Alor Setar is the state capital of Kedah, otherwise known as the rice bowl of Malaysia. It is one of the major states in the northern part of Malaysia where it is one of the gateways heading out towards Thailand. One of the significant factors about Alor Setar is that it is known for its rich Malay culture.
Unlike other state capitals, Alor Setar is not as bustling with activities and traffic. Alor Setar is often the transport hub for travelers to get to other places like Langkawi Island and towards the north to Thailand.
Facts about Alor Setar
- Currency: MYR (Malaysian Ringgit)
- Dialling code: to call the fixed lines in Alor Setar, you will need to dial +604 before the telephone number.
- Airport: To fly into Alor Setar, you can do so via the Sultan Abdul Halim Airport.
- Airport Tax: applies for all commercial flights
- Distance from airport to city centre: The airport is about 13kms away from the centre of Alor Setar
- Temperature: the city enjoys mainly hot weather ranging between 25 and 36 degrees Celsius throughout the year
- Climate and Weather: Tropical with high humidity
- Common languages: Bahasa Malaysia, English Language, Chinese and Tamil
To get to the city centre of Alor Setar from the airport, you can hail a taxi which starts from about RM45 per ride. Otherwise, you can choose any of the ride sharing options like Uber and Grab which are easily available.
Highlights of Alor Setar
As Alor Setar is mostly known for its culture and religion, you can expect to see a lot of these structures around the city and its suburbs. Among the highlights here include:
- Wat Nikrodharam – This is one of the most significant Buddhist temples in the city and known to be in the norther region using Thai temple designs
- Balai Seni Negeri – The State Art Gallery is the place to go if you are looking to learn more about the arts and crafts of Kedah
- Nobat Gallery – This is where the sacred instruments used by the Royal orchestra are stored. Definitely one of the highlights of the Malay culture
- Royal Hall – Known as the Balai Besar was historically used as a place to seek an audience. today, it is used for official royal events.
- The birthplace of Tun Mahathir Mohamad – this is an iconic location that marks the birth of the fourth prime minister of Malaysia.
- Menara Alor Star – This is the landmark for anyone coming to Alor Star which can be seen from almost anywhere around the city center.
- Muzium Padi – this is where you get to learn about the local agricultural practices which puts the state as the leading rice producer of the region
- Chinese temples – visit the Tou Mu Kung Temple along Jalan Gangsa and the Kuan Ying Teng Temple.
Foods around Alor Setar
Around Alor Setar, look for the following:
- Ikan Kembong Fishermen
- Laksa Telok Kechai
- Haddyai Seafoods
- Nasi Kandar
- Nasi Lemak
Hotel & Apartment stay in Alor Setar
Alor Setar’s most expensive places to stay are within the city center itself as it is very convenient and connected. Jalan Langgar and the intersection with Jalan Sultan Badlishah is where you can find places like the Holiday Villa Hotel and Suites Alor Setar. Meanwhile, new developments like the Bellview Alor Setar are among the up and coming new areas that offer places to stay as well.
At The Sentosa Regency Hotel, prices start from RM118 per night while located in within the city center is Hotel Seri Malaysia which is an affordable accommodation choice from the nationwide network of Seri Malaysia hotels. Another popular cheap place to stay is at the Bee Garden Motel which is known for its location which is very convenient. Here is also where you can stay at many home stay choices located in Taman Uda, a common favourite among tourists.
More accommodation options in Kulim
Further out in Kulim, there are also many choices of affordable accommodation that includes Tune Hotel Kulim operated by Tune Group, with promotion rates going as low as RM0.99sen per night. Motel Poon Soon Green Park, Rose N Lily Motel and Sri Impiana Inn also offers rooms that start from below RM99 per night. Other popular choices include Kulim Tune Homestay, Merak Hotel and Kulim Inn.
The price range for rental of rooms and apartments starts around RM800 per month for a 3 bedroom apartment within the city center while this rate is lesser around the outskirts which are around RM600 per month.
Entertainment, Commercial and Education Centers
The most popular educational institution here is the Albukhary International University. This university takes up a large area within Alor Setar circulated by Jalan Langgar and Jalan Tun Razak, 2 of the most important roads here. As such, it is expected that rooms and apartments around these areas are quite in demand as they are usually rented by students from all over the world.
Shopping most popular source of leisure
In terms of entertainment, Alor Setar does not have much nightlife mainly due to the conservative nature of the state. The most recent shopping malls here is include the Souq Al-Bukhary while other popular centers include the Alor Star Mall, the Star Parade, City Plaza Alor Setar which is connected to the Holiday Villa Hotel and Tesco Hypermarket which is located in Bandar Baru Mergong. Meanwhile, the Aman Central Mall has cinemas and a department store when it is completed as well as the Mydin Hypermarket located in Taman Saga.
Government Offices in Alor Setar
As Alor Setar is the main administrative center of Kedah, there are several government offices around here. The Bangunan Persekutuan Alor Setar is located along Jalan Langgar while the Bangunan Wisma Persekutuan is at the opposite end along the Persiaran Sultan Abdul Hamid. Around these areas are where you can find many offices and corporate spaces located.
Architectural wonders of the north
The architecture of Alor Setar is very traditional. This is mainly because it is home to the Balai Seni Negari, Balai Nobat, Balai Besar while there are many buildings which have Thai motifs due to the close proximity with the northern neighbor.
Transportation around Alor Setar
As compared to other capitals around Malaysia, Alor Setar is very easy to get around without the need to use public transportation. Taxis are easily available around the town center and especially at entertainment outlets like shopping malls and hotels. Bus services are quite limited to inter-state express.
Mat Rempit/ Lepak Culture rampant
The city center of Alor Setar offers a lot of interesting places to visit which include the birthplace of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, notably the most successful prime minister of Malaysia.
Thursday nights are very exiting nights mainly because it is where the Mat Rempits come out in numbers. The illegal racing motorcycles will come out and buzz around the likes of Jalan Pegawai, Jalan Kancut, Jalan Lencong Barat and Jalan Putra where they will perform stunts with their daredevil skills. Due to his, they ‘attract’ a lot of youngsters who come out in groups to watch the stunts. This is known as the ‘lepak’ culture.