| Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Magical Malaysia

Trying to please the entire family, Monica Kapila discovers a three-stop tour of Malaysia that ticks everyone’s boxes

1 Langkawi: First stop: Langkawi. The biggest of 99 islands in the region, Langkawi offers a brilliant combination of safe, scenic beaches set against lush forest backdrops, extremely reasonably priced fresh seafood and enough tours to learn all about the island. There are plenty of hotels in all categories but families can’t go wrong at The Andaman in the Datai Bay area. The seaview rooms are pricey but worth it just to start the day with a perfect vista of a powdery sandy bay, hugged on one side by a tropical forest and on the other by the serene Andaman sea (which is more like a tranquil river inlet and perfectly safe to swim and snorkel in). Staff are always on duty and our kids soon make friends with other young guests and are off, playing long jump over the tiny tributary on the beach or exploring the lush hotel gardens. A pleasant walk along the bay brings us to the only other hotel on this stretch of beach, The Datai, which is perfect for an early evening drink or snack and a very civilised way to end a lazy day.

But there’s only so long you can lounge about with kids, and thankfully Langkawi has plenty of interesting tours that appeal to the whole family. Our brood thoroughly enjoys a tour of the mangroves, delighting in the bat cave, swimming monkeys, floating fish farm (where they ‘cuddle’ a live horseshoe crab) and watching the eagles swoop down for food. We also make the journey to the Lake of the Pregnant Maiden, Pulao Bunting, which we reach after a gentle hike and a fast 20 minutes by speedboat. (Note: It’s more economical and convenient to hire your own boat and skipper). We’re all curious about the origins of the local batik, so we take a trip to the Pisang Gallery in Canang and snap up a large painting of a typical Malay house, apparently by a renowned local artist, for around 800 Malaysian ringgits (roughly Dhs800). More importantly the children manage to buy tasteful gifts and holiday souvenirs for pocket money prices. Laden down with pretty packets of hand-made soap and batik purses, we leave Langkawi for KL vowing to return.

Time Out Dubai,

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