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Bordered by the Thai province of Satun in the north, Kedah in the east and south and lapped by de gentle waters of the Straits of Malacca on its western coastline, Perlis exudes quaint unspoilt beauty and old rustic charm. Its land area of 795 square kilometres and population of 217,480 makes Perlis the smallest state in Malaysia. Expansive green padi plains, punctuated occasionally by limestone mounds, and the laidback rural lifestyte makes driving a refreshing and pleasant way to experience the offerings of this destination.
The state capital of Penis is Kangar while the royal town of Arau. only 10 kilometres away, is the disembarkation point for visitors traveling by rail to Perlis. Perlis lies on both the road and rail routes linking Singapore and Kuala Lumpur in the south and Bangkok In the north.
From January to April, the weather is usually warm and dry with September to December being wetter months. The annual range of temperature is from 21° C to 30° C while the average rainfall is between 2000ml to 2500ml.
Perlis was originally a part of the older Kingdom of Kedah which was conquered by Thailand in 1821. After the restoration of the Sultan of Kedah to his throne in 1842, the Thais established Perlis as a vassal state. In 1905, Perlis obtained from Thailand the services of a European advisor to help in the administrative and financial affairs of the state. The Anglo - Siamese Treaty of 1909 transferred suzerainty of Perlis from Thailand to Britain and a British advisor was appointed to administer the state. A formal treaty between Britain and Perlis was only signed in 1930.
In World War II, the Japanese occupation forces handed Perlis back to Thailand. After the war, Perlis again came under British protection and it continued until Perlis gained independence with the formation of the Federation of Malaya in 1957.
Archeological evidence of ancient man have been found in Perlis. Gua Bintong has provided details of Hoabinhian culture dating back to around 5,000 years ago, while potteny and stone tools (adzes) from the late Neolithic era were found not only in Gua Bintong, but also during excavation works for the new Kota Kayang Museum.
The economic activity of Perlis is predominantly agriculture, which takes up 63% of the total land use, while forestry and fishing are other important activities. Rice, rubber and sugar cane are extensively cultivated while fruit production, especially mango and watermelon, is also significant.
The manufacturing and mining sector, although accounting for only 0.1% of land-use, is a major contributor to the state‘s cofters, yielding around 25% of GDP.
A sugar refinery exists in Chuping while a cement factory is located at Bukit Keteri. Industrial estates have also been
established with industrial activity covering plastic products, electrical and electnonic products, scientific equipment,
textiles and fabricated metal products.
The state is also venturing into high technology industries with the new Sungai Chuchoh Industrial Park being specifically
designed for such activities.
Perlis boasts a multiracial mix 0f people and an interesting potpouri of traditions, customs and religions.
Two important gateways into the state are Padang Besar and Bukit Kayu Hitam on the Perlis-Thai border.
Like other parts of Malaysia aithough Perlis has a multiracial society, there is a predominance of Malay and Thai influence here. One aspect where this is evident is in its colourful musical and dance performances. The Tarian Canggung, a traditional dance, is a post — harvest celebration dance. During the Tarian Canggung, singing and the exchanging of words in Pantun (poetic stanzas), often humorous, allow the whole community to participate and respond to the accompaniment of foot-stomping music.
The Tarian Terinai, another traditional dance, is usually reserved tor royal ceremonies. It is performed to the accompaniment of the gendang terinal (drums) usually played by five musicians.
Story tellers called Awang Batil tell of the glory of bygone days. Similar in many ways to the minstrels of old, the Awang
Batil is an expert with words and they weave mesmerizing tales of past heroes and great deeds. The Awang Batil will beat his drum throughout the story, occasionallyplaying a tune on the flute as the story line demands, keeping the crowds enthralled to the end.
Seni Silat, the Malay art of self defence, is practised by both individuals and groups. Stylised versions now grace official functions and festivities.
PLACES OF INTEREST
Kangar is the capital of Perlis and the seat of government. It is located in the heart of the country‘s “rice bowl“ area and depending on the season, it is surrounded by lush green fields or golden yellow padi, ripe for harvesting. Although new buildings can be seen, Kangar retains much of its old world charm.
A small town, with everything within walking distance, Kangar is not lacking in amenities and facilities. The major landmark of the town is the state mosque, Masjid Alwi.
TASIK MELATI (MELATI LAKE)
Located just 8 km nonth ot Kangar, this shallow lake is an ideal place tor boating, picnics and relaxing walks. More than 150 sandbar islands dot the lake and can be reached by boat or sampan. Elevated walkways across the lake provide vantage points.
