The West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia is known mainly for its mountains, colonial towns and islands. The coastal areas on the Andaman Sea are marshy and don't really have any nice beaches (the islands do though) or many towns. The rainy monsoon season is from April to October and the dry, hot season is from November to March.

The West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia is more urban and developed than the more Malay, Muslim and rural East Coast. The capital of Malaysia Kuala Lumpur, and the new administrative centre of Putrajaya, are located in this region.

The West Coast states (from north to south) are: ; 1) Perlis — Malaysia's smallest state; 2) Kedah — the rice paddy (padi) state, also contains Langkawi island; 3) Penang — popular resort island, with the charming capital George Town; 4) Perak — once rich in tin; 5) Selangor — Malaysia's most populous and developed state; 6) Negeri Sembilan — for traditional Minangkabau culture; and 7) Malacca — for history stretching back to the 15th century. There are two Federal Territories are: 1) Kuala Lumpur — the nation's capital; 2) Putrajaya — new administrative center of Malaysia.

West Coast Cities: 1) Kuala Lumpur — capital and largest city in Malaysia, located in the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur which is surrounded by Selangor state; 2) Putrajaya — this planned city is the new administrative centre of the Federal government; 3) Kangar — the tiny capital of Perlis; 4) Alor Star — capital city of Kedah; 5) George Town — capital of Penang , charming and very popular with travellers, and famous for its hawker food; 6) Ipoh — capital of Perak, which is famous for its food; 7) Seremban — capital of Negeri Sembilan; 8) Malacca — historic city, and capital of Malacca state.

Negeri Sembilan State

Negeri Sembilan is a state in Malaysia which lies on the western coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Home to around 1 million people, it covers an area of 6,686 square kilometers and has a population density of 149 people per square kilometer. It borders Selangor on the north, Pahang in the east, and Melaka and Johor to the south. It is known for it Minangkabau culture brought to the state centuries from Sumatra. The capital is Seremban. The royal capital is Seri Menanti in Kuala Pilah District. Other important towns are Port Dickson, Bahau and Nilai. The Arabic honorific title of the state is Darul Khusus ("the Special Abode"). [Source: Wikipedia]

The name Negeri Sembilan is believed to derive from the nine (sembilan) villages or nagari in the Minangkabau language (now known as luak) settled by the Minangkabau, a people originally from West Sumatra (in present-day Indonesia). Minangkabau features are still visible today in traditional architecture and the dialect of Malay spoken.

Unlike the hereditary monarchs of the other royal Malay states, the ruler of Negeri Sembilan is known as Yang di-Pertuan Besar instead of Sultan. The election of the Ruler is also unique. He is selected by the council of Undangs who lead the four biggest territories of Sungai Ujong, Jelebu, Johol, and Rembau, making it one of the more democratic monarchies.

Government and Customs of Negeri Sembilan

Negeri Sembilan has the distinct uniqueness of culture and tradition. It is generally known that the uniqueness stems from its tradition of Adat Perpatih (or Perpatih Laws) which is handed down from generation to generation. Negeri Sembilan is ruled by the Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan and the monarchy system is modelled according to Adat Perpatih. During the 18th Century, the Minangkabau people from Sumatera emigrated to Negeri Sembilan bringing their family along. In this new land, they lived in groups according to familial relationships. The name Negeri Sembilan means nine states, but it was agreed that this name did not mean that Negeri Sembilan is comprised of nine specific regions. [Source: Negeri Sembilan government]

According to Adat Perpatih, Negeri Sembilan is divided into territories that are called luhak or luak. Traditionally, there has always been four major districts that are controlled by dignitaries called Undang Berempat (the four dignitaries). The four original territories are Sungai Ujong, Rembau, Jelebu and Johol. There are a few lesser dignitaries for small regions that are associated with the four districts. The Undang Berempat are leaders of their respective luak and the leaders for the other luak are called Penghulu (chiefs). Dignitaries under the Undang are known as Lembaga, Buapak and Perut. Lembaga are the leaders of local tribes. There are 12 tribes in total with one luak having around 4 tribes. The Lembaga is responsible for their respective tribes pertaining to peace, resolving conflicts between tribes, controlling and refereeing the division of inheritance as well as being an intermediary between tribe members and the Undang.

