Top 9 Alor Setar Attractions (2021)

Alor Setar is the capital of the Malaysian state of Kedah. It is the second-largest city in the state, after Sungai Petani. The name Alor Setar is derived from two Malay words: alor, which means small stream, and setar, which is the plum mango. Alor Setar is home to many attractions that are popular among locals and foreign visitors alike.

1. Masjid Zahir, Alor Setar

The royal mosque of Kedah, Masjid Zahir, is situated in the state of Alor Setar. It is one of the grandest and oldest mosques in Malaysia that has been voted as one of the top 10 most beautiful mosques in the world. Inspired by the Azizi Mosque of Bandar Langkat, North Sumatra, this mosque that was built in 1912 was once a burial cemetery for Kedah warriors who died defending the city from Siamese invasions in 1821. However, today, this magnificent mosque awes people with its grand and elegant architecture, with its striking black domes as its main feature. They are designed with Malay-Islamic influence where you would be able to see the five pillars of Islam being represented by the five domes. Don’t forget to take your time to explore the exquisite inner architecture of the main praying hall too. The highlight is the inner dome that is beautifully adorned with carvings of verses from the Holy Quran.

2. Alor Setar Tower (Menara Alor Setar)

Menara Alor Setar is not only recognised as a popular tourist attraction in the north but also as the third tallest telecommunication tower in Malaysia. This 165.5 meters tall skyscraper is a working telecommunication and broadcasting tower that is maintained by Telekom Malaysia Berhad to serve the nation.
The tower’s shape mirrors serumpun padi or tied rice clusters dedicated to Kedah as the state is known as the Jelapang Padi or Malaysia’s “rice bowl” of Malaysia. This structure is supported by an enormous pillar that implies tiang seri, which signifies the strength of the people of Kedah.
Apart from its elegant exterior, do you know you can observe the whole of Alor Star and its surroundings at the observation deck? Located 88 meters above sea level, you would be able to peek through every nook and cranny of the city through automated binoculars that are available to all visitors here. Two glass box units were also constructed on the Open Deck at the height of 105 meters to give visitors a novel “‘STAR VIEW” experience. It is definitely not something for the faint-hearted!

3. Kedah Paddy Museum

The museum is dedicated to rice and paddy, the world’s most important crop, and was erected on land owned by the Malaysian Agricultural Development Authority. The Paddy Museum is huge, with three levels and a total area of 12,000 square meters. The structure of the building is intended to represent bushels of harvested rice stalks. This museum explains the process of cultivating paddy and exhibits numerous rice varieties as well as the equipment and tools used in paddy cultivation throughout history and in various nations. There are also several photo locations where you may snap photos in costume and edit them to incorporate a paddy field background. However, the highlight of the building is the 360° realistic 3D mural paintings. It will be a fascinating visit if you are interested in history and agriculture, particularly paddy.

4. Mount Keriang (Gunung Keriang)

Mount Keriang is 217.92 meters high ancient limestone hill that dates back to the Permian and Early Triassic conodonts in northwestern Peninsular Malaysia. It is located in the middle of a rice field close to the Kedah Paddy Museum. It is about 2 hours from Alor Setar, the capital city of Kedah. By walking along the trails with concrete railings, it is possible to hike up to the summit within 30 minutes. The view from the top of the mountain will remind you why Kedah is known as the “rice bowl” of Malaysia. Unlike everywhere else, an early morning hike will allow you to watch the golden sun slowly rise over the green paddy fields. The breathtaking sunrise from this vantage point is not to be missed.

5. Rumah Kelahiran Tun Dr. Mahathir

Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, better known as Tun. M was a Malaysian politician and medical doctor who served as the Prime Minister for two terms. Rumah Kelahiran Tun Dr. Mahathir is a museum dedicated to several of his contributions and services, including guiding the country’s transformation into an industrialized nation. The museum is located in Jalan Kebun, the town where he was brought up. The museum is divided into two sections: the birth house of Tun Mahathir and the gallery building, which displays Tun Mahathir’s personal possessions. The museum depicts his life from childhood till he became a politician and then his retirement due to health concerns. The museum retains the allure and ambiance of the 1960s and 1970s. All of his admirers and followers would enjoy a visit to the museum.

6. The Nobat Hall (Balai Nobat)

This three-level octagonal Balai Nobat building serves as a storage facility for Nobat musical instruments, which are among Malaysia’s oldest and most historic. These musical instruments are played to accompany major ceremonial events such as the coronation, royal funeral as well as other official events. Balai Nobat, which was initially made of timber, was restored by the late Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah using stone and metal.

7. Wat Nikrodharam Temple

The most significant Buddhist temple in the city is the cross-cultural Wat Nikrodharam Temple located between Telok Wanjah and Jln Stadium, near the roundabout. The architecture of the wat features strong Thai elements with minor Chinese motifs. Both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist traditions are practiced and respected here. The best time to visit this wat is during Wesak Day, the full moon day of the Vaisakha month. The temple will be crowded with worshippers from all over the country making their annual pilgrimage to worship and ask for joy and happiness, as well as to offer their gratitude to the gods.

8. Al Bukhary Mosque

Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary, a local businessman who made his fortune in the transportation sector, built Masjid Albukhary as one of his numerous charitable deeds. It is near Albukhary International University and shares space with Kompleks Albukhary, a prominent Islamic center. Muslims visit the mosque for prayers as well as to hear sermons and religious talks that could help them unwind. Non-Muslims are also welcomed to photograph in the mosque as long as they adhere to the dress codes. You should pay a visit to this mosque to sense the tranquillity.

9. Blue Lagoon

If you’re looking for something to do in a tiny town, look no further. Head to Blue Lagoon, a lake that will take your breath away. Depending on the time of day and the weather, the color of the lake changes from blue to greyish. The primary irrigation system for the neighboring paddy fields is responsible for the blue water. On a cloudy day, the lake will appear greyish and bright blue on a sunny day. So, check the weather app and come to take a photo of the lake in the color of your choice. The stunning reflection of the sky can be perfectly captured if the camera is placed at the right angle.

Alor Setar is a pleasant city with a welcoming population. Though it is not as well-known as other Malaysian cities, it retains its rural beauty and the northern Malay dialect. Here in Alor Setar, culture is preserved in landmarks, history is presented in museums, and magnificent nature can be seen virtually anywhere. So take a chance and visit the city that has been home to many national leaders and celebrities.