Langkawi is a district of Kedah state, separated from mainland Malaysia by the Straits of Malacca. The islanders still tend to fishing, rubber plantations, rice fields, buffaloes and other traditional ways of life, although, tourism is the largest industry.
When to visit
Travel is possible all-year-round, as it has no defined seasonal weather patterns.
Langkawi is very warm and humid temperatures ranging from 25c to 35c. Prickly heat sometimes happen - to avoid it, keep cool, bathing often, dry the skin using prickly heat powder or resorting to air-conditioning.
Light cotton clothes and natural fibres are essential. Do not forget the sun block, sunglasses and hat. It is advisable to travel light, bring as little with you as possible because clothes are readily available at very reasonable pricea.
At the beach, most Malaysian women swim fully-clothed in t-shirts and shorts(do not go topless - wear swimming suit). It is wise for visitors to be appropriately discreet in dress and behaviour.
Electricity supplies are reliable throughout the island. Power supply is 220 to 240v at 50Hz cycle. Most outlets use the three-pin flat pronged plugs and most hotels also have 110v shaving sockets. International conversion socket/plug are available in most of the hotels or you could purchase it from many shops around the island.
Langkawi is 8 hours ahead of GMT and 16 hours ahead of US Pacific Standard time.
The Malaysian dollar is the Ringgit(abbreviated to RM). It is worth 100 sen. Bank notes come in several denominations: RM1(blue), RM2(purple), RM5(green), RM10(red), RM50(bluish green) and RM100(purple). Coins come in denominations: RM1, 50sen, 20sen, 10sen, and 5sen
Nine major banks are available in Langkawi: Namely Maybank, Public Bank, RHB Bank, CIMB Bank, AM Bank, EON Bank Perwira Affin Bank, Bank Islam and Bank Simpanan Nasional. Most ATM's are linked to international banking networks such as Cirrus, Maestro and Plus and not forgetting Visa and Mastercard allowing withdrawal from overseas accounts easy. ATM's are available at the Langkawi Airport, Kuah Town . the Jetty Point Shopping Complex, Petronas Station.
License Moneychangers can be found all over the island namely: Langkawi International Airport, Jetty Point Complex, Kuah Town, Pantai Cenang, Padang Matsirat, Langkawi Fair. Banks and most hotel do provide money changing facilities.
Credit card such as American Express, Diners Club, Master Card and Visa Card are widely accepted.
How not to offend
Pointing with the forefinger, pointing your feet at a person, putting your up feet on the table or touching a person's head are considered rude.
Registered medical practitioners and qualified dental surgeons clinics are available at Padang Matsirat(near Langkawi Airport) and Kuah Town. Registered pharmacists also available at Kuah Town and controlled drugs are sold only by prescription. Many hotels have doctors on call to treat emergencies. The government hospital is fully-equipped and has intensive care units to cope with any medical crisis.
Government Business Hours
From 8.00am to 4.30pm Saturday to Wednesday
- Off Day - Friday & Saturday
Bank Business Hours
From 10.00 am to 4.00pm Monday to Friday
- Off Day - Saturday & Sunday
Others Private sectors/Companies
From 8.30am to 5.00pm Saturday to Wednesday
From 8.00am to 1.30pm Thursday
- Off Day - Friday
(1st week and 3rd week of the month) Off Day - Saturday
Department Stores/Shopping Complexes/Shops/Travel Agencies mostly open daily.
Internet cafés are available almost everywhere. The charges range from RM3.00 to RM10.00 per hour. Some outlets are using dial-up and there are also using digital line eg. ISDN. If you are using you own computer/machine, take note that most phone jacks here accept standard-wired RJ11 plugs. Most hotels provide internet access facilities.
Photography and Video
The locals have no antipathy to being photographed, however, it is polite to ask permission before photographing people or taking pictures in mosques or temples.
Colour films and slide films are available and can be developed instantly and at good prices. There are few shops that's do digital prints and digital imaging services such as CD copying, CD storage ect. There are photo shops with wide range of equipments and at reasonable prices too. Please note that Malaysia uses PAL video systems. For more reliable and professional service it is advisable to visit Foto Langkawi at the banking area call Pandak Mayah.
There is a variety of food that you can choose from - be it Western, local Malay, Chinese, Indian, Japanese or Thai. All these can be found served at hotels, fine dinning restaurants, street stalls or hawkers. Hawkers normally come alive every evening on most street corners. The quality of food, however, has nothing to do with where it is served.
Hawker food is something no visitor should miss. This is because not only do they serve a variety of authentic local dishes, but, prices are also very reasonable.
Open-air hawker centres are scattered all over the island, however, the town centre area operates late until 2 to 3am (opposite the Condo Istana, Jalan Penarak,Kuah or opposite the Bella Vista Langkawi Hotel near Kuah). There are also a good range of non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks and fast food outlets available in Kuah Town eg. McDonald and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Safety and Security
Langkawi is not a theft - prone district. In fact, compared with Indonesia, Thailand or Philippines, it is extremely safe here. The island lifestyle has been very easy going and relaxed. People are friendly and helpful. However, it pays to keep a close eye on your belonging, especially your travel documents. Most hotels have safe boxes.
The emergency number for police is 999, ambulance is 991 and fire department is 994.
The official language is Bahasa Malaysia, however English is commonly used and spoken by all. Besides the two languages, there are also Chinese, Tamil and Thai. The locals are very friendly and helpful should there be any problem with language.
You can direct-dial long distance calls from local payphone, IDD phone in convenience store's and from the hotels. Local calls cost 10sen for 3 minutes. Payphones are available all over the island. These payphones take coins and plastic cards. The card phone comes in denominations of RM10, RM20, RM50 and RM100.
To make an IDD call from a payphone, you just dial the international access code, "00" followed by the your country code and area code and number or you may arrange reverse charge calls.
Malaysia has an efficient postal system with good poste restante at the major post offices. Post Office available at Padang Matsirat (near Langkawi Airport) and Kuah Town (the Headquarters). Operation hours from 8am to 5pm. It closes on Friday and Public Holidays. Aerogram and Postcards cost 50sen to any destinations.
There are several flights daily from KLIA to Langkawi, Penang to Langkawi and Singapore to Langkawi and vice-versa. You can take Malaysia Airlines Systems, Air Asia or Silk Air. The Island airport is an international status.
Ferries services are also available from Penang, Kuala Kedah, Kuala Perlis and Satun, Thailand to Langkawi and vice-versa. Ferry terminal at Langkawi is located at Jetty Point Complex, Kuah Town.
At the moment, there is no public buses service and taxi is the main way of getting around. But the easiest way to get around is to hire a car or motorcycle or even bicycle. The vehicles can be rented cheaply from the local registered travel agents or the beach resorts. You can do a leisurely circuit of the island in a day. The roads are excellent and easy riding.
Driving in Langkawi
Cars in Langkawi and Malaysia are right hand drive. When driving on the road, always keep to the left side of the road. Roads in Langkawi are good and well maintain.
Do not forget to fasten your seat belts as it's mandatory to do so for the driver and front passenger. For motorcyclist, you are required to wear helmets.
Do be careful of Buffalows while on Langkawi road as buffalos tend to cross the road or walk along the streets.