Malaysia’s Tropical Paradise
History has it that Langkawi coined its name from the word ‘Helang’ (eagle) and ‘Kiwi’ which denotes reddish brown or strong in old Malay. In fact, the reddish brown eagles or Lang Merah in Malay – can be found on the island. Another reference states that Langkawi derived its name from the combination of Sanskrit words,‘Langka’ and ‘Wi’. The former means beauty and the latter means innumerable which signify ‘The Place of Immense Beauty’. Whichever is true, Langkawi lives up to its name.
Langkawi is part of Kedah, one of Malaysia’s northern regions which also adjacent to the border of Thailand. Also known as the Jewel of Kedah, this Malaysian archipelago offers one of the best beach holidays in the world. The far-sighted move by Malaysia’s former Prime Minister, TunDr Mahathir Mohamad, has greatly contributed to the growth of Langkawi as a much-celebrated beach side and recreational hub.
Among the many beautiful beaches in Langkawi, Pantai Cenang is the most talked about. It’s Malaysia’s most-developed west-coast beach. The turquoise-blue water of Andaman Sea together with a long-curved white sandy beach, fringed with coconut palms make Pantai Cenang the most beautiful beach of all in Langkawi. It has mostly budget to mid-range hotels with a few upscale resorts. There is a wide range of water sport and nightlife activities as well as a vast selection of restaurants for the discerning tourist. Rest assured that one can get a fix of retail therapy here too as it provides many duty-free shops and a two-storey shopping complex, Cenang Mall.
Not only Langkawi has pristine beaches to boast about, it also has long been shrouded in legends and myths. The best-known legend of Langkawi is that of Mahsuri, a beautiful maiden who was falsely accused of adultery then sentenced to death. Just before she died, Mahsuri uttered the famous seven-generation curse of bad luck towards Langkawi. Locals believe it to be true as prosperity arose right after the seven generation. Hence, it is worthwhile to visit the Mahsuri’s Tomb where one can have a closer look at this historical site.
Visiting Langkawi would not be complete without taking a ride in the Langkawi Cable Car going up to the Sky Bridge. First operated in February 2005 and is able to accommodate up to 250 visitors at a time, the Langkawi Sky Bridge offers panoramic sight of the entire island with its 125m-long curved bridge, hanging at an altitude of about 700m above sea level on the peak of Gunung Machinchang. It is a 15-minute ride to the top station with stalls selling souvenirs, toys, snacks and drinks greeting you first as you make your way to the observatory deck which is the highest point. The stunning view makes it all worthwhile.
When one desires sandy and pristine beaches for a good retreat, duty-free shopping for a good dose of retail therapy while getting to learn about local legends and sightseeing to interesting local places, the enthralling Langkawi Island certainly fits the bill.