Despite enthusiastic resort development, Langkawi is overflowing with natural beauty. Tourists can spend the day relaxing on the beach, or they can join tours to visit outlying islands, hidden streams and waterfalls.
There are several historic sites on the island as well. Legend has it that Princess Mahsuri put on a curse on the island long ago, a superstition that was supported by a subsequent Siamese invasion a little over a century ago. Her mausoleum is one of Langkawi's major historical sites. The curse was purported to last a few generations, so today's vacationers can sunbathe in karmic peace.
Sites like Seven Wells Waterfall require a little bit of hiking in order to enjoy the best vantage point, and visitors will have to arrange transportation. Offshore sites including Dayang Island and hidden coral reefs are best explored by guided tours, which are easily booked in most hotels.
This unique museum is a collection of more than 2,000 gifts received by former heads of state, namely Prime Minsiter Mahatir Mohamed. The collection is as eclectic as expected, including everything from handicrafts and works of art to precious metals and ceremonial robes. It's a veritable cross-section of world culture.
This tourist village is in the island's northern region. The two mountains here are said to be all that's left of a pair of feuding brother frozen in time by the gods. The names of the towns sprinkling the hillside reflect different aspects of the legend. Most tourists come for cultural exhibitions including singing, dancing and storytelling.
Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls takes its name from the string of seven pools that form at the base of the nearly 300-foot cascade. The lowest viewing platform is easy to reach, but the upper deck is more scenic. More than 300 steps separate the two.
Ibrahim Hussein Museum is a fine arts establishment named after its founder, a renowned Malaysian artist. While Hussein's work (as well as his personal decorative style) sets the tone for this modern gallery, the work displayed is true to the greater community. It receives surprisingly little attention despite the superb quality of work showcased here.
Legend has it that the beaches of Langkawi turned white when they were soaked with the innocent blood of Mahsuri, a legendary Malay princess. Her mausoleum is at Kampung Mawat, and it is flanked by a few museum-like exhibits exploring this legend. If the white-sand beaches weren't symbolic enough, the white-marble tomb drives the point home.
During the rainiest months (April and May), burnt rice hulls peek out of the soil at Padang Matsirat. More than a century ago, local villagers burnt their fields to spite the invading Siamese, and many at the time thought they were paying the price for the unjust execution of Princess Mahsuri.
This lake sits at the center of Dayang Island, and it is cloaked in legend like many of Langkawi's sites. Tourists usually come as part of an island-hopping tour, and most guides will stop by the lake to give everyone a chance to take a fresh-water swim.