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Langkawi
Langkawi is an archipelago consists of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea, south of Thailand, 30km off the mainland coast of north-western Peninsular Malaysia. The islands are a part of Malaysia's Kedah state, but are adjacent to the Thai border. By far the largest of the islands is the eponymous Pulau Langkawi (Langkawi Island) with a population of some 45,000, the only other inhabited island being nearby Pulau Tuba.

Tourists flock here for the delightful beaches, superb resorts and refreshing nature-based activities. The best beaches include Pantai Cenang, Burau Bay, Pantai Kok and Pantai Datai. 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 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, which 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.

Langkawi remained a sleepy backwater until 1987, when the island was granted tax-free status with the intention of promoting tourism and improve the lives of the islanders. The following boom was spectacular and now Langkawi figures on most every European travel agency's radar.

Sheltered by the mountainous backbone of Peninsular Malaysia, Langkawi escapes the north-eastern winter monsoon entirely and enjoys sunny skies when the eastern provinces are flooded. Coupled with natural white sand beaches, lush jungle foliage and craggy mountain peaks - but hampered by inaccessibility - the island was at one time touted as "Malaysia's best-kept secret".

What to expect in Langkawi:-
  • Air Hangat Village is a new tourism concept that sees the redevelopment of the former tourist spot known as Telaga Air Hangat (Hot Springs). The entertainment complex covers some four acres. Attractions include a 3-tier hot-spring fountain, 18 meters hand-carved riverstone mural depicting the legends of Air Hangat, day-long outdoor entertainment programme featuring Malaysian/ ASEAN cultural dances and traditional sports and games, live displays of Malaysian/ASEAN customs, Malay folk and classical dances are performed at the Park, alongside other traditional Malay art and craft activities like batik-painting, congkat playing and foot massage. Food and beverage facilities include a cafe, a lounge and a theatre restaurant. Duty free shopping is available at the pavilions. The village complex is only about 14 km from Kuah Town.
  • Beaches. There are many beaches and coves around most islands. Yellow sands meet shallow waters and there’s always shade from coconut trees for relaxing. The Pantai Cenang / Pantai Tengah strip is the most developed with chalets, restaurants, and water sports. Relax here free of crowds and vendors. Superb beaches also exist at Pantai Kok, Burau Bay, Datai Bay, Pantai Tanjung Rhu, and Pantai Pasir Tengkorak. Pantai Pasir Hitam (Black Sand Beach) contains black minerals and fisher folk moor their colorful boats here.
  • The Langkawi Craft Complex is located at picturesque Teluk Yu in Mukim Bohor. It is only about 21 kilometres from Kuah town via the Ulu Melaka road and 24 kilometres from Langkawi Airport. The complex is accessible by car. This is a one-stop arts and crafts centre brimming with much sought-after items of craftwork - from forest-based products, fabrics, ceramics to metal artefacts and beautiful art objects representing the various Malaysian ethnic groups. At the demonstration centre of the complex, visitors can learn from skilled craftsmen, who will demonstrate the intricate techniques of producing local works of art and crafts such as weaving, batik painting, wood carving and plaiting. Also on display are static representations of wedding ceremonies and customs of Malaysians. At the Museum of History and Legends, all the colourful facets of Langkawi's legends and myths are told through dioramas.
  • Dataran Lang (Eagle Square) is Langkawi's most prominent landmark for visitors arriving by sea. Situated near the Kuah jetty, the main attraction of the square is thehuge eagle statuepoised for flight.According to local tales, the name Langkawiis derived from theword "helang". In old Malay, "kawi" denote reddish brown - hence, Langkawi means reddish brown eagle! This place offers a beautiful surroundings, scenic ponds, bridges, covered terraces, restaurants and barrel vaults made of bricks. Since it's close to the sea, one can really enjoy the cool breeze while strolling along the park. Indeed, thegigantic eagle is strategically positioned to welcome visitors to Langkawi. The Langkawi Lagenda Park is more than just a scenic park with beautiful gardens oflocal blooms, plants and fruit trees. It is a 50-acre park with 17 story-telling monuments &4 artificial lakes. This beautiful park highlights the many myths & legends of Langkawi including the legends of the fights of two heroic giants, mythical birds, evil ogres & beautiful princesses.
  • Crocodile Farm. It is estimated that the 20-acre farm has more than 1,000 crocodiles, including several rare ones, as well as some alligators. Here, one can witness and photograph crocodiles and alligators play and feed in a controlled environment that closely resembles their natural habitat. The Langkawi Crocodile Farm registered with the Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species (CITES), has conveniently divided its ponds so as to satisfy a whole range of common fascinations of these reptiles. Among them are Periodical Pond, Breeding Pond, Bridge Pond, Feeding Pond, Jumping Pond and Show Pond. Also, look out for 28-year-old Bujang Kawi, the oldest inmate born without teeth. Its length is about four metre while its weight is more than 454 kg. There is also an exhibition centre where one can view the life cycle of a crocodile as well as photographs of every conceivable aspect of the species.
  • Mahsuri’s Tomb. About 12km from Kuah is Makam Mahsuri or the Tomb of Mahsuri, which is located within the Kota Mahsuri Complex in Ulu Melaka. Locals say this was the exact spot the fair maiden breathed her last after her execution in Padang Mat Sirat. This newly re-built complex replaces the previous one. It nowfeatures a museum with dioramas, the must-see Mek Mulung traditional theatre auditorium and reconstructions of Langkawi houses that represent the architecture popular during Mahsuri's time hundreds of years ago. This pleasant historical enclave makes for a leisurely walkabout. A traditional Malay warung (stall) sells refreshments with a sitting area over-looking the vast paddy fields of Ulu Melaka. Mahsuri's Well is also located within the complex. Where the restored Rumah Kedah (traditional Kedah house) stands is believed to be where Mahsuri's house originally stood. Before reaching Rumah Kedah you will see four local women preparing traditional snacks. The snacks - kuih loyang, kuih peneram and kuih karas - are sold at RM2 per packet or 20 sen per piece.
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