The idyllic island of Langkawi boasts white sandy beaches, clear blue waters and exclusive resorts; however, this was not always the case. It was once home to some of the fiercest pirates in Asia.
It is the largest island within the archipelago and an excellent base for exploring the Andaman Sea. However, it is getting increasingly developed and as tourism grows, there is fear that the island's natural beauty could diminish. But the stunning mountainous interior is still a perfect backdrop to the beaches.
Most visitors arrive looking for sun, sea and relaxation, but there is also the chance to take advantage of the duty-free shopping on offer. The west coast beaches of Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah are the most popular although adventurous travelers might like to explore the deserted beaches along the coast for something a bit different.
Water sports options are plentiful, with everything available from banana boats to parasailing, while for those who like to keep two feet firmly on the ground, trekking in the mountains is a popular past time. Other outdoor options include golf, scuba diving and snorkeling.
The island itself is fairly large and you will need to use a taxi to get around, but once you are on the beach or in the main town of Kuah, you will be able to get around on foot. The town is home to a number of museums and cultural attractions and is a good place to escape beach life for an afternoon.
Langkawi is very close to Penang and many people like to spend time on both islands. With the flight being just 30 minutes between the two, this is possible even for those on short trips. There are many exclusive resorts and hotels located on the beach although those with a smaller budget will also find affordable accommodation options just inland.
Most visitors arrive at Langkawi's international airport although there are daily services from mainland Malaysia and Penang. Langkawi is just a short 50-minute flight from Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur.