Songkhla – Kedah
Charming of the South
Story & Photos by Indy Traveler
Malay Peninsula is riddled with compelling history and unique cultures and traditions. The tip of southern Thailand is a part of this lively region and many important trade routes have been firmly established between Thailand and Malaysia, but the relationship between the people of the 2 countries goes beyond just a commercial relationship.
Located by the border of Thailand and Malaysia, Songkhla is the center economy and commerce in southern Thailand. The bustling city is the weekend destination, not just for people in surrounding provinces, but for Malaysians who can conveniently drive across the border to go shopping in Songkhla as well. Crossing between the 2 countries today is never a hassle as there are 3 permanent border crossings to choose depending on your destination. The first and the most prominent is Sadao Border Crossing which connects to Bukit Kayu Hitam Border Crossing in Kedah, Malaysia. The second being Ban Prakob Border Crossing in Natawee that will direct you to Duraineburong Border Crossing in Padang Terap District, Kedah, Malaysia. The last is Padang Besar Border Crossing in Sadao, Thailand and Padang Besar Border Croissing in Perlis, Malaysia. Don’t be surprised to find the crossings quite busy as there are many shoppers heading to duty free shops on Malaysian side every day. As for us, shopping is not a priority, learning new experience and seeing something new are!
We greet Malaysia with “Selamat Pagi” (Good morning) from Sadao Border Crossing as we enter Kedah. Kedah is a big state located in north western Malaysia by the border of Songkhla and Yala. The state was honourably known as “Darul Aman” or the “Abode of peace” and was a part of Siam during the reign of King Rama V before it was transferred to the British by Anglo-Siamese Treaty. With rich soil and plains, Kedah is perfect for agriculture and it is dubbed as the food producing state of Malaysia.
Besides serene sceneries of endless rice paddies, the villages along the highway still hold traditional Malaysian lifestyle. A lot of people here still cook the same recipe their ancestors cook a century ago, they still live in rare traditional houses with kite tile roof (diamond shape tile), and a lot of antiques are preserved well and even some are still in use. This traditional way of life reflects clearly in the Thai-Malay villages in Pendang and Kuala Muda where over 80,000 Malaysians are of Thai descendants. They still hold Buddhism by their hearts and never stray far from Thai culture since they moved to Kedah during the reign of King Rama V.
Kedah is home to Balai Besar, a palace built by Sultan Mohamad Jiwa, the 19th sultan of Kedah, in 1735. Inspired by his visit to Palembang, Indonesia, the palace was beautifully crafted with wood, but unfortunately it was lost to fire. The Balai Besar we see today is the restoration of the original palace and it is used as the royal events such as the sultan of Kedah’s royal weddings and ceremonies.
Another famous Kedah attraction that cannot be missed is the Alor Setar Tower. This towering tower stands 165.5 meters tall and ranked as 19th tallest communication tower in the world. An elevator will take you 88 meters above ground to the observation deck and a restaurant with spectacular panoramas of the city, mosque, rivers, and Kedah skyline miles away.
These are only a few attractions the charming state of Kedah has to offer. This gem of Malaysia has much more waiting for you to discover, so why not mark your calendar for your next trip to Kedah now and find out for yourself how charming Malay Peninsula is!