Langkawi Travel Bubble: Support Local Businesses
The Langkawi travel bubble is the government’s pilot project for facilitating domestic travel bubbles for local tourists; other destinations would be open when they hit an 80% local vaccination rate as well. It couldn’t have come at a better time as Malaysia is currently above 50% fully vaccinated, which means we’re moving towards turning the pandemic into an endemic—the disease is constantly present but becomes manageable, much like dengue and Japanese encephalitis—when at least 75% of adult Malaysians are expected to be fully vaccinated by the end of October. So as more and more Malaysians are getting fully vaccinated, the risk of getting infected with COVID-19 will drop significantly, or at the very least the effects of COVID-19 would become so minor that there is no need for hospitalisation. So for those who are fully vaccinated, you have a lot less to worry about. While we are waiting for the rest of the world to catch up on their vaccination before we open up the country to them, we must first save our local businesses ourselves. According to a November 2020 report by The Straits Times, more than 30,000 Malaysian businesses have closed down since March of that year. Given the opportunity, we should sustain our local businesses the best we can to prevent them from being forced to shut down, otherwise, our international tourists would have even fewer things to look forward to when they arrive in the future.
Tourism Highlights in Langkawi
Check out these highlights from those who have visited Langkawi!
Wyld Family Travel
Can you imagine if these places are all gone when international tourism would finally resume? Here are some local businesses in Langkawi that we should help to support when the Langkawi travel bubble begins:
On 15 September 2021, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has announced that, beginning 16 September 2021, all travellers to Langkawi must undergo COVID-19 screening prior to departure, via RT-PCR or RTK-Antigen test at any private health facility and laboratory, or via self-test kits. Travellers can also purchase a saliva self-test kit and take it to the airport or ferry terminal and undergo their tests at the screening spot provided.
The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC) has released the travel bubble Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for those who wish to travel to Langkawi Island. Effective 16 September 2021, Langkawi will be open again to tourists from other states in Malaysia, with the strict exception of those from areas under the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO). Tourists can choose to go to Langkawi either by land or by air; those travelling by land are required to use the services of travel agencies at least for transportation to and from their starting destination to the jetty of the ferry that will take them to Langkawi. To ensure the health and safety of all tourists, especially when they return home, all are expected to follow the SOP:
- Restricted only to individuals who have completed two doses of the vaccination;
- The types of trips allowed are day trips (same-day round trip), overnight, trips with pre-booked accommodation/admission tickets, tour package trips via travel agencies that are licensed and registered with MOTAC;
- The number of passengers in a vehicle whilst in transit is subject to the actual capacity of the vehicle;
- Visitors who need to adapt to the service hours of the ferry to Langkawi are allowed to spend the night at registered accommodation premises in Kedah/Perlis;
- Visitors must show documented evidence as proof of purchase of tourism products such as flight tickets, ferry tickets, hotel receipts or tour package receipts when applying for permission with PDRM and when requested by the SOP compliance enforcement agency;
- Permitted Langkawi Travel Bubble Activities include:
- Accommodation in hotels and homestays including facilities within hotel and homestay premises such as suraus, swimming pools, gymnasiums, lounges, halls, Business Events (MICE—Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions), Tourism and Cultural Events subject to the General Phase 4 SOP issued by MKN together with the SOP of related Ministries/Departments/Agencies;
- Beach activities, water sports, snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing tourism, edutainment centres, recreational parks, extreme/adventure/nature parks, farms, aquariums, zoos and other leisure, recreational and social activities;
- Special Interest Tourism activities (golfing, scuba diving, cycling, angling, yachting, etc.);
- Eco Geo-Travel activities (bird watching, caving, mountain climbing, white water rafting, hiking, jungle trekking, camping, etc.);
- Art, culture and heritage premises such as museums, libraries, art galleries, cultural heritage art centres/villages, staging of cultural performances and others.;
- Theme Parks and Family Entertainment Centres; and
- Academic Visitations such as Geopark Discovery Centre, Art Gallery, and Laman Padi.
