Kedah is one of the ancient states of Malaysia surrounded by rural areas with peaceful environments. Also known as “the rice bowl of Malaysia” for its vast paddy fields, Kedah is reliant on agriculture for its economy, especially on rice production. Surrounded by plains, forests, islands, and mountains, activities for tourists abound, such as mountain trekking, rafting, and other adventures in nature. The main attractions in Kedah are enjoying the hot springs, waterfalls, walking through endless paddy fields, and relaxing at the incredible beaches and islands.
Essential Travel Information to Kedah
Overview of Kedah
How to Get There
Kedah, one of the country’s northern gateway, is 450km from Kuala Lumpur and shares a border with Thailand. To get here, you can travel by air, road, rail or sea transportation.
Malaysia Airlines, Firefly, AirAsia and Malindo Air operate daily flights to Alor Setar from Kuala Lumpur. The Sultan Abdul Halim Airport in Kepala Batas is about 20 minutes’ drive from Alor Setar.
You can take a five-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur to Kedah via the North-South Expressway. Air- conditioned express buses to Kedah can be boarded at the Jalan Duta Bus Terminal and Terminal Bersepadu Selatan in Kuala Lumpur. These buses provide services to Alor Setar, Sungai Petani, Gurun, Jitra, Kulim and Bukit Kayu Hitam. Express buses and taxis are also available from all other states in Malaysia to Kedah and vice versa.
KTMB’s electric train or ETS provides daily services from Kuala Lumpur to Alor Setar. The Senandung Langkawi express train departs from KL Sentral in Kuala Lumpur and stops at major towns in Kedah such as Alor Setar, Sungai Petani and Gurun before proceeding to Haadyai in Thailand.
Visitors heading for Langkawi should disembark at Alor Setar or Arau in Perlis and proceed to the respective jetty terminals to arrange their transfers.
The border town of Bukit Kayu Hitam is the entry point for visitors who are driving from Sadao, Thailand. There is an Immigration Office and checkpoint at the border crossing that is open from 6.00am to midnight (Malaysian time).
Where to Go in Kedah
Beach & Island:
As an island archipelago surrounded by inviting turquoise waters, Langkawi is a duty free paradise,. With the sunset view at several beaches looking like postcard moments, there is no wonder that Langkawi is the main attraction for visitors to Kedah. With excellent diving sites and many other attractions such as Underwater World Langkawi, Pantai Cenang beach, and the Sky Bridge in Pantai Kok where you can walk amongst the mountain tops, Langkawi is a place that never tires. Make sure to rent a vehicle so you can cover the island, and remember to plan time for duty free shopping in the malls.
Nature & Adventure:
Gunung Jerai (Mount Jerai)
Also known as Kedah Peak, get close to nature at Gunung Jerai through the Titi Hayun Recreational Park, the Batu Hampar Forest Eco Park, or the Sungai Teroi Forest Recreational Park. With beautiful waterfalls such as the Alor Naga Waterfall and the Puteri Mandi Fall, a visit here will charge your batteries and reconnect you to your wild side.
Gunung Keriang Recreational Park
Gunung Keriang or Elephant Mountain got its shape from limestone quarrying. Explore the geological wonders within that are 250 million years old, or jump into the bat caves and hear them shriek. The recreational park on the south-eastern side of the hill has well formed walking trails for you to get your dose of nature in a safe way, while the viewing gazebos atop give you a gorgeous view of endless paddy fields.
Pendang Lake Resort
Experience the tranquility of a small town with a rustic style overlooking lake Pendang. Spend an afternoon fishing or riding along the paddy fields and get a natural soak at the Bukit Hijau waterfalls before ending the day at the night market where local delicacies are cheap and plentiful.
Tasik Beris (Beris Dam)
Visit the grape vinyard for the freshest of grape juices, and soak in the tranquility of the lake as you rest by its calm waters. Spend the afternoon fishing or engaging in boating activities. With a multitude of forest trails around the area, coupled with a little animal farm where you can see goats, ostriches, porcupines and peacocks, Beris Dam is a relaxing place to spend a day. Don’t forget to try some durian and cempedak at the fruit orchard before you head home
Ulu Muda Eco Park
Offering wildlife sightings in droves, the Ulu Muda Eco Park boasts birds, reptiles, tapirs and even elephants in their natural habitats. As one of the most remote eco parks in Malaysia, see a part of nature rarely visited by man. Visit limestone caves, hot springs and wildlife hides to get a glimpse of the wild unadulterated by tourists.
