Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Langkawi Attractions By Road

A great way to see Pulau Langkawi's many attractions is to rent a car and drive from place to place at one's own leisure. Car hire is reasonably priced and the island is linked by a network of pleasant roads with ample signages.

A great place to start your sightseeing tour is to begin at Kuah town itself, where the tourist information centre is based (next to the town's mosque). Grab all the brochures and maps which you may need and you're ready to go.

Within the vicinity of the jetty and the tourist information center is the harbourside's parklands which houses the Dataran Lang and Lagenda Park - the former a landscaped square with a concrete statue of the Langkawi eagle and the latter a 20-hectare park commemorating the island's legends in sculptural form.

Heading west from Kuah town will take you to the rural countryside surrounded by paddy fields. Let the road signs lead you to Makam Mahsuri, the grave of the island's legendary heroine. Being the island's most popular legend, this tomb/shrine is to Langkawi what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris.

Going back to the main road will lead you to Pantai Cenang, the island's longest stretch of beach with the most happening nightlife. This beach houses the highest concentration of accommodation providers, ranging from budget chalets to five-star resorts, and is therefore the liveliest spot.

Laman Padi, a "rice museum" is also located at Pantai Cenang for those interested in all aspects of rice farming. The Underwater World, a colossal aquarium with a fascinating collection of freshwater and marine life is further down the same road.

From Pantai Cenang, take the route to the airport. A go-cart racing centre is situated along the way for those who are game to participate. Past the airport is the small town of Padang Matsirat where the very disappointing Beras Terbakar or "Field of Burnt Rice" is located. Legend has it burnt rice still appear, the remnants of an 18th-century crop which was put to torch by local villagers to prevent invading Siamese troops from taking it. At the most, you will see a pitiful bowl of burnt rice in a plastic casing flanked by a signage.

From the Padang Matsirat junction, follow the signage to Pantai Kok, a picturesque stretch of beach which some say is the finest in Langkawi. You will come across a red Thai-style structure along this road which was actually a Hollywood prop for the film Anna and the King starring Jodie Foster and Chow Yuen Fatt. Built as the Summer Palace for the Siamese monarch in the story, the structure has since been "recycled" as a tourist attraction. The admission charge is a bit steep but the place itself is well maintained and worth a visit. Cultural performances also are carried out at regular intervals here.

Beyond Pantai Kok is Burau Bay, the other contender for accolade of the island's most beautiful beach. Burau Bay is actually a delightful cove flanked by the mysterious peaks of Gunung Mat Cincang. Two resorts sit on both ends of this cove: the Burau Bay Resort and the Berjaya Langkawi Beach Resort, both built to blend with the surrounding environment.

Further up from Burau Bay is the waterfalls of Telaga Tujuh (Seven Wells), a playground of fairies according to local folklore. Only the fit and enthusiastic outdoor-type should attempt the thirty-minute hike up the falls. Back track from Telaga Tujuh and turn towards Datai Bay, where "250 million-year-old rainforest meet the sea", or so the brochure claims.

Two of the island's most luxurious resorts, The Datai and The Andaman are nestled among trees in seclusion here. A breathtaking golf course and a spectacular waterfall are also in the vicinity. The coastal road along Datai will also lead you past the Ibrahim Hussein Museum and Cultural Foundation, a showcase for Malaysia's most famous artist, and a Crocodile Farm where the main attraction is a deformed croc.

Moving up the north coast, you will find Pasir Hitam (The Beach of Black Sand) where the sand is streaked in black, and Kompleks Budaya Kraf, a crafts' complex of traditional craft products such as batik, silverware and pottery.

At Padang Lalang turn right for Tanjung Rhu (Rhu Cape), a beautiful beach with shallow lagoons and vast sand flats during low tide. Visitors can also hire boat rides here to mangrove forests and the legendary caves nearby.

Head west on the main road back to Kuah and you will past Air Hangat Village, a cultural centre around a natural hot spring, and the Galeria Perdana, a museum devoted to Prime Minister Dato' Seri Dr. Mahatir's collection of gifts.

Besides attractions on Pulau Langkawi, one can go island hopping to the neighbouring isles, each with their own coves of crystal-clear waters, snorkeling spots, eerie caves and fascinating folklore.

Top on the list of must-see islands are Pulau Dayang Bunting, the archipelago's second largest island with a freshwater lake in the center, Pulau Singa Besar which houses a wildlife sanctuary, and the superb Pulau Payar, a designated marine park teeming with corals, fishes and baby sharks.