This article is written like a travel guide rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (January 2021)
Langkawi, officially known as Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah (Malay: Langkawi Permata Kedah), is a district and an archipelago of 99 islands (plus five small islands visible only at low tide) in the Malacca Strait. some 30 km off the coast of northwestern Malaysia. The islands are a part of the state of Kedah, which is adjacent to the Thai border; the islands are a few kilometres south of Ko Tarutao. On 15 July 2008, Sultan Abdul Halim consented to its change of name to Langkawi Permata Kedah in conjunction with his golden jubilee celebration. By far the largest of the islands is the eponymous Langkawi Island (Pulau Langkawi), with a population of some 64,792; the only other inhabited island is nearby Tuba Island.
The name Langkawi is thought to have existed by the early 15th century, although in the 16th century the island of Langkawi was also marked on maps variously as Langa, Langka, Lansura, and Langapura.
There are many suggestions for the origin of the name of Langkawi. According to one interpretation, Langkawi means island of the reddish-brown eagle, a Brahminy kite in colloquial Malay. The Malay word for eagle is helang (colloquially shortened to lang), and kawi is a red stone used as a chalk to mark goods. This interpretation was used to create the landmark sculpture of an eagle as the symbol of Langkawi at Dataran Helang (Eagle Square) in Kuah.
Some believed that Langkawi is the same as, or related to, the Lanka or Langkapuri mentioned in Indian sources. This ancient name Lanka (or Lankapura and Lankapuri) is found in Indian literature from an early period (named in Ramayana as the city of the king Ravana), although the identification of the original Lanka is not certain. Puri or puram in Sanskrit means a town or city. The name Langkawi is also thought to be related to Langkasuka, an old kingdom believed to have links with Kedah. Some also thought that Langkawi means "many beautiful islands", langka being a Sanskrit word meaning "beautiful" while wi means "many".
In 2008, the then-sultan of Kedah, Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah, conferred the title of Langkawi Permata Kedah (meaning 'Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah') upon the island as part of his golden jubilee as an affirmation of Kedah's ownership over the island.
Langkawi had long been at the periphery of, but closely associated with, the domain of the Kedah Sultanate. Legend tells of a great snake ular besar, the custodian of the Langkawi Islands, to which a new king of Kedah must sacrifice a virgin daughter whenever he ascended the throne, or when war was declared with another state.
The island of Langkawi was recorded in history by various travellers to the region. It was called Lóngyápútí (龍牙菩提) in the 14th century by the Yuan dynasty traveller Wang Dayuan. When the Ming dynasty admiral Zheng He visited the region, the island was marked as 龍牙交椅, Lóngyájiāoyǐ, on his map. In the 15th century, it was known to the Acehnese as Pulau Lada ('Pepper Island'). In 1691, the French general Augustin de Beaulieu recorded going to the island of "Lancahui" (Langkawi) to buy pepper, and de Beaulieu was required to obtain a license from Kedah's heir apparent then in Perlis before the penghulu or chief of Langkawi would sell pepper to him.
Langkawi was historically home to seafarers, such as the orang laut or sea people originally from the southern part of the Malay Peninsula, as well as pirates and fishers. It had been thought to be cursed for a couple of centuries. According to local legend, in the late 18th century, a woman named Mahsuri was wrongfully accused of adultery and put to death. She placed a curse on the island that would last for seven generations. Not long after Mahsuri's death, in 1821, the Siamese army invaded Kedah and attacked Langkawi. In the first attack, the locals burned down the granary at Padang Matsirat to starve the Siamese army. The Siamese nevertheless captured the island in May 1822, killed its leaders, and took many islanders as slaves, while others fled. Before the Siamese invasion, there was an estimated island population of 3,000–5,000, and only a small proportion was left after the invasion.
The island was recaptured from the Siamese in 1837. In 1840–1841, the Sultan of Kedah, who went into exile after the Siamese attacks, was allowed to return by the Siamese. Langkawi islands' population recovered afterwards, mainly due to immigrants' settlement from Sumatra. However, the Orang Laut who fled after the Siamese attacks did not return. In 1909, the islands came under British rule following the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909. The middle of the channel between Tarutao National Park and Langkawi became the Siamese border, with Tarutao to the north forming part of Siam, while the Langkawi islands to the south came under British rule. During the World War II, Siam took control briefly as British Malaya fell to the Japanese.
Langkawi was a haven for pirates who attacked junks in the northern part of the Strait of Malacca. In a series of operations, between December 1945 and March 1946, the British cleared the pirates' land bases on Langkawi and Tarutao. The British continued to rule until Malaya gained its independence in 1957.
Langkawi remained a quiet backwater until 1986, when Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad transformed it into a major tourist resort, helping to plan many of the islands' buildings himself. Mahsuri's seven generation curse was said to have lifted as a seventh generation descendant of Mahsuri, then living in Phuket Province, was born. The island rapidly grew as a tourist destination, and by 2012, it received over three million tourists a year.
