Exploring Kedah: An Underrated Destination in Malaysia

Exploring Kedah: My 4D3N Itinerary to this Underrated Destination in Malaysia

How about a trip to the “rice bowl” of Malaysia?

Whether you’re a fellow Malaysian like me, or a foreigner who is familiar with Malaysia, you’d likely agree that Kedah is often overlooked as a travel destination within the country. Bordering Thailand, Kedah is one of Malaysia’s northernmost states, most commonly known for its paddy fields, earning it the nickname “rice bowl of Malaysia”! Additionally, Kedah is home to a significant Malaysian Siamese population, with numerous stunning Siamese temples, also known as wats, scattered throughout the state.

A couple of months back, my friend and I set out on a road trip to Kedah from Kuala Lumpur by car. Here’s my itinerary for exploring the diverse state, perfect for travellers who enjoy both urban adventures and nature escapades. Keep reading to find out more! 

Fun fact: The popular Langkawi island is also part of Kedah!

Also read: 12 Dreamy Treehouses in Malaysia You Can Book on Airbnb

My Kedah itinerary and travel tips

Day 1: Exploring places to eat in Kedah, Malaysia

There are several transportation options to reach Kedah, including train and plane. However, I recommend driving here, as it is the most convenient. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to relish the gorgeous view of paddy fields, too.

Our first stop was McDota in Sungai Petani, Kedah. This is an old school fast food restaurant that has been serving fried chicken since the 1980s. I found the concept intriguing while researching places to eat in Kedah, as there are not many longstanding fast-food joints in Kuala Lumpur aside from the well-known chains like McDonald’s and KFC.

Although the restaurant looks a little bit shabby, the fried chicken and fries here are quite delicious! They remind me of those canteen food I had back in elementary school.

We then visited the food court just a few steps away from McDota — Medan Selera Jalan Dewa. There are numerous food choices here, we ended up having the asam laksa (sour and spicy fish based rice noodle soup) and the wolf herring fish ball noodles. On the way to our hotel, I got myself some grilled corn and nira (palm nectar) from one of the roadside stalls.

P.S. It’s my first time trying palm nectar, it’s sweet and surprisingly refreshing!

Afterwards, we checked into our hotel — The Leverage Lite Hotel, located in between Kuala Kedah and Alor Setar. The price for this two-star hotel is approximately RM100 (~S$28) per night. We selected this hotel primarily for its location and affordability. However, please be aware that it does not have an escalator, and guests will need to use the stairs. Fret not; there are many other accommodations in the city to consider.


For dinner, we stumbled upon a hidden gem in Kuala Kedah — Moo Noi. This restaurant, nestled in an everyday house, served up delicious Thai food with a homey ambiance. Their Thai milk tea, tom yum soup and pad kra pao (basil stir-fry) are must-tries! What’s even better is that the prices are quite reasonable, totaling only RM42(~S$12) for three dishes and two drinks.

Day 2: Visiting unique temples and continuing our gastronomic journey in Kedah

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After grabbing some kimbap for a quick breakfast from the convenience store, we went to our first destination of the day: Wat Bottle, also known as Wat Charok Padang in Sik. As the name suggests, from the gazebo and toilet to the Buddhist temple itself, this place is beautifully decorated with a hundred thousand green and brown glass bottles. There’s also a bottle-like gate in front of the temple, which looks quite impressive.

It is also home to a Siamese school, and visitors can interact with cute animals like ducklings and dogs. Plus, entrance to the temple is free!

Then, we proceeded to our next destination: Rock Village, which is also situated in the Sik district. This place is more than just a tourist attraction — it’s also a camping site with a cafe! As we drove into the area, we passed by rows of para rubber trees, a rare sight for city folk like us.

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Rock Village is perched atop a hill. To get there, we first parked at the designated area, then paid RM8 (~S$2) per person for a ride up in their four-wheeled car.

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The view from Rock Village is absolutely breathtaking! For nature enthusiasts, consider staying at least a night here. In addition to camping sites, they also offer high-end rooms for a more luxurious stay. Since we didn’t plan to stay overnight, we departed after taking some pictures and soaking in the view for a while.

TripZilla Tip: Rock Village is open everyday from 7am to 7pm, so make sure to time your visit accordingly! 

Next, we had lunch at Reuf Modern Eatery, a lesser-known culinary gem in Alor Setar. This restaurant is the first in Kedah that features a live kitchen concept. Here, you can take a glimpse at the chefs preparing your dishes from start to finish. Each dish is well presented — pretty much like fine dining, but at a more affordable price point.

We indulged in two mocktails, a serving of Wild Herbs Pesto Shrimp (pesto pasta), Braised Lamb Shank with Heritage Nasi Ulam Kedah, Taco Beef, and Truffle Cheese Fries. Our total bill came to around RM150 (~S$42). For those seeking a unique and upscale dining experience, this is the place to be.

