48 Hours in Langkawi, Malaysia

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48 Hours in Langkawi, Malaysia

Located just off the northwest side of Peninsular Malaysia lays the tropical island of Langkawi. The main island is known as Pulau Langkawi, but there are nearly one hundred that make up this area of Malaysia. Steeped in legend and lore, Langkawi attracts visitors for its natural beauty, marine life, tourism infrastructure, and shopping {it is a duty-free island}.

Langkawi Malaysia16 48 Hours in Langkawi, Malaysia

Stay

There are many hotel and resort options on Langkawi, but Four Seasons is a truly special place. Tucked away on the north end of the island, the five-star resort is built into limestone cliffs and surrounded by verdant foliage and exceptional beaches along the Andaman Sea.

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A small property with only 91 villas and pavilions, being a guest at Four Seasons, Langkawi gives the feeling of having one’s own private piece of paradise. Whether staying in a pavilion or villa, the soaring ceilings and massive sliding windows bring the outdoors in, though some might argue that the Asian-style décor is as beautiful as the surrounding nature.

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A variety of motorized and non-motorized sports are available on the beach at the water sports pavilion. Kayaks, jet skis, SUP, and a host of other items are offered for those not content to simply lounge in the sun. If you need a break from the beach, there are two pools are on property. The quiet adult pool is stunning and includes eight walled private cabanas available on a first-come-first-served basis. The cabanas also include service call buttons for the utmost in guest service. As inviting as the adult pool is, the Geo Spa is the most tranquil place in the resort. An open-air pavilion style complex, this might just be the most beautiful spa I’ve ever seen.

Eat & Drink

Instead of suggesting great restaurants and bars per usual in my 48 Hours in… series, I’m offering up some tasty treats not to miss when visiting Langkawi {and Malaysia in general}. With a mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, and Thai, the food offerings are quite diverse and delicious.

Fruit

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The warm climate and plentiful rainfall allow for fresh and seasonable produce throughout the year. Typical Southeast Asian fruits such as mangoes, lychee, coconut, guava, and the super-stinky durian are popular. Bags containing pre-sliced pineapple, mangoes, honeydew, and cantaloupe are often sold in markets, stands located in popular tourist areas, and on the side of the road. Do not pass on the brown power that often accompanies the fruit. It’s an unusual, yet delicious, mix of sweet and spicy flavors that surprisingly goes well with the fruit. Make sure to get your fill of juices, too.

Cendol

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Cendol is a dessert made from shaved ice, coconut milk, palm sugar, green jelly noodles. Red beans and durian, the king of Southeast Asian fruit, can be added for the more adventurous eaters. It might sound an odd combination, but give it a shot. It’s refreshingly sweet.

Satay

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Credit

I agree with Cameron Diaz’s character in There’s Something about Mary—I don’t think there are enough meats on sticks. At least I thought that until I visited Malaysia. Satay is akin to the Turkish shish kebab and oh-so delicious. Just season the skewer of meat with turmeric and grill. Normally served with a side of peanut sauce, satay is a staple in Malaysian cuisine.

Noodles

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Adapted from the Chinese, Malaysians have created many dishes using the basic noodle. An Indian-Muslim dish, mee goreng mamak contains beef, chicken, or shrimp mixed with yellow noodles, chili, eggs, soy sauce, and vegetables. Similarly, is mee rebus. Also with yellow noodles, mee rebus is spiced with ginger and lemongrass and soaked in a potato-curry sauce. Char kuey teow is of Chinese descent and made with flat rice noodles fried in pork lard, shrimp, clams, soy sauce, bean sprouts, and Chinese chives.

Rice

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Rice is common in Asian food, and thus a staple in Malaysian fare. Nasi lemak often serves as a base for many dishes. Essentially it is rice cooked in coconut milk wrapped in a banana leaf and is traditionally served at breakfast. Malaysians eat it with a spicy sauce called sambal, vegetables, hard-boiled egg, curried meats like chicken or lamb, as well as seafood. Originally from Penang, Nasi Kandar is a favorite rice dish that comes with sides of beef, fried chicken, squid, or shrimp, vegetables, or fish then flooded with curry sauces.

Seafood

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Considering Langkawi is an island, a trip would be incomplete without sampling the area’s bounty. Fried, grilled, sautéed, or steamed, seafood can be found on menus in Malaysia, no matter the origins of the dishes. Similar to meatballs, fish balls are a popular snack and street food. They’re usually on skewers and covered in sweet and spicy sauce.

