Our latest adventure found us in Langkawi, Malaysia. Langkawi is located on the Northwestern shore of Malaysia and is an archipelago of the Langkawi Islands. Positioned just where the Indian Ocean narrows down into the Straits of Melaka, it was once a utopia for pirates. Today it serves as a sanctuary for visitors from every corner of the world.
For our accommodations, we decided to try Sunset Valley Holiday Houses a unique facility situated next to vast rice paddies.
We eagerly exited the Langkawi International Airport and were warmly greeted by one of Sunset Valley’s hosts, Gudrun Nienaber. During the short 15-minute drive, Gudrun gave us the background of how Sunset Valley came to be. We were intrigued and couldn’t wait to check it all out.
The resort is at the end of a long, brick lined driveway and after exiting the car the fist thing we noticed was the pristinely manicured, green lawn dotted with traditional Malaysian houses.
We met our second host and husband to Gudrun, David Bradley, who invited us to sit at a picnic style table to start the check-in process, which was extremely easy. We immediately felt comfortable as the lovely couple explained the surroundings and simple “rules” of the completely eco friendly facility.
We chose to stay in the Garden House, which is located next to the pool and the main house. We were informed that there was no restaurant on the grounds and that the main house contained a small pantry where guests could purchase food and drinks at very reasonable prices. With a vast island including hundreds of places to eat we never missed an onsite facility.
The open style house had two sitting areas, a fully functional kitchen, very nice bathroom, and an outside porch overlooking the gorgeous rice paddies that surround the resort.
The sunrises and sunsets were breathtaking as the mountains were a beautiful backdrop to the rice paddies.
After settling in, Gudrun and David were happy to recommend places to eat, reputable tour companies, and Spa services, and were happy to book taxis and services for us without charging a service fee. Each service they recommended was exceptional and we grew to trust their judgment very quickly.
There is a motorbike on the premises to rent or David and Gudrun will happily bring you into a nearby town to rent a car. (Don’t forget your driver’s license like we did!) We highly recommend that you rent either a motorbike or car as the island is a joy to explore. Taxis are abundant as well and charge a flat rate throughout the island, but if you can hop in your own transportation and wander then why not!
On our first day we did the wandering thing. We walked through the main shopping and restaurant area of Pantai Cenang where we found dozens of places to eat and shop.
At the recommendation of our hosts we tried The Cliff, a restaurant with great views of the ocean. The Cliff boasts a contemporary design where the waves literally crash into and under the restaurant. The menu is a mix of Malay and Western food and the service is very good.
We started our second day out with a wonderful buffet breakfast at a nearby restaurant then spent a day at the Alun-Alun Spa, another recommendation by Gudrun. We indulged in the half-day program that consisted of 4.5 hours of pure bliss! The staff was exceptional and we can definitely put Alun-Alun in our top 5 spas we’ve visited.
Our third day started out with a beautiful private tour of the mangroves throughout Langkawi, again organized by Gudrun. The tour included a visit to a natural eagle feeding spot, fish feeding at a local fish breeding facility, bat caves, and my favorite part, visiting a group of wild monkeys that came right up to our boat for a visit.
For dinner we decided to do something a bit different by signing up for a cooking class given by a famous Malaysian cook, Chef Shuk. This was an experience like no other for us. The Chef’s business partner Danny met and drove us to Chef Shuk’s personal house where the classes are offered. We were provided a tour of the beautiful traditional home, organic spice garden, and gourmet kitchen where our lesson on which ingredients we would be using that night for our meal was given.
Chef Shuk and Danny were wonderfully warm and gregarious and we felt like part of the family immediately. As we diced, chopped, stirred, and drank (the wine flowed freely!), Chef Shuk told us of his background and passion for cooking.
Before we knew it, it was time to eat and not a minute too soon as all the gorgeous aromas were too much to bear! The food was brought downstairs under the house at a beautiful table where the four of us sat and indulged in the fruit of our labors.
The traditional Malay dishes were to die for! The spices and meats blended together and exploded with flavor; one tastier than the other.
If you’re planning a trip to Langkawi, Chef Shuk’s cooking class is a must! As the classes are only given on Wednesdays, make sure you organize your class online before your arrival; it’s definitely worth every penny of the RM250.00 per person.
The rest of our time was spent exploring Langkawi and enjoying the various restaurants, beaches, and live music throughout the island.
Langkawi is a beautiful island with many choices for accommodations. They have the usual 5-Star, mid-range, and hostels to choose from but we highly recommend you try Sunset Valley. It’s unique style and eco friendly facility makes it an experience you won’t soon forget. Combined with its warm, friendly, generous hosts Sunset Valley proved to be one of the best experiences we’ve had.