Pitching a tent and sleeping with mosquitoes may not be everyone’s ideal vacation, so glamping (a portmanteau of “glamorous” and “camping”) has taken the world by storm in the past few years. While with glamping you’ll still sleep outdoors, Hostel Ah Wai, Hostel Ah Zhi in Alor Setar can make your camping-with-indoor-plumbing dream come true.
Located in Pekan Melayu, only a stone’s throw away from the majestic Zahir Mosque, this hostel is not your usual bunk beds type of hostel. Instead of struggling to get on your upper bunk bed and having literally no privacy, you sleep in a tent. Intrigued? Read on for our review of this unique hostel!
Stepping foot into the hostel brought memories of yesteryears. The building, which used to be a goldsmith shop, was built in 1932. The hostel’s co-owner Lim Chyuan Zhi said they want to incorporate the history of the building and many of the furniture were given a new lease of life. Furnishings were mostly sourced locally, and if not broken, stays. For instance, the dining table was made from old Peranakan-style windows, making your meals extra colorful!
Instead of the usual desk counter to check in guests, there’s a vintage bicycle cart in the lobby to welcome guests. It’s unique and certainly one of a kind! The black-and-white tiled floors complete the room of old-school sofas and cupboards.
Well, unique is certainly a way to describe this hostel. While the design is vintage and reminds you of your grandparents’ home in the 90’s, the amenities are modern. So, no worries, as you’ll still get to enjoy a hot shower, and a communal kitchen that’s fitted with all your needs such as a fridge and a water dispenser. You can even buy snacks for when hunger strikes. There is also strong WiFi connection throughout the hostel, so you can upload those Insta-worthy photos!
The tents are located on the second floor and we stayed in one of the single “rooms” that was aptly named Kuala Kedah. There are eight single tents and three twin tents, all named after a place in Kedah. If you’re worried that you’ll suffocate and that it’s going to be hot in the tent, fret not, the whole room is equipped with two air conditioners and two fans.
Despite it being a hostel, its attention to detail could bring some of the international chain hotels to shame. The single bed is comfortable and the pillow is fluffy — perfect to rest those aching muscles after a day of exploring the city. There is also a table lamp and a small fan in the tent for your comfort. The size of the tent is perfect for a solo traveler as there is plenty of room for your stuff and no worries about safety as you can lock the tent. There’s also a locker to keep your valuable items when you’re out and about.
As with many hostels, the bathrooms are communal and are fitted with hot showers. What stood out the most are the sinks that are made of woks usually used to fry banana fritters. It’s quirky and at the same time, a nod to the hostel’s location, as Pekan Melayu is known for being the place where locals would buy household items.
Verdict: If you want to experience camping and sleeping in a tent but with all the modern indoor comforts, Hostel Ah Wai, Hostel Ah Zhi is the best way to do it. If you’re looking for something new and different, this hostel is perfect for your next stay in Alor Setar!
See and Do
There are plenty of things to do in the capital city of Kedah. Not only is it the birthplace of TWO Malaysian prime ministers, it’s also known as Malaysia’s “rice bowl” thanks to its endless rice fields that could put Bali’s Ubud to shame. Here are some of our favorite things to do in Alor Setar.
Your visit to Alor Setar is not complete without visiting the majestic Zahir Mosque. Did you know that it’s one of the grandest and oldest mosques in Malaysia? Yup, it was built in 1912! According to local legend, it is the burial site of Kedah warriors who died defending the state from Siamese invasion in 1821. The five large, black domes that symbolize the Five Pillars of Islam stand out against the white facade, making it one of Kedah’s most distinctive architectural landmarks.
Kedah Royal Museum
Visit the Kedah Royal Museum to learn more about the history of Kedah’s royal family. As one of the oldest royal families in Malaysia, there are plenty of exhibitions covering all aspects of their life. Learn about the first Sultanate of Kedah in the 12th century and how he helped pave the way for Islam to spread in Malaysia. Walk through the galleries and marvel at the regalia, memorabilia and a collection of hunting trophies. The air-conditioned rooms are also the perfect respite from the heat!
Kedah Royal Museum
Medan Bandar, Jalan Raja,
Tel: 04-732 7937
Opening hours: 9am – 5pm (Daily). Closed on Fridays from 12.30pm – 2.30pm
Birthplace of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammad
Glimpse into Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammad’s childhood life at Mahathir’s Birthplace or “Rumah Kelahiran Mahathir”, where you’ll learn about his younger days, from his school days to his success as a doctor. The humble wooden home with the palm thatch roof is filled with memorabilia and you can even read the articles he wrote for The Straits Times under the pseudonym “C.H.E. Det”. If you only have one museum to visit in Alor Setar, we highly recommend this one!
Admission is free for all visitors.
Rumah Kelahiran Mahathir
8, Lorong Kilang Ais Sekolah Kebangsaan Jalan Pegawai,
Jalan Seberang Perak,
Taman Pesisiran Tanjung Chali, Alor Setar
Opening hours: 10am – 5pm (Closed on Friday)
With such a wide range of accommodation options across the country, it can be a challenge to pick the one that’s best for you. To be in the know when it comes to Malaysia’s stand-out stays, keep your eyes peeled for Traveloka’s ‘Super Stays’ posts, a bi-weekly hotel special featuring our top picks!