The Langkawi Cable Car

Langkawi is an island group just off the northern shores of Peninsular Malaysia, and the main island of this group is also called Langkawi.  The island has a mountainous spine on its north side, and it is here there is an amazing cable car that takes you to the top of the steepest and highest peaks.

The pylons for the cable car are firmly anchored in virgin forest.  There are no maintenance roads or tracks to these pylons, because during the construction phase, everything was ferried in by helicopter, so that when you travel on the cable car you do actually get the feeling that you have left civilisation.

The beginning of the ride is situated within a cultural village, meaning that it is surrounded by lots of shops selling touristy-type stuff.  It was strong kitsch, but lacking culture.  It costs RM30 per person to ride the cable car, but it represents excellent value, and it is absolutely worth it.

The cable car gets to the top of a mountain in two stages.  For the first stage you ascend above the rainforest and up a sheer cliff face, to a height of about 625 metres.  Here there is an observation platform that faces primarily east and south.  The second stage is a gentler ride that takes you to just over 7oo metres.

There are some excellent panoramic views of Langkawi to be had from the first platform, but the whole island is revealed from the top stop.  Here, they’ve built a rather spectacular footbridge, called a sky bridge, which I had seen them constructing last time I visited, so it was good to experience the finished product.  From this bridge, which does sway in the breeze so can be a bit disconcerting, you get stunning views of Langkawi’s north-western coast, and through the mountain range to the north coast.  The bridge is a magnificent structure, and perfectly safe.  There is quite a climb from the top structure down to the bridge via steep sets of steps, but the real killer is the climb back up.  We found it best to ascend the stairs slowly and take breaks to regain your breath, but the effort was certainly worth it.     

At the end of the cable car there are other platforms on different levels, which give different, but equally magnificent perspectives on Langkawi and surrounding islands.

I was happily snapping some photos when a group of alarmed tourist pointed out that there was a snake near my feet.  They were quite concerned, and assumed I was in mortal danger.  I looked down, and sure enough, there was a tiny python slithering away, so I bent down to take photos of it while everyone else panicked.  Someone called security, but they clearly had no idea what to do, just standing back advising people not to go near the snake.  It didn’t look too life threatening to me, but my wife was glad that she didn’t see it, having a bit of an aversion to the critters.

I had a drink after my amazing confrontation of danger, and we caught a gondola back down the mountain.  It was quite a majestic ride, smooth and comfortable.  A couple from Kuwait hopped in out gondola at the first level, because he was scared of heights, and couldn’t go any higher to the second stage.

After leaving the cable car, I had an encounter with another two snakes, but this time they were tame pythons that you pay to be photographed with.  I was encouraging a couple of American girls, who wanted to be photographed with them, but were worried, so I explained that they weren’t venomous, and in all probability they wouldn’t bite as they looked well fed.  The girls did get their photos taken, but they weren’t relaxed at all, which the snakes could sense.  My wife assiduously avoided this adventure simply by browsing the shops.

I have visited Langkawi a few times now. It is a wonderfully peaceful place, except for some idiot drivers who have absolutely no regard for other motorists, that has many great resorts and beaches.

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