Everything You Need to Know About Langkawi Tourism Bubble
It has been more than a year since we closed our country borders and many months since we were allowed to travel interstate. The domestic tourism industry has taken a big hit, and quite understandably, everyone is feeling restless.
Following the success of “Phuket Sandbox” in Thailand, which allows international tourists to visit the island without having to quarantine, there has been talks of Malaysia doing the same.
And on September 9th, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture finally announced that Langkawi will be the first travel bubble in the country, allowing fully-vaccinated tourists to visit beginning today, 16 September 2021.
However, this travel bubble will only be open to domestic tourists for now while the country makes preparations to reopen international borders. If you plan to visit Langkawi during this travel bubble, here’s everything you need to know:
To ensure that the Langkawi travel bubble runs smoothly and safely, the Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri has lined out several SOPs that must be strictly adhered to.
The following are the latest official SOPs, as of 16th September:
Who Can Visit Langkawi During the Travel Bubble?
- The Langkawi travel bubble applies to all individuals from all states, including those under Phase 1 of the National Recovery Plan, with the exception of those in EMCO areas.
- All travelers must be fully vaccinated*, not Covid-positive and not a close contact to a Covid-positive person.
- This travel bubble is only open to domestic tourists for now. Overseas tourists are not allowed (yet).
- Tourists are required to show their vaccine e-certificate before entry and whenever requested by authorities, hotel / restaurant staff, etc.
- There is no age limit.
- Children below the age of 18 who are not vaccinated are allowed to travel with their fully-vaccinated parents / guardians.
How to Visit Langkawi During the Travel Bubble Period
- All visitors must obtain a police permit before visiting.
- Tourists can visit Langkawi via air or land routes. However, those who wish to travel by land must use the service of travel agencies from their respective starting destination to the jetty in Kuala Kedah* / Kuala Perlis. Private vehicles are not allowed. These travel agencies may also help tourists apply for permit from the police.
- Residents of Kedah and Perlis and those who are traveling by flight do not need to go through travel agencies. In addition, those who choose to fly to Langkawi do not need to obtain a permit.
- The number of passengers in each vehicle is limited to the vehicle’s maximum capacity.
- Ferries will be allowed to operate at reduced frequencies from Kuala Kedah* and Kuala Perlis.
- Allowed holidays include day trips, overnight stays, and holidays with pre-booked accommodation / packages from licensed tour agencies.
- Tourists are allowed to stay overnight in registered accommodations in Kedah and Perlis due to the ferry schedule.
- Tourists are advised to keep receipts and booking confirmations of hotels, flights, ferries, and travel packages as proof that they are visiting Langkawi for holiday and leisure purposes.
Covid Screening Requirement for Travelers
All travelers aged 7 and above are required to undergo Covid test before departure. Children below six years old are only required to go through symptom screenings by taking into account their ability to produce saliva.
The Covid test can be done via any one of these methods:
i. RT-PCR or RTK-Antigen Test
The RT-PCR or RtK-Antigen test should be done at any private health facility within 48 hours prior to the departure date and the test results must be brought to the airport or ferry terminal for inspection.
ii. Self-Test Kits
Travelers can purchase a saliva self-test kit, take it to the airport or ferry terminal and undergo their test at the allocated screening spot.
Alternatively, they may also buy the self-test kits at the screening area at the airport or ferry terminal. These tests will be monitored and verified by the health personnel on duty.
Those who have tested negative will be allowed to continue with their journey, while those who are found to be positive will not be allowed to do so and will be managed as per the existing positive-case management SOPs.
What Can You Do in Langkawi During the Travel Bubble?
- Most tourist attractions and activities (except spas) will be allowed to operate under the Langkawi travel bubble. This includes museums, theme parks, nature parks, zoos, aquariums, farms, galleries, entertainment centers, and a variety of activities, such as water sports, hiking, camping, golfing, fishing, island hopping, and so on.
- Facilities in hotels and guesthouses, including swimming pools, gyms, prayer rooms, halls, and lounges will also be allowed to open, subject to Phase 4 SOPs.
Should We Travel to Langkawi Right Now?
Is it really safe or appropriate to travel anywhere right now? Won’t we be contributing to the problem? With the number of new Covid cases still on the rise, this is a valid concern.
We are often told to stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel. Even those who are fully vaccinated can still contract the virus and you never know if you’re an asymptomatic carrier.
On the other hand, the economy needs to move on. People need to make a living. Many industry players — especially in destinations that rely heavily on tourism — have been greatly affected by the travel restrictions imposed due to the pandemic. Your visit will be a lifeline to keep their heads above water.
As the country prepares to treat Covid as endemic, we have to gradually ease back into our normal lives, albeit with new precautions.
Admittedly, Malaysia still ranks among the lowest in the Covid Resilience Ranking, but we have to start somewhere to get ourselves out of this rut.
Safe travel is possible during the pandemic if everyone works together to ensure that the SOPs are followed to a tee. Always remain cautious — mask up and maintain a safe distance from others — regardless of whether you are fully vaccinated or not.
The Langkawi Travel Bubble will be implemented with much caution to minimize the risk of an outbreak. It’s now down to us to help make this pilot project a success.