Sitting between Langkawi and Penang on mainland Malaysia, Kedah’s Alor Setar doesn’t get many visitors. But the city offers a charismatic Chinatown and one of Malaysia’s most exquisite examples of Islamic architecture. Culture Trip uncovers the city’s thriving café scene and gives recommendations on where to go for the best coffee, cosy corners and live entertainment.
Alor Setar doesn’t feature on Malaysia’s tourist trail. Instead, the jaw-dropping Zahir Mosque, decorated shophouses and stunning examples of architecture remain free of tourists. If you visit this almost-unknown spot, check out these coffee shops in Alor Setar for themed-cafés and live music.
Love A Lot Coffee Shop
Cafe, Coffee Shop, Asian, European, American
Love A Lot Coffee Shop sits near the Kedah River, approximately five minutes on foot from Masjid Zahir and the Big Clock Tower. The cosy café’s quiet atmosphere attracts customers from all walks of life who want to enjoy ‘me’ time. Grab a cup of coffee and order their signature Lava Cake or Hong Kong-style waffles. Other Asian dishes (think fried rice and noodles) are available for lunch and dinner too. Expect exceptional food presentation, fast service and a chilled-out atmosphere.
Located inside a traditional shophouse in Chinatown, Caffe Diem is one of the local’s favourite coffee shops in Alor Setar. Step inside and find vintage colonial décor and some of the city’s best coffee. While the dishes and desserts might be on the expensive side, we recommend stopping by for a glimpse into the city’s past. After a drink, stroll through the neighbourhood and photograph the colourful shophouses and nearby lighthouse in one of Malaysia’s most beautiful cities.
Kedai Kopi Lor San is one of the oldest coffee shops in Alor Setar. The family-owned kopitiam (Malaysian-style coffee shop) has been a favourite hangout since colonial days. Expect cheap food and a cheerful atmosphere at budget-friendly prices. We recommend a NESCAFÉ Ice (iced coffee) with a steaming bowl of wanton noodles. Chinese-Malaysian residents spend hours chitchatting on the foldable tables, giving a more local atmosphere.
Mr Low Kok Yu established this café chain back in 2012. The aim was to combine an excellent cup of coffee with high-quality food. Now, this Blackwood spot has transformed into one of the top hipster coffee shops in Alor Setar. Located behind the C Mart, the café serves a variety of drinks using imported beans. The mouth-watering selection of food includes both Western and Asian dishes as well as cakes and desserts. Drop by in the late afternoon to recuperate on the terrace after a morning of sightseeing.
The themed café sits less than 100 metres (328 feet) from Masjid Zahir. With a cosy interior, customers can photograph the motorbike props decorating the space. The menu offers a decent selection of both Malaysian and Western fusion food, including some of the city’s best burgers. We recommend stopping by in the morning for their breakfast set menu before exploring Chinatown.
For a cup of rich and flavoursome coffee with live entertainment, check out Cup Café. The coffee shop is a few minutes north of the main square inside a renovated shophouse. Step inside and find the walls decorated with photos of their previous performers, an antique piano and an oversized clock. Anticipate a warm and welcoming environment with lots of coffee, milkshakes and smoothies. If you also want to sing, head down on Wednesdays and Saturdays for their open mic karaoke.
Kopi & Roti is a mid-range version of a local kopitiam. Grey-white walls and grey tables exude a distinctive minimalistic décor. The extensive menu offers a range of hot and cold drinks, including iced chocolate and the recommended matcha latte. While this coffee shop in Alor Setar sits a few kilometres (about one mile) north of the main square, it’s worth the effort for a flavoursome coffee and roti canai.