Visit Langkawi Island the “Jewel” of Malaysia

The Langkawi Islands in Kedah Malaysia

The Langkawi Islands are part of Kedah State in the NW section of peninsular Malaysia. In total, the archipelago makes up 99 islands. However, only 4 of the islands are actually inhabited. Of the 4 inhabited islands, Langkawi island is largest and has the biggest human population of about 65,000. Additionally, the 3 other inhabited islands are Tuba, Rebak and Dayang Bunting.

Fortunately for Langkawi tourists and locals, former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is from nearby Alor Setar in Kedah State. Therefore, the area benefited from infrastructure investment under his direction which greatly enhanced the touristic appeal of the islands.

Interesting Langkawi Island Folklore

The Langkawi islands were at one time subjected to the “Curse of Mahsuri” that would last 7 generations. The curse was made by a woman named Mahsuri who was wrongfully accused of adultery in the late 18th century. As a result, she was subsequently put to death and she cursed the Langkawi Islands before her execution.

Shortly thereafter, in 1821 the Siamese (Thai) invaded Kedah and Langkawi and as a result of the invasion most of the estimated 4000 Malay inhabitants on Langkawi were taken as slaves or executed.

Fortunately for Langkawi, the Sultan of Kedah was able to regain control of the island 15 years later. Fortunately, in modern times Thailand and Malaysia are on good terms so there is no threat of imminent invasion.

British Colonial History of Langkawi Islands

Penang Hill

Visit Penang Hill on nearby Pulau Penang “Penang Island”

The British gained control of Langkawi under the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909. As a result, the midpoint between Langkawi Island and Tarutao Island in the Malacca Strait became the boundary between Malaysia and Thailand.

Furthermore, there were pirate bases located on Langkawi and Tarutao that had effected the trade routes in the northern Malacca Strait. As a result, the British took action in 1945-46 and cleared the area of pirates.

Malaysia once again took control of the Langkawi archipelago after independence in 1957.

Points of Interest on Langkawi Island

The main island of Langkawi has a distance of approximately 25 kilometers from north to south. Therefore, the island is easily circumnavigated by motorbike for those who wish to do so. Some of the popular tourist locations on the island include Eagle Square (Dataran Helang), Pantai Cenang, Pantai Tanjung Rhu and Air Terjun Temurun.

Eagle Square (Dataran Helang)

Eagle Square is located in the SE corner of Langkawi in the city of Kuah. In Malay, the colloquial word for eagle is lang and the word for a reddish brown stone is kawi. Thus, Langkawi is the “Island of the Brown Eagle”.

Unfortunately, the statue is not without controversy. Malaysia is a Islamic country and the Quran forbids Muslims from creating anything that takes the form of humans or animals because this is the work of God and not man. Therefore, the eagle remains a controversial figure in Malaysia.

Eagle Square Dataran Helang Langkawi

Photo of the controversial eagle statue at Dataran Helang .

Additionally, from Eagle Square there are great views into the Malacca Strait. Therefore, the square is a nice place to visit during early evening hours.

Malacca Strait views at Dataran Helang Langkawi

There are excellent views into the Strait of Malacca from Eagle Square in Kuah Town, Langkawi.

Malacca Strait views at Dataran Helang Langkawi

The sun sets on the horizon at Eagle Square.

Pantai Cenang in SW Langkawi Island

In the southwest corner of Langkawi there is a popular tourist area called Pantai Cenang. The Malay word for beach is “pantai” and Pantai Cenang is a long white sand beach for both tourists and locals to enjoy.

This area of Langkawi is near the airport and it is the epicenter of tourist activity on the island. Additionally, there are a lot of shopping malls, restaurants and bars for the tourists.  BTW – it takes about 15 minutes to drive to from Kuah to Pantai Canang on a motorbike.

Malaysian Flag flies at Pantai Cenang

View towards the NE on Pantai Cenang. The beach is huge and there are lots of activities for tourists.

Helicopter buzzing Pantai Cenang at sunset

There was a helicopter buzzing around Pantai Cenang one evening when I was hanging out there.

Tanjung Rhu

In Malay, Tanjung means “cape or promontory”. However, there is also a beach located here so I call it Pantai Rhu. The view from the northeast corner of the island is towards Thailand and the Andaman Sea.

Access is fairly simple and from Kuah it is about a 20-30 minute motorbike ride to the north. The setting here is more remote and as a result there will be less tourists and the amenities that they enjoy. However, for the individual traveler this is a boon. Therefore, I visited Pantai Rhu several times. Similar to Dataran Helang, it is a nice spot to enjoy the sunset.

There were mostly locals here when I visited and they are fun to hang around. 

Tanjung Rhu locals swimming at sunset

The seas were a bit rough and the locals were doing some trick diving off of the dock at Tanjung Rhu.

Some of the local Malay villagers were jumping into the water

Tanjung Rhu

Air Terjun Temurun “Generations Waterfall”

The location of this tourist attraction is a bit more obscure. In Malay, Air means  “water” Terjun “jump or plunge” and Temurun “generations”. Therefore, if you put it all together it means Generations Waterfall. Unfortunately for me, I was there during the dry season and the waterfall had run dry.

Terjun Temurun Langkawi Island

Photo of the dried up Terjun Temurun, “Generations Waterfall” on Langkawi Island.

Macaques at Batu Caves

See the Macaques at Batu Caves in Selangor, Malaysia

As you can see from the picture above, the falls are dry but it would look pretty amazing during the rainy season. Fortunately, some of the Macaques that live in the nearby jungle would provide some entertainment.

As I was leaving the falls and hiking back down the trail there were some local girls passing me and they had left their bags on the side of the trail.

This was not a good idea!

Naughty monkeys stealing purses

The macaques had a field day with these girls. Hopefully, the macaques didn’t run of with the car keys because it is a long walk back into town!

The monkeys had descended from the trees and were going through their things….the girls quickly returned and tried to get their bags back but the monkeys were not so easily intimidated.

Naughty monkeys stealing purses Terjun Temurun Langkawi Island

As the battle raged on between the girls and the monkeys, the monkeys grabbed all they could carry and ran up the hillside.

Naughty monkeys stealing purses Terjun Temurun Langkawi Island

Naughty monkeys stealing purses Langkawi Island

Naughty monkeys stealing purses Terjun Temurun Langkawi Island

These macaques (monkeys) were quite aggressive and were not about to give up their ill gotten gains so easily.

The Macaques are very naughty and will not easily give up their ill gotten gains. Hopefully the girls were eventually able to recover everything that was not edible. The moral of the story is never leave anything in the jungle that a monkey can carry off because you may never see it again!

The Langkawi Sky Bridge

The Langkawi Sky Bridge will appeal to some. Unfortunately, I got suckered in by the photos and I went there. Although the sky bridge itself is interesting, it definitely has a resort feel to it. If you could take Disneyland, Starbucks and the Space Needle and mix them together then you would get the Langkawi Sky Bridge. I was so disgusted that I deleted my photos that I had taken from up on the bridge.

Conclusion

Langkawi Island is easily accessible by ferry from Penang and several places on the Kedah mainland. Also, Langkawi island is very close to Thailand and the boat ride is short to Satun (I went to Satun when I left Langkawi).

Although some of the areas on Langkawi are pretty touristy the island has good infrastructure and everything is accessible. It is easy to find what you want to do or avoid what you don’t want to do.   

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Additional Resources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langkawi
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahathir_Mohamad