Sungai Batu Archaeological Site in Kedah, Malaysia

Southeast Asia’s oldest ancient civilizations were made up of Buddhists and Hindus, and Sungai Batu is here to prove it.

Sungai Batu is an archaeological site in northern Malaysia, and it holds the ruins of several Hindu-Buddhist temples dating back to the 8th and 11th century. The site, which is located in Merbok of the Kedah state, is believed to have existed since 535 BC. It was a former thriving international entrepot, an iron smelting hub, as well as a religious center.

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Entrance to the Sungai Batu Archaeological Site in Bedong, Kedah
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One of the many smelting centers found at the Sungai Batu Archaeological Site
tapak Arkeologi Sungai Batu di Lembah Bujang
A glimpse of the Sungai Batu Archaeological Site

Sungai Batu Archaeological Site in Kedah, Malaysia


Due to Sungai Batu’s involvement in the global exports of iron, archaeologists have unearthed merchant ships believed to have been buried for approximately 4000 years. In total, the site holds 17 smelting plants, 13 administrative centers, numerous ritual sites, and 10 jetties. During a mapping carried out in 2007, 17 candi were found intact while 33 candi that were previously recorded by early British explorers have unfortunately vanished due to natural reasons.

Candi is a term describing ancient temples and ritual sites which have evolved into being today's historical monuments.

An ancient temple found at Sungai Batu.
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Smelting plants found at Sungai Batu in Kedah
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Ruins and bricks found at Sungai Batu in Kedah
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Ancient monuments made of bricks found at Sungai Batu

The ancient Kedah Tua Civilization went by many names in the past: Queda, Kalah Bar, Kalaha, Cheh-Cha, Ka-Cha and Qalha.

Local archaeologists claimed that the Kedah Tua Civilization was one of the world’s oldest civilizations, surpassing the ancient Rome and Greece civilizations. In 2016, world-renowned archaeologists confirmed that the sites found in Lembah Bujang were over 2,000 years old - putting them way ahead of Cambodia's Angkor Wat and Indonesia's Borobudur in the history timeline.

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Excavation work being carried out at the Sungai Batu Archaeological Complex in Merbok.
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Thousands of iron ores are still being unearthed at Sungai Batu each day.

Activities at Sungai Batu Archaeological Site

It is recommended to spend half a day at the historic archaeological site at Sungai Batu in Merbok. There are several activities and educational attractions tailored specifically for those with an interest in archaeology and anthropology, such as the following:

Go on a Candi tour

Lembah Bujang or the Bujang Valley is a sprawling historical complex covering over 224 suare feet. Being the richest archaeological site in Malaysia, this site also houses the oldest manmade structure recorded in the whole of Southeast Asia, which is made out of clay bricks known as Candi 11. You can visit all 17 registered candi here.

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Ancient monument in the Bujang Valley Archaeological Park in Kedah, Malaysia.
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Candi Bukit Batu Pahat, Lembah Bujang
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Candi at the ancient Bujang Valley of Kedah
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Candi Bukit Batu Pahat is a popular ancient Hindu temple discovered in Bujang Valley, Kedah
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Candi Bukit Batu Pahat was erected in the 6th century A.D., and has become the most popular ancient Hindu temple in Lembah Bujang.

Lembah Bujang Archaeological Museum

Ancient relics are on display at this dedicated museum, including inscribed stone caskets and tablets, metal tools, ceramics, beads that were once traded, and other Hindu ornaments.

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See ancient artifacts of the Bujang Valley
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An ancient statue of Lord Ganesha are among the items on display at the Lembah Bujang Archaeological Museum

Observe the Excavation or Join as Volunteer

Excavation work is currently being carried out at Sungai Batu, and you can be a part of this significant event by participating as a volunteer.

Tapak Arkeologi Sungai Batu, Lembah Bujang
Excavation work at the Sungai Dua Archaeological Site

Ancient Brick-making & Iron Smelting

Curious to learn about the methods used by the region's oldest civilization in the making of bricks and melting ores? Find out how here!

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Learn brick making and iron smelting at Sungai Batu
Tapak Arkeologi Sungai Batu, Lembah Bujang
Archaeologists demonstrating and explaining ancient methods of making bricks and iron in Sungai Batu.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Despite all the excavation efforts, scientific evidences and its potential to become the next international heritage tourism attraction, Sungai Batu is still not recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sungai Batu Travel Tips

As the Sungai Batu archaeological site has not been properly developed into a tourist attraction, here are a few things to look out for during your visit:
  1. Lack of information. While walking paths are available, there isn't any signage and direction being put up.
  2. Lack of tour guide. However, on certain days, visitors might be able to find volunteers or students for a free and casual guided tour around the site. Otherwise, one will have to rely on Google for information. The experience here is a far cry from that of Angkor Wat.
  3. Disintegrated ruins. While several candi are still intact, most of the major discoveries are left with scattered ruins that will not impress a visitor who does not have prior knowledge of the place.

