While I was wandering around the south of Malaysia I stumbled across a postcard of the Langkawi Sky Bridge. It was so compelling I knew I had to go see it for myself.
Langkawi is a medium-sized island in the far northwest of Malaysia. It’s a couple hours from the mainland by high-speed boat. You can see Thailand from the top of its prehistoric mountains. That is exactly where I went – to the top of the prehistoric mountains!
Up until about 15 years ago, Langkawi was a sleepy backwater island with little to attract visitors who wanted something more than a beach shack. That’s when the government recognized its huge tourism opportunity and started developing the island. One of its biggest investments had to be in building a bridge in the clouds between two mountains. It is a pure delight.
A cable car hauls people and supplies more than 700 metres up from the base to the peak of Mount Mat Cincang. The ride is exhilarating for several reasons. First, it rides far higher above the ground than most cable cars do. Second, one of the spans between two posts is the longest in the world. Third, and most important, the ride affords a bird’s-eye view of one of the oldest forests in the world. The view is stunning. My fellow passengers in the cable car said nothing during our ride – they were gawking just as I was.
There is a viewing station at the top of the mountain that offered a superb view of the island and sea for 30 km. I spent half an hour there admiring the mountains, small islands, the forest and the sea. The viewing station also offered some overpriced drinks and food and an assortment of souvenirs that didn’t interest me at all. I was focused on getting to the bridge.
Surprisingly, I had to pay another fee and sign an injury-release form to walk on the bridge! Both were telltale signs that this was going to be something special. Once I was cleared for the bridge, it took another 20 minutes walking through the ancient forest itself to reach the bridge.
The Sky Bridge is recognized as one of the engineering marvels of the world. It is 125 metres long and 8 metres wide. Its ends are anchored on two different mountains. The middle of the span is supported by a pylon that leans far more than the Tower of Pisa. I looked down over the side of the bridge to find the base of the support; I never saw it. It just disappeared down below in the clouds. The pylon is a record-breaking 82 metres tall and it looks far taller.
The bridge is curved; the support pylon is on the convex side of the bridge. It is built nearly 700 metres above sea level with no access roads. There is only a footpath from the top of the cable car to the start of the footbridge. I was amazed to learn that the entire bridge was fabricated on the ground below and then lifted into the mountains by helicopter where it was fitted to the pylon! The bridge serves no other purpose than to be admired and provide another viewing platform for the mountains, islands, forests and sea. It does that superbly well.
When I walked across the bridge, the sky was clear and the views were magnificent. When I wandered back only moments later, the clouds had rolled in. The pictures here show the bridge in the clouds.
Anyone who prepares their ‘bucket list’ of places to visit should, without question, visit the Langkawi Sky Bridge. Although the trip up the mountain in the cable car, the walk across the bridge and the trip back down the mountain can be handled easily in an afternoon, the memory will last a lifetime.
Here are two more photos from my visit to the Langkawi Sky Bridge:
Photos by Jan Wall – all rights reserved