Kedah-famously known as the "Rice-bowl of Malaysia"-is located on the northwest corner of Peninsular Malaysia. Its landscape is dominated by the flat expanse of paddy fields against a backdrop of rolling hills. The serene environs of Kedah can easily lull one's senses and provide a welcome respite from the fast-paced life of big cities.
Kedah is a site of great archaeological importance. In the Bujang
Valley are the sprawling remains of a Hindu kingdom believed to date
back to the 4th century A.D. The place is also known for its
sun-drenched islands that comprise the legendary archipelago of
Langkawi. No wonder that Kedah attracts hordes of tourists from all over
Kedah is the site of the oldest civilization of Peninsular Malaysia.
The Bujang Valley has remains of a Hindu-Buddhist kingdom that dates
back to the 4th century AD. In the 7th and 8th centuries, Kedah was
under the domination of Srivijaya, and was later under Thailand, until
the rise of the Malay sultanate of Malacca in the 15th century. The
establishment of Islam in Kedah is due to Malacca's influence.
In the 17th century, Kedah was attacked by the Portuguese after their
conquest of Melaka, and by Aceh. By the end of the 18th century the
Thailand threat arose once more. Fearing renewed domination by its
northern neighbors, Kedah appealed to the British for assistance. As
inducements to a commitment, Kedah ceded first Penang (1796) and then
the adjoining strip of coastal land (1800) to the British. Nonetheless,
Kedah fell to the Thais in 1821. Thailand transferred their sovereignty
to the British in 1909. With the exception of the period of occupation
by the Japanese during World War II, Kedah remained under British
influence until independence. Kedah was a reluctant addition to the
Federation of Malayasiain 1948.
Kedah has tropical Monsoon Climate, with temperature varying between 21°C
and 32°C. It is generally dry and warm from January to March, and
wet from April to December. Humidity is high throughout the year. Annual
rainfall varies from 2,032 mm to 2540 mm.
Best Time to Visit
January to March is the best time to go to Kedah, as it is relatively
dry during this period. You can also go in August or September at the
time of Lumut festival.
Tourist Attractions / Places to See
Alor Setar: The capital of Kedah has many modern structures and
shopping complexes of historical significance. Its long association with
Thailand is evident in the Thai temples around the city. Nonetheless, it
is still very much a Malay city with fewer Chinese and Indians than
other west coast cities.
Bujang Valley (Lembah Bujang): The Bujang Valley is a sprawling
historical site located in the foothills of Gunung Jerai. It is the
richest archaeological area in Malaysia. Archaeological research
indicates that an ancient Hindu-Buddhist kingdom ruled here as early as
300 AD. More than 50 ancient tomb temples, called candi, have been
Gunung Jerai: Gunung Jerai (1,200 meters) is the highest spot in
the northern region of Peninsular Malaysia. The peak of Gunung Jerai
offers breathtaking views and can be reached via the nature trail or by
Balai Nobat (Hall of Drums): Balai Nobat belongs to the old
Sultanate of Kedah. The Hall features the nobat, the instruments of the
royal orchestra. It comprises drums, gongs and a traditional flute.
These instruments are played on special ceremonial occasions only. The
musical skills of the nobat are generally passed on from father to son.
Langkawi: The Langkawi archipelago is made up of a cluster of 99
islands, sprinkled just off the shores of the Northern Kedah State in
Peninsular Malaysia. During low tide, the number of islands expands to
104. Langkawi island is the largest of them all and is a very popular
Balai Besar: Situated near Balai Nobat, Balai Besar is an
impressive wooden pavilion, built in 1898, which embodies certain
aspects of Thai architecture. This 'great hall' is used frequently for
royal and state functions.
Masjid Zahir: Officially opened in 1912, this mosque is an
architectural landmark. With black domes set off against slender
minarets, the Masjid Zahir is one of the most elegant and aesthetically
pleasing mosques in Malaysia.
Pantai Merdeka: Located 60 km south of Alor Setar, this 1 km
beach is a popular day spot for bathing and also offers both diving and
sport fishing off its coast.
The duty free island of Langkawi is a major shopping attraction in
Kedah. "Pekan Rabu"-literally meaning Wednesday Market-
located in the middle of Alor Setar is well-known among the local
population and tourists. Most tourists visiting Alor Setar make it a
point to shop around at the Pekan Rabu Complex.
How to Reach Kedah
Kedah can be reached by road, rail and sea. The North-South Expressway
transverse the State of Kedah, thus enabling just a 5-hour ride from
Kuala Lumpur to Alor Setar. Similarly the national railroad track also
passes through the state with various stops along the way.
Malaysia Airlines, the national carrier flies several times a day from
Kuala Lumpur to Alor Setar and Langkawi. There's also weekly direct
flight from Osaka, Japan to Langkawi.
High-speed ferries operate from Kuala Kedah to Langkawi throughout the
day. There are also regular ferry services from Penang as well as
Saturn, Southern Thailand.