Major languages in Malawi include Chichewa, Chinyanja and English, which is spoken in most tourist areas and cities.
The local currency is the Malawi kwacha, abbreviated as MK. US dollars, sterling pounds and euros are accepted, especially for major purchases, and currency exchange on the black market gets a far better rate than at the banks. ATMs are found in the big cities, and are gradually spreading to more rural areas. Major credit cards with the exception of Amex and Diners Club can be used at the larger hotels, with Visa often the only choice. US dollars are the best bet for all other charges, and cash is king outside the urban areas.
Malawi is in the Central African Time Zone, three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT +3).
Electricity is 220-240 V/50 Hz and sockets use the British BS-1363 plug. Visitors from the US and Canada will need a step-down transformer as well as a plug adapter. Travelers from most other countries will need a plug adapter.
The calling code for Malawi is 265, followed by an area code and phone number. The country is seeing a boom in cell phone usage, with three service providers, Airtel, Celcom and TNM offering coverage in urban areas, but patchy or non-existent service in the countryside. All African cell phone networks operate on GSM, with visitors from the US advised to have their phone unlocked and purchase a local SIM card upon arrival.
Duty-free allowances for arrivals in Malawi are 200 cigarettes, one liter of spirits, wine and beer and consumer goods for immediate needs. Travelers returning to the US may purchase up to 200 cigarettes, one liter of alcohol and gifts up to value of $400 duty-free.
Malawi Tourism Association: +265-1-761-443 or http://www.malawitourism.com/
Embassies and Consulates in Malawi
Canadian Consulate, Blantyre: +265-1-845-441
US Embassy, Lilongwe: +265-1-774-181
British High Commission, Lilongwe: +265-1-772-400
Australian Embassy, Zimbabwe: +61-26-261-1111
Emergency services: 199 or 997