When it comes to tourism, there’s a chance that you may have not heard of Kedah in Malaysia. That’s because Langkawi, the most well-known destination in this state, often gets equated to Kedah itself. Indeed, most of the tourism efforts in the state is concentrated on the island. With its beautiful beaches, lush green forests, and not to mention its geoforest park with river estuaries teeming with wildlife, Langkawi is indeed quite a paradise.
However, you shouldn’t dismiss the Kedah mainland as a travel destination. Being one of the largest and most populated states in Malaysia, Kedah is definitely very tourist-friendly. It’s very easy to find accommodations in the area like Millenium Maison Home, matching all kinds of budgets and travelling styles. Moreover, there are several points of interest that will surely capture your attention. Here are just a few of them.
Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum
This museum is the only one in Malaysia with a display of artefacts from an ancient civilisation that existed around the 3rd to 14th centuries. The antiquities were dug from various sites around Bujang Valley. Not only do they prove the existence of thriving trade, but also of the development of the Hindu and Buddhist religions in this part of Southeast Asia. The original structure was meant for archaeological research and excavation, although it was also used as a centre for proto-historical artefacts. The museum was officially opened in 1980 by Abdul Halim of Kedah.
Pantai Merdeka, mainland Kedah’s only sand beach, is a great place for picnics. It’s especially popular for harvesting a variety of seafood, like clams, snails, and other kinds of shellfish. There are also plenty of stalls along the beach, selling food, souvenir items, and toys. Pantai Merdeka is especially popular with the locals, so do note that it gets packed on weekends and during school and public holidays.
Gunung Jerai or Mount Jerai used to be known as Kedah Peak. This limestone mountain stands at 3,854 feet, looking particularly impressive as it towers over the surrounding flatlands. According to legends, Gunung Jerai used to be an island and the land around the mountain used to be the seafloor. When the water receded, the “peak” was left exposed and became what is now Gurung Jerai. The peak was once a navigational point for traders and was also considered as a sacred place by ancient Hindu-Buddhists. It was dotted from foot to summit with various temples and stupas, where the faithful prayed for the safety of Bujang Valley.
Rice is one of the world’s most important crops, and Muzium Padi or the Kedah Rice Paddy Museum will help you appreciate this otherwise humble grass even more. With about 12,000 square metres of space, Muzium Padi showcases varieties of rice and the process of rice cultivation in various countries through the ages. There are also exhibits of ancient and modern tools used in planting and harvesting rice. On the museum’s third flood is a revolving platform, where you can view 360-degree murals and dioramas. The murals are painted on the inside wall of the upper level and was a collaborative work of 60 artists. Muzium Padi is the first paddy museum in Malaysia, and only the fourth in the world along with museums in Germany, Japan, and the Philippines.
Bukit Hijau Recreational Forest
If you’re new to mountaineering and trekking, one of the best places to visit in Kedah is Bukit Hijau Recreational Forest. It’s located in Gunung Inas Virgin Forest Reserve in Baling District. The summit is only about 200 metres above sea level but nonetheless gives hikers a gorgeous view of Paya Terubong Valley and Penang Hill. Meanwhile, the forest features a fast-flowing stream, ending in water cascades and waterfalls with clear pools for swimming.
Ulu Legong Hot Springs
For those looking for a bit of relaxation, Ulu Legong Hot Spring Recreational Centre might be the Kedah destination for you. The place is open 24 hours, which means you can get a therapeutic soak at any time you want. People with skin problems also love Ulu Legong Hot Springs since the hot water has a high sulphuric content. There are a total of five hot spring pools in Ulu Legong, three of which are considered “main pools” with different levels of water warmth. The other two are for babies/children and for ladies. There aren’t many accommodations in the immediate area, however, so you’ll have to book a homestay a little farther out. Make sure to check for tour packages that include trekking, cultural shows, and visits to local villages.
These six destinations and activities are only a glimpse of Kedah’s wealth of cultural, historical, and natural wonders. So the next time you’re planning a vacation in Malaysia, why not consider these destinations in Kedah? They aren’t an island with pristine beaches like Langkawi, but they’re certainly beautiful and interesting in their own way!