Into the mangroves

By on June 28, 2010

When vacationing with the family in Southeast Asia, it’s important to remember that the smaller, more secluded locations can often become the most memorable and enjoyable. The resorts are beautiful, the food is delicious, the people are friendly, and the weather is almost always fantastic.  For the island of Langkawi in Malaysia, you would be safe in checking off each and every one of these criteria.

Langkawi may be just a small archipelago off the coast of Northwestern Malaysia, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in rich, beautiful landscapes and fantastic resorts. One such retreat is the Berjaya Resort, located on the western side of the island, where I had the pleasure of staying with my family and some friends a few years ago.  The resort itself lived up to the standards of most Southeast Asian vacation spots, with a large selection of pristine, comfortable rooms and suites to choose from. Food at the resort ranges from restaurants with elegant dinner cuisines to all-day dining options, a stone’s throw away from the phenomenal hotel pool.  If you’re planning on a trip to Langkawi, it would be hard to go wrong with a resort like Berjaya.

When it comes to the island itself, Langkawi’s size can often be advantageous when looking for activities that will please the whole family. Access to a rented vehicle should be fairly simple through any resort and driving around the main island, which can easily be done in a day, can prove to be one of the more fascinating aspects of the trip—but be warned, you may encounter a monkey or two along the way.  As for things to do with a rented car, the main island’s aquarium Underwater World Langkawi contains some interesting attractions like sea dragons, penguins, and even an anaconda in the tropical rainforest exhibit.

If you’re looking for something a little more active, another great Langkawi activity is kayaking through the island’s incredible Kilim mangrove forest. From Tanjung Rhu, the beautiful beach where another great resort lies, the whole family can pile into their kayaks and join a tour guide on a trip through one of the island’s most gorgeous and historic areas.  The mangroves themselves serve as a wall of trees, growing from the water and protecting the island from oncoming waves, as well as homes for the many varieties of wildlife that live amongst them.  From monkeys to snakes to bats that dwell in some of the caves you may explore on your trip, the nature that can be encountered through a mangrove kayak trip is surely something you don’t want to miss.

At the end of a long day, it’s always nice to be able to kick back with a delicious meal. In Langkawi, one dining place that caught my attention was Barn Thai Langkawi, a Thai restaurant with great food and even better ambiance.  Directions to the restaurant should be available at the Berjaya Resort or other resorts on the island, and the eco-friendly atmosphere down a long, wooden walkway and into the mangroves makes for an excellent dining experience.

In all, Langkawi lives up to the standards of a small, exclusive, Southeast Asian island, and both the comfort and the cultural experiences are things I will not soon forget.


Official Language: Malay

Access: Approx 8-hour flight time from Tokyo (7 hours to Kuala Lumpur, 1 hour from Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi)

Time Difference: -1 hour

Currency: Ringgit (RM)

Climate: Sunny, humid and hot. Rainy season is at the end of summer (August/September). Best times to visit are early in the year to summer.

Transport: Round-trip airfare for around ¥85,000. If you don’t want to fly from Kuala Lumpur, there are ferries from four mainland locations (Kuala Perlis, Kuala Kedah, Georgetown and Satun, Thailand) which run every thirty minutes from 7am to 7pm. These cost only around 12 RM (~¥330).

Berjaya Resort:

About Sam Griffen