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Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in langkawi
Free Travel guide Ooaj.com A free travel guide for holidays. Hotels in langkawi, Bed and Breakfast!
Langkawi is an archipelago of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea, some 30 km off the mainland coast of northwestern Malaysia. The islands are a part of Malaysia's Kedah state, but are adjacent to the Thai border. By far the largest of the islands is the eponymous Pulau Langkawi (Langkawi Island) with a population of some 45,000, the only other inhabited island being nearby Pulau Tuba.
Sheltered by the mountainous backbone of Peninsular Malaysia, Langkawi escapes the northeastern winter monsoon entirely and enjoys sunny skies in winter when the eastern provinces are flooded. Coupled with natural white sand beaches, lush jungle foliage and craggy mountain peaks--but hampered by inaccessibility--the island was at one time touted as "Malaysia's best-kept secret".
The name "Langkawi" is believed to be related to the kingdom of Langkasuka, itself a version of the Malay negari alang-kah suka ("the land of all one's wishes"), centered in modern-day Kedah. The historical record is sparse, but a Chinese Liang Dynasty record (c. 500 AD) refers to the kingdom of "Langgasu" as being founded in the 1st century AD.
Langkawi eventually came under the influence of the Sultanate of Kedah, but Kedah was conquered in 1821 by Siam and Langkawi along with it. The Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909 transferred power to the British, which held the state until independence, except for a brief period of Thai rule under the Japanese occupation of Malaya during World War II. Thai influences remain visible in the culture and food of Langkawi.
Langkawi remained a sleepy backwater until 1987, when the island was granted tax-free status with the intention of promoting tourism and improve the lives of the islanders. The following boom was spectacular and now Langkawi figures on most every European travel agency's radar.
Most visitors arrive by air to Langkawi International Airport (LGK), which has frequent connections to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and even scheduled international flights to eg. London in the high season. But many still prefer the more adventurous crossing by fast air-conditioned boats from Kuala Perlis or Kuala Kedah on the mainland. Some even take the special ferry services from Penang Island.
Most flights are with one of three airlines:
Ferries also operate to Penang.
For some people Langkawi offers nothing much compared to the bustling beach thoroughfares in neighbouring countries such as Thailand's Phuket or Indonesia's Bali. However, it is a matter of taste and preference as Langkawi offers a much more sedate, laid-back, family-friendly package. Sex is not the pull of these beautiful islands. It just doesn't need to be sleazy to offer one of the best tropical island holidays money can buy today. And by the way, recent reports that Langkawi is the training ground for Thai terrorists are not true. No one can conduct such activities on Langkawi without being easily spotted. Langkawi is just a friendly peaceful place for all peace-loving people of the world.
With a paced and controlled development, Langkawi is virtually free from pollution although at certain times of the year some of the more popular locations can be rather crowded. These would include the main beach thoroughfare of Pantai Cenang.
What do you do in Langkawi besides just lazy days of sunbathing on the powdery white sandy beaches? It depends on your preference again. I would suggest taking a boat ride to visit the many out-lying islands, most of which are uninhabited and just great to get lost for a day. Get stranded on one with a day's supply of food and drinks (beers and spirits are dirt cheap as they are duty free in Langkawi) and you will know what I mean. And as for selections you are only moments away from your favourite brand of beer, whisky, brandy or great wine.
Seafood is abundant in Langkawi, although not all are sourced from the waters off the islands, but imported from nearby Thailand. But, who cares? They come from the same seas anyway. Partake of the myriad ways food and seafood are prepared. Chose anything from barbequed barracuda, fresh squids, prawns to various shellfish.
With its proximity to Thailand, some of the local cuisines would, invariably, have some Thai influence. Just look at the number of restaurants and stalls offering Thai Tum Yam style cooking.
You will also not be at lost should your palate accept only western food. English, American, Italian or even French cuisine can be had almost anywhere at really reasonable cost.
For the nature lover in you, the islands and the jungle on the main island offers endless days of bird-watching, trekking and exhilarating immersion within the peaceful confines of the verdant jungle. Talking about birds, take half a day at least to get up close and personal with the famed Brahmini Kite eagles of Langkawi. There are boat tours that take visitors to their favourite feeding grounds around Pulau Beras Basah and Pulau Dayang Bunting.
Mangrove tours are a must. These can be arranged with the boat operators at Pantai Cenang. There are many locations for this activity, including the most popular one at Kilim. Other operators will take you to the mangrove forests of Pulau Dayang Bunting or Tanjung Ru.
Great caving can be had, especially around the north shores of the island. Get yourself a book on the caves of Langkawi as a guide and explore these dank and dark subterranean environments to the hilt.
Like most popular destinations, always be wary of tourist traps. Although not many in Langkawi, they do exist. Just talk to a friendly local or a long-staying visitor and you will get by nicely.
Langkawi is affected by the milder western monsoon (May-September), and while diving is possible in the nearby Pulau Payar Marine Park 1 (http://agrolink.moa.my/dof/tlaut/payar.html), 45 minutes away by boat, water clarity tends to be poor. I would not personally encourage or condone diving in the waters of this once-pristine coral island. Lately evidence of the ravages of tourism can be seen and there have been a public outcry to bring the island back to its original state.
Practically all resorts have their own restaurants and most tourists chose to eat in, but there are a few other options as well. Be adventurous and strike out on your own to savour the numerous foods at the stalls and restaurants all over Langkawi. Try one of the many seafood restaurants.
For a taste of simple Malay-style breakfast, just walk up to a small stall opposite the Underwater World in the mornings and feast on the famous freshly-prepared banana leaf-wrapped nasi lemak (steamed rice in cocnut milk). The price is most affordable at less than US50 cents for a pack. Go local and enjoy this with a glass of hot teh tarik or really good local coffee. This very unassuming stall is just simple and great (clean too!) The nasi lemak comes with curried beef, squid in chili, friend salted fish or chicken.
Thanks to the island's tax-free status, alcohol is remarkably cheap at eg. RM 1.50 for a beer can, less than a third of the RM 5 (and up) on the mainland. Although alcoholic drinks come cheap please be advised that Malaysia is a Muslim country (a liberal and tolerant one at that) but all the same please respect local culture and communal sensitivities. Malays and Muslims do not consume alcoholic drinks and while they do tolerate non Muslims who do, try not to behave in a rowdy imbibed manner near them, their houses, mosques, etc.
Langkawi does not really cater to backpackers.