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Langkawi is an archipelago of around 100 islands. The exact count varies among sources, perhaps because most of the islands are uninhabited. The archipelago is a part of Malaysia's Kedah state and is situated near the border of Thailand, north of the Straits of Malacca. It is located in the Andaman Sea, in Southeast Asia.
There are two main inhabited islands in the archipelago: Pulau Tuba and Pulau Langkawi, which is a tourist hub. Pulau Langkawi (pulau means island) is a UNESCO World Geopark and is famous for eco-tourism, boasting lush forests, stunning lakes, and many dive sites. Places worth visiting are the Pregnant Maiden Lake, Mt. Machincang, and Kilim. There is also a large aquatic museum on the island, housing a huge aquarium with sharks, rays, seals, and other marine animals. The whole island is tax-free, and tourism and shopping are greatly encouraged.
Langkawi is home to a well-developed road system and cheap rental cars, so a great way to see the sights is to rent a vehicle and drive around. English is spoken by a good number of locals, and maps are widely available. By most estimates, one can drive around the island in a day. Hiring a car would be a great way to stay near the beach while also being able to see Kuah Town, as well as all the other little jewels hidden from the beaten path.
Please note, however, that while Langkawi Island is a tropical island with numerous beaches, it would do well to remember that it is also a Muslim state. Therefore, while tourists are certainly free to wear bikinis and skimpy clothing by the beaches and enjoy cocktails by the pools of their resorts, going topless is definitely frowned upon, and to be safe, bring a change of more modest dress — a shirt, for example — to cover up when venturing inland.
Air Asia flies regularly to Langkawi International Airport from Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. The archipelago can also be reached by train from other Malaysian cities, and by boat from Southern Thailand.
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