Langkawi, Malaysia: Paradise’s Crown Jewel

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Find paradise in Langkawi; that’s what those foreign words mean. An archipelago located in the northwestern coast of Malaysia, Langkawi is renowned as the Jewel of Kedah. Blessed with lush forests and tranquil waters, it comes as no surprise that Langkawi ranks as one of the world’s most coveted vacation spots.

For the first-time traveler, here are a few things you might need to keep in handy. These tips and tricks are a complete crash course to Langkawi customs and traditions that will definitely aid you in the duration of your pleasurable stay:

Getting started 101 Currency, Shopping, and Language

If money makes the world go ’round, the same goes here in Langkawi. Tourists must take note of the local currency used, the Malaysian Ringgit. Commonly abbreviated as MYR, the Malaysian Ringgit has an estimated value of Php 13.75 per 1 MYR. In American dollar exchange rates, however, $1 is equivalent to 3.14 MYR.

Prices in Langkawi are generally cheaper because items sold in the island are tax-free. Foreigners drawn by the lower rates scout for alcohol. Shopping centers are also strategically located within the area of Kuah town. The modern Langkawi Mall, Fair Shopping Complex and the Jetty Point Duty Free complex present consumers with a vast array of items ranging from cosmetics for the ladies and sports gear and tobacco products for the men.

For both brand-conscious and thrifty shoppers alike, Langkawi offers one-stop shop havens like the Langkawi International Fashion Zone (LIFZ) at the Oriental Village and local bazaars with amazing finds in the town proper, and the Cenang and Black Sand Beaches.

With shopping conveniences just around the corner, you are surely in for a challenge when the time calls for bargaining with the locals. The best solution for this dilemma is to know a few key phrases from the native language of Malaysia, Bahasa Malaysia, or from Langkawi’s dialect, Kedahan Malay. A few short sentences such as Berapa banyak? (How much?) or rendah (lower) / tinggi (higher) will go a long way.

Keep right Etiquette and Dos and Don’ts

• A firm handshake is considered a no-no in Langkawi. While Western traditions adhere to this practice, a loose yet welcoming grip is more preferred by the locals.

• The left hand is seen as a ‘dirty’ hand in Malaysian culture. Make sure to receive everything with your right – especially when it comes to gifts given by the native Malays.

• Keep your hands to yourself. Langkawi natives strictly look down public displays of affection, holding hands included.

• You must keep the soles of your shoes tucked and away from sight. Langkawi locals dislike this act, especially when one’s sole is pointed at them (e.g. during a meal or a conversation, etc.)

• Although known for its exquisite beaches, Langkawi practices a culture that follows a conservative fashion sense. Be sure to keep your choices sweet and simple, without baring too much skin.

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