Langkawi is the best known island destination in Malaysia. It is to Malaysia what Phuket is to Thailand, Bali to Indonesia, and Boracay to the Philippines. All of these popular Asian destinations boast of the best beaches, dive sites and waters in the world, but an edge that Langkawi enjoys is that Malaysia, in general, has relatively higher standards in health and cleanliness. Health in Langkawi, therefore, is not a major concern. Malaysia has quality hospitals and health-care services all over the country.
There are two modern hospitals with hi-tech medical gadgets in Langkawi. These are Hospital Daerah Langkawi on Jalan Bukit Tekoh, Kuah (Tel. no.: 966-3333) and Hospital Pusat Kesihatan on Jalan Padang, Matsirat (955-1355). Hospital Daerah Langkawi can handle minor emergencies. For major emergencies, it has 24-hour helicopter service that could take patients to Alor Setar Hospital on the mainland. Hospital Daerah Langkawi, on the other hand, is closer to two major resorts, Rebak Marina and Langkasuka Boat Club. It is also near the international airport. Although these are clean and modern hospitals, western tourists have observed that medical personnel are too laid back. In fact, most medical clinics in the island are closed on Fridays.
Local health centers are called Klinik Desa and there are plenty in the islands of Pulau Tuba and Pulau Datang Bunting. They are manned by nurses, and visited by doctors once a week. Each clinic is capable of handling minor injuries, as well as maternal and child health care.
The most common health problems in an island-resort near the equator are dehydration, sunburn, heat stroke, insect bites, food poisoning, diarrhea, fatigue or too much alcohol, and road accidents (since local mode of traffic may be different from what a tourist is used to). The best answers to these health problems are not the most sophisticated hospitals but the exercise of a simple piece of common sense when vacationing in a foreign land. To stay healthy in Langkawi, common sense will tell you to do the following.
Before going on your vacation, make sure to check with your doctor for any advice on any necessary vaccines, get medical insurance, and pack an insect repellant, vitamins and all your prescribed medicines, with enough to last during your entire vacation.
While in the island, don’t get too excited and overdo things. You could end up getting fatigued and burned down. Schedule your daily activities so that you have specific time to get plenty of rest. Doing this can help you get the most of your vacation. Also, keep in mind that if you are not used to getting exposed to tropical sun, always wear a hat, sunglasses and drink plenty of water especially right after you arrived and have not gotten used to the equatorial weather yet. It is good to know that unlike all other Asian destinations, tap water in Langkawi is safe for drinking. Nonetheless, it is still better to take only bottled drinking water to be sure. And to avoid diarrhea and food poisoning, simply avoid eating exotic foods if you know that you don’t have the stomach for it.
Finally, a word of advice: enjoy your best summer vacation ever in this amazing Malaysian archipelago while maintaining good health in Langkawi.