Langkawi, a UNESCO world geopark, attracts millions of visitors each year to laze on its beaches, walk through rainforests, shop in duty free stores, and dine on a delicious platter of fusion cuisines. Before arriving on this sun kissed island on the west of Malaysia, get acquainted with some titbits about Langkawi to make the stay pleasant and hassle free.
The Malaysian currency ringgit (MYR/RM) can be exchanged at the airport, or at the exchange kiosks in shopping malls and banks in Langkawi. There are only a few ATMs on the island, and it is best to keep cash before you arrive. Most hotels in Langkawi also provide exchange services. However, banks offer much better exchange rates.
Hospital and medical facilities:
There are various private clinics and public hospitals on the island. The Langkawi hospital in Kedah is good for all issues ranging from cold and flu to serious medical conditions. Waiting time at the Langkawi hospital can be long, and unless it is an emergency, patients are treated on a first come first serve basis. You can also private clinics in Pantai Cenang, Padang Matsirat and Kuah for any minor ailments and injuries. For urgent medical attention, please dial 999 or the local hospital directly. English is widely spoken on the island, and you will not have trouble communicating with the medical staff.
Before visiting Langkawi, it is recommended to make sure your vaccinations are current. It is best to consider vaccinating against Hepatitis A and B, Japanese encephalitis. Also check with your healthcare provided on getting a prophylactic for protection against malaria.
Mosquitos and Jelly fish:
Mosquitoes are an annoyance on this island. They are the cause for illnesses such as the dengue fever, malaria and Japanese encephalitis. Hence it is highly recommended to use mosquito repellent throughout your stay. Also, between the months of May to October, swarm of jelly fish, including the highly venomous boxed jelly fishes may invade the Langkawi beaches. It is best to check with the locals before entering the waters during this period.
Police and crime:
Langkawi is a safe place for tourists, but it is good to be careful when travelling at night or crossing through secluded places. There are various police stations on the island, including the ones at Padang Matsirat, Ayer Hangat and Kuah.
Pulau Langkawi has a stable flow of electricity, and the supply is 240 volts, 50 Hz. Power socket used in Malaysia is the UK type G plugs and sockets, and you will need an adaptor to use devises with other plug points.
Internet and Telephone:
A number of hotels and resorts offer free Wi-Fi facility to their patrons, and you can also get internet connectivity at many local attractions and restaurants on the island. Internet cafes in Pantai Cenang, Tengah and Kuah are also available. If you want to be connected all the time then pocket Wi-Fi device can be rented on mainland Malaysia, or with prior order, you can also pick up a 4G sim card at the Langkawi airport.
Duty free shopping and liquor:
Langkawi enjoys a duty free status, and visitors with a minimum stay of 48 hours on the island can shop tax free. If your stay is any less than the minimum required time, you might need to pay a tax on the products you have purchased.
Immigration and Visas:
The island of Langkawi belongs to the state of Malaysia, and visa requirement for this island is the same as that of the mainland. Please contact your local Malaysian embassy for more information.
Etiquette and Customs:
Although, Langkawi is a multicultural society, more than 60 percent of the population here follows Islam. The island locals dress conservatively and showing too much skin and tight clothing outside the resort premises is not appreciated. When visiting any religious sites, it is highly recommended to dress respectfully. It is also best to not display too much of affection in public. Sunbathing nude on public or private beaches anywhere on the island is not a good idea.
Tipping is not expected at restaurants but will be appreciated. The restaurants usually add a 10% service charge to the bill irrespective of you decision to tip or not.
Malaysian laws applicable in Langkawi as well:
All drugs are strictly prohibited in the state Malaysia, and it is illegal to use, possess, sell and supply an illicit drug. If found guilty, a mandatory death penalty is applicable.
Shariya Muslim law is practised all over the country and visitors can face imprisonment if caught preaching or distributing materials related to any other faith on the island.