PUTRA GOLF CLUB
Ciose to the Snake and Reptile Farm is a challenging par 72, 18 hole golf course. The Putra Golf Club is reputed for its technically difficult and challenging course.
HUTAN LIPUR BUKIT AIR (BUKIT AIR RECREATIONAL PARK)
Just a few kilometres north of the Golf Club is the BukitAir Recreational Park. Cool streams meander through rich tropical forest and waterfalls cascade into rocky pools. Well constructed paths allow easy access through the park where visitors can experience the sights and sounds of a tropical rainforest. An excellent location for picnics, the park has a Camping ground, a car park and all the basic amenities.
The royal town of Arau is located 10 kilometres from Kangar, on the Peninsula‘s main railway route extending northwards into Thailands. Of interest here is the imposing Istana Arau or Royal Palace, which boasts of ciassic architecture, and the Royal Mosque.
Arau is the disembarkation point for visitors travelling by rail from Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi. From Arau, taxis to Kuala Perlis, the point of departure by ferry to Langkawi, are available.
THE SNAKE AND REPTILE FARM
Surrounded by the Bukit Bintang Forest Reserve near Sungai Batu Pahat, and located 10 kilometres north of Kangar is the Snake and Reptile Farm. The Snake Farm is a research facility set up to develop serums for snakebites. Housing more than 20 species of snakes as weil as crocodiles and monitor lizards, it is the only snake farm in Malaysia. The farm has open air enclosures as well as enclosed exhibits. Handlers will assist the public to take photographs with tame snakes.
GUA KELAM RECREATIONAL PARK
The peaceful town of Kaki Bukit is home to Gua Kolam, literally translated as the ‘Dark Caves‘. The 370-metre long cave passage is well-lit and is believed to have been hollowed out from limestone massif by an underground stream over many eons. A wooden walkway stretching the entire length of the cave allows visitors to view the magnificient stalagtite and stalagmite formations. The original cave was enlarged in 1935 by a resident Englishmen to serve as a route for the transportation of tin ore. It is now a convenient way for local folk travelling on motor cycles to get from Kaki Bukit to the Wan Tangga Valley and vice versa.
MUSEUM KOTA KAYANG
This new museum is situated dose to what was historically a fortitied area. In fact, the word ‘Kota‘ translates as fort in English. The area is also the burial ground tor two l6th century Sultans of Kedah. The remains of a palace is surrounded by limestone outcrops. The site is marked by two simple mausoleums with gravestones and the remnants of timbers that demarcated the burial sites.
While the grounds were being excavated for the construction of the new museum, artifacts most likely
from the late Neolithic era were found. A bell-mouthed jar of red slip ware with cord-mark style, signifying the Ban Kao Neolithic culture of southern Thailand and Malaya, was found fairly intact. A similar splayed foot beaker and two excellent polished stone adzes, all corresponding to other similar finds in northern Malaya, probably date to around 2,000 to 2,500 years in age.
Also found at the same site was what appeared to be a die or mould of Indian origin. Other artifacts of Indian origin have been found in the northern regions, especially pottery, and date back to about 2,600 to 2,200 years, corresponding with the finds at the museum site.
TAMAN HERBA (HERB GARDENS)
Adjacent to Bukit Air Recreational Park, on 12 hectares of land, is the Herb Gardens. Created in 1998, its gardens now contain over 1,000 species of herb, spice and traditional medicinal plants. Both local and exotic species from other countries are grown and visitors to the gardens can learn about their uses and how to care tor such plants.
The major ferry terminal for visitors departing for the the isles of Langkawi is located at the mouth of the Perlis river, in the town of Kuala Perlis. The major activity found in Kuala Perlis is fishing and many superb seafood restaurants can be found in this small fishing town.
PERLIS STATE PARK
The Perlis State Park is located along the north-western part of the Thai-Malaysian border. Straddling the Nakawan Range, the longest continuous range of limestone hills in the country, the park consists of the Mata Ayer Forest Reserve and the Wang Mu Forest Reserve. lt comprises a total area of around 5,000 hectares.
The Nakawan Range has rich, heavily forested slopes, extensive cave Systems, sheer duft faces and
numerous jungle streams.
There is a rich bio-diversity in the forests as rare species of ginger, ferns and balsams are found nowhere else but here. lt is also the only place in Malaysia where the STumped-Tail Macaque is found.