Experience

There’s plenty to do in Langkawi, but perhaps the most popular activity is doing nothing at all. That’s all well and good, but visitors will find that Langkawi’s lush and mountainous vistas, idyllic beaches, geoparks, wildlife, and water activities tempt even the most sedentary traveler to get out of their lounge chair.

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Island Hopping

There’s no better way to explore Langkawi and its surrounding islands than from the water. Most island-hopping trips last about four hours and are reasonably priced. So, charter a boat and take off for these three islands.

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Lake of the Pregnant Maiden is located in the Tasik Dayang Bunting Geoforest Park, a short boat ride from the main island of Langkawi. This freshwater lake is located up a whole bunch of steps and past a number of monkeys. Found in the middle of the island, the lake was formed thousands of years ago when a giant limestone cave collapsed.

As with much of Langkawi, there is a legend that surrounds this lake. A fairy princess buried her baby in the water and then blessed it so that any maiden who swam in the water would soon after conceive. Now it’s a popular spot swimmers and sunbathers alike. Anywhere people go with food, monkeys are soon to follow. Be careful with these animals and don’t smile at them. Monkeys reveal their teeth to show aggression and could see this as a threat.

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Two other popular islands include Pulau Singa Besar {Island of the Big Lion}, which is best known for the eagle feeding activity, and Pulau Beras Basah {Island of Wet Rice}, which is a popular spot due to its perfect white beaches and clear blue water.

Kilim River Tour

Hop on a boat and explore the Kilim Nature Park. Snake your way along rocky limestone cliffs and through green mangrove forests until ending up in the Andaman Sea.

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Stops include a wide-open area of the river where brahminy kites, white-bellied fish eagles, and sea eagles frequent. As boat operators throw food into the water, the birds gracefully swoop down and grab the food. It’s a wonderful sight to behold.

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After the eagle feeding, the boat goes through The Hole in the Wall, named for its narrow passage through the soaring limestone cliffs. This area provides a safe place for fish and mooring yachts. The Whole in the Wall Restaurant and Fish Farm is tucked away in the mangroves and offers visitors an up close and personal experience with marine life. Visitors step onto the docks and can pet stingrays, hold giant shellfish, and see sharks. The restaurant also offers the freshest of seafood, which can be chosen by diners at the neighboring farm.

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From there, the boat speeds through the winding river to Gua Buaya, otherwise known as Crocodile Cave. Apply named for the reptile that frequents the area and the fact that the cave’s silhouette is shaped like a crocodile, the Kilim River flows through the cave. Only accessed by small boat at low tide, Crocodile Cave is made of limestone and filled with stalactites, stalagmites, and a small colony of bats.

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Gua Kelawar {Bat Cave} is also found on the Kilim River and only accessible by boat. A wooden walkway leads visitors directly to the Bat Cave, which has a distinguishable scent. Armed with a provided flashlight, visitors encounter a massive population of Malaysian fruit bats on the limestone ceiling.  Right near the exit of the cave is an extraordinary collection of stalactites and stalagmites that have taken millions of years to form.

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The path proceeds through the mangroves and limestone walls. A fern-like plant called a cycad is seen growing from the limestone and is believed to have existed over 200 million years ago. It’s advisable to leave food on the boat, as monkeys roam the shoreline and neighboring trees in search of treats. They can be quite forceful when it comes to getting what they desire.

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Langkawi Cable Car

I loathe heights, but I might hate tourist traps even more. However, the Langkawi Cable Car is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of the island and surrounding area. The base station is located in a shopping area known as Oriental Village. From here, gondolas whisk visitors up while providing panoramic views of the surrounding forest, sea, and wildlife. Upon arrival to the middle station, visitors are 650 meters above sea level. Viewing platforms showcase Langkawi as well as the surrounding islands.

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A few steps from the middle station lead visitors to the top station. This is the pinnacle of Gunung Machincang, some 708 meters above sea level, which is so high that southern Thailand can be seen. For those who visit in the evening, there’s a spot marked as the best place to view the sunset.

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Langkawi is a nature lover’s dream. Between the fawn and fauna, majestic mountains, sparkling sea, picturesque beaches, and array of wildlife, this Malaysian island shouldn’t be missed. Given its stellar tourism infrastructure, Langkawi is also easy to navigate. Whether wanting to bask in the Southeast Asian sun or explore all the activities available, you’ll be left wanting more than just 48-hours in Langkawi.

I was a guest of Tourism Malaysia. In no way was I swayed to write a positive review based on ample amount of delicious food, the perfect combination of heat and humidity, or all the friendly people who spoke English to me. As always, opinions are mine.

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