Off the coast of Kedah is a cluster of 99 islands offering the best of many worlds: beautiful beaches, world- class infrastructure, mangroves rich in flora and fauna, ultra- cheap duty-free shopping and fascinating legends.

Langkawi has a lingering legend woven into its history. Ask anyone on the island about the tragic story of a beautiful young lady named Mahsuri, and you’ll hear a tale of love, jealousy and a curse that was placed upon the island by her for seven generations.

Today, the seventh generation of Langkawi’s inhabitants has long come and gone, but people here still believe that the prosperity and blessings the islands enjoy today and the passing of the curse is no mere coincidence. The mysticism of this legend can be felt in many parts of this island, especially at Makam Mahsuri (Mahsuri’s Mausoleum), where Mahsuri is said to be buried.

Other popular destinations are the Field of Burnt Rice, Hot Springs, Telaga Tujuh (The Seven Wells) and the Beach of Black Sand. Boat tours are organised to Tasik Dayang Bunting (Lake of the Pregnant Maiden), Gua Cerita (Cave of Stories) and Gua Langsir (Curtain Cave).

For a more intimate time with nature, go trekking through the pristine rainforest that covers most of Langkawi, or go on a boat tour of the mangroves. Langkawi also has an underwater world, with an underground tunnel that runs through a giant aquarium that has received rave reviews.

The sprinkling of jade green islands that make up Pulau Payar lie just 30km south- east of Langkawi. From here, it is a 1-hour boat ride out to the best marine park on Malaysia’s West Coast, making it an ideal choice for a day outing.

This well-preserved, uninhabited marine park extends over a number of islands, with Pulau Payar being the largest. Your base out here is the floating platform moored off Pulau Payar. But the real attraction of this platform lies below sea level.

Step into the underwater observation chamber to view the marine life surrounding a reef. Want to get even closer to the swirl of fishes that make these corals their home? Grab a mask, a snorkel and fins and join the spectacle!