Isle Of Paradise: Where To Stay And Play In Langkawi, Malaysia
From sandy white beaches to ancient rainforest and dramatic mountain formations, Langkawi is a vibrant microcosm of natural wonders and luxury, spread across 104 islands. Don’t miss our essential guide to the best things to do when you get there
24 April, 2023
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Throughout its centuries of history, Langkawi has attracted travellers and explorers from all over the world. This astonishing blend of white sands, mangroves, ancient rainforest and incredible mountain formations has historically been the backdrop to many a mythic tale - these days, that same blend makes it a holiday destination like no other.
Though commonly thought of as just one island, Langkawi is in fact an archipelago of 104 islands clustered in the Andaman Sea, just off the north-west coast of Malaysia. Resorts, restaurants and activities are largely located on the main island of Langkawi, with the smaller islands accessible by boat for day trips or guided tours.
The Datai Langkawi, right.
Head up to the north of the main island to fully appreciate what Langkawi does best - sprawling private resorts. The Datai Langkawi, named for the private bay it sits in, is regularly voted one of the best resorts in Asia and approaching its 30th birthday this year, though you wouldn't guess it from the bold, contemporary (and recently refurbished) Kerry Hill-designed architecture and ambitious landscaping. The Datai makes the most of Langkawi's unique geography, set against the rainforest, looking out to a private beach, and with mangroves and waterfalls on either side. Immerse yourself in the famous on-site spa that draws from traditional Malay wellness practices or explore the natural surroundings with a private tour.
Further along the coastline is relative newcomer Four Seasons Resort Langkawi, a favourite with families. If you'd rather be closer to Langkawi's main town, Kuah, The St Regis Langkawi offers a great balance between accessibility and seclusion.
Each of Langkawi's geographical extremes begs to be explored. Start with a swinging, breathtaking cable car ride up Mount Machinchang to truly take in the breadth of Langkawi's natural wonders. Be sure to look out for the brahminy kites that the island is (purportedly) named for, as well as the waterfalls that streak across the face of the mountain. Then, head out on a tour of the archipelago's mangrove forests at the Kilim Geoforest Park, where you'll glide through cave formations by boat, spotting sea eagles, hornbills, kingfishers and more. And don't leave without experiencing a sunset cruise around the archipelago's islands, taking in the sunset over the Andaman Sea.
Brahminy kites, left, and the Kilim Geoforest Park.
Langkawi's food scene is an endearing mix of local favourites and high-end establishments, mainly located within the hotels and resorts. (Though there's also Scarborough Fish & Chips, a Brit-style chippie on Tanjung Rhu beach.) For a truly special meal that combines ambience, sea views and excellent food, book yourself a table at Kayuputi at the St Regis. Here, you'll find modern haute cuisine that's informed by Malaysian produce and flavours, served with an expansive view of the sea. For more distinctively Malay dishes, try The Gulai House at The Datai. The restaurant is set in a traditional wooden village house, guests are seated on the floor, and the menu is a journey through authentic Malaysian cuisine. Of course, you can't visit Langkawi without enjoying its abundance of fresh seafood. Try Langkawi Fish Farm Restaurant for its local recipes, or Gallo Nero, the Italian establishment with an ever-changing menu.
How to get there
Langkawi is just a one-hour flight from Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur. Book your trip to Langkawi with Qatar Airways, the World's Best Airline and winner of Skytrax Airline of the Year 2022 - the only airline awarded for a record seventh time (World's Best Best Business Class, World's Best Business Class Lounge Dining and Best Airline in the Middle East).
Ready to explore Langkawi? Visit Qatar Airways to book your trip.