Located up north of Peninsula Malaysia bordering Perlis, Penang and Perak is beautiful and tranquil Kedah (also known by its honorific Darul Aman or “Abode of Safety”). Since it produces half the nation’s rice, this rather sparsely populated state is referred to as Negeri Jelapang Padi, or “the rice bowl of Malaysia.” In addition to being the location of one of Malaysia’s most picturesque islands, Langkawi, Kedah is also endowed with a lush natural environment. Anyone passing through will be amazed by the sight of vast paddy fields.
Other than Langkawi, it may seem like there’s nothing else to do in Kedah. Well, you are mistaken. Whether you are passing by on the way to Langkawi or you are making Kedah your travel destination, here is a list of wonderful places that you must visit when you are there.
1. Zahir Mosque
Zahir Mosque is Malaysia’s oldest and largest mosque, having been constructed in 1912 by Sultan Muhammad Jiwa Zainal Abidin II. It is even listed as one of the top 10 most beautiful mosques in the world. Its structure was modelled after the Azizi Mosque in North Sumatra. From far, the dome appears to be black but upon close inspection, you will see that it is actually a dark ruby red colour. How amazing is that? This remarkable architectural landmark, which is situated in Alor Setar is a must-see for history buffs and anyone who admire beautiful architectural creations.
Also known as Kedah Tower and Darul Aman Tower, the Alor Setar Tower is the second tallest telecommunication tower in Malaysia at a height of 165.6 metres. Its design was inspired by the state’s nickname; hence the tower’s structure looks like tied rice clusters to represent ‘Serumpun Padi’. Visitors can go up the tower to the observation deck that is 88 meters above sea level. They have also recently added in a unique attraction called STAR VIEW which is two units of glass box on the Open Deck. If you are not afraid of heights, this would be a fun visit!
It only makes sense that a museum devoted to the rice plant would be constructed in Kedah. This museum is the first paddy museum in Malaysia and the fourth in the world. The other three countries that have a paddy museum is Japan, Germany, and the Philippines. This enormous museum, which is made up of three levels and covers 12,000 square metres, is home to a variety of artefacts and information. It is not difficult to recognise the museum – the paddy plant arrangement on the museum’s roof gives the museum’s façade a very distinctive look. The main highlight of the paddy museum is a 360-degree diorama showing panoramic views of the paddy fields.
For those of you looking for some adventure, head over to The Tree Top Walk – it is located about 30 minutes away from Kulim town. Built inside the Gunung Inas Forest Reserve, it is a 925 metres long canopy walk that is elevated to 26 metres above the ground. Visitors will have a bird’s-eye view of the forest as they walk through the bridge. If you are looking to do more than just walking, you can try out the other activities that they offer such as flying fox, nature hunt, abseiling, river crossing, etc.
The Ulu Legong Hot Spring is one of the major attractions in Kedah. An ideal location for families to relax and bond, many people like to go here in the late evenings because of the hot spring’s warmth. It is located about 2 hours’ drive from Alor Setar, so you might want to plan your trip accordingly. The good news is that they do provide accommodation – VIP chalet, standard chalet, and dormitory – so that you can stay a night here. If you’re going with your family or group of friends, consider reserving a space for a BBQ night party for a memorable experience.
Now this place would definitely make for a fun-filled visit with your kids or friends – the MnM Home Whimsical Houses features a twin leaning house along with other unique houses in the compound. Although it is located in quite a remote area in Changlun, it is worth the visit as there are lots to do here. There are many photo opportunities with the vibrant and quirky buildings, and you wouldn’t want to miss out on taking pictures in the Upside-Down House. There is also a mini zoo that kids would enjoy!
The Bujang Valley Archaeological Site is home to an archaeological museum with artefacts and remains that show that this region had a vibrant civilization from the third to the fourteenth century AD. It was the earliest Malay Hindu-Buddhist kingdom in Peninsular Malaysia, with an area of around 224 sq kilometres. Although Bujang Valley isn’t exactly in the same league as Angkor Wat or Borobodur, it predates them by centuries. A truly historically significant place and well worth visiting for those who enjoy history and learning about Malaysia’s fascinating heritage.
If museums and nature are not your cup of tea, perhaps the Chinatown in Alor Setar would pique your interest. Chinatown in Alor Setar is one of the most preserved in Malaysia – think similar vibes to Ipoh Old Town area. You will find restored shophouses flanking both sides of the narrow streets with a handful of them transformed into coffee shops. Cafes such as Caffe Diem and 23 Twenty Three are great for escaping the hot weather with a cup of iced beverage and sweet treats. You can try Hai Kee Kedai Kopi or Kedai Kopi Lor San if you are looking to dine on local cuisine. And of course, you don’t want to miss out on the murals along Lorong Setar and its surrounding areas!
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