Langkawi Culture & Heritage Tours
About Langkawi's Culture & Heritage
If you take interest in knowing the people of the island, its history and the rich diversity in culture, heritage and traditions, then Langkawi can offer a lot to explore. The island has been in close proximity to Thailand and over the years in the past had been repeatedly attacked by the Siamese. There has also been large influx of people from various parts of the region.
All this have made deep impacts to island and you will find wide ethnic diversity and many different diverse cultures that co-exist today. Although Islam is the predominant religion, there are several other religions, faiths and beliefs that exist side by side. While Malay is the official language, you will find Mandarin, Thai, Tamil, Hokkien are also spoken in the island.
Langkawi village landscape
Photo: Alex L., flickr, cc by 2.0
Having grown from a lazy lifestyle of paddy cultivation and farming to an island which is one of top modern tourist destinations in the world, Langkawi continues to showcase the culture and heritage that cuts through all its journey of development including its food traditions.
What will you see & do in the tours
There are guided tours that will give you a great flavor of all this. You will walk along narrow village lanes and meet up with local families, get to see old traditional Malay houses and know how the architecture has evolved over time, visit many places of worship & realize how Muslim, Hindu and Buddhism coexist in the island, see local plants & herbs and understand their medicinal values & use.
You will also visit the night market venues where local vendors set up temporary stalls... you can sample authentic Malay sweets & snacks. You will visit water buffalo farm & see making of dairy products, and even visit a local's home for lunch where you can have homemade food like Nasi Lemak served on banana leaves.
A Village Street in Langkawi
Photo: Alex L., flickr, cc by 2.0
Places covered in Langkawi Culture & Heritage Tours
Before I come to the packaged tours, here are some of the great attractions and places in the island that capture the essence of different aspects of history, culture and heritage of Langkawi. If you plan to visit on your own, you can take a taxi and visit the places of your interest:
Tomb of Mahsuri, a beautiful maiden who had fallen victim of jealousy, falsely accused of adultery and was unjustly executed. The complex also houses a musical room where traditional folk instruments are played by Malay women, a museum where Mahsuri's life story is depicted using dioramas & paintings, a traditional Malay house, souvenir & gift shops etc.
This is a vast complex with many rice fields, herbal gardens, a rice museum exhibiting the history and development of rice cultivation in Malaysia, restaurants and Spa. The complex is administered by LADA (Langkawi Development Authority). The guided tour of the complex and entry to the museum is free.
Great place showcasing Malaysia's local art and handcrafted items. There are museum sections depicting Malaysia cultural heritage through many artwork and dioramas. Local artisans demonstrate making intricate items like songkets (gold & silver threads are interwoven in textile to create a fine fabric), wood carved items etc. There are also galleries where many exquisite hand crafted items are on sale. Next to the complex is a glass blowing studio where local artisans make exclusive crystal and glass items.
Three interconnected buildings created in oriental architecture showcase myriad of gifts & souvenirs received by the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Dr. Mahathir and his wife.
The collection comprises of over 9000 items received from leaders and guests from all over the world and Malaysia. The collection includes wide range of items including silver & copper jewelry, arts & paintings, textiles, weaponry, vehicles, bicycles etc.
This is a dairy farm nestled under the mountains in a lovely green garden setting. Fresh cheese, yogurt are prepared here from milk. The cafe offers ice cream, cheese and other milk products that are made right there. You can ride a buffalo or a traditional cart, or even try your hand in milking a buffalo.
This is an important landmark of Langkawi and located in Kuah Town. A gigantic structure of a golden brown eagle stands here facing the waterfront. Golden Brown eagle is the symbol of Langkawi and the name of the island itself has been derived from this bird. Helang in Malay stands for Eagle and Kawi in ancient Malay means strong or reddish brown. The sqare is an excellent place to enjoy sunset view over the bay.
A weekly street market where local vendors sell all kinds of items including cooked food, vegetables, fruits, snacks, household items, accessories, clothes etc. Great place to roam around through the aisles, have a chat with the locals and pick up a few souvenir items or trinkets, or even sample some local sweets & snacks. The market is set up at different places on different days of the week, for example at Pantai Cenang on Thursdays, at Padang Matsirat on Sundays etc.
A beautiful parkland in Kuah that captures many legends and stories of Langkawi through many structures and statues that have erected in the gardens. A great place to know about the folklore and myths that are associated with various places and attractions of the island.
It showcases intricate skills of resident and local batik artists who create exquisite batik prints and artwork. They also have the large printing studio here where they demonstrate batik printing. There are large collections of batik prints in the showroom which you can buy at a reasonable price.
Hpw to book Cultural, History & Heritage Tour
As I have already mentioned earlier, if you decide to visit some of the places on your own, you can choose the ones from the above list, take a taxi or a rental car and easily visit the places. The links above will give you all the details of the places & attractions including pictures, locations and applicable admission fees.
However there are specialized tour operators who offer certain unique aspects of the island that are otherwise difficult to explore as a tourist.
For example, Dev's Adventure Tour offers a specialized tour package called 'The Old Langkawi Charm' that includes a trip to a traditional wooden house (they call it the Rumah Rimba- Home in the forest) through lush paddy fields, little villages and typical country life.
Once here, you get to experience and engage in the preparation and partaking of some local culinary delights. The whole cooking experience is in itself the highlight of the tour along with a short walk around the area and nice eating experience al fresco.
Rimbawi Geo Tours organizes trips that take you to fishing villages, let you meet local families, visit historical sites, night markets, temples & shrines etc.
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