advertisement

Fifteen years ago, Langkawi was just a backwater island supporting small fishing communities. When the government came in with big money to develop the place for tourism, they thought they needed a catch, so they dug up some old moldy "legends" about the island and have tried to market them as bona fide cultural attractions. Basically, these attractions appeal more to local tourists. However, the main attractions here are the beautiful beaches and clear waters that are home to vibrant marine life.

Snorkeling enthusiasts may want to visit the Pulau Payar Marine Park, 19 nautical miles south of Langkawi. The marine park is teeming with coral and marine life, and in the middle of the marine park, a giant platform floats above a coral reef, providing an excellent base for snorkeling. Langkawi Coral (tel. 04/899-8822; www.langkawicoral.com) conducts day trips to the platform, which include a ride in a glass-bottomed boat, snorkeling, and lunch on the platform; the full-day trip costs RM300 per person. Langkawi Coral also conducts dive trips in the marine park; a day trip that includes hotel transfer, boat to the marine park, equipment for two dives, and lunch will cost RM400 per person.

Dev's Adventure Tours, Pantai Cenang (tel. 019/494-9193; www.langkawi-nature.com), is a well-known nature tour operator on Langkawi and is quite respected in the field of conservation tours; it offers jungle trekking, cycling tours, bird-watching, and more. Dev's conducts 'round-island boat trips to explore mangroves, seaside villages, and wildlife for RM180 per person, and sea-kayaking trips for RM220.

For a sweeping view of the island, visitors may be interested to take the cable car that extends to the summit of Mount Macinchang. It's a dramatic, near-vertical lift high above the rainforest canopy to the 706m-high (2,316-ft.) rocky summit. From here, visitors can see most of the island's attractions and the distant islands of southern Thailand. The departure point for the ride is Oriental Village at Burau Bay. There is a carnival-like atmosphere here, with restaurants and souvenir shops that all seem to sell basically the same items. The 14-minute ride to the summit is one of the world's steepest, at 42 degrees, and it has the longest free-span single-rope cable in the world. At the top, there is a 125m (410-ft.) curved platform across a deep chasm. Open daily from 9:30am to 7pm. Prices are RM30 adults, RM20 children. Call tel. 04/959-4225 for more information.

Langkawi has four marinas. The international charter company Sunsail (tel. 04/966-5869; www.sunsailmalaysia.com) operates from Royal Langkawi Yacht Club on Jalan Dato Syed Omar, where they maintain a fleet of yachts and catamarans from 33 to 50 feet for trips around the islands or to Phuket in neighboring Thailand.

The Ibrahim Hussein Museum and Cultural Foundation, Pasir Tengkorak, Jalan Datai (tel. 04/959-4669; www.ihmcf.org) is a lovely museum. The artistic devotion of the foundation's namesake fueled the creation of this enchanting modern space designed to showcase Malaysia's contribution to the international fine-arts scene. Mr. Hussein has created a museum worthy of international attention. It's open daily from 10am to 6pm; adults pay RM12, children visit for free.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.