How to Get to Sungai Batu

Start your journey from Sungai Petani and take a shuttle bus to Sungai Merbok from the Sungai Petani bus terminal. The Sungai Batu Archaeological Site is located approximately 70 kilometers south of Alor Setar - the capital of Kedah and is easily accessible by car or taxi.

Ticket Price

Entrance to the Sungai Batu Archaeological Site is free. The recommended visit duration is half a day to complete the walking tour around the site.

Contact Information

Address: Lembah Bujang, Kampung Permatang Samak, Bedong 08100, Malaysia
Opening hours: 9am–3pm (Closed on Saturday)
Contact number: +6019-753 7327

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  1. Seriously paling tua? Now only I know about this. Malaysia ni banyak je lagi tempat yang bagus untuk pelancongan contoh nya mcm ni.

  2. macam best je buat aktiviti-aktiviti macam tu yela jarang exposed dengan arkeologi2 sebelum ni en tak tau pulak entrance fee dia free

  3. Sebagai rakyat negeri Kedah. Sewajarnya kerajaan negeri memberi sedikit sokongan di dalam membawa nak kembali sejarah negeri Kedah. Kalau dahulu Kerajaan Kedah Tua. Sayang kalau generasi sekarang tidak mengetahui sejarah yang benar2 bukan ciptaan manusia sahaja.

  4. Baru tahu ada tempat ni. Tempat bersejarah macam ni perlu dijaga seeloknya supaya generasi akan datang dapat pendedahan kepada tempat-tempat macam ni

  5. serius la lagi lama dari angkor wart tapi sayang la kurang expose tempat ni. mungkin kerajaan negeri kena buat banyak promosi tarik pelancong datang. BBL sendiri baru tahu lepas baca artikel ni

  6. WOW amazing... I pun baru tahu ada tempat macam ni, kita harus menjadi tempat bersejarah ni supaya anak cucu kita tahu sejarah

  7. Cx tahu pasal sejarah ni. Dulu pernah masuk tv kajian bakal pakar sejarah. Memang satu sejarah yang hebat

  8. Tempat bersejarah yang menarik ni kan. Berpotensi untuk industri pelancongan. Rakyat Malaysia sendiri patut ambil tahu tentang tempat ni.

  9. omg thank you for sharing about history.. its been awhile i didnt visit any archaeologist places in Malaysia... dalam Malaysia ni banyak benda lagi nak explore... tak habis habis nak pergi luar negara.. negara sendiri pun tak habis explore... huhuhuhu.. menarik lah rasa nak jadi volunteer juga..

  10. wahh i didnt know that our candi is older than Angkor Wat. Amazing ! i have not been there yet, kinda curious to see the candi with my own eyes

  11. i saw the documentary about this last year how amazing our country have something more interesting then Angkor Wat. Hopefully our archaeologist can prove it with more great exposure in this candi :)

  12. Ok baru tahu yang ini paling tua. Tak ramai anak muda minat nak dalami tinggalan sejarah macam ni . Good job semua pohak yang cuba sedaya upaya menjaga khazanah sejarah supya tak hilang

  13. I pernah dengar je tempat ni maklumlah tempat bersejarah. tapi x berpeluang lagi nak ke sana. rupanya malaysia pun banyak lagi tempat sejatrah I tak visit.

  14. I would say that we need more interest in keeping the historical places intact - just like in Vietnam and Thailand - it will bring in economic return to the country if taken care nicely.

  15. suka juga tempat2 yg mcm gini... sambil cuti smbil tambah info.. dulu prnh gi yg lembah bujang punya... best!!

  16. I pernah stay dekat Kedah pun tak pernah sampai dekat sini lagi. Actually menarik juga Sg. Batu Archaeological tu sebab boleh tahu banyak artifak sejarah.

  17. Seriously it is older than Ankor Wat? So sad. It less popular than Ankor Wat because of lack in publicity. Tourism Malaysia sure have to working on marketing little harder 💪🏻💪🏻

  18. I suka tempat sejarah macam ni. Sangat menghargai peninggalan orang dulu-dulu. And hoping akan dapt bawa anak ke tempat macam ni. Satu hari nanti

  19. Sangat bangga pun kita yer kerana kat Malaysia kita ada tinggalan sejarah yang sangat lama dan juga begitu mengetahui tentang sejarah negara... Baguslah kerja pengkaji sejarah ini respect mereka lah...

  20. Yup pernah dengar pasal temple ni, sepatutnya ia dijaga dan dikomersialkan sebagai salah satu aset pelancongan negeri seperti negara-negara luar.

  21. Have been there once a long time ago.

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  26. There is a reason why our government didn't take care good of this historical site because its Hindu's history in Malay land. That's why they didn't promote and taking care of this site well in earlier stages.


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