When a destination becomes a part of what’s only the highest-grossing romantic comedy released in the last decade, tourist numbers are sure to follow. Langkawi’s the lucky recipient, with her recent spotlight in Hollywood film, Crazy Rich Asians. Combined with a multilingual people, tropical weather and favourable exchange rate, the ‘Jewel of Kedah’ is all set to become the next go-to destination in Malaysia.
It helps that the island is just 1.5 hours by flight from Singapore, and conveniently connected to four domestic and five international destinations. That’s 238 weekly flights and 3.67 million tourists arriving in 2017, with Langkawi also seeing signs of “more interest from foreign airlines to operate from here”, said Malaysia Airports acting group CEO Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin.
In anticipation to global interest, Langkawi International Airport embarked on an expansion project in 2017, also upgrading terminal facilities to cut congestion and improve operational efficiencies. Today, the refreshed airport is capable of managing four million travellers per annum, a substantial leap from its previous 1.5 million capacity.
“People are looking for experiential destinations, and Langkawi as a hidden gem has that charm since it’s more well-preserved [and] less touristy,” shared Nico Mamon, director of sales, Four Seasons Resort Langkawi – the beach haven was also one of the film’s featured locations.
Malaysia’s most ancient state, Kedah is well endowed with archaeological treasures galore. Langkawi especially stands out as the country’s only Global Geopark designated by UNESCO, and is poised to become one of the world’s top 10 eco-tourism hotspots.
Three conservation areas enchant with their geological beauty: The Machinchang Cambrian Geoforest Park, Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park, and Kilim Karst Geoforest Park. At the lattermost, the visual experience begins the moment visitors sail towards the mangroves and bat cave, stopping by a floating restaurant for a satisfying seafood lunch, before carrying on the journey amongst formidable 550-million-year old rock faces. Onboard, lift your heads and be sure to search for the majestic Brahminy Kite and White-bellied Sea Eagles, soaring and diving into the water for food, at complete ease in their natural habitat.
At Machinchang, sky rangers lead the way, explaining the park’s natural wonders while maneuvering visitors through 12 zip lines, sky bridges and the Seven Wells Waterfalls. Or be rewarded with stunning views sans the sweat at the Langkawi Skycab, as gondolas hover at a precariously steep incline over emerald jungles beneath, the adrenalin rush worth it once the ride reaches the Skybridge. Completed in 2004, the massive curved bridge is suspended on a single pylon 100 metres above two Machinchang Mountain peaks, awarding dizzyingly dazzling views of the area.
Four Seasons Langkawi.
Whether for honeymooners or families, incentive groups or long-haul travellers, birthdays or weddings, Langkawi’s crystal waters married with fine beaches and lush tropics are an irresistible hit.
The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi for instance offers traditional folk dances and cooking classes, mixology and soap making classes harnessing local flavours to deliver that differentiating touch. Production-friendly Four Seasons Resort Langkawi concocted the Escape to Paradise promotion, designed to mimic the box office hit’s ‘crazy-rich, and crazy-good, lifestyle’. Lovebirds will appreciate Dash Resort Langkawi’s private spot at the end of Pantai Tengah, the hipster hotel offering one of the best sunset views as guests bask in their Instagram-worthy beachfront infinity pool.
Langkawi even offers water babies an entire island at their disposal – Paradise 101. This is the perfect ground for high-octane water sports, an aqua park, zip-line and parasailing, even as 18 chefs fire up the stoves so everyone may move from dinner to dancing the night away in a breeze. For the same experience at a leisurely pace and tailored to specific needs, Tropical Charters is it. Seven yachts are equipped to take visitors on fishing tours, day cruises, or simply luxuriating over a barbeque dinner prepared on board and knocking back cocktails as the catamaran heads west into the sunset. Sasha Aru, managing director shares that they even entertain “a ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ circle that book private luxury yachts just for champagne and barbeque delights, with island drops at secluded islands for sea activities”.
Back on land, the idyllic island also has something for shopaholics, where its duty-free status usually mean visitors make a beeline for ZON Duty Free, where prices of liquor, chocolates and tobacco have been slashed to entice.