As we rolled down the gravel road entrance of this rustic property on Langkawi Island, the chaos of the neighbouring Cenang beach strip felt so far away. Immediately, palm trees and leafy greenery enveloped our surroundings and our senses were heightened to the sounds of nature; possibly the most serene sound to our ears.
There is an abundance of accommodation to choose from in Langkawi. But if you are after a resort with an authentic, unique, and top quality experience, then the Temple Tree Resort is definitely for you.
In the shadows of the shady trees emerged the first building, a wooden house on stilts with stone steps leading up to it. As we looked around us, we could see several other antique-looking homes dotting the property.
Stepping in to the main house, we were greeted by a quirky and furry little receptionist (the first of many cats we noticed that roam free on this property).
The friendly lady host appeared with a big smile on her face, and immediately offered us some freshly-squeezed iced pineapple juice. What a relief from the blistering heat!
Her introduction included a brief history to the quaint house we were in called the Straits Club House. It is over 90 years old and serves as the reception, library, games room and bar.
She explained that our stay at Temple Tree would be like staying in a living museum, as the Temple Tree resort houses 8 Malaysian heritage homes that are over 70-120 years old. These antique buildings are sourced in local villages, carefully dismantled and then brought here onto the estate, where they are then rebuilt and delicately restored. The owner is especially passionate about antiques from colonial-era buildings that are of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian origins.
We were then given a detailed map of the property, including an extensive list of items that are provided for by the resort, from batik sarongs you can wear to the beach, to the 3 swimming pools on site, to binoculars for bird watching and a tripod for the necessary outdoor photo op, all available for your use (or even to purchase) at your request.
Sinking in to bits of history
After the exciting introduction, we were then brought out of the main house and led to our suite, a red and green rustic home called the ‘Penang’ suite. The buildings and rooms all have different names as they are distinct from one another, representing different styles and heritage of the Malay culture.
Stepping into our suite, we were pleased to find that it was also decorated with antique furniture and pieces that were so unique, it was almost as if they all still have a bit of memory in them.
While the exterior of the resort remained true to their origins, the interiors have been furnished with an eclectic mix of period furniture sourced from Thailand, Indonesia and elsewhere. Bright carpets lay on unpolished wooden floorboards and multicoloured cushions line the chairs and beds everywhere.
We were even more pleased just then to find a room that had a beautifully polished, wooden bathtub, with an ottoman and a daybed just next to it. A little spa room all to ourselves, inspiring us to make a quick shopping list for bath bombs, scented candles and essential oils for when we hit the town later. In a separate area, the bathroom had His and Hers sinks and a glorious rainshower, with toiletries made from local organic scents and oils. Bliss!
The resort also puts a lot of thought and care into guests’ needs to ensure a restful break is what you’ll get. For instance, our hostess explained that breakfast consists of fresh fruits, yogurt, freshly baked bread and freshly squeezed juices, all of which will be prepared in the room the night before. This little gesture will mean a lot to couples and honeymooners, as it ensures that guests receive the utmost privacy during their stay.
The Temple and The Trees
We chose to explore more of the property, and discovered some other hidden gems and bits of nostalgia. To the back of the property, there is a small Taoist shrine built at the foot of two different species of trees that have grown intertwined as one. After a bit of research, we found out its story: Before the place turned into a resort, local Chinese gamblers would pray at the shrine, hoping for lucky numbers and leaving offerings – and still do, at the founder’s prerogative to maintain the original elements surrounding the property. The locals would then return with their winnings to hang prayer sashes from the plant’s limbs, making for a colourful element for guests nearby as they make their way down the swimming pool.
LASSie & Bon Ton Resort
A neighbouring resort sprawls on the property just next door, and is owned by the same founder. It is called Bon Ton Resort and guests from Temple Tree are allowed to use the swimming pool and visit other facilities like the restaurant and souvenir shop there as well.
LASSie (the Langkawi Animal Shelter & Sanctuary Foundation is a passion project started by the founder. It is located on Bon Ton’s side of the property, and home to the island’s only veterinarian. That explains the furry friends! Our hostess highlighted that we can even contribute to help out at the shelter, as they take the dogs out for daily walks in the mornings and evenings.
A sign in the gift shop claims “No outfit is complete without cat hair“, but if you are feline-averse, never fear, as these animals have an island mentality and are content to keep to themselves.
If, on the other hand, you or your child falls in love with a particular cat, the shelter can organise for it to be sent home with you. How’s that for a souvenir!
WiFi is available within all public areas of the property to help you to stay connected with family and friends, and if you’re not leaving until after check-out time, the staff will do their best to accommodate you until it’s time to say farewell.
You can rent a private room or an entire home – either way, whether you’re a couple or a family or a group of friends, everyone will enjoy a a truly idyllic and bespoke experience at Temple Tree.
So if you’re on a hunt for an authentic, rustic and serene island getaway, check out Temple Tree Resort, Langkawi!
See and Do
Drive around the island
Though it may be tempting to just live the horizontal life on your sun lounger and let your tan get golden throughout the day, you’ll be surprised to find that there is a lot to see and do around the island. Langkawi is small enough that you can drive around the whole island in just 30 minutes, tops. Spot the cute farm animals on the roam and hit up the local heritage spots all over the island, soaking in the local culture.
In the mood to horse around? Take a drive up north to Perdana Stables in Telaga Harbour. It is an equestrian centre expertly managed and professionally run by H.E.M. Hanssens, together with his family, as well as a team of dedicated horsemen and horsewomen whose dedication and love for horses are evident in the way they care for and train these beautiful animals. Don’t miss their weekly horse show spectacular, where you may witness the incredibly trained professionals and their steed do stunts like barrel racing, vaulting and fire jumping!
Tanjung Rhu Fish Farm and Floating Restaurant
No beach getaway is complete without a healthy dose of seafood in your belly, and we found the perfect place! Located up north and about 20 minutes from the Langkawi airport, the Tanjung Rhu Fish Farm and Floating Restaurant provides a free boat service to get from the jetty to their unique floating establishment. Experience the breathtaking views of the ocean and cliffs as you pick and choose fresh seafood straight from the sea! Not to be missed, the entertaining and educational 15 minute tour of various sea creatures and types of giant fish on display.
With such a wide range of accommodation options across the country, it can be a challenge to pick the one that’s best for you. To be in the know when it comes to Malaysia’s outstanding stays, keep your eyes peeled for Traveloka’s ‘Super Stays’ posts, a bi-weekly hotel special featuring our top picks!
By Imara Natchiar