Where the beautiful Andaman Sea meets the Straits of Malacca, Langkawi Island positions itself as one of the region's best island paradise destinations. Since 1990, Tourism Malaysia has dedicated itself to promoting the island and developing it as an ideal travel spot. Now, after 2 decades of work, the island has proven itself as one of this country's best holiday gems.
This small island also claims a Hollywood credit, as it was the backdrop for the 1999 film Anna and the King. Langkawi played the role of Thailand to Jodie Foster's Anna Leonowens and Chow Yun-Fat's King Mongkut (Rama IV). The Thais wouldn't allow the filmmakers to shoot on location in their kingdom, so Hollywood turned to neighboring Malaysia.
Technically, Langkawi is an archipelago of islands, the largest of which serves as the main focal point. Ask how many islands actually make up Langkawi, and you'll hear either 104 or 99. The official response? "Both are correct. It depends on the tide!" On Langkawi Island itself, the main town, Kuah, provides the island's administrative needs, while on the western and northern shores, the beaches have been developed with resorts. The west-coast beaches of Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah are the most developed; however, the concept of "development" here is quite low key. To the north, Datai Bay and Tanjung Rhu host the island's finest, and most secluded, resorts.
One final note: Malaysia has declared Langkawi a duty-free zone, so take a peek at some of the shopping in town, and enjoy RM1.50 beers!