Malawi: Useful Information
The warm heart of Africa
-The main currency in Malawi is Malawi Kwacha (MKW). US dollars are also widely accepted especially when making large purchases. Resorts almost always accept payments in US dollars. Watch out for kwacha from neighboring Zambia, worth less than 1/20th of the Malawi version!
-Credit cards are accepted in cities and tourist resorts, but uncommon in smaller towns. ATM’s are widely available in towns but remember to take enough money with you when travelling.
-The main banks in Malawi are National and Malawi Savings bank. Both have international ATM machines, but beware that other banks may not allow you to draw money from an international account.
-Mobile phones are used widely; the main networks are Cel Tel and TNM (Telekom Networks Malawi). Sim Cards can be bought at stores such as Game and Shoprite.
-Voltage supply in Malawi is 230V; outlets are 3 pin UK style plugs. You will need an adapter if you do not have this type of plug.
-Post offices are common in large towns and cities in Malawi; DHL is a common courier service for international mail
-The international dialling code for Malawi is 265
-Internet access is available but not common. Internet is usually a slow dial up connection. Hostels and hotels will charge for Internet usage.
-Drugs are illegal and carry severe penalties. Drink driving and speeding also carry high penalties.
-Malawi has its own selection of national newspapers. International newspapers are not common.
-There is one national television station, TV Malawi. Wealthier homes have cable and satellite services broadcasting international stations. These are also common in hotels and hostels.
-Tap water is usually drinkable in the major cities, but boil first if you are unsure. Bottled water is widely available in shops and restaurants. When hiking or sightseeing, never set off without an ample supply of water.
-Malawi is a largely Christian country of various denominations but also has a large Muslim population. Malawians are generally religious and formal etiquette is appreciated.
-Alcohol is widely available, beer is only brewed by Carlsberg, based in Blantyre. Imported alcohol is available but the price is much higher. Malawi Distilleries produces stronger stuff including Smirnoff Vodka (licensed), but also its own products like Mulanje Gold Coffee Liqueur. Perhaps one of the most popular drinks in the country is the MGT (Malawi Gin and Tonic) made with Malawi Gin, an aromatic version of this popular alcohol. The legal drinking age is 18.
-The adult HIV prevalence in the country is at 14% or 1 in 7 adults. Do not have unprotected sex. Do not use injecting drugs.
- Malaria can be a problem. Be sure to take precautionary medication. The lake is fresh water and is prone to bilharzias, especially in the Cape Maclear area. Symptoms of bilharzia can take months to surface, but are easily treatable with a pill from the local pharmacist.
-Tipping is generally not expected, but some employees who are poorly paid might appreciate a small tip for good service.