Like most other former British colonies, traffic moves on the left in Malawi with most cars having their steering wheel on the right. Drink-driving is prohibited in Malawi. It has a zero-tolerance rule meaning that a driver must not consume any alcohol at all.
Local car rental companies:
Apex Rent-a-Car Malawi
Sedans, 4x4s, even buses.
4x4s, 16 and 26 seat buses, Motorbikes
Sputnik Car Hire
Airports, Lake Malawi, Mulanje, Lilongwe, Blantyre, Zomba, Liwonde.
Located in Lusaka, Zambia.
Compared to its neighbours, the main roads in Malawi are in surprisingly good shape and travel times between major destinations should be reasonable. The volume of traffic is low and most people drive reasonably slowly. Road travel after dark is not advisable as road markings are poor to non-existent and not all cars have headlights.
The Malawian police force have check points along many of the major roadways. By and large, they are looking for illegal activities and bribes - but aren't too much of a problem. Expect to be stopped on occasion and asked where you are going. You should not have any problems if you are polite and have the correct documentation passport, driving licence, permission to use the vehicle, etc. available if they ask
Taxis are available in any city, whether they are licensed or not. Be prepared to negotiate as quoted prices to tourists are generally two to three times the actual going rate. Ask a friendly local or expat what the price should be. Rental cars are also available in these towns. Costs vary depending on vehicle type, but expect a compact car to run about USD60/day.
Travelling by boat is surely the most enjoyable mode of getting around in Malawi. The Ilala ferry runs north from Monkey Bay to Chilumba departs F 10:00, arrives Su 18:30, and back southbound on the same route departure Chilumba on Monday 02:00, arriving at Monkey Bay on Wednesday at 14:00. Prices are rising with every year, but so is the ferry's reliability: some years back before its privatization it was perfectly normal to arrive a day late sometimes. The Ilala thus connects Likoma Island twice a week with the mainland, and the much closer Cobuè in Mozambique, respectively. Prices in January 2006 were about 6000 Malawian kwacha from Monkey Bay to Likoma, and MWK1600 from Likoma to Nkatha Bay. If you are on a schedule and don't mind a more uncomfortable ride, you might be able to catch the Malungo ferry from Nhkata Bay to Likoma on Saturday morning, but make sure to check at the harbor the day before.
The cheapest way to get around Lilongwe is by minibus. The cost to get from the old town to suburbs is MWK150-200 depending on the current situation with fuel shortages.
Unlike the general idea that minibuses fly over the road, ignoring every traffic sign. They are the slowest mode of transportation. In general, transport in Malawi is slow, but it's not unheard of doing Lilongwe to Zomba in 7 or 8 hours on a minibus whereas most big buses do it in 5 to 6 hours. Also, minibuses are more expensive than the big buses on longer distances.
Air Malawi flies small propeller planes between the three big cities of Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Blantyre.
Nyassa Air Taxi is by far the preferred choice to fly guests in and around Malawi.
Swiftair operates scheduled domestic flights between Lilongwe, Mzuzu, Karonga and Blantyre on a twin engine, dual crew Beechcraft 1900
"Luxury" buses, medium-sized buses, and minibuses all service Malawi. They vary in comfort and price. Vehicle condition can be very poor and road accidents are relatively common.
Probably the best national coach services are provided by AXA Bus Company. They have their main office building very close the the immigration department in Lilongwe. They are also the only company with some sort of a timetable which they follow very well for Malawian standards. AXA coaches go to the bigger cities of Malawi and generally don't stop in small towns.
Other bus companies include UDK Passenger Services, National Bus Company and Restoration Express Mostly northern region of Malawi. These buses go on a full is go basis. They wait for a full bus and then depart. Not much of a timetable. National Bus Company seems to have the most extensive network in the country, and stops in every small town if required. UDK seems to be the fastest option, after AXA. Prices for Zomba - Lilongwe with UDK are MWK2,500 as of February 2013. Whereas AXA charges you double, for only a little more comfort.
Medium-sized buses tend to be big minibuses, coasters, that stop everywhere just like minibuses. Their seats offer more comfort than minibus seats, although when they fill up, they fill up good and most of your comfort will be squeezed out of you by your neighbours, and their speed will drop incredibly.