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Langkawi is the name of a 99-island archipelago situated 30kms west of northwest Malaysia near the country's border with Thailand. Only a couple of these islands are inhabited, Pulau Langkawi and the much smaller Pulau Tuba. Langkawi received its duty-free status in 1987 and was declared a UNESCO geopark 20 years later. Mangroves and limestone crags are the dominant landscapes of Tanjung Rhu, Pulau Langkawi's northern tip. Pantai Cenang, the archipelago's best known beach, is best seen from Oriental Village's famous Sky Bridge.
Tanjung Rhu is the Langkawi island beach where visitors are most likely to encounter clear water, but Pantai Cenang remains the island's busiest beach. Nearby Telaga Harbour includes the Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls, the secluded Pantai Kok beach, and Mat Cincang Mountain, whose peak can be reached by cable car.
Another attraction near Pantai Kok is the Asian-themed Oriental Village, which visitors can explore by segway or even on an elephant ride. Oriental Village's most popular attraction is the cable car leading to Gunung Mat and the Sky Bridge from which visitors can see as far as neighbouring Thailand.
Langkawi's best snorkelling and scuba diving is found in Pulau Payar Marine Park, which also features a scenic viewing platform. Popular boating tours include a traditional Malay sailing junk voyage to the Thai island of Koh Lipe, mangrove cruises, sunset dinner cruises aboard a boat with a saltwater hot tub, and several yacht charters. Jet-ski and helicopter tours are even more thrilling ways to explore Langkawi.
Restaurants and Bars
Even though many Langkawi island resorts include all meals in their packages, visitors are encouraged to go out for at least a few meals. Seafood restaurants are commonplace, but the cheapest meals are usually served at the small establishments near major roads. Nasi lemak, coconut milk and steamed rice served in a banana leaf, is a traditional Langkawi breakfast. Langkawi's tax-free archipelago still boasts Malaysia's cheapest alcohol. So you could have quite a bit of fun when night falls but do note, public drunkenness, however, is considered very impolite.
Pulau Langkawi's duty-free status makes shopping one of the archipelago's most popular pastimes. Tourists who stay longer than 48 hours can purchase up to 1 litre of alcohol, 200 cigarettes, and one portable electronic item each without duty. Cosmetics, clothing, souvenirs, and food are other commonly purchased duty-free items. Most duty-free shops are situated in Kuah or Pantai Cenang. The northeast coast is the location of Langkawi's largest handicrafts centre, Kompleks Budaya Kraf, well worth a visit.