The Buapak community consists of members that are called Perut. The members of each Perut will choose a leader which is the Buapak. There are quite a few Buapak and they have the same tasks as a Lembaga. The only point of difference being that Buapak can only assert their power on the members of its Perut. A Buapak is also responsible in performing customs related to marriage, shaving of a childs head, circumcision and divorce. Negeri Sembilan is made up of nine states which is Sungai Ujong, Rembau, Johol, Jelebu, Jempol, Seri Menanti, Inas, Terachi and Gunung Pasir.

Below is the list of districts in Negeri Sembilan which has a dignitary: 1) Sungai Ujong: Divided into two, with the inland region ruled by Datuk Kelana and the middle of Linggi River ruled by Dato’ Syahbandar. 2) Sungai Linggi: Small district that was taken from Sungai Ujong. Ruled by Datuk Muda Linggi. 3) Sungai Raya Lukut: Both regions were explored by the Bugis people. 4) Rembau: Only has one dignitary, which is an Undang. 5) Tampin: A district that was taken from Rembau and is ruled by Tuanku Besar Tampin. 6) Inas and Gemenceh: Two small districts that was taken from Johol. Datuk Inas and Datuk Gemencheh recognizes the Undang Johol as their leader. 7. Jelebu: Has one dignitary which is called Undang.

According to Adat Perpatih¸ “Customs bring out the good and eliminates the bad”. That is what it tries to portray and it serves as a systematic rule based on community harmony. The Adat Perpatih that started in the 13th century was practiced in order to negate conflict and shape develop a community that is harmonious, integrated and developed. Customs are not just about marriage, eating and coronations, but it is a way of life that should be nurtured and protected until today.


Negeri Sembilan has a strong Minangkabau influence and has traditionally been a matriarchal state, where women inherit rights over property and land to the exclusion of men. The Minangkabau live in West Sumatra across the Strait of Malacca from Malaysia. Also known as the Menangkabau or the Minang for short, they are a Muslim people and regarded as culturally similar to their neighbors, the Malays, except that they mark descent through the female line and are really into water buffalo. They are also known as being hospitable and clever, and celebrate colorful festivals. Minangkabau means “water buffalo victory.” [Source: Encyclopedia of World Cultures, East and Southeast Asia edited by Paul Hockings (G.K. Hall & Company, 1993) ~]

The Minangkabau are the largest matrilineal culture in the world and the fourth largest ethnic group in Indonesia. Tribe, clan (or suku) titles, properties and names are all handed down through the female line. The grandmother is the ultimate matriarch and a power figure. Although the Minangkabau are Muslim, their customs are unique and unusual in a state with a predominantly Muslim culture. Most such matriarchal customs are justified by tradition, although they are sometimes supported by examples from the sira of the Prophet Muhammad, especially stories revolving around the centrality of Muhammad's first employer and subsequent wife, Khadija. [Source: Wikipedia]

The Minangkabau make up 2.7 percent of the population of Indonesia. They are the predominate group in West Sumatra, which has traditionally had the highest education and literacy rates in Indonesia, in part because of the Minangkabau’s strong family support system and emphasis on education. The Minangkabau have produced many prominent Indonesian figures in politics, literature and religious leadership. There are about 9 million Minangkabau, with about half of them in West Sumatra. They are well represented in Indonesian cities and several hundred thousand of them live in Malaysia. ~

The Minangkabau sometimes describe West Sumatra as the land of the V. The name V means triumphant buffalo. Their traditional homes are called V houses. The V name is said to have resulted from a fight between a Minangkabau bull and a massive Javanese bull. Realizing his people could never find a bull as large as the Javanese, one clever Minangkabau fielded a baby bull with V-shaped knives attached to its horns. When the fight started the baby bull perceived its opponent as its mother and rushed to suckle the Javanese bull, in the process ripping out the bull’s belly. ~

The Minangkabau predominate in the coastal areas of Sumatera Utara Province, Sumatera Barat Province, the interior of Riau Province, and northern Bengkulu Province. Like the Batak, they have large corporate descent groups, but unlike the Batak, the Minangkabau traditionally reckon descent matrilineally. Minangkabau were prominent among the intellectual figures in the Indonesian independence movement. Not only were they strongly Islamic, they spoke a language closely related to Bahasa Indonesia, which was considerably freer of hierarchical connotations than Javanese. Partly because of their tradition of merantau, Minangkabau developed a cosmopolitan bourgeoisie that readily adopted and promoted the ideas of an emerging nation- state. [Source: Library of Congress]

