Alor Setar / Malaysia


Alor Setar | Alor Star

Alor Setar (also: Alor Star) is situated in the northwest of peninsular Malaysia. It's the capital of the Malaysian federal state of Kedah. The place is situated at the banks of Kedah River, which only a few kilometers west flows into the Strait of Malacca.

'Alor Setar | Downtown' by Asienreisender

The inner city of Alor Setar. Image by Asienreisender, 9/2010

Alor Setar is a very modernist Malay city of our days. The place is not too small; the core part of the town has already 120,000 inhabitants, and adding the suburbs one counts roughly a population of 360,000 in total. The majority of them are Malay muslims. A strong and influential Chinese minority exists side by side with Indians and a smaller Thai community.

Foundation of the place happened in 1735 CE. It came under Siamese influence in former centuries, particularly in the 19th century. In a 1909 deal with the British empire, Siam was forced to hand Kedah over to the colonial power. With the granted city status in 2003, Alor Setar was given the name Alor Star, which was reversed in 2009 back to the old name.

As well as in large parts along the western coastline of the Malay Peninsula, the annual monsoon brings a long rainy season from April to November, while the months December to February are the driest, although rain also happens in this time of the year.

Masjid Zahir
'Masjid Zahir | Alor Setar' by Asienreisender

The 1915 inaugurated Zahir state mosque is under royal patronage. Image by Asienreisender, 9/2010

The optically most catching building is certainly Alor Setar Tower with a height of 166m, a telecommunication tower which provides a platform up in the skies which is open for visitors. There is also a 360 degree rotating restaurant in the tower. Additionally there is a number of other remarkable places to visit in and around town. There are the remains of Kota Kuala Kedah, a former fort which was built to protect the place from naval attacks. The state museum houses a number of items from Kedahs history. Among other museums there is also a rice museum (muzium padi). A prominent market is Pekan Rabu, the so called wednesday market who is open every day, though. The famous Malaysian primeminister Dr. Mahathir has been born in Alor Setar, and his birthplace is now another small museum.

Generally spoken, Alor Setar is no touristic place and rather a bit boring to visit, except one may have special interests to come here. It lies on the way between Hat Yai and Penang, about 50km south of the Thai border (line of the bee). It has a good transport infrastructure with a railwaystation which is along the Bangkok - Kuala Lumpur - Singapore line. An airport is out of town. More or less parallel to the railway line runs the long highway which leads all over the Malay Peninsula from Bangkok to Singapore and which comes along here. 15km west of the city is a jetty pier for the ferry to Langkawi Island.

Housefronts in Alor Setar
'Housefronts in Alor Setar' by Asienreisender

The place is coined by these typical shop/housefronts who coin so many towns with a colonial past in Southeast Asia. The basement is housing the shops, while the shopkeepers with their families live above. The red building is still representing a rather traditional architectonical style, while the small one is the modern adaptation. Images and photocomposition by Asienreisender, 9/2010, 2017