If you’re looking for a bit of Langkawi and Malaysian culture, Kompleks Kraf (Craft Complex) on the remote north side of Langkawi should fit the bill with its collection of small museums.
The complex is a sprawling group of uniquely designed buildings set in well-landscaped grounds overlooking the Andaman Sea. Upon entering the main reception hall your senses are piqued by the vast diversity of colours and textures incorporated into a series of vignettes depicting Malay culture from the 13 states. It may be a bit overwhelming at first, but the free complex brochure written in both Malay and English is quite informative. For those who’d like a more in depth perspective, free guided tours are available as well; just ask at the desk and they’ll arrange, or save some time and call ahead (number below).
The Heritage Museum is a doorway to Malaysia’s past history in musical instruments, shadow puppetry, woodcraft and local village life. The eye-opening walk-through of Malaysia’s past is done through dioramas and displays of artefacts that express the country’s own craftsmanship and art.
The Culture and Marriage Museum may sound strange but it highlights Malay, Chinese and Indian marriage and ceremonial traditions. The diversity of fashion and ceremony are impressive and it’ll give you a glimpse of traditions that are still practised in multicultural Malaysia today.
Less complicated to absorb is the batik studio’s on-site works in progress. Workshops showcase some of the basic methods of making batik fabrics, where you too can give it a go for a small fee. From handpainted batik to wood and metal block printing, the variety of designs are astonishing.
Additional crafts being created at the complex are traditional rice paper, marble carving, bead embroidery, weaving and woven rattan products. And of course, all is for sale. There’s also a glass blowing studio on the 32-acre complex’s premises. Faizy Crystal Glass Blowing Studio demonstrates traditional glass blowing techniques used by Malaysian artisans in the making of vases or intricate glass flowers.
For those who like to shop, there’s everything from traditionally woven baskets and marble bowls to handpainted high-top tennis shoes. And don’t forget the batik! Although there seems to be plenty of purchase-able batik products strategically placed throughout the complex, there’s also a particular batik ‘boutique’ area. In addition to traditional Malay wear, they have quite a selection of trendy flashpacker type clothing, resort wear and kids clothing.
The Kompleks Kraf is about 25 minutes from Kuah and Pantai Cenang. It’s open from 10:00 until 18:00 daily and admission is free. It should be noted that the batik and glass-blowing workshops are closed Fridays.
Kompleks Kraf Langkawi
Teluk Yu (the road between Datai Resort Rd and the Padang Lalang roundabout, which leads to The Four Seasons and Tanjung Ru Resorts)
Best Malaysia tours
By Vanessa Workman
Last updated on 27th August, 2014.