So, my friends, Langkawi’s Maha Tower has finally opened its doors after nearly 10 years of construction delays and phases. Ground breaking and initial construction began back in 2014, much to more than a few onlookers’ amusement and bewilderment, but that’s all changed now. Despite building delays and minimal grounds landscaping efforts, Maha Tower Langkawi is now another pride and joy highlight for Langkawi tourism.
Why did it take so long to build? Well, the Maha Tower isn’t a one level strip mall that’s for sure. It’s a 138-meter tower made of steel and glass, which obviously must have been a challenge for even the best of engineer teams. Not to mention the labor and materials headaches the project likely endured during Malaysia’s two-year pandemic lockdown.
Actually, Maha Tower Langkawi officially opened in December 2022, but I delayed my first visit expecting a few more bells and whistles to be added. But I think it’s what you see is what you get at this point. So, kudos to PFCE Integrated Plant and Project (PIPP) and Dekinjaya Builders Sdn Bhd for getting the job done so far. I was curious to see their portfolios of previous designs and projects but could find nothing online, but I’m sure their resumes must be impressive.
The French Connection
What the heck is an Eiffel Tower look-alike doing on a remote island in Malaysia? Maha Tower Langkawi was initially officiated by Tun Dr Mahathir; a man of creative ideas and visions. And no stranger to towers, Mahathir is also credited with making the Petronis Towers happen as well as, closer to home, the Menara Alor Setar (Alor Setar Tower). In 2014, the name Maha Tower was used, which according to the Maha Tower website means ‘the almighty’, but according to Google it means ‘great’.
In case you’re interested, the Maha website takes it a bit further with this fluffy description:
“The root of the tower’s name is derived from the Malay word “maha”, which translates to “the almighty” – crowning it as an icon of confidence and courage, while also honouring the legendary Mahsuri, the tragically beautiful embodiment of grace, innocence, and candour.”
The reference to legendary Mahsuri is the shape of the tower, which has nothing to do with Paris after all , but was apparently inspired by Mahsuri’s wedding dress. I suspect this was an afterthought, but whatever works in “showcasing traditional architecture in a contemporary fashion”.
The Maha Tower Langkawi website credits the tower’s non-named architect with saying this about ‘his/her’ design:
“During the day, the tower stands tall like a silver tree of geometry, glittering with golden specks of the sun. By the time night falls, the tower illuminates Langkawi with its brilliant lights that mimic the sparkle of a thousand stars amidst the vast black sky – truly a sight not to be missed.“
Yes, it really says that. Read it out loud for full effect.
In a nutshell, Maha Tower Langkawi is 138-meters tall and is broken up into 5 categories of levels. There are some inconsistencies with published information when it comes to precise numbers, so here’s my guesstimate:
Level 40: Telecommunication installations (138 meters for sure)
Level 33: Skydeck (102.5 meters or more)
Level 22-28: Activity & Entertainment Spaces
Level 18: Sky Lounge & 360 Degree viewing deck (57.5 meters or more)
Level Ground thru 15: Retail, restaurant and function spaces
As of this writing, Level 18 and Level 33 are the main stars of the “silver tree of geometry” show, but there is plenty of room to grow and a promising future for Maha Tower Langkawi.
My Maha Tower Experience
In addition to me waiting on more bells and whistles, I was also not too happy to spend such a chunk of money for sightseeing a mere tower. Yup, I’m one of ‘those’ cheapo international tourists. So cheap in fact that I sent messages and emails to the Maha Tower people in hopes of getting a media discount. Because after all, my plan was to write about them. So, it’s only fair right?
But sadly, over the course of a year I got no responses to any of my queries. However! When I looked closer at the website, I saw that I now qualified for the senior discount. The senior price I could handle and there were no content obligations on my part. But after my visit, I thought it best to share my experience with the world wide web anyway.
For starters, when I checked the Maha Towers website, I noticed that there were allotted time slots included in the booking, which made me think they were very busy and I’d be lucky to get in at all. So, I eenie meenie miney mo-ed it and picked a day and very specific time. This I regretted immediately upon arrival. After checking in with the front desk staff, I was informed that there weren’t such stringent time allotments. There is a limit to how long people can ‘hang out’ but it’s a normal request of any venue with limited capacity.