Kedah Paddy Museum
Featuring beautiful murals and comprehensive details of the rice growing process, the Paddy Museum is designed to look like bushes of rice stalks being harvested. Learn about different varieties of rice and learn more about the beloved rice that over a billion people eat daily.
One of the oldest and grandest mosques in Malaysia, this state mosque of Kedah has been voted “top 10 most beautiful mosques” in the world.
Kedah State Museum
Housed in an impressive building by Kedah standards, the Kedah State Museum is filled with cultural items and artifacts that bring the history of Kedah and Malaysia to life. With informative and well organised exhibits, get a deeper appreciation for the history of Kedah here. The best part is, admission is free!
Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum
Check out relics from ruins dating back to the 3rd Century AD in the Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum. Situated in a beautiful and secluded valley, relax in the museum grounds after walking around the ruins of the former Hindu-Buddhist civilization that lived here before Islam came to Malaysia.
A border town at the Thai side of the border, get a massage in the day and hunt for the best street foods before partying it up in the vibrant night scene here. You can also visit the Asian Cultural Village and the Dinosaur Park in the day, or drive further up north to visit some of the striking Buddhist temples in the area.
Ulu Legong Hot Spring
The Ulu Legong Hot Spring Recreational Center is one of the rare hot springs that are open 24 hours a day. With water temperatures between 30 to 60 degrees Celsius and a high mineral content in their 5 pools, many locals flock here to kick back and relax, or seek relief from ailments and skin problems by soaking in the hot springs. You can also book a homestay package nearby, and get a tour package to climb Mount Baling.
Alor Setar Tower
One of the most recognizable buildings in Malaysia, the Alor Setar Tower is the most striking building in Alor Setar. With an observation deck at 88m up, get unparallelled bird’s eye views of the city! You can watch the sun set in the distance beyond the horizon, then have dinner at the revolving restaurant for a scenic evening.
Terusan Wan Mat Saman (Wan Mat Saman Aqueduct)
A 35km structure linking Alor Setar to Gurun in the south of Kedah, the Wan Mat Saman Aqueduct transported water from Sungei Kedah across the state to boost rice production. A key factor in the modernisation of Kedah that boosted its agricultural prowess, this longest aqueduct in Malaysia runs along Route 1, with buildings dotted along its length.
Where to Eat
Market: Pekan Rabu (Wednesday Market)
This is the best place in Kedah to buy traditional snacks, clothing, and souvenirs. With a food-court on the ground floor, traditional gifts and craft on the second floor, and local food produce to buy on the top floor, make sure to stop by here before you head home from your trip!
What to Eat
The pride of Kedahans must be their Laksa Kedah which is both sour and sweet from the fish based asam gravy. Do also try their Gulai Nangka, a jackfruit curry served with steamed rice. If you have a sweet tooth, try the Bahulu cermai (sponge cake) with black coffee, dodol (a sweet sticky cake), and Kuih Karas, a snack that resembles dried noodles.
Where to Stay
With Alor Setar and Langkawi as the main populated areas of Kedah, you can find a range of accomodations to suit your budget at each location. If you are camping or intending to visit some of the resorts further upstate, make sure to stay at the local resorts or homestays to maximise your adventure!
How to Get Around
You can get around by renting a car, or by hailing taxis. You can also use Grab to get around.
Where is Kedah
Kedah is one of the northernmost states of Peninsular Malaysia, just south of the Thai border at Yala. It is also northwest of Penang.
How to Go to Langkawi
Langkawi Airport (LGK) is the main airport serving Langkawi. You can board a flight to Langkawi from KL, Penang, Subang and Singapore.
If you prefer overland travel, you can take a ferry to Langkawi from Penang, Kuala Perlis, and Kuala Kedah, and Tamalang. If you are travelling from KL, the fastest way to travel overland would be to take the bus to Kuala Perlis, before taking the 1 hour 15 min ferry ride to Langkawi. This is the shortest and fastest ferry ride if you worry about being seasick. You can also take the train to Kuala Perlis from KL, but the journey will require multiple transfers.
If you are driving, take the North-South highway north towards Alor Setar. Note that the drive is about 450km and will take close to 5 hours from KL.
How to Go to Dan Nok
Dan Nok or Dannok is a little border town just across the Malaysia-Thailand border. From Alor Setar, take the North-South Highway or route E1 to the Bukit Kayu Hitam immigration checkpoint. Right across the border is Dan Nok.