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Perlis
PerlisPerlis - Little Northern Gem
Bordered by the Thai province of Satun in the north, Kedah in the south-east, and lapped by the gentle waters of the Straits of Melaka on its western coastline, Perlis exudes quaint, unspoilt beauty and old rustic charm. Expansive green paddy plains, punctuated occasionally by limestone outcroppings, along with the laid-back village lifestyle make driving a refreshing and pleasant way to experience the offerings of this destination.

The state capital of Perlis is Kangar, while Arau, only 10 km away, is the traditional royal capital of the ruler, the Raja of Perlis. Perlis lies on both the road and rail routes linking Singapore and Kuala Lumpur in the south to Bangkok in the north. The capital of Perlis is Kangar and the royal capital is Arau. Another important town is Padang Besar, at the Malaysian-Thailand border. The main port is the small village of Kuala Perlis, linking mostly to Langkawi Island. Perlis has a snake farm and Gua Kelam as tourist attractions, as well as the small yet beautiful Perlis State Park. The state economy is dominated by agriculture, with rice, sugar and fruits predominating. Forestry and fishery is also important, and the state is making efforts to attract small and medium scale manufacturing industries. Kuala Perlis is the second largest town and the main port of Perlis in Malaysia. It is in extreme northwest Peninsular Malaysia, near the border with Thailand. The older part of town has houses and mosques built on stilts over mangrove swamps. Kuala Perlis is also famous for its seafood, especially Laksa.