I was also told that I didn’t need to book in advance, which means I could have come on a day with sunnier skies instead of the hazy day time slot I was committed to. My senior discount admission fee was worth this valuable bit of real time information for sure. But as much as I felt a little grumble of annoyance in the back of my mind, the staff of Maha Tower were so gosh darn sweet that my senior discount admission fee was worth paying just to meet them. Now, that says a lot in my book. These kids love their job and their happy faces made me happy. End of story. But wait, there’s more!
After my chit chat with the front desk staff, I was escorted past the spacious lobby, which is quite barren and could seriously use some splashes of color; or at least something interesting to read on the walls. Thankfully there were no lines, and I was directed straight to the elevator and up to Level 18 Sky Lounge, where I was allotted per the website up to 90-minutes to enjoy or ‘hang out’ if you will. I didn’t really think much about this until I saw how cozy the Sky Lounge is. I could see how loitering could become problematic, especially when it became sunset viewing time.
But even more surprising was that there was free food in the Sky Lounge; inclusive with my senior discount admission. Really! They were serving Roti Jala and Nasi Lemak the morning I came and the idea of hanging out became even more attractive. Of course, I came for the view, but the free food was a lovely surprise bonus to my Maha Tower experience.
The Sky Lounge is surrounded by a spacious walkway that circles the outer perimeter of the tower. The 360-degree viewing is scenic and Instagram-worthy, but it also offers a lot of birds-eye-views of nearby construction sites. It also highlights the lack of grounds maintenance at Maha Tower itself. There are no pretty gardens below or splashes of color, just concrete earth tones. But in the distant horizon you can see the tropical greens of the archipelago and the endless sea. That, I never get bored with.
Benches are available on the Level 18 outside walkway, for those wanting a little quietly stare into space moments. Also notable of the walkway is that it’s wheelchair friendly, so hopefully more elderly folks will come and take advantage of their senior discounts.
Level 33: Onward and Upward
After about 45-minutes of me enjoying Level 18, I was asked if I wanted to go up to Level 33. Asked mind you. In a polite way. A gentle reminder that it was probably time for me to mosey on. Like I said, the staff are really sweet and very professional. So onward and upward I went to Level 33.
Level 33 is not spacious, it’s enclosed like a small, hexagon-shaped, gold fish bowl. The view isn’t better than Level 18 either, just higher. But this is where the glass floor walkway is located; another “silver tree of geometry” highlight. Glass floors kind of freak my mind out a bit, but in general I think they are still pretty cool. Shoes are allowed on Maha’s glass-floor walkway, which makes me think they are made from scratch resistant glass or that the design team didn’t get the memo about the no shoes policy so many other glass-floor venues instate.
Maha Tower’s glass floor walkway is inside the building, making it less scary for folks like me. And it also has a hand rail, which oddly enough can play a trick on one’s mind also. I’m actually quite brave walking across glass floors 102+ meters from the earth below when I’ve got my hand on a rail. Weird right? Yes, I think so too. At any rate. I conquered the glass floor walkway and have the selfie to prove it.
It also wasn’t too intimidating for me, because the below view is broken up a bit by the view of the roof of Level 18. And the surrounding ground below is basically non-landscaped earth and cement. Certainly no “stunning view of the Langkawi archipelago-below your feet” view. In a nut shell, not very picturesque.
Amazing view of the nearby construction location for the future Langkawi City though! In fact, there’s an info table showing all the big plans and changes instore for the once sleepy, but pristine geopark waterfront. I don’t personally get it, but surely the powers that be do. I just think it’s a bit sad when ‘nature’ is not enough. But from a Field of Dreams angle: If you build it, they will come. Maybe. In this case it starts with a “silver tree of geometry” and plenty of waterfront room to grow.
So, is Maha Tower Langkawi worth the hype? Well, from the outside it’s definitely an impressive structure, and it looks spectacular at night. The interior and landscaping could still use more love (and color), but overall, yes. I think it’s worth the hype. And if you can afford the price of a ticket, you should go for it. Again, big kudos to the staff for their warm guest relations and customer service; it really makes a difference.
Langkawi, Kuah, Malaysia
Open daily: 10:00am until 10:00pm