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Langkawi is a Malaysian archipelago comprising 104 islands in the Andaman Sea, roughly 30km from the mainland’s coast. Known officially as the Jewel of Kedah, it has become synonymous with tropical idyll.
Granted duty-free status in 1987, it has skyrocketed in popularity ever since but has still managed to escape the toils of commercial development. Authentic, rural Malaysia lies just beyond the golden beaches, with traditional villages known as ‘kampung’ scattered throughout the jungle and its 10,000 hectares declared a Geopark by UNESCO in 2007.
Still, with approximately 4 million visitors each year, tourist-friendly facilities are on hand to provide the perfect balance between a well-catered holiday island and a tranquil getaway. Langkawi’s luxurious spas are some of the most impressive in Southeast Asia, ideal for romantic trips, and so the archipelago is primarily populated by couples and families.
More than just immaculate beaches - the most famous being Datai Bay, Pantai Cenang and Tanjung Rhu - Langkawi demands a busy itinerary. Stretching 255 metres long and towering 700 metres above sea level, Langkawi Sky Bridge serves up the most striking views of the archipelago, do don’t forget your camera.
A great day out for families, Langkawi Wildlife Park & Bird Paradise contains over 150 species of exotic bird including canaries, parakeets, toucans and flamingos, while any culture-vulture should head to the Art in Paradise 3D Museum, with over 200 pieces that appear lifelike when photographed.
A trip to Southeast Asia isn’t complete without some underwater exploration. Snorkeling is readily available, but the Pulau Payar Marine Park, found 30km south of Langkawi Island, is by far the best spot, offering numerous reefs, rock formations and colourful fish.
Ferries to Langkawi dock in the main island, with routes coming from Thailand and mainland Malaysia. Daily departures link the Thai island of Koh Lipe in just 90 minutes: a convenient service for travelling through the Andaman’s stunning islands, while there are also frequent sailings from Penang, on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia.