As the capital of Kedah, Alor Setar is located on the Northern region and one of the oldest Sultanate in Malaysia. In the Malay Language, Alor Setar literally translates to “small stream.” It is a bustling city dotted with modern-day structures and shopping complexes and is currently known as the rice and rubber trading center of Malaysia. It also prides itself as one of the cleanest and most friendly cities in Malaysia. I passed through Alor Setar so many times and it never changed. The people are friendly and warm, the taxi’s have fair prices compared to the horror of taxi drivers in Kuala Lumpur that many visitors are subjected too.
Getting to Alor Setar
Through the North-South Expressway, which extends from the Malaysian and the border of Thailand all the way to Singapore, travelers have the option to drive themselves up to Kedah if they have rented a car, hail a taxicab or hop onto one of the many bus companies in Peninsular Malaysia. Unlike most cities, the buses en-route to Alor Setar are air-conditioned. Should you decide to take the bus, you can purchase tickets at the various bus terminals in the major cities of Malaysia. You also have the option to take a train to the city of Alor Setar, courtesy of the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) railway company, which will take you to the Central Business District of the city. You can purchase railway passes directly from the train station or online.
The Sultan Abdul Halim Airport is a state-of-the-art airport located 15 kilometers north from the city of Alor Setar. As of today, the airport only caters to domestic flights courtesy of Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia.
Passenger ferries are provided by Jetty Kuala Kedah and services regular trips to and from Langkawi. However, the jetty is located some 25 kilometers away from Alor Setar so you will need to take a bus or a taxi from the jetty to get to the city.
Where to stay
During my last stay in Alor Setar I booked a hotel room at the Seri Malaysia Hotel Alor Setar.
Main Attractions of Alor Setar
Menara Alor Setar
Considered as the most prominent landmark of the city, the Menara Alor Setar is located at the heart of the city and serves as a symbol of the rapid development of the city and the entire state of Kedah as well as a telecommunications tower. Visitors can climb up to the top of the tower to take in a spectacular and breath-taking view of the entire city of Alor Setar.
The Zahir Mosque is the state mosque of Kedah and has become an architectural landmark of the city. Built in the tradition of Moorish architecture, it is one of the largest and grandest mosques in Malaysia and the site where the annual Koran reading competition in Kedah is held. If you do plan on visiting the mosque, make sure that you first obtain permission from the Religious Department of the city and observe the dress code being implemented. Balai Nobat. This is the home of the sacred instruments used by the Kedah Royal Orchestra. These instruments are so sacred and special that it is only being used and played during royal ceremonies such as company inaugurations, weddings and funerals, hence the name.
Also known as the “Great Hall” in Kedah, this structure serves as a testimony of long-standing historical and cultural relationship between Kedah and Thailand.
Once serving as the royal palace of the Sultan of Kedah, the Royal museum is now home to various artifacts unique to the Sultanate of Kedah, as well as a State Art Gallery where an extensive collection of paintings, photographs, antiques and traditional arts and crafts from the Sultanate are housed. Moreover, it offer collections showcasing Thailand’s influence over the Sultanate which includes traditional artifacts originating from the ancient Hindu-Buddhist civilization from the Bujang Valley.
Prime Minster Mahathir’s Birthplace
The birthplace of former Malay Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad who was born on 10 July 1925 at a house near the Kampung Seberang Perak.