Langkawi is often called “The Jewel of the Andaman”. It simply has everything. From good nightlife, to beautiful pantai (beaches), and from mountains and mangroves and everything in between (well, apart from glaciers!) to awesome local food. For the adventurous among us, Langkawi is certainly a better option than fellow Andaman island Penang, which is much more geared for families.
I’ve explored various types of mangrove swamps in Asia, such as in Krabi and northern Singapore (apparently there are some amazing mangroves in Bali, too), and I’ve always enjoyed the experience. Sometimes you get the chance to kayak or canoe your way through the tangled foliage, which makes for a unique experience! Langkawi is arguably the best place in peninsular Malaysia to enjoy this kind of experience, as here at the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park, tourists flock in their thousands to enjoy the activities on offer.
It is possible in small kayaks to navigate your way through some of the mangrove forest at Kilim. The kayaks only have two seats, although larger boats are available for the outer water activities. Through the tight and twisty mangroves, however, I was accompanied by a fellow backpacker (I didn’t know her) from Jambi Province in Indonesia. We had a good time but unlike what you see maybe on TV, these kayaks are hard to steer if you’re inexperienced like us! I dread to think the damage we did the roots of the mangrove trees…
If the kayaking is too much for you, then fear not as there’s a nice boardwalk to take you through key parts of Kilim Geoforest Park, and this is a great way to enjoy the surroundings and do a spot of bird-watching! Aside from the great selection of birds on view, I also saw some baby monkeys and a few huge monitor lizards. A bit harder to photograph clearly in the darkness were the bats in the caves and the many species of fish in the water. Luckily I didn’t see any crocodiles or snakes, as I was a little worried that in such mangrove topography they would be waiting for me – especially when kayaking!
When you’re in Langkawi for a little holiday, you should always try to spend a day at the Kilim Geoforest Park. Tours from any reputable tour operator (or your hotel or hostel) can be arranged for a 6 hour excursion, and this means that as you are in the park for the best light of the day, you will get the best experience of the mangrove ecology.