All visitors to the park must register at the Park Visitor Centre. The centre houses an exhibition on the park and audio visual tacilities. Those who wish to visit the Wang Burma Cave and Gunung Perlis can hire their guides at the centre. Park accommodation situated at Wang Burma, about 1.2 km
from the visitor centre. Various nature trails have been made to provide easy access and trail R-15 to Wang Kelian offers acommanding view of the surrounding countryside, including Timah Tasoh lake and the unique twin peaks of Bukit Chabang.
Wang Kelian houses a popular Sunday market where visitors can cross the Thai-Malaysian border without the use of passports, provided they remain within the market area.
Padang Besar is a bustling border town with a profusion of colours, sights and sounds. lt is also a major stopover along the rail route between Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. The elongated railway station is mannered by Malaysian oft icials at one end and their Thai counterparts
at the other. Padang Besar is a bargain hunter‘s paradise and boasts duty free shops and a variety of produce, souvenirs and atrtifacts that bear testimony to the rich cultural legacy of the state.
The town acquired its name from a limestone hill known locally as Bukit Chuping. The surrounding
landscape is characterised by lush green sugar cane plantations covering some 22,000 hectares.
Penis offers a delightful variety of ethnic cuisine. A fusion of Malay, Chinese, Thai and Indian food aroma waft continuously through the air. Western fare is also available in hotels and cafes. All major towns are within 20 kilometres of the coast, making fresh seafood easily available. ‘Laksa
Perlis‘ is a seafood noodle soup and it‘s ingredients can be combined according to your preference. The thick, rich, spicy and creamy fish gravy is exhilarating to the palate.
The choice of eating places ranges from hawker centres to air-conditioned restaurants and luxury hotels. The prices are reasonable and the service friendly and courteous.
The farmer‘s market is held in designated locations around the state. Farmers and vendors sell a
variety of fresh produce, fruit, vegetables, fish and prawns as well as non-agricultural goods.
The ‘Pasar Malam‘ or Night Market offers a fiestalike atmosphere and business is usually brisk even at as early as live o‘ciock in the evening. Night Market are held usually on open ground or alongside roads which have been approved by the authorities. The ‘Pasar Malam‘ sells everything imaginable — clothing, food, hardware, docks, watches, shoes, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, meat, househoid goods and electrical wares.
The market is held at different location each night of the week.
GETTING TO PERLIS
There are no flights to Perlis. Visitors have to fly to Alor Setar and then take a 45 minute‘s taxi ride to Kangar.
Ekspress Senandung Langkawi
Kuala Lumpur to Arau
Arau to Kuala Lumpur
1st Class (Bed) RM62.00 per person (Upper), RM70.00 per person (Lower)
2nd Class (Seat) RM31.00 per person
2nd Class (bed) RM38.00 per person (Upper), RM41.00 per person (Lower)
BY ROAD (TAXI & EXPRESS BUS)
Kuala Lumpur to Kangar RM300.00 per taxi
Ipoh to Kangar RM240.00 per taxi
Alor Setar to Kangar RM2O.00 per taxi @ RM5.00 per person
Padang Besar to Kangar RM12.00 per taxi @ RM3.00 per person
Kuala Perlis to Kangar RM8.00 per taxi @ RM2.00 per person
Interstate air-conditioned buses ply between major cities and towns in Peninsular Malaysia and offen comfortable rides at roasonable rates
Kuala Lumpur to Kangar
RM28.00 per person
Kuala Lumpur to Kangar
RM27.90 per person
Taiping Holidays (Super VIP)
Kuala Lumpur to Kangar
RM28.90 per person
Singapore to Kangar
RM53.00 per person
Kuala Lumpurto Kangar
RM27.90 per person
Kuala Lumpur to Kangar
RM27.90 per person
Kuala Lumpur to Kangar
RM27.9O per person
Kluang, Johor to Kangar
Seremban to Kangar
RM31.40 per person
Kuala terengganu to Kangar
RM37.70 per person
Kota Bharu to Kangar
RM25.00 per person
FERRY SERVICES BETWEEN PERLIS & LANGKAWI
Ferry boats provide scheduled crossings between Kuala Perlis and Kuah in Langkawi. The fare varies from RM12 to RM15 per adult and takes about an hour.
The first ferry from Kuala Perlis leaves for Kuah Jetty in Langkawi at 9.00am daily, and the last ferry leaves at 2.l5pm. The last ferry back to Kuala Perlis leaves at 4.00pm.
BY LOCAL BUS
Syrikat HBR Express (From Kangar)
Kuala Perlis 1.05
Simapng Empat 1.05
Bukit Keteri Mata Air RM0.90
Padang Besar RM2.50
Kaki Bukit RM2.45
UiTM, Arau RM1.10
Alor Setar RM3.70