Minangkabau History

The Minangkabau have a strong cultural link to the Malays and are believed to have arrived in Sumatra from the Malaysian peninsula around1000 B.C.. In the Minangkabau creation myth the first two people were two Malays who emerged from the volcanic peak Marapi. The ancestors of one followed a paternal line of descent and they became Malays. The ancestors of the other followed a maternal line of descent and became Minangkabau. [Source: Encyclopedia of World Cultures, East and Southeast Asia edited by Paul Hockings (G.K. Hall & Company, 1993) ~]

The Minangkabau have traditionally been a coastal people, who dominated trade on the west coast of Sumatra along with the Acehnese and Batak. The Malays dominated trade in the Malacca Straits on the eastern side of Sumatra. Minangkabau culture was influenced by a series of 5th to 15th century Malay and Javanese kingdoms (the Melayu, Sri Vijaya, Majapahit and Malacca). ~

Minangkabau culture reached its zenith in the 15th century under the Pagarruyong-based Minangkabau king. According to legend, the first king was a descendant of Alexander the Great but historical evidence seems to suggests that he was a Javanese prince or aristocrat that arrived in the area in 15th century. ~

Islam arrived in the form of cults on the coast in the mid 16th century, mostly from the Acehnese, but did not really take hold in the interior until later. The Paderi Wars in the early 19th century began as conflict between traditionalists and Wahabi-influenced Islamic fundamentalists and expanded into an anti — Dutch war, which in turn lead to the emplacement of stronger colonial administration in the area and the development of coffee plantations in the highlands. ~

The Minangkabau were involved in a brief rebellion in the 1950s over the unfair distribution of wealth and development under the Sukarno government. The event left them traumatized and generally they have gone out of their way to avoid conflict with the government. ~

Minangkabau Matriarchal Society

The Minangkabau represent one of the last remaining matrilineal societies in the world. Property is inherited down the female line and women pick their marriage partners and do the proposing. The only thing that a man can ask of his wife is that she remain faithful to him. [Source: Encyclopedia of World Cultures, East and Southeast Asia edited by Paul Hockings (G.K. Hall & Company, 1993) ~]

Because women own all the property, men travel the far corners of Indonesia and try to make their fortunes. The Minangkabau are sometimes called the Gypsies of Indonesia. Men are known for their wanderlust. Traveling is considered a mark of success. The Minangkabau are known throughout Southeast Asia as active traders and are among the most economically successful groups in Indonesia. Many Minangkabau villages in West Sumatra are dominated by women and the elderly while those in their communities elsewhere in Indonesia are dominated by young men and men in general. ~

A young boy has his primary responsibility to his mother’s and sisters’ clans. It is considered “customary” and ideal for married sisters to remain in their parental home, with their husbands having a sort of visiting status. Not everyone lives up to this ideal, however. In the 1990s, anthropologist Evelyn Blackwood studied a relatively conservative village in Sumatera Barat where only about 22 percent of the households were “matrihouses,” consisting of a mother and a married daughter or daughters. Nonetheless, there is a shared ideal among Minangkabau in which sisters and unmarried lineage members try to live close to one another or even in the same house. [Library of Congress]

The Minangkabau are organized in accordance with a unique administrative system called nagari that was established along village lines and follows a set of traditional customs and rules ( adat bsandi syarak, syarak bsandi Kitabullah) that are in turn are based on the Koran and Islamic law. Each nagari has a mayor elected by the village council and an approved government-pointed official for a year. In recent years there has been a movement to strengthen the nagari system, and make it more independent from Jakarta. ~


Seremban (between Kuala Lumpur and Melaka in southern Malaysia) is the capital and largest city in Negeri Sembilan and has a population over 133,000. Linked by rail with Port Dickson on the Strait of Malacca, Seremban is the commercial center in the middle of rubber-growing region with some tin mines nearby. Of interest are Lake Gardens and the State Museum which features a Malay house built without the use of a single nail. West of Seremban is the royal town of Sri Menanti, where the Istana, or ruler's palace, is located. [Source: Cities of the World, Gale Group Inc., 2002, adapted from a October 1994 U.S. State Department report]

Local Tourism Office:
Pejabat Tourism Malaysia Negeri Sembilan,
Tingkat 1,
Seremban Plaza,
Jalan Dato' Muda Linggi,
70100 Seremban,
Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia, Tel: 606-762 4488, Fax: 606-763 8428

Negeri Sembilan
Tourist Information Centre
Pusat Penerangan Pelancongan Tourism Malaysia,
Kawasan Rawat & Rehat Mambau Arah Barat,
Lebuhraya PