Christmas in Langkawi is usually marked by the annual Pondok Keladi Christmas Charity Bazaar, an event that initially emerged in the season of giving to become these days the local ringer-in of the holiday season. But other big signs of Christmas are usually isolated to hotels and the local malls. It may have been that early Western arrivals to Langkawi were doing their best to escape their original traditions and set the stage for the holiday’s low-level interest here. But if you’re keen to celebrate, here’s what to do.
Hotels and guesthouses of all sizes will do their best to add a little Christmas atmosphere to the predominantly Muslim island, as well as many local shops. And with the seasonal packaging of duty-free items such as chocolates and perfumes, it’s difficult to ignore.
Local malls such as Langkawi Fair Shopping Mall and the new Pantai Cenang Mall jump on the bandwagon of supply and demand with Christmas-y window displays, though for some it’s just not the same without the aroma of Christmas trees. Fortunately no one seems to miss the typical piped-in holiday soundtracks that are blessedly missing, but with a little imagination and a few hours of microclimate air-con, you might start thinking about eggnog.
Nothing says Christmas better than food and in Langkawi there’s no shortage of Western fare available. The larger hotels have a mandatory Christmas day menu, so several local restaurants pull out all the stops on their Christmas Eve menus.
It doesn’t usually come cheap, but for less than 150 ringgit (not including drinks) you’ll get quite a memorable spread.
Privilege Restaurant & Bar in Telaga and fatCupid in Pantai Tengah are headliners with more exotic cuisine such as baked turkey rendang or grilled lamb shoulder with spicy Syrian rub. Less expensive, under 100 ringgit options, are Western restaurants Sheela’s in Pantai Tengah and Mangoes Bar and Restaurant in Kuala Teriang which offer patrons more traditional fare such as smoked turkey or roast lamb with sides such as mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and salads.
Whether you choose local inexpensive cuisine or treat yourself to something fancier, there’s always the post-dinner, duty-free Christmas toasts to take advantage of. And with or without musical accompaniment, you can expect someone full of Christmas cheer to start singing their version of a holiday favourite, on key or not.
By Vanessa Workman
Last updated on 27th August, 2014.