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Basics

Langkawi
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.

Population
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 of Kuah.

Money
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.

Electricity
240 volts, 50 cycles. Uses a plug with three rectangular posts. Adapters for US or European-type plugs are widely available.

Time
Malaysia is eight hours ahead of GMT, one hour ahead of Thailand.

Work week
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.

Water
Tap water is safe to drink on Langkawi and elsewhere in Malaysia.

Tipping
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 Andaman Sea
© 2003-05 8north.com

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Langkawi
Basics
Getting around
Away by land, air
Boatwork
Boatyards
Chandlery, etc
Charter/Broker
Clearance
Communications
Health care
Marinas
Mooring
Provisioning
Visa runs