Langkawi Island

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in Langkawi Island

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An hour north of Kuala Lumpur by air, Langkawi is an archipelago of roughly 100 islands scattered throughout the Andaman Sea, though the term usually refers to the main island, which has some 65,000 residents. Located just south of the Thai border, the landscape is comparable to that of Phuket: blinding white beaches, dramatic rain forests and azure waters. One important distinction, however, is that the mountainous spine of peninsular Malaysia shields the islands from the brunt of the winter monsoon season. The islands of Langkawi were recently granted Geopark status by UNESCO, a nod to the environmentally sensitive pace of development here.