Waking up after a comfortable night’s sleep on my Business Class bed (courtesy of the lovely people at Qatar Airways), I am looking at a map of exotic island names on my 17-inch screen. I’m somewhere over the Andaman Sea, heading towards, Langkawi. It is a Malaysian sub-tropical archipelago of 99 islands, just shy of Malaysia’s northern border with Thailand.
Breakfast, interrupts my Asian Geography lesson. I’d asked for it to be served 90 minutes before landing time. An astounding tropical fruit platter, morning pastries and fresh tea had arrived. No surprise then that Qatar Airways took Skytrax’s 2019 Awards for Airline of the Year, Best Business Class and Best Business Class Seat.
My first stay is at The Danna Langkawi, although a mere decade old, it is a classy and spacious celebration of elegant colonial living. Think of the ceiling fans, rattan furniture and deferential service of Singapore’s iconic Raffles Hotel. Then throw in a huge aquamarine infinity pool, white sand beach and you’ve got The Danna.
Much of Langkawi is dense rainforest and the best way to explore the tree canopy is with the Umgawa Zipline. If you’re a little nervous about heights then a glass or two of bubbly at the Planters’ Restaurant Champagne Breakfast, at the Danna, should take the edge of the anxiety.
In fact, there are 12 ziplines. The first is a very gentle descent of just 50 metres or so to calm the nerves. From then on you can focus on spotting birds, monkeys, flying foxes, flying snakes and flying squirrels. Flying is the way to get around in Langkawi. Join the trend to get mid-air spectacular views of the waterfalls.
A Mangrove Cruise introduces you to more of Langkawi’s diverse wildlife. You moor up for a guided tour through limestone caves of stalagmites and stalactites. The most populous inhabitants are bats, each one consuming around 400 mosquitoes per hour. Cruising on through the mangroves, the sharp-eyed skipper spots two snakes slithering along a branch in search of lunch. Then we see eagles swooping down from on high to catch their fish lunch.
Moving on from the elegant Danna, sadly saying farewell to its tranquil spa, we check into the The Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort and Spa. Built in the timbered style of a traditional Malaysian village, the hotel is spread over 34 acres, running along a kilometre of idyllic white sand beaches.
Although it’s just a short walk along the beach to the local village, the hotel is packed with activities, making it an ideal family hotel. On site there is a sea-view fitness suite and steam room, archery, mini golf, tennis and a couple of swimming pools too.
At the heart of the 5* hotel sits the Spice Market restaurant offering an immense array of freshly cooked local dishes. Sat on trade routes for centuries, Malaysian food is a tasty fusion of Chinese, Indian and local specialities. Guests inspired by the dishes can take a cookery course at the Meritus Pelangi.
Alternatively, to develop your oriental culinary skills, you can head out for an evening experience of Langkawi Old Charm. Driving through a classic paddy-field landscape, with white-egrets perched on the backs of water buffalo, you arrive at a traditional Malaysian house. After a walk around the paddy-fields with your hosts, learning about the irrigation systems and the crop cycles, the chef teaches you how to cook a typical Malay chicken dish for your dinner, spiced but not too hot.
A visit to the Oriental Village is probably Langkawi’s signature site with its SkyDome, art exhibitions and 3D pre-history adventure. The world’s steepest cable car soars towards the clouds and the SkyBridge. Arcing between two vertiginous cliffs, through a glass floor, the steel bridge gives breath-taking views to the valley below. Across the lush rainforest landscape and the Andaman Sea sits Thailand: unforgettable views from an unforgettable holiday.
Qatar Airways fly to Langkawi via Doha from London Gatwick and Heathrow as well as Aberdeen, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester.
Learn more about the range of accommodation available at The Danna Langkawi
Visit The Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort & Spa to learn more about this luxury hotel.
Details of the zipline can be found at https://www.ziplinelangkawi.com/
More information on the Mangroves Cruise and Langkawi Old Charm are provided by Dev’s Adventure Tours at https://langkawi-nature.com
Disclosure: Our trip was sponsored by Qatar Airways, The Danna Langkawi and the Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort and Spa, Langkawi.
Last modified: June 10, 2021