Langkawi is a cluster of 99 islands, only a few of which are inhabited. It is located off the coast of Kedah, one of the northern states in Malaysia. Their culture originated from the indigenous tribes of Malay people who moved here from Mainland Asia in ancient times. This has since been sprinkled with hints of Chinese, Indian, Thai, Middle Eastern and European cultures. Each population has strongly maintained its own identity but most of the modern society exist harmoniously on the island. It is normal to find houses of worship of different faiths side by side. It is not uncommon to find the local people speaking more than one language. It is not unusual to find a cultural dance of one race being performed by someone of a completely different race. So, I am sure you can imagine the culinary delights that have stemmed from Langkawi being this melting pot of worldwide influences. Being an island in Asia, Langkawi offers the sand, seafood and tropical climate. But it also has other diverse activities that can suit all types of travellers. Below are a few activities that should not be missed when visiting Langkawi.
Riding A Helicopter
There are a few companies that offer this on the island. The company that we went with was Langkawi Outpost. This company uses Robinson helicopters with 4 seats, 1 for the pilot with up to 3 passengers. They had a few different tours to choose from depending on which part of the island you wanted to view from the sky. The tour that we chose cost about RM1000 (local currency equivalent to about USD300). For this, we got to ride in the helicopter for about 15 to 20 minutes. Our pilot was very friendly but we were still not allowed to try to fly the helicopter. I am not sure if the rules have changed by now. It was definitely worth the money we paid to get the serene view of the calm seas and to see the greenery of Langkawi. This was my second time to ride in a helicopter. The first time was in Hawaii. Our helicopter ride in Langkawi was much cheaper in comparison.
I love pampering myself every chance I get and have been to spas all around the world. But, this was my first time in an ayurvedic spa. Ayurveda is the oldest system of medicine in the world originating in 1500 BC in India. It uses diet, exercise, herbs and body therapies to help our bodies cope with life’s demands and relax. The previous spas that I have been to before are all the typical westernised type of spas.
I was surprised when I first entered a room that only had a tiny fan and no air-conditioning. The bed was very simply made, quite hard and nowhere near as comfortable as the beds in other spas. I chose to have an Abhyanga, which would be equivalent to full body oil massage with herbal bath. During the massage, they stimulated nerve points all over your body using quite firm circular rubs. The oil that they used had a very strong herbal smell and was generously applied. By the end of the massage I was thoroughly relaxed and feeling warm from the inside out.
The second surprise came during the herbal bath. In my head, I had pictured a nice soak in a bathtub full of flower petals and leaves. I was surprised to find that I had to sit on a little wooden stool while my masseuse rubbed a herbal paste all over my body. The paste was left on for about 5 minutes and then the masseuse rinsed it off. I can’t remember the last time someone actually bathed me. I was a bit uncomfortable, to be honest, as it was not what I was expecting. But, it was definitely an adventure and it did help heal my sunburn quickly. Abhyanga is noted for relieving arthritis, sunburn, myalgia and cervical spondylosis.
You can of course choose to go to the typical western-style spas . There are plenty of those too, such as the famous one at the Westin Hotel.
Make Your Own Batik
Batik is one of the fascinating cultural arts of the Malay people where wax is used to draw images on a cloth. The cloth is normally cotton or silk or other natural materials that can absorb the wax. The wax is applied using a tool known as a canting. These come in various sizes. A piece of cotton may be attached at the end of it to enable it to draw brush-like strokes. The canting holds liquid wax in a small container that looks like a pot and is then used to draw the designs by hand. Once the wax is dry, you can then colour in your artwork. At the Atma Alam Batik Village, you basically get to make your own souvenir!
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Telaga Harbour Park
There is always a new development nearby that gets filled up with new restaurants and duty-free shopping in Langkawi. One such place we went to was Telaga Harbour Park. This was a new township built around a harbour and featured a long boardwalk called Perdana Quay. Perdana Quay featured a long list of restaurant that catered for international cuisines. We decided to try Tapaz, a Spanish restaurant that I had read about online beforehand. I can definitely understand why many blogs were talking about this restaurant! It had a cute ambience, a magnificent view and delicious food for cheap prices - everything I look for in a restaurant. Since my last trip to Langkawi, I have read that Perdana Quay has also recently opened up Skytrex Adventure where you can do an obstacle course above the forest canopy.
Of course, if you just love a relaxing island holiday of sitting by the beach, Langkawi offers many pristine white beaches to walk along. If you love adventures in nature, there is also the UNESCO-approved Langkawi Geopark to hike and swim in. It is very easy to rent a car and drive around Langkawi without getting lost. The best thing about Langkawi, for me, is that it is a tourist destination that constantly changes and upgrades itself. Every time I visit, there is something new to do or something new to see. If you are visiting Malaysia, Langkawi is definitely worth a short detour.
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