Visit the archipelago of Langkawi northwest of Malaysia, and be one of the lucky few to travel to what is known far and wide as the Jewel of Kedah. The 99 islands that make up Langkawi are home to some of the most picturesque landscapes in the world, and are truly the stuff of myths and legends. The islands are duty-free, too. Unlock the secret of Langkawi on your next holiday by making a stop at any of these clandestine locations.
No time spent in Langkawi is complete without a visit to what is literally the “cave of legends” or Gua Cerita. Located near Tanjung Rhu, the Gua Cerita sits on the water so you will need to charter a boat and have a tour guide in tow to reach the cave. The natural rock outside of the cave is said by the locals to resemble a sleeping princess.
The fable behind this sleeping princess is that, in ancient times, Rome and China agreed to marry their royal families to create a superpower. However, a mythical phoenix thought the power would be too great for the world to handle, so he abducted the Chinese princess and hid her in this cave to stop the marriage, and she perished. During a battle shortly thereafter, the Roman prince fell overboard a boat and died, but his body and spirit floated to this cave, where his spirit wed the spirit of the Chinese princess.
The area around Kuah Jetty offers a superb view of the sea, with waves that wash over natural rock formations. This is one of Langkawi’s secrets that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Kuah isn’t renowned for its beaches, and there aren’t really any tourist groups that scale the edge of the Kuah Jetty. Look for someone who knows the area and prepare to drive to the edge of an uphill road and walk a bit before you get to the rocks and view of the sea.
With 99 islands, it is little secret that there are stunning beaches for the sunbather and the tourist who likes to swim in the sea. Langkawi Island is one of the most famous beaches in the area, and Pantai Cenang is another tourist trap that still boasts an impressive coastline.
However, if you’re looking for the beaches that have smaller crowds, try Pantai Kok and Datai Bay. Pantai Kok is the “insider’s secret.” There are inviting bistros and docked yachts, but the crowd is smaller than back on the main island. Datai Bay is much more remote and natural. Either one is definitely worth a stop.
There are few things more clandestine than the seas surrounding Langkawi. If swimming through the waters is something that appeals to you, there are plenty of places on the islands that offer tours. Pulau Payar Abyssal Park is home to some of the most colourful reefs, which are billions of years old, and a variety of tropical schools of fish. Bring along an underwater camera. The rainbow of colours you encounter under the sea here has to be seen to be believed.
In Gunung Mat Cincang, you’ll find the Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls, also known as “the seven wells.” Stunning flora surround seven natural pools said in local legend to be the choice bathing grounds of faeries. The public is allowed to bathe in the pools, or to view them from the top or the bottom. In order to view the pools from the top, you have to climb 300 stone steps—watch out for slippery surfaces—but you won’t have to compete with as many people to see the sights.
Located in Pulau Dayang Bunting is Tasik Dayang Bunting, or “pregnant maiden lake.” As one of the most legendary Langkawi secrets, Tasik Dayang Bunting is said to be the home of a white crocodile that not only brings luck to those who swim in the lake, but even makes barren women able to conceive children once more—at least according to local legend. However, since it is a popular tourist spot, get there early in the day to avoid crowds.