There are so many places in the world that I want to visit, I wonder how I will ever have the time, let alone the funds! It can be a disparaging thought when choosing the next place to explore. Do I want a winter vacation or a summer holiday (I will pick summer every time), do I want to relax or do I want to jump out of a plane, do I want to dance all night long or curl up by a fire with a good book? Choosing a new place to visit is a task in its self. Today, I am not dreaming about an unknown shore or a lonely mountain peak, but about a place I have already been, a place that I have sworn I will make it back to, a place that completely satisfied my desire for sunshine and adventure. On this Wanderlust Wednesday I am dreaming about heading back to Langkawi, Malaysia.
Why visit Langkawi? Apart from the pristine beaches, crystal clear water and soothing weather. Langkawi is still a relatively untouched must see destination by the backpacking crowd. Most backpackers get caught up in the Thai full moon scene and never make it down to this charming archipelago – it may be that they are scared off by the alcohol restrictions. The infrastructure in Malaysia far outstrips several of its neighbours so the streets on Langkawi are well-lit and feel safe. The hotels and hostels are all amazing and still cheaper than you pay across the major touristy parts of Thailand.
Quick facts: Langkawi is a group of over 100 islands off the coast of Malaysia in the Andaman Sea near the Thailand border – the largest and most popular island is Pulau Langkawi. As Malaysia is a predominant Islamic country alcohol can be hard to find, however, on Pulau Langkawi you can purchase duty-free alcohol. The few islands that are populated are generally geared towards tourism, with it being a favourite holiday destination for the Malay.
How to get there:
- Fly – Langkawi has its own airport which you can get connecting flights from Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok
- Ferry – if you are travelling around the main land there are plenty of ferries that go from the main land as well as the neighbouring island of Penang. If you are travelling down from Thailand you can catch one from the Thai town of Satun.
Let’s talk about food: The British Empire colonised Malaysia and used it as a trading and military base with the rest of Asia, in doing so it has collected an extremely diverse population which has been reflected in the food. Malaysian food is often mistaken for chinese, however it generally uses a wider variety of vegetables and fruits and incorporates its large Indian populations love of curry into many of its dishes. As a rule – if you don’t like things spicy or hot, ask for the REALLY MILD version of any dish. If you do like things hot, I would still suggest starting low and working your way up as the Malay’s have a unique take on what constitutes a “little” chilli. Malaysian food is one of my favourite cuisines – not only because of the chilli but because they often create a great mix of spice, fruit and fresh vegetables. Make sure you clean out your sinuses with a big bowl of fresh Tom Yum Soup. Or instead of your boring toast for breakfast go in search for what some of the locals have – it’s often curry.
When you feel like relaxing:
- There is no end to the beautiful beaches that surround the main island of this archipelago – so even if you don’t make it to any of the smaller islands you can spend numerous days and hours lolling about on the sand with a coconut in hand. The main beaches are sparsely populated unlike the other major beach destinations on the beaten track.
- If however, this is too crowded I suggest hiring a scooter or car and heading in search of a more private beach… there are plenty of them around!
- If you feel like leaving the beach but not doing anything to strenuous – head up to the Langkawi Cable Car for spectacular views of the rainforest and the whole island.
- Depending on what time of year you are there you may encounter some afternoon monsoon rains – I believe that this as an instruction from the earth to go have a nap.
When you feel like exploring:
- If you have a bunch of energy, climb up the 500 stairs to the top of the Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls, when you reach the top you will be glad you dragged your swim suit all that way.
- There are loads of boat tours that can take you around to the other islands nearby – such as Dayang Bunting Island which has a freshwater lake in the middle where you can take a quick dip.
- Snorkelling is always a must – its not as good as you will find in other parts of South East Asia but if you aren’t too picky about how brightly coloured your fish are then it is still quite spectacular.
- You can also do a tour through Kilim Karst Geoforest Park which is jam-packed full of monkeys, birds, insects, mangroves and stunning photo ops!
NOTE: Loads of tours offer eagle feeding as part of the experience – if you feel strongly against exploiting animals out of their natural feeding habits make sure you research your trip thoroughly first.
Shutting Down the Day Dream: Langkawi is the closest thing I have been to the fabled paradise, so much so that when I am having “one of those days” where you wish you were somewhere that would sooth your soul and help you relax, I immediately picture Langkawi – I definitely have to go back one of these days!
FINAL NOTE: Don’t trust the monkeys!