While hordes graze the beaches of southern Thailand’s nearby islands, the 99 jewels of this artful archipelago go relatively unspoilt. Tourism is centred on main hub Pulau Langkawi, leaving the many smaller islets to wilder whims. Play Robinson Crusoe castaway on palm-fringed sands or head underwater to frolic with the fish; if beach boredom bites, swap open-toed sandals for sturdy walking shoes and set off inland for an afternoon trek. With home grown fusion food and some of the best spas in Malaysia thrown in for good measure, you won’t want to leave.
Areas in Langkawi
When to go
Langkawi enjoys consistently good weather all year round. Showers during the August and September rainy season are usually short and sharp, providing just enough downtime for a quick nap.
PlanesFly into Langkawi International Airport, near Kuala Muda on the west coast, served year-round by Malaysia Airlines (www.malaysiaairlines.com) direct flights from capital Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. In high season, several major international carriers run direct long-haul flights to the island.
BoatsFerries run between Kuala Perlis or Kuala Kedah on the Malaysian mainland and Kuah town on Langkawi, taking an hour and an hour and a half respectively (www.langkawi-ferry.com). You can also catch a ferry to Langkawi from Georgetown on Penang (two and a half hours) or Satun on the southern Thai coast (one hour).
AutomobilesLangkawi is a relatively easy island to navigate, and rental cars offer the best way to explore. Make savings by asking your concierge to recommend a car from an outside agency, or pick one up yourself at Kuah ferry jetty. Drive carefully at night, however; Malay villagers, motorbikes and livestock have a cavalier approach to road safety.
TaxisTaxis are cheap in Langkawi. In the more developed areas of the island, such as Pantai Cenang or Pantai Tengah, you can easily flag one down outside of your hotel. Otherwise, ask the concierge or a member of staff to call one for you.