Alor Setar

Travel Guide Asia Malaysia Kedah Alor Setar

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Introduction

Alor Setar is the state capital of Kedah, on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. It is arguably the state capital on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia that is richest in Malay culture. Despite the development of recent decades and being the state capital, tourists are able to enjoy the scenic view of paddy plantations around the outskirts of the city.

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Sights and Activities

Wat Nikrodharam - The capital's biggest, most prominent, and most architecturally impressive Buddhist temple complex strategically located in downtown Alor Setar. Built in Thai temple architecture with gilded roofs and colourful mosaic walls, it is a peaceful oasis for the city dwellers and caters to the mainly Chinese and Thai Buddhist populations.
Balai Seni Negeri (State Art Gallery) - The Kedah State Art Gallery was set up with the objective of fostering interest in and an appreciation of art in the state. Its collection includes paintings, photographs, musical instruments and handicrafts. Temporary exhibitions are held at regular intervals.
Balai Nobat (Nobat Gallery) - This building houses the sacred instruments of the Royal orchestra, played only during royal ceremonies such as inaugurations, weddings and funerals. The instruments consist of three drums, a gong and a flute, peculiar to the haunting strains of "nobat" music.
Balai Besar (Royal Hall) - Located towards the back of the Kota Star Palace complex is the Balai Besar. Its initial purpose was as a Balai Rong Seri or Balai Penghadapan (audience hall). Built in 1735 by the 19th Sultan of Kedah, Sultan Muhammad Jiwa Zainal Adilin Muazzam Shah, this was a lovely building with wood pillars, roofs and flooring. Unfortunately, the building was badly damaged in 1770 when the Bugis armada attacked the place, and ruined even further by the Siamese in 1821. It was, however, refurbished in 1896 to prepare for the weddings of the reigning Sultan's children. Besides weddings, the Balai Besar was also used for official ceremonies and other royal events.
Mahathir Birthplace - The fourth Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammad, was born on 10 July, 1925 at the house near the ice factory at Kampung Seberang Perak.
Masjid Zahir (Zahir State Mosque) - The Zahir Mosque occupies a site of approximately 124,412 square feet. Its center hall (Prayer Hall) measures 62 x 62 square feet and is surrounded by verandahs of 8 feet wide with 4 mezzanine areas, each of which has a dome. The main dome is located at the north-east of the mosque building. It is one of the grandest and oldest mosques in Malaysia.
Menara Alor Setar (Alor Setar Tower) - Located in the heart of Alor Setar, this tower, standing at 165.5 metres tall, is a prominent and modern landmark that signifies the rapid development in the state of Kedah. It functions as both a telecommunications tower and a tourist attraction. In the tower is a rotating restaurant named Restoran Sri Angkasa.
Kota Kuala Kedah (Kuala Kedah Fort) - Kota Kuala Kedah at the mouth of the Kedah River is also known as Kota Kuala Bahang. Kota means fort and this was actually a fort that was built to ward off Kedah's enemies who came from the sea. It is said to have been built by stone masons especially brought in from India. Today, it is a fishing village, known for the variety of seafood that is served by the numerous restaurants that have since carved their business at the old historic site.
Muzium Padi - This is a museum that teaches all you need to know about paddy and rice; from the process of planting and harvesting, and all the way to the benefits and the many grades of rice. Entrance fee is applicable. The main attraction within the museum is the rotating deck, showcasing a large 360-degree mural depicting the four phases from planting to harvesting. On weekends, you may also experience riding the Malaysia traditional mode of transportation, the cow-caravan or kereta lembu.
Royal House At Lorong Shariff (Palace Beside Kedai Runcit) - 2 km from city, displays the most magnificent contemporary Malaysian housing architecture of the 1980s.

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Events and Festivals

  • Thaipusam - This annual Hindu festival commemorates the birthday of Lord Murugan. Over a million devotees and visitors throng Batu Caves on this eventful celebration, every year.
  • Chinese New Year - Chinese make up about a quarter of the total population and in honour of the Chinese New Year, Malaysia has declared the first two days as public holidays. In the Gregorian calendar, Chinese New Year falls on different dates each year, a date between 21 January and 20 February.
  • Hari Raya Aidil Fitri (Eid ul-Fitr) - This Muslim festival marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and is celebrated by 60% of the population. The first two days are public holidays, and most people take extra days off to spend time with family and visit relatives and friends.
  • Mid-Autumn Festival - Alternatively known as the Lantern Festival or Mooncake Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the full moon day (15th day) of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar – usually in September.
  • Deepavali (or Diwali) - A significant Hindu festival also known as the Festival of Lights, celebrating the victory of good over evil. Based on the Hindu luni-solar calendar, Deepavali typically falls between mid-October and mid-November.
  • Christmas - This joyous day is declared a public holiday in Malaysia. Year 2000 census indicates that almost a tenth of the population are Christians.

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Getting There

By Plane

Sultan Abdul Halim Airport (AOR IATA). The only flights into Alor Setar are from Kuala Lumpur by Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Firefly and Malindo Air.

An alternative option for getting to Alor Setar would be to fly into Penang, which has a larger and better served airport, and make your way to Alor Setar by road.

By Train

There is an inter-city train station located in the city that serves trains to all major stations.

By Car

Alor Setar is easily (and most practically) accessible using the North-South Expressway.

By Bus

A bus trip from Kuala Lumpur should cost you around RM40 and will take about 6-7 hours of travelling time. Bus services from Bukit Kayu Hitam are also available for visitors from Thailand.

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Eat

Fishermen's Ikan Kembong, famous warong (roadside eatery) on road to Kuala Kedah, at junction of road to Yan. Place open only from 11AM to 1PM. Real fishermen's cuisine liked by the townfolks.
Laksa Telok Kechai, midway on the Alor Setar - Kuala Kedah road. Famous local rice noodle in fish gravy. Inconspicuous shop, ask locals. Open from 7PM until midnight.
Haddyai Seafoods, Jalan Stadium - Thai & Chinese Style foods.

