Travel

Langkawi: More Than You Think

This post was written by TC Gerrard

Most visitors to Langkawi come here with the knowledge that it’s a tropical island paradise complete with lush rainforests, but although there are plenty of beautifulbeaches and jungles to explore, there’s far more for visitors to embrace. Certainly not everyone is seeking the same island experience, so here are a few noteworthy sightseeing venues to keep in mind next time you’re in Langkawi.

CULTURE AND ARTS

Want to see more of the local culture and arts with bit of history and legend? There are many places to experience Langkawi’s long and diverse history and culture. The Komplex Kraft (Craft Complex) may sound off-putting to some, but this facility houses arts and crafts from all 13 states of Malaysia and also has artisans’ workshops that you can visit. There’s no entrance fee and the eclectic array of handicrafts is impressive, from historic batik processes and handmade musical instruments to glass-blowing demonstrations. In addition to the onsite batik demonstrations, there’s also an amazing batik boutique housing an array of unique printed fashions.

Galeria Perdana has over 2,500 items exhibited and an amazing hand-painted ceiling! The “gifts” on display were given to former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir from other world leaders during his years as Prime Minister. Items range from hand-carved Malaysian architecture to motor vehicles and exotic plants, a tribute to the achievements of one of Malaysia’s great leaders.

Another interesting spot often overlooked is The Laman Padi Museum. Here you’ll learn the history and importance of rice in Malaysian culture. With an adjacent 8.6-acre paddy field, visitors also have the opportunity (if they so desire) to have the hands-on experience of planting rice. And, amazingly enough, it’s free of charge!

Traditional Malay house

Dev’s Adventure Tours offers the twice-weekly tour of Langkawi’s Untold Stories. This tour was the brainstorm of Selva, one of Dev’s Adventure Tours’ naturalist guides. It embraces the culture and heart of Langkawi that you won’t experience anywhere else, introducing you to Langkawi history from architecture, kampung life, local plants and traditional food, to a visit to a mystical Buddhist Temple. Selva is a passionate naturalist eager to share “his Langkawi” on this fascinating tour.

Ever ride a Water Buffalo? At Buffalo Park, there are over 100 Murrah and Swamp Buffalo providing the opportunity to get up close and personal with these magnificent animals, from feeding to riding to even milking! Buffalo dairy products are also made onsite, including Buffalo Milk Cheese and delicious Buffalo Ice Cream.

Visiting one of the regular night markets offers a glimpse into the life of Langkawi people and their culture. These markets are held in different areas of Langkawi seven nights a week. This is a local tradition and an opportunity to try recipes passed down through generations. The markets offer food stalls with a wide variety of Langkawi’s favorite dishes as well as fruits and vegetables to crafts and clothing. During your visit to the island you should experience at least one of these markets to get a real ‘taste’ of the island.

RAINFORESTS AND WILDLIFE

This is really the heart of Langkawi away from the beaches. The diversity of flora and fauna here is world-renowned.

The mangroves are an important habitat for all sorts of aquatic and terrestrial life and play an important role in Langkawi’s ecosystem. Guided kayak tours often allow relatively quiet and unobtrusive observation of the resident wildlife. Many of the island’s inland waterways offer the opportunity to explore many of the natural rock and cave formations that inspired the award of UNESCO Geopark status to the island in 2007.

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Jungle treks are more physically demanding, but offer the visitor the chance to see firsthand the diverse ecosystems within the rainforest. Experienced sharp-eyed naturalists can spot even the most elusive of wildlife in their natural habitat and are highly recommended for any jungle exploration. There are several reputable companies in Langkawi, such as the aforementioned Dev’s Adventure Tours. They also offer less strenuous nature walk tours, which can be equally educational as well as fascinating.

Don’t want to hire a guide but want to explore on your own? Check out the three major waterfalls on the island. Seven Wells, Temurun Falls, and Durian Falls all offer plenty of fauna and natural pools.

Oriental Village anchors the Langkawi Cable Car with its stunning views of the island and neighboring Thailand. A plethora of shops from souvenir to designer boutique Ocas. Add that to the fish spa, pony cart rides, fox line and dining options and you have a day of activities awaiting you. It’s also the home for Langkawi’s only Elephant Ride and even a tiger.

Not far from Oriental Village are Perdana Stables and Island Horses. This is the only Malaysian Arabian Stud farm and in addition to being a working stable it offers trail riding and riding lessons for all levels, from beginners to the seasoned competitor. If you’ve dreamt of riding a majestic horse on the beach, this is the place to make that dream come true.

Another popular sightseeing venue is Underwater World in Pantai Cenang. The aquarium is home to penguins and vast numbers of exotic marine life from starfish to sharks!

AND DON’T FORGET…

Langkawi is a duty-free island and many visitors come from the mainland via ferry just to shop in Kuah, the main town on the island. Cigars and tobacco; beer, wine and spirits; cookware and cutlery; and a vast selection of imported chocolates and sweets has the return ferry packed with parcels of duty-free goods.

Because of Langkawi’s diversity of jungle and wildlife, rock formations and mangroves, culture and history, sailing and snorkeling, food and beaches, and duty-free shopping, the island offers a cornucopia of sights and activities. So whether you are seeking the solitude and quiet of an island retreat or the bustle and beat of the youthful beach scene, there is definitely more here than you think.

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Source: The Expat January 2013

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