History and museums
Pekan Kuah is a town and district capital of Langkawi, Kedah, and is the entry point for those coming by ferry from either the mainland or Penang Island. The town is centered on its jetty, which brings in flocks of tourists each year who come to enjoy the shopping and other attractions of Langkawi. Over the years, Pekan Kuah has developed into a modern and vibrant town with many shopping and dining opportunities, helped by the astounding growth of visitors to Langkawi.
The name ‘Pekan Kuah’ comes from the Malay word for gravy, and legend has it that the town arose from a cup of gravy spilled on the land by two giants, Mat Raya and Mat Cincang (now the names of the two highest mountains in Langkawi), while they were fighting. Pekan Kuah has a wide range of hotels but no resorts, as the town has no proper beach despite being located by the sea. Also, the nightlife in Kuah consists mostly of eating out in seafood restaurants, though there are a few bars and pubs located in some of the hotels.
Still, Pekan Kuah boasts many facilities and attractions, making it a convenient and attractive place to stay despite the lack of beach and night spots. Today, Pekan Kuah is booming as a commercial center with shopping complexes, restaurants, fast food outlets, hotels and handicraft shops.
While Pekan Kuah is more of a commercial center and shopping zone, there are a few landmark attractions you can visit in Pekan Kuah. Most of these are recreational parks where you can come to enjoy some rest and relaxation as well as the gentle cooling breeze from the sea.
"Dataran Lang" or ‘Eagle Square’, is the location of a large sculpture in the shape of a sea-eagle perched on rocks in pre-flight pose. This 12-meter high statue greets visitors who come to Pekan Kuah by ferry as they ride to the jetty. The eagle is the emblem of Langkawi Island as its name is thought by some to be have been derived from the Malay word for eagle. The square is a landscaped area with ponds, terraces and bridges, where visitors may stroll and view the sea.
Taman Lagenda or Legend Park is a recreational area opened on 27 April 1996 dedicated to Langkawi’s heritage of myths and fables. The park covers an area of 50 hectares of reclaimed land, and is more of an open-air 'garden museum' featuring sculptures, scenic gardens, ponds and fountains, and fruit trees growing around pathways and along the ponds.
Along with the flowering vegetation, the park has 17 sculptures that depict the many legends found in Langkawi, such as the duel between two giants that led to the formation of Mat Cincang and Raya Mountains, mythical birds and fairy-tales of princesses. In addition, there are 4 artificial lakes and a man-made beach to complement the picturesque scenery. The park is open from morning till late at night and is within walking distance from the jetty.
Adjoining Taman Lagenda is another park, the CHOGM Park, built to commemorate the 1989 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malaysia. Langkawi was the retreat destination for the Government heads that attended the function. Until recently the Park carried the flags of all the Commonwealth Nations that participated. The park has a man-made beach next to it and a children play area.
The Al-Hana Mosque is one of Langkawi’s largest and most popular mosques. It is located in Pekan Kuah to accommodate Muslim patrons and allows visitors who come to view the architecture. The mosque incorporates motifs and carvings from Uzbekistan along with traditional Malay elements. The mosque was opened by the first Prime Minister of Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman in 1959.
Langkawi has been allotted as a duty-free zone within the country. Pekan Kuah has the highest concentration of shopping centers and shop lots that retail duty-free goods and souvenirs.
The Jetty Point Mall enjoys a strategic location by being part of the jetty complex itself. This makes it a frequent last-minute shopping place for visitors before they disembark on ferry back to the mainland. Housed with the mall are many shop lots that stock various duty-free goods. In addition, there are cafes, bakeries and fast food outlets such as KFC and Starbucks with wireless internet access.
The Langkawi Fair Shopping Mall is one of the largest shopping malls in Langkawi with over 100 individual shops and an adjoining supermarket cum departmental store. Duty-free goods, along with souvenirs, fashion apparel, sports attire and electronic items, can be purchased here. Other facilities include fast food outlets, a food court, money changer and an information counter for tourists.
"Teow Soon Huat" is a large duty-free shopping mall with over 40 outlets, 8 food and beverage outlets including a food gallery, a department store and a supermarket selling fresh, frozen and canned foods. This is one of the most popular places to shop in Langkawi despite being located at the fringes of Pekan Kuah. With a family-oriented theme, one can find household commodities, family apparel, electronics and groceries besides fashion clothing, tobacco, liquor, confectionery, local souvenirs and luggage bags all at duty-free prices. Services include money exchange, ATM and a tourist information counter. The only cinema in Langkawi is located on the 10th floor and there is abundant parking available on-site and also in the multi-level car park attached to shopping mall.
The Saga Shopping Center is another one of Langkawi’s most established shopping complexes. It provides a wide range of household items and perishables such as wine, beer, spirits, confectionery, dried food and tobacco at duty-free prices. Stuffed toys, shoes, ceramics and crystal ware are also available.
One of the most famous place to shopping is Haji Ismail Group (HIG), it have a new premise located at pekan Kuah named Haji Ismail Group Complex. The shopping complex sells a variety of items such as chocolate and other foodstuff, kitchenware, household furnishing, batik and clothing.