Datai Beach, Malaysia

A reputed refuge for pirates of old, Langkawi has become a modern hideaway for the traveler seeking an escape.
By: Jennifer Plum Auvil
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The name Langkawi translates into "the land of one's wishes," an idea dating back to the island's ancient history. A reputed refuge for pirates of old, Langkawi has become a modern hideaway for the traveler seeking an escape. If your vacation wishes extend from white sands and unpopulated azure waters to lush emerald forests, you will find yourself quite content on the islands of Langkawi. Choosing where to stay on one of the nearly 100 islands that form the archipelago Langkawi should not be difficult, but Datai Bay located on Pulau Langkawi (the largest island) promises a heavenly retreat on the Andaman Sea.

Getting There
Nearest major international airport: Malaysia Airlines offers direct flights to Pulau Langkawi from Kuala Lumpur (55 minutes) and Penang (25 minutes). If you are traveling from Thailand, you may also consider taking a ferry over to the island.

Airport transportation
Car rental is available on the island, though it is easy to get a taxi or limousine service from the airport to your hotel. Some resorts also provide transportation to and from the airport.

Timing
The rainy season falls between August and September. However, the temperature stays moderate year-round (around 77 F, 25 C) and the climate is tropical.

Lodging
Datai Beach is not for budget travelers. Though prices are high, local resorts offer a pampered retreat nestled in the lush rainforest. For pure luxury, check out the Andaman Datai Bay (+60-4-959-1088) or The Datai (+60-4-959-2500). The Datai offers rooms and suites that overlook both sea and forest and a trip to the beach weaves you through a jungle path.

Cuisine
The resorts serve both European and Malay gourmet food. If Asian or Malay food suits your fancy, try a curry, tandoori or spicy satay.

Travel Tips
For a closer look at nature, check whether your resort offers a guided tour of the surrounding tropical forests. This area is home to a myriad of animals, including macaque monkeys, iguanas and peacocks - all in your temporary backyard. Also visit the Langkawi Crocodile Farm located at Datai Bay. Playing Crocodile Hunter shouldn't be difficult here, as the farm is bustling with crocodile activity. Get a firsthand look at crocodiles eating and interacting with humans.

If too much relaxation makes you restless, there are sports and recreational activities available around the Datai resorts. In addition to snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, fishing and an array of other water activities, a well-reputed golf course is on hand for you to unleash your inner Tiger Woods. Datai Bay Golf Course, located next to The Datai, is an 18-hole artistic creation of manmade landscaping that draws on the rainforest's natural beauty.

If you are smitten with myths, take a day trip to nearby Lagenda Park located in Kuah on Langkawi. Here you will find a park devoted to the legends of the island, depicted in 17 monuments spread throughout. The park contains not only gardens and lakes but also clear lagoons and beaches.

While you are there
Experience the rushing waters and majestic drops of the Temurun waterfall located on Datai Bay.

Visit Air Hangat Village outside Kuah and participate in traditional Malay cultural activities.

Check out Underwater World Langkawi and get a close look at varied underwater life.

To fake that you've been there
Rent "Anna and the King" and marvel at the lush scenery, which was filmed at the Summer Palace in Langkawi. This elaborate estate, with its sculptures, gardens and intricate details, was built as the set for the 1999 movie.

Linking for a better vacation
Visit the Malaysian Tourism Board or www.mylangkawi.com for more information.

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