Malawi time is GMT+2, as with most of southern Africa.
Jan 1, 15; March 3; May 1; June 14; July 6; 2nd Monday in October; Dec 25, 26. Also: Good Friday and Easter Sunday. If a holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, then the next Monday becomes a holiday. Muslim festivals may also be celebrated in some areas.
Supply is based on the 220/240 volts system, using "British type" square bayonet three-pin plugs.
The telephone system is reasonably reliable, though mobiles can often be easier to get through to than landlines. Sim cards for local mobile phone networks are widely available and relatively cheap and easy to use. Most hotels and offices are readily reached by e-mail. The postal system tends to be slow. International courier DHL operates in Malawi.
TV & Radio
There is a national TV station, though its primary output is news. In addition, many city centre hotels receive international satellite channels. There are English language radio broadcasts.
Any camera equipment is best brought into the country and care should be taken to avoid its exposure to extremes of heat. Most Malawians will not mind being photographed but it is common courtesy to ask permission first.
While English is an official language, and is widely understood, a number of indigenous languages are also spoken. The most common is Chewa (or Chichewa – the language of the Chewa). Here are a few Chichewa words and phrases:
Goodbye Tsalani Bwino
How are you? Muli bwanji?
What is your name? Dzina lanu ndani?
My name is … Dzina langa ndi….
I come from…. Ndikuchokera ku….
How old are you? (To child) Uli ndi zaka zingati?
Excuse me Zikomo
How much? Mumagulitsa bwanji?
How much is this? Bwanji ichi?
Thank you Zikomo
A Chichewa language course, by Celia Swann, complete with audio disc, can be purchased from the Malawi Travel Marketing Consortium UK Office and a Chichewa-English Dictionary is also available, with the publishers now offering an instant ONLINE translation facility: http://translate.chichewadictionary.org/
Small supermarkets are found in towns and larger villages. Large supermarkets and European style shops are almost exclusively found in Blantyre and Lilongwe. Markets and roadside vendors are popular with travellers. Attractive souvenirs are the excellent wood carvings, widely available, and straw goods together with work by local artists. The standard of craftwork varies but at its best is quite outstanding. In the markets, bargaining is expected. Traditional Chief’s chairs are popular. Shops and offices open and close earlier in the day than is the custom in Europe or North America.