Langkawi, a cluster of 99 islands separated from mainland Malaysia by the Strait of Malacca, is a district of the state of Kedah in northern Malaysia and lies approximately 51 kilometres (32 mi) west of Kedah. The total landmass of the islands is 47,848 hectares (118,230 acres). The main island is about 25 kilometres (16 mi) from north to south and slightly more from east to west. The coastal areas consist of flat, alluvial plains punctuated with limestone ridges. Two-thirds of the island is dominated by forest-covered mountains, hills, and natural vegetation.
The island's oldest geological formation, the Machinchang Formation, was the first part of Southeast Asia to rise from the seabed in the Cambrian more than half a billion years ago. The oldest part of the formation is observable at Teluk Datai to the northwest of the island, where the exposed outcrop consists of mainly sandstone (quartzite) in the upper parts and shale and mudstone in the lower parts of the sequence. The best exposure of Cambrian rocks (541 to 485 Ma) in Malaysia is the Machinchang Formation, composed of quartzose clastic rock formations, in Langkawi; the other known example, the Jerai Formation, emerges near the west coast of Kedah on the mainland (peninsula). Geologically, all these rocks are in the Western Belt of peninsular Malaysia, which is thought to be part of the Shan–Thai Terrane.
Langkawi receives more than 2,400 mm (94 in) of rain annually. Langkawi features a Tropical monsoon climate (Köppen climate classification (Am) ) Langkawi has a short dry season from December until February. March to November is a long rainy season. September is the wettest month, when it can receive more than 500 mm (20 in).
|Climate data for Pulau Langkawi|
|Record high °C (°F)||36.2
|Average high °C (°F)||32.9
|Daily mean °C (°F)||28.0
|Average low °C (°F)||24.4
|Record low °C (°F)||19.8
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||23.9
|Average precipitation days||3||5||10||15||18||17||19||19||21||23||16||8||174|
|Average relative humidity (%)||70||71||76||81||83||84||84||84||85||85||81||75||80|
|Source: Malaysian Meteorological Department|
Langkawi District is divided into 6 mukims, which are:
Only four of the 99 islands are inhabited: Langkawi (Pulau Langkawi, the main island), Tuba, Rebak and Dayang Bunting. The population is approximately 99,000, around 65,000 of them in Langkawi, of which 90% are Malays. The other ethnic groups consist mainly of Chinese, Indians, and Thais.
Standard Malay is the official language. English is widely spoken and understood by the locals. Most natives speak a Langkawi variant of Kedah Malay, with minorities also speaking Chinese, Siamese, and various Indian languages.
Federal Parliament and State Assembly Seats
Langkawi district representatives in the Federal Parliament of Malaysia
|Parliament||Seat Name||Member of Parliament||Party|
List of Langkawi district representatives in the state legislative assemblies
|Parliament||State||Seat Name||State Assemblyman||Party|
|P4||N1||Ayer Hangat||Juhari Bulat||Perikatan Nasional (PPBM)|
|P4||N2||Kuah||Mohd Firdaus Ahmad||Perikatan Nasional (PPBM)|
A tourism-driven economy is overtaking an agro-based economy of paddy and rubber cultivation and fisheries.
The Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) development program is a Malaysia Government initiative to accelerate economic growth in the north of Peninsular Malaysia – encompassing the states of Perlis, Kedah, Penang and the north of Perak. The target for NCER is to achieve increased tourism receipts per visitor from MYR1,890 (US$600) in 2005 to MYR3,034 (US$963) by 2012.
Annual tourist expenditure is targeted to increase from MYR9.0 billion (US$2.86 billion) in 2005 to MYR21.8 billion (US$6.9 billion) in 2012 and MYR64.5 billion (US$20.4 billion) in 2020.
On 1 June 2007, Langkawi Island was given a World Geopark status by UNESCO. Three of its main conservation areas in Langkawi Geopark are Machincang Cambrian Geoforest Park, Kilim Karst Geoforest Park, and Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest park (Island of the Pregnant Maiden Lake). These three parks are the most popular tourism area within Langkawi Geopark. In 2014, UNESCO issued a "yellow card" warning threatening the status of the Geopark.
The Langkawi UNESCO Global Geopark status was due for renewal in 2015. Upon thorough inspection by the appointed Geopark Inspectors, Langkawi was issued the Certificate of Membership dubbed the Green Card by Asia Pacific Geoparks Network under the Global Geopark Network (GGN).
Tourists can enter the island via ferry from Kuala Kedah, Kuala Perlis, and Penang and from Satun in Thailand. Or by domestic flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) via Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Malindo Air, or Subang Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (SZB) via Malindo Air and Fireflyz providing a budget connection to the island. International connection is available from Singapore via Tigerair and AirAsia and from Guangzhou via AirAsia.
