Geopark Langkawi is the most Northern archipelago located on the Westside of Peninsular Malaysia; located 30 km off the mainland. The archipelago consists of the main island Langkawi and almost 100 small surrounding islands; only four of them are inhabited. Langkawi lies very close to the border of Thailand, the nearest island Koh Lipe is only a 30 minute boat ride away. The island falls within the district of Kedah, and contains 479 square kilometers of tropical grounds. Langkawi has more than 62,000 inhabitants, most of which live in the capital town of Kuah, the rest of the population is spread over a number of small villages and around a large number of resorts on the island. Most inhabitants of Langkawi are of Malay origin (around 90%) followed by a small Chinese and Indian community; in contrary of neighboring island Penang, where the majority is of Chinese origin.
The sprinkling of jade green islands that make up Pulau Payar lie just 30km south- east of Langkawi. From here, it is a 1-hour boat ride out to the best marine park on Malaysia's West Coast, making it an ideal choice for a day outing.
This well-preserved, uninhabited marine park extends over a number of islands, with Pulau Payar being the largest. Your base out here is the floating platform moored off Pulau Payar. But the real attraction of this platform lies below sea level.
Step into the underwater observation chamber to view the marine life surrounding a reef. Want to get even closer to the swirl of fishes that make these corals their home? Grab a mask, a snorkel and fins and join the spectacle!
If you’re into scuba diving, the best diving is along the reef system that skirts the south, east and west of Pulau Payar. Please check with your dive operator what the visibility is while you’re there, as conditions vary.
There is no accommodation in Pulau Payar as it is a marine park, but Langkawi, with all its fine resorts and restaurants, is just a speedy boat-ride away.
Spread over an area of 100sq. km, Kilim Nature Park features a beautiful mix of well protected green mangrove forests, isolated white beaches and blue lagoons. Along the trail, passing through calm winding rivers, you will be exposed to the wonders of the park's marine ecosystem, flora and fauna and its natural habitats.
Some tour operators will stop at a special spot along the river where they feed the eagles, found in great numbers here. These include the white- bellied fish eagle, brahminy kite and gigantic sea eagles. Kilim River is also a great place for some birdwatching during the migratory seasons in September and March.
After feeding the eagles, the boats will move downstream and soon, the Andaman Sea, located in the northern coast, comes into view as they exit the Kilim River through The Hole in the Wall. This is a famous passage so named after a narrow opening between formidable walls of limestone cliffs that connect the river to the open sea.
This narrow gap provides a sheltered area for a thriving fish farm and mooring for yachts. The farm adopts a very hands-on approach, encouraging visitors to hand-feed the multitude of marine life such as groupers, bat fish, blue spotted stingrays, lobsters, mantis prawns and snappers. Visitors can choose their own lunch or dinner directly from the 50-odd cages and have it cooked to order at the floating restaurant.
The island, which is about 20 kilometres from Kuah town, is modestly populated on one side and virtually uninhabited on the other where the lake is situated.
The legend of Tasik Dayang Bunting goes like this: The favourite bathing pool of a celestial princess named Mambang Sari was said to be Tasik Dayang Bunting (Lake of the Pregnant Maiden). A prince, Mat Teja, fell madly in love with her and tricked her into marrying him.
Sadly, their child died from a mysterious illness at the age of seven days. Distraught, the grieving Mambang Sari left the child's body in the lake and returned to her heavenly abode. Today, some believe that barren women who bathe in this lake will be endowed with a child.
At 709 metres above sea level, the cable car ride up to Langkawi's second highest peak is truly an experience not to be missed.
Throughout the 20-minute ride, you will pass over jungle waterfalls and a thick carpet of virgin rainforest. On a clear day, you can see parts of Thailand towards the north and Indonesia towards the south-west.
Travelling at a steep incline of 42 degrees, over a distance of 2.2 kilometres from the base station to the two mountain-top stations, even the gentlest breeze is enough to send one’s stomach churning. But once you get used to the sensation of being airborne, the ride quickly turns into an amazing, exhilarating experience.
At the top, a sky bridge offers a breathtaking view of Langkawi. Remember to wear comfortable shoes as it is quite a walk up to the hanging bridge.
The cable car operates from 10am to 7pm, subject to weather conditions. The service may be halted during strong winds.
The Ulu Legong Hot Spring Recreational Centre, located 22km from Baling, is a popular spot for those wanting to enjoy a therapeutic soak in its hot mineral waters. As the only hot spring in operation 24 hours, a hot dip is particularly gratifying when the temperature decreases at night.
Apart from those seeking relaxation, people with ailments and skin problems go there to seek therapeutic treatment by immersing themselves in the five hot spring pools which contain high sulphuric content and water temperatures between 30ºC and 60ºC.
Pekan Rabu, literally translated “Wednesday Market”, is a well-known attraction among both the locals and tourists from outside Kedah. From its humble beginnings as a weekly market operating from an attap-roofed shack, it has since expanded into a multi- storey arcade selling a wide range of traditional delicacies, handicraft products and apparel.
It is one of the best places to get traditional Malay foods such as serunding, dodol durian, kuah rojak and garam belacan. For its success, the business complex has become a source of pride among the Malay community in Kedah for helping encourage Malays to take an active role in commerce.