Langkawi Island – 99 beautiful islands under the sun
Langkawi has been designated a UNESCO Global Geopark, Southeast Asia’s first, and Malaysia’s pride. This cluster of 99 islands offers beautiful beaches, world-class infrastructure, ultra-cheap duty-free shopping and fascinating myths and legends.
Off the coast of Kedah is a cluster of 99 islands with the best of many worlds; beautiful beaches, world-class infrastructure, mangroves rich in flora and fauna, ultra-cheap duty-free shopping and fascinating legends.
Langkawi has a lingering legend woven into its history. Ask anyone in Langkawi about the tragic legend of a beautiful young lady named Mahsuri, and you’ll hear a tale of love, jealousy and a curse that was placed upon the island by the her for seven generations. Today, the seventh generation of Langkawi’s inhabitants has long come and gone, but people here still believe that the prosperity and blessings the islands enjoy today and the passing of the curse is not a pure coincidence. The mysticism of this legend can be felt in many parts of this island, especially at Makam Mahsuri (Mahsuri’s Mausoleum) where the famous legendary figure is said to be buried.
Langkawi is not only geared towards tourism. Many of the islanders are farmers, fishermen and entrepreneurs. Experience the beautiful countryside and the peaceful landscape of paddy fields by renting a car and taking a leisurely drive around the island. Some of Langkawi’s most rustic and memorable views are along the road that circles the island. You’ll pass small villages with wooden houses framed by palm trees, and children pedalling their old bicycles on an errand. Aside from experiencing the local lifestyle, there is no shortage of things to do in Langkawi.
Head up the thrilling new cable car to the summit of Mount Mat Cincang – Langkawi’s second highest mountain – for an unrivalled view of the entire main island and beyond. You can also visit the Field of Burnt Rice, the Hot Springs, Telaga Tujuh (The Seven Wells) and the Beach of Black Sand. Boat tours are organised to Tasik Dayang Bunting(Lake of the Pregnant Maiden), Gua Cerita (Cave of Stories) and the Gua Langsir (Curtain Cave). And if you’re more outdoorsy, why not go trekking through the pristine rainforest that blankets most of Langkawi, or go on a boat tour of the mangroves, go diving, or play a round of golf at some of the 5-star resorts. Langkawi also has an underwater world, containing an underground tunnel that runs though a giant aquarium, that has gotten rave reviews.
For beautiful scenery, great adventures and five-star conveniences, Langkawi is the place to getaway.
The name Langkawi is a combination of ‘Lang’ and ‘Kawi’. ‘Lang’ means ‘Helang’ eagle in Malay. In the past days the land was a home to innumerable eagles. ‘Kawi’ is the Sanskrit word for marble, which is found in excess in this part of Malaysia. Both these words together joined to form the word ‘Helangkawi’ which ultimately became as Langkawi.
Another reference found in the book of Tun Mohamed Zahir’s named ‘The Legends of Langkawi’ which says its a mix of two sanskrit words ‘Langka’ (beauty) and ‘Wi’ (innumerable).
Langkawi lies north of the Straits of Malacca in the southern Andaman Sea near the border between Malaysia and Thailand. Only a few kilometres to the north lies the neighbouring Thai island of Ko Tarutao. The island group’s main town, on the main island, is Kuah.
Langkawi’s highest point is Gunung Raya, rising to 890 m above sea level in the main island’s central-eastern area. The Isles of Langkawi consists of 104 islands with a total land area of about 528 sq km (204 sq m).
The name “Langkawi” is believed to be related to the kingdom of Langkasuka, centred in modern-day Kedah. The historical record is sparse, but a Chinese Liang Dynasty record (c. 500 AD) refers to the kingdom of “Langgasu” as being founded in the 1st century AD. ‘Langkawi’ means Eagle Island, it may be noted, and indeed there is a great abundance of eagles in the area. In Kuah, the capital, there is a huge eagle monument in Eagle Square which commemorates the origin of Langkawi’s name.
Langkawi eventually came under the influence of the Sultanate of Kedah, but Kedah was conquered in 1821 by Siam and Langkawi along with it. The Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909 transferred power to the British, who held the state until independence, except for a brief period of Thai rule under the Japanese occupation of Malaya during World War II. Thai influences remain visible in the culture and food of Langkawi, while Thai language is still understood by many on the island.
Langkawi was the site of the Langkawi Declaration, issued by the Heads of Government of the Commonwealth of Nations and making environmental sustainability one of the priorities of the Commonwealth.
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