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Drink

Jus jambu (guava juice).

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Sleep

There are several hotels in Alor Setar, which also includes some comfortable, modern hotels. In addition, there are alternatives to a hotel: home stay houses, located at major residential areas (taman in Malay) such as Taman Uda.

Sentosa Regency Hotel, 250, Jalan Putra, 05100, Alor Setar, Kedah (Opposite Shell Petrol Station in Jalan Putra), ☏ +60 4-7303999. Check-in: 2 PM, check-out: 12 PM. Easily accessible. Free WIFI throughout the hotel, spacious pillerless ballroom and function rooms. One of the famous hawker food streets is within walking distance. RM 118 nett.
Grand Continental Hotel, in the middle of the city, beside Kedah Supermarket and near Pekan Rabu. The hotel is well-known for its food, especially during Ramadan (fasting) month.
Holiday Villa. In the middle of the city, adjacent to City Plaza shopping center. 4-star rating.
Hotel Seri Malaysia. Is located 10 minutes from the city centre, adjacent to Darulaman track and football stadium (home to the state-owned soccer team, Kedah Football Association). Seri Malaysia is a local hotel chain.
StarCity Hotel, ☏ +60 4-7355 888. Is easily accessible and is near the Jalan Putra commercial area. The hotel has complete ported and wireless connectivity throughout its guest rooms, spacious coffee house, ballrooms and function rooms.
Bee Garden Motel, Tel:+60 4 733 5355 or H/P:+60 13 488 7799. Easily accessible. The motel is strategically located (1 min from StarCity Hotel).

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafés are available in cities and major towns. Wi-Fi hotspots can be found in shopping malls, restaurants, food courts and cafés. Many of these hotspots are provided free-of-charge. Internet cafés can also be found in cities and towns.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

Malaysia is on the GSM 900/1800 and UMTS (3G) mobile network. If you have an "unlocked" GSM band mobile phone, you can buy a prepaid SIM card and use it with your phone here for cheaper rates instead of roaming here. Prepaid mobile SIM cards are available cheaply at mobile phone shops and 24-hour convenience stores.

Below are the area codes in Malaysia:

01Mobile Phones (nationwide)
02Singapore (special access code to call Singapore)
03Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Selangor
04Penang, Perlis, Kedah
05Perak
06Negeri Sembilan, Malacca
07Johor
080Brunei (special access code for use in Sabah and Sarawak only)
08xSabah, Sarawak (x determines the region)
09Pahang, Terengganu, Kelantan
1-300Non-geographical numbers (local call rate)
1-800Non-geographical numbers (free call from landline, local call rate from mobile phone)

Area code is not required when calling a number of the same area code. However, it is mandatory when calling from a mobile phone.

There is no charge for receiving calls on any Malaysian phones. Only the caller is charged for the call made. However, if you're on mobile phone roaming service, you will also be charged for any calls received, by your operator.

To dial out of Malaysia, use the international access code 00 (zero zero), followed by the country code, followed by the area code (remove the preceding 0, if any), and finally the telephone number.
e.g. To call London, United Kingdom, dial 00-44-20-xxxx xxxx; or to call Dallas, Texas, United States, dial 00-1-214-xxx xxxx.
For mobile phones, the plus sign "+" can be used as the international access code.
e.g. Using the previous scenario, type +44-20-xxxx xxxx or +1-214-xxx xxxx and press the call button.

The country code for Malaysia is 60. To receive calls from overseas, that person will have to dial the country's international access code, followed by 60 for Malaysia, followed by the area code (remove the preceding 0), followed by the phone number.
e.g. If your prepaid mobile number is 012-1234567, and someone in the United Kingdom were to call you, the number to dial is 00-60-12-1234567. Those calling you from the United States and Canada will have to dial 011-60-12-1234567.

The emergency number is 999 and can be dialled from any phone, free of charge. The worldwide standard emergency number for GSM mobile phones, 112, can also be used on a mobile phone, even without a SIM card. Calls to 112 will be routed to 999 centres.

Post

Pos Malaysia is the national postal service of Malaysia. Rates for sending a standard letter locally is 30 sen (20 gram) to 40 sen (up to 50 gram). International airmail has minimum rates ranging from RM1.00 to RM2.00, depending on destination. It costs 20 sen to send a postcard or aerogramme locally, or 50 sen to send a postcard or aerogramme to anywhere in the world.

Expedited Mail Service (EMS), branded locally as Poslaju, is available for both domestic and international destinations. Domestic EMS has a next day delivery guarantee. International EMS guarantees mails and parcels to be delivered out of the country by the following day. The time required to arrive at its destination will depend on clearance by authorities and the postal service of the destination country. For most countries, delivery of documents can be done in 3 to 5 days.

If you need to receive mails or packages from home, there is Poste Restante service available at all General Post Offices (GPO) in the country. There is one GPO in almost every capital city of every state, and in all federal territories. Mails sent from Singapore and Brunei will be retained for one month while mails from all other places will be kept for two months, after which if unclaimed, will be sent to the Dead Letter Office.

Generally, post offices are open from 8:30am to 5:00pm Monday to Saturday, except the first Saturday of the month. They are closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.

Electricity

Electricity voltage in Malaysia is 240V AC 50Hz. The UK 3-pin plug is the standard used in Malaysia. European 2-pin plug can also be used on the 3-pin socket by inserting a screwdriver (or any hard object that fits) into the earth pin hole to open the live and neutral shutters. However, this practice can be hazardous.

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This is version 4. Last edited at 15:14 on Nov 4, 19 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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