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The Langkawi archipelago consists of more than
100 islands. The main island, Pulau Langkawi, at 480 square kilometres
is almost as big as Phuket, but is sparsely populated, unspoilt, with
a gentle, rural pace. Still a much smaller yachting centre than Phuket,
this beautiful Malaysian island has made great strides in the last
half-dozen years. Many sailors opt for its easy tranquility over the
heady smorgasbord of its northern neighbour. One of Langkawi's chief
advantages is that it is a duty-free port, hence imported goods and
beer and wine are relatively cheap. If you need an expensive part
shipped from abroad, Langkawi is the best destination for this since
import duties in Thailand are high.
The population of Langkawi was estimated at 40,000 in 1990 and has
probably changed only marginally since despite the growth in tourism
there just doesn't seem to be that many people around. The
figures then were 89 percent Malays, eight percent Chinese and three
percent other races. Most people live in and around the main town
Currency is the Malaysian ringgit (RM). The exchange rate is fixed
at RM3.80 for US$1. Cash machines, banks and money-changers are sometimes
difficult to find outside of Kuah town and the airport. ATMs often
won't accept foreign ATM cards or credit cards, even those displaying
Visa or Mastercard logos. However, Maybank ATMs are generally reliable.
240 volts, 50 cycles. Uses a plug with three rectangular posts. Adapters
for US or European-type plugs are widely available.
Malaysia is eight hours ahead of GMT, one hour ahead of Thailand.
Most of Malaysia follows the international working week of Monday
to Friday, but several states, including Kedah, of which Langkawi
is a part, work Saturday to Wednesday, plus a half day on Thursday.
So the weekend is Thursday afternoon and Friday. Banks close on the
first and third Thursdays of each month, but otherwise are open from
0930 to 1130 on Thursday. During Ramadan, many businesses close early
so Muslim staff can attend prayers. Also, many merchants who sell
boat bits are ethnic Chinese who celebrate a number of holidays not
observed by the mainstream.
Tap water is safe to drink on Langkawi and elsewhere in Malaysia.
Not mandatory, but it is done. Don't worry about percentages; for
most meals and bar bills a couple ringgit is enough.
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Yachting guide to Phuket, Langkawi & the
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