Islands and beaches
There are two main island areas: the Southern Islands, a heavier tourist population, and the islands to the northeast which are more secluded with little tourist traffic.
Langun Island has a fresh-water lake called Pregnant Maiden Lake and has a Sand Spit Beach on its south-facing orientation. Dendang Island next to it forms a bay used by
Langkawi sailing yacht tour operators.
Some of the most popular beaches are Pantai Cenang, Pantai Tengah, Burau Bay, Pantai Kok, and Datai Bay. Pantai Cenang beach has long stretches of fine white sand. It has many restaurants and bars for evening entertainment, several hosting live musics, and watching the sunset.[tone] The beach is lined with tall coconut and casuarina trees. Pantai Tengah is separated from Cenang by a small cape. It also faces the setting sun and has hotels than bars, making it less busy in the evening.[original research?] Burau Bay, fringed by rocky outcrops, is visited by migratory birds. Pantai Kok quiet beach has a backdrop of limestone hills. Datai Bay has a combination of forests and sea, and its white sandy beach is backed by forest.
Cable car and Sky Bridge
The Langkawi Cable Car takes visitors up to the peak of Gunung Mat Chinchang, where the Langkawi Sky Bridge is located. The Sky Bridge was closed in 2012 for maintenance and upgrading but reopened in February 2015. An inclined lift called SkyGlide that would take visitors from the top station to the Sky Bridge was completed in late 2015.
The start of the cable car ride is located in the Oriental Village where there are several attractions, including a 3-Dimensional art museum known as Art in Paradise.
The Kilim Karst Geoforest Park (The Kilim River)
The Kilim Karst Geoforest Park consists of three river estuaries that stretch from Kisap village approximately 10&km to Tanjung Rhu, and they are all interconnected. They are rich in wildlife with hairy nosed sea otters, brown winged kingfishers, monitor lizards, and swimming macaque monkeys being common sights. There is also a bat cave within the Geoforest Park. Limestone, inherently porous, forms caves and there are several in the mangroves. One of Langkawi's natural beauty spots is the Pirate Lagoon just outside the river. Technically this is a collapsed cave (hong) consisting of a cave entrance from the sea emerging into a hidden lagoon with towering, limestone escarpments, and smaller caves.
With Langkawi surrounded by the sea, there are various water-based activities to indulge in. For those that love cruises, various cruises can accommodate individuals who love the morning sun or individuals who would like to have dinner on a yacht.
Tourists can also choose to go for island hopping tours with different options:
- Slow: Travelling and spending time on selective private islands / beaches
- Fast: Sitting on a speedboat for a quick spin around the various islands available in Langkawi
The Island of Langkawi does not have public transportation, but the people can still use taxis or rent a vehicle (car, bicycle, motorbike, scooter, etc.). All taxis have a standard fixed price system with the fare from one part of the island to another is always being the same. As an alternative, ride-hailing apps, such as Grab, also operate on the island.
The island of Langkawi can be reached by sea and air. The Langkawi Jetty Point connects the island to main destinations like Kuala Perlis, Kuala Kedah, Penang, and Tamalang. There's also ferry service to Satun town and to Ko Lipe island in Thailand. From Langkawi, Malaysia, a ferry operates from Langkawi to Ko Lipe (and back) from October until June. The departure/arrival point in Langkawi is at Kuah Jetty, Langkawi and Telaga Harbour, Langkawi. The departure/arrival point in Ko Lipe is at Pattaya Beach. As there is no pier in Ko Lipe, transfers to the beach are done with local long-tail boats. The journey takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
- SMK Ayer Hangat
- SMK Kedawang
- SMK Kelibang
- SMK Langkawi Pulau Tuba
- SMK Mahsuri
- SMK Tunku Putra
- Kolej Vokasional Langkawi
- Maktab Mahmud Langkawi
- Maktab Rendah Sains Mara Langkawi(MRSM)
- Kolej Komuniti Langkawi
The television and radio in Langkawi can be received from Gunung Raya and RTM Kuah.
- Langkawi FM - FM 87.50 MHz (RTM Kuah), FM 104.80 MHz (Gunung Raya)
- Era FM - FM 90.70 MHz (Gunung Raya)
- Hitz FM - FM 92.40 MHz (Gunung Raya)
- MY FM - FM 100.10 MHz (Gunung Raya)
- Sinar FM - FM 100.90 MHz (Gunung Raya)
- THR Raaga - FM 101.90 MHz (Gunung Raya)
- Kedah FM - FM 105.70 MHz (Gunung Raya)
- Radio Thailand Satun FM 95.5 MHz and 99.5 MHz (Satun, Thailand)
- MCOT Satun FM 93.25 MHz (Satun, Thailand)
Twin towns – Sister cities
Langkawi currently has two sister cities:
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|Capital of Kedah