Dominating an archipelago of more than 100 islands and islets, Pulau Langkawi is synonymous with sandy shores, jungle-cloaked valleys and bargain shopping. Blonde beaches are the biggest draw, but this 478.5-sq-km island has been duty free since 1987, making low-cost kitchenware a close second.
Spas, seafood restaurants and beach bars are abundant, but fortunately Pulau Langkawi has not been developed beyond recognition. Beyond Pantai Cenang, the inevitable first stop for beach lovers, travellers can experience life lived in the slow lane in traditional kampung (villages). The island's official name is 'the jewel of Kedah' and its rugged beauty is evident in waterfalls, hot springs and forest parks – all excellent reasons to peel yourself off your beach towel.