuah jetty) take less than one-hour to reach the isle.
The shallow waters of the bay attract blacktip reef sharks, while the reefs get busy with barracuda, snappers, damselfish, fusiliers and much more. And if your timing is right ... the graceful whale shark. To avoid the rough seas of the rainy season, try to go between March and September.
Langkawi Island: Hotels
Hotels in Langkawi Island run the full range from isolated hideaways like The Andaman and Datai to the busy beachfront properties along Cenang Beach. If you want to stay near the jetty, Kuah town offers plenty of budget and midrange choices. Some resorts are closer to Oriental Village and the cable car ride, while others offer unique features such as relocated tradtional Malay wooden homes.
Find the perfect location to romp in the rainforest and have the beach within walking distance.
Langkawi Island: Getting There & Getting Around
The easiest way to get to Langkawi is to fly straight from Kuala Lumpur. Both Air Asia and Malaysia Airlines provide plenty of flights daily to this tropical paradise. Flights arrive at Langkawi International Airport, located just north of Cenang Beach on the west side, with quick taxi service (10-15 minutes) to beachfront hotels. To get to Kuah town and the more private hotels in the north, like Tanjung Rhu and Four Seasons, takes about 30 minutes.
If you prefer to ease into your tropical vacation, then take the ferry. Ferry service to Kuah runs from four destinations: three in Malaysia (Kuala Kedah, Kuala Perlis, Penang) and one in Thailand (Satun).
Getting around the island requires a taxi or motorbike. All transport costs are reasonable, so save time and explore the other parts of the island. Check with your hotel or find rental options at the airport, Cenang beach area or Kuah town. Malaysian and school holidays are very busy, so be sure to book a vehicle before your arrival.
Langkawi Island: Picture Gallery
As one of Peninsular Malaysia's best vacation getaways, it might be better to show, not tell, you about this Great Escape. Let's get our gallery started by showcasing the awesome variety of tropical habitats, rainforest animals and scenic nature vistas that dominate the landscape of Langkawi's tropic isles.
But remember we like to take wildlife photos more than beaches and rocks. In the future we hope to get you to share your favorite Malaysia vacation pictures with us.
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