While there are no age restrictions on those who travel to Langkawi Island, individuals below 18 must be accompanied by their fully vaccinated guardian.
Langkawi is most popular as a destination for duty-free shopping. As such, there are many duty-free shops (though not all shops are duty-free, so do check ahead) on the island, selling many branded goods at prices much lower compared to buying the same things in the city. From chocolates to cookware, you’ll find lots of products, edible and inedible, that would be quite the bargain. There are three major areas where you can do your duty-free shopping: Kuah, the capital of Langkawi; Pantai Cenang, the tourist hotspot; and Langkawi International Airport, the only gateway to Langkawi apart from the jetty.
Haji Ismail Group
Arriving in Kuah, you’ll notice a large green building with the words ‘Haji Ismail Group’ on it. This is one of the duty-free shops that you can find in Kuah, and one of the most popular. It had its start in 1987 as a small business by Haji Ismail bin Haji Ahmad, which became established as a company in 2005, and they eventually expanded and built Kompleks HiG, a.k.a. HiG Duty Free Complex. They now operate four different outlets in Kuah alone, and one more inside the Jetty Point Complex.
Langkawi Fair Shopping Mall
Langkawi Fair Shopping Mall is another popular place for shopping in Kuah. It’s one of the largest shopping malls there, with over 100 different outlets and an adjoining supermarket, though be forewarned: not all outlets are duty-free, so do your due diligence to check first.
On Pantai Cenang, Coco Valley is one of two duty-free stores. This is identifiable by the words “DUTY TAX FREE” in large capital letters right under its name. As its name suggests, it primarily sells chocolate, though you can also find things such as perfumes and watches as well.
The ZON Duty Free
The other duty-free store on Pantai Cenang is The ZON, which is quite recognisable as it is in many airports, seaports and towns all around West Malaysia. You’ll find a whole host of branded goods sold in their outlets. You can even sign up for their Community Card for free with a purchase of RM200 worth of products in a single receipt and get additional discounts for your purchases, like up to a 20% discount for normal retail watches.
One of the joys of travelling is enjoying the local cuisine, and especially for Langkawi, it would definitely have to include seafood that is as fresh as it can get. For a comprehensive guide on what to eat in Langkawi, do check out our article Hungry in Langkawi: 10 restaurants in Langkawi to visit!
As a tourist destination in Malaysia, the hotels in Langkawi have always been on the high side of pricing. However, due to the pandemic, international tourists who would usually make up the vast majority of tourists were not able to stay at these hotels. Thus, some of these hotels have prepared special room rates for Malaysians as a reopening strategy.
Berjaya Langkawi Resort
We’ve featured Berjaya Langkawi Resort before in our Kedah Travelling Guide. Fully vaccinated individuals can enjoy their “We Miss You” promotion which applies to all Berjaya hotels and resorts across Malaysia. The special offer for Berjaya Langkawi Resort includes breakfast for 2 persons and a three-course set dinner for 2 persons at a special price.
Casa del Mar, Langkawi
Casa del Mar, Langkawi was awarded the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Best of the Best 2021, the highest recognition by Tripadvisor and presented to those that are ranked in the top 1% of properties worldwide. The name “Casa del Mar” is Spanish for “Home by the Sea” and, according to Tripadvisor, it creates unique experiences around individual guests. Currently, it has several offers, including a Short Break Exclusive with a minimum of one night and an Indulgence Package with a minimum of seven nights.
So there you have it, these are just some of the businesses in Langkawi which we would like to highlight. Remember, the Langkawi travel bubble is not just so that we can have fun and enjoy ourselves, as that is just the added bonus on top of the primary objective which is the revitalisation of the local tourism industry. If you’re fully vaccinated, now you can enjoy the facilities and help the local businesses grow. If you’re not yet registered for the vaccine, now is not too late for you to do so, although you’ll only be counted as fully vaccinated after two weeks from your second dose, or four weeks after a single-dose vaccine like the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. What other places in Malaysia do you look forward to visiting once they’ve established a travel bubble there? Let us know in the comments!
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