What to See and Do in Perlis?
  • Bukit Kubu Recreational Forest is a great place to rest and relax. The recreational park is a natural limestone cave in the forested Wang Pinang limestone hill. The caves have an interesting geological formation and natural landscape but members of the public are not allowed to enter the caves unless with permission from the Perlis Forestry Department. Situated not far from the limestone hills is the Kota Al Marhum Kayang. It is the burial grounds of two of the 16th century Kedah Sultans where one can see simple mausoleums marked by grave stones with wooden ruins that used to pinpoint the site.
  • Perlis State Museum. According to history, the 4.84 acres of land where the State Museum now stands was granted by Raja Syed Alwi to his younger brother, Syed Salim bin Syed Muhammad al-Jafri, who was a senior minister to the King. Towards the end of the 19th century, Syed Salim built his residence and stayed there with his family until it was sold to the State Government just after the signing of the 1909 Bangkok Treaty. Since then, the building became the official residence of the state British Advisors. The first British Advisor, Mr. Meadow Frost and his successors resided in the house until the Second World War in 1941. From 1941 until 1943, the building was taken over by Japanese Military Administration, while from 1943 until 1945; the Thai Military Government took over the building. After Independence, the building became the Perlis Chief Minister's official residence. It became popularly known as Rumah Tetamu (Guest House) after it was vacated by Chief Minister Dato' Jaafar Hassan in early 1980s. In 1991, the building was demolished to make way for the construction of the present State Museum, which is structurally identical to the old building. The Kompleks Warisan Negeri, which is a new building in Kangar, is also within the compounds of the State Museum.
  • Kuala Perlis Jetty. Kuala Perlis jetty is one of the two major departure points for the legendary Langkawi Island, the other being the Kuala Kedah in Kedah. Kuala Perlis has long been a major port linking Perlis with Langkawi, Penang as well as Phuket Island and other southern coastal Thai towns. Located at the estuary of Sungai Perlis (Perlis River), about 13km from Kangar town, Kuala Perlis is actually a quaint fishing town known for delicacies such as ikan bakar (grilled fish), assam laksa (noodles served with spicy fish gravy) and fresh seafood. It is a good place to relax at dusk and watch a spectacular sunset, or the fishermen returning with their catch.
  • Gua Kelam (Kelam Cave). One of the most distinctive caves in Malaysia is a 370-metre long limestone cave near the small town of Kaki Bukit (literally 'foot hill') called Gua Kelam (Cave of Darkness). Located about 33km north of Kangar, the state capital, Gua Kelam Recreational Park is popular for its enchanting 'cave walk' where you can enter from one end of the cave and come out a different end. Gua Kelam is located within the Perlis State Park which borders with the Nakawan Range of Thailand. The only path in is via a suspension wooden bridge made of an eight-foot wide wooden walkway. This bridge links Kaki Bukit to the Wan Tangga Valley, a valley on the opposite end of Gua Kelam. Back in 1935, an Englishman saw the water pathway as a brilliant method of transporting tin ore from a mine located near the stream entrance through the underground cavern to Kaki Bukit. Now, only locals and tourists make their way through the cave via a brightly illuminated wooden walkway inside the cave. You can still find remnants of the tin mine operation inside. As you make your way through the cave, the sound of a swirling dark subterranean stream below reverberates forming a concerto with the squeaking bats and dripping water from the stalactites. It may sound a bit spooky, after all this was once the home of Stone Age men.
  • Perlis State Park. Perlis State Park is located along the western border of Perlis, where Peninsular Malaysia meets Thailand. The Park is situated on the longest continuous range of limestone hills in the country, called the Nakawan Range which stretches some 36km long. The Nakawan Range has beautiful, heavily forested slopes, sheer cliff faces, streams and extensive cave systems. The Park consists of Mata Ayer Forest Reserve and Wang Mu Forest Reserve with a total area of about 5,000ha. One unique aspect of the Perlis State Park is that it is the only semi-deciduous forest (which displays marked changes during the dry season, whereby the leaves fall) in the country. The Park's objectives are protection, conservation, research, education and recreation. Some of the major attractions in Perlis State Park includes the various caves such as Gua Kelam and Gua Wang Burma which is located within the 500 year-old Setul limestone formation.
  • The Snake and Reptile Farm. The Snake and Reptile farm is one of Perlis major tourist attractions. It houses a large collection of snakes and other reptiles. Run by the Institute for Medical Research, its main objectives are the biological study of Malaysian snakes, the dissemination of information and findings of the research as well as the production of anti-venom for local consumption. The farm holds some 23 species of snakes in large open-air enclosures as well as iguanas and crocodiles. Those brave enough, can have their pictures taken with some of the larger snakes, with some help and supervision from the snake handlers. The Snake and Reptile farm currently houses some 200 snakes, both local and foreign species. The Snake and Reptile Farm is located near Batu Pahat river, surrounded by Perlis' Bukit Bintang Forest Reserve. Nearby attractions include a recreational park with a picnic area, a mini bird park, a nine-hole golf course as well as budget chalets. The Snake and Reptile Farm is open from Saturday through Thursday between 9am to 5pm and on Friday between 9am to 6pm with a break from 12.15pm to 2.45pm. It is also open during public holidays during normal open hours. The minimal entrance fee is RM2 for adults and RM1 for children. Children under 6 years old can enter for free.
  • Padang Besar. For the shoppers and the bargain hunters out there, Padang Besar's Bazaar is heaven sent with goods ranging from traditional to the high-end market. Situated at border of Perlis-Thailand north of Perlis, this is where Perak and Thailand have a lot in common. The place is popular for purchasing items from both countries and is bargain hunters' favourites for clothing, leather goods, and household items. There is also a duty free shop here.
  • Wang Burma Cave. Wang Burma is a cave system that has become the main attraction of the Wang Kelian State Park within the Perlis State Park. Wang Burma is divided into two main caves, one is Wang Burma Satu where abundance of amazing rock formations like stalactites and stalagmites can be found, and the other is Wang Burma Dua, which requires one to be both physically and mentally fit before venturing into the cave. Before you enter the cave system, it is advisable that you seek a qualified guide and permission from the Perlis Forestry Department. An exploration of the entire Wang Burma cave system will take approximately 3 1/2 hours. Once inside Wang Burma, you will be thrilled with this truly unique cave system - its limestone composition is honeycombed with passages, streams and caves. You might even get to see many exotic species of insects and fungi such as giant toad, whip scorpion, centipede, bats, striped cave racer, cave cricket and mushrooms. This cave exploration gets more exciting as your guide leads you through narrow passages and muddy tunnels where you may need to crawl or squeeze your way through in order to reach the intriguing and wonderful water-worn sculptures. Be sure to use a buddy system when venturing into this challenging cave exploration.
  • Wang Kelian State Park. The Wang Kelian State Park is a haven for nature lovers and ecotourism enthusiasts as it contains one of the few semi-deciduous forests in the country, similar to the ones across the border in Thailand. Covering 1,000ha. in the Mata Air Forest Reserve, its limestone forests are also rich in fauna, including birds, mammals and reptiles. As a matter of fact, the Wang Kelian State Park poses a challenging jungle trek from the camping area that leads to the Wang Burma cave system. As the park is closely located to the Thai border, visitors to the park also take the opportunity to do some bargain hunt for good from across the border at a nearby trading centre.

Food for Thought
    Harumanis
  • Harumanis - A kind of mango that is specially grown only in Perlis. It has a strong smell and is very sweet in taste. Thus, it is called "Harum" which means "fragrance" in Malay and "Manis" which means "sweet".
  • Ikan Bakar - Seafood is a very popular food in Perlis especially in Kuala Perlis. Ikan Bakar simply means "grilled fish" which are dishes comprises of seafood, grilled with special hot sauce. The seafood is very fresh since it is supplied directly from local fishermen.
  • Restoran Tok Mek
  • Restoran Tok Mek: Situated just before the Timah Tasoh Lake, on the Kangar - Padang Besar trunk road. Serves great lunch food with Siamese - Kelantanese influence, plus large selection of local ulam (Malay version of salad).
  • Pokok Sawa: This is actually a kampung lunch joint situated along Jalan Santan, a few kilometres east of Kangar. Simple but very tasty traditional kampung cooking. Ask the locals for directions: everyone knows the place.
  • Seafood joint at Jalan Sekolah Derma; opposite Derma School. This is a converted house. Great seafood menu for dinner.
  • laksa
  • You can't visit Perlis without trying the Kuala Perlis laksa, arguably the best you can find in Malaysia. Head for Kuala Perlis jetty at night, and take your pick from the row of stalls by the main road.
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