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In the evening, we visited Wat Lampam, also known as the White Temple in Alor Setar. The premises feature several buildings and are home to a Siamese population in the area. The intricate temples, meticulously cared for, require visitors to remove their shoes before entering. Similar to Wat Charok Padang, visitors can interact with dogs, sit in front of the temple, and simply relish the moment. Entry to Wat Lampan is completely free, too.

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On the way back to the city centre, we were treated to an awe-inspiring sight of the sun setting amidst the lush paddy fields. If you’re driving in Kedah, this is the breathtaking scenery you can expect during the golden hour!

For Day 2’s dinner, we opted for a visit to a renowned nasi kandar eatery in Alor Setar — Nasi Kandar Danial. We were surprised to find a queue forming in front of the stall (it’s popular, indeed)! Here, you can complement your rice with a variety of side dishes such as fried chicken, vegetables, seafood, and eggs, along with various curries and savoury gravies. Our top pick was definitely the fried chicken — crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and bursting with aroma and flavour!

Day 3: City walking around Alor Setar

After having breakfast at a Taiwanese restaurant near the hotel, we began our journey on Day 3 in Kedah. Our first stop of the day was The Blue Lagoon Alor Setar. The Blue Lagoon refers to the picturesque blue pond nestled amidst the paddy fields, making it a perfect picture-taking spot! However, it’s important to note that there are no fences or protective measures around; thus, remember to be extra cautious when exploring the area. 

TripZilla Tip: While I’m unsure if this place is currently closed, according to locals, authorities are planning to construct a bridge in the vicinity. 

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We headed to Dataran Alor Setar (Alor Setar square) afterwards. Here, you’ll be greeted by a view of the landmark — Alor Setar Tower or Menara Alor Setar, and Nobat Hall Alor Setar. The former is a 165.5-meter-tall telecommunications tower, and the tallest structure in Kedah. Visitors can head up to the observation deck and revel in the panoramic views of the city. Nobat Hall Alor Setar, on the other hand, was built more than a century ago to store royal musical instruments. 

In addition, a spectacular black mosque with Moorish-inspired domes, known as Masjid Zahir, sits right opposite of the square. Besides that, there are also other attractions like the Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Gallery and Kedah Royal Museum nearby, catering to museum enthusiasts.

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After taking pictures of and with the iconic Alor Setar Tower, we explored the Aman Central shopping centre for a bit. This massive shopping haven is just a few minutes’ walk away from the aforementioned Dataran Alor Setar.

TripZilla Tip: I also recommend visiting the Gigi Coffee outlet in the mall, as it offers a direct view of the Alor Setar Tower!

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If you enjoy photography walks, exploring Alor Setar’s Pekan Cina and Pekan Melayu is a must! These areas are adorned with numerous vibrant art murals, showcasing figures such as Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who was born in Kedah, and Tunku Abdul Rahman, the country’s first prime minister. Not to mention a plethora of scrumptious food and dessert options around the area.

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TripZilla Tip: For photography lovers, I highly recommend a visit to Pekan Buah, a colourful building with stalls selling various fruits and vegetables. Another hidden photography treasure is the Old Alor Setar Railway Bridge

When dinner time arrived, we spontaneously chose to dine at Restoran Aminres Ukir Mall. I particularly like how diners can enjoy a splendid view of the Alor Setar Tower while dining outdoors here. The restaurant offers a variety of local dishes, ranging from kerabu maggi to satays. 

While driving back to the hotel, we chanced upon the Kuala Kedah night market (Pasar Malam Kuala Kedah). This bustling market features a wide array of delicious Malay delicacies, with cheerful greetings from the cordial vendors. We satisfied our cravings by buying more food before calling it a day.

Day 4: Savouring our last bites in Kedah and a serene temple visit

Before our departure, we enjoyed breakfast at a noodle stall located in Kedai Kopi Town House in Alor Setar. The noodle stall is famous for its remarkably cheap prices and decent flavours. Would you believe that a bowl of their dry wonton noodles costs only RM2.50 (~S$0.70)? It’s absolutely incredible. It’s also likely the cheapest noodles you can find in town!

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Our last destination of this trip before heading home is the Temple of City Deity Sg Petani – East Mountain Wei Yan Altar in Sungai Petani. It was fascinating to see a large group of statues surrounding three massive Buddha and Guan Yin statues within this Buddhist temple. Additionally, the temple boasts a peaceful zen garden adorned with charming panda statues, as well as a large koi pond. Similar to the previous temples we visited, this place exudes both beauty and tranquillity.

Also read: Penang vs Langkawi: Which Island Destination in Malaysia Is for You?

So that concludes my road trip to Kedah, Malaysia. While it may not be the most comprehensive and perfect itinerary covering every corner in Kedah, those who are new to the area can certainly use it as a helpful reference. For travellers who have already been to most of the popular cities in Malaysia, I highly recommend you to explore this quaint state for a one-of-a-kind experience! 

All images are credited to Cecelia Chang.

About Author

Cecelia Chang
Cecelia Chang

Born in a new village in Selangor, Malaysia, Cecelia loves three things in life: Good food, good views, and good deals. She also enjoys exploring new places and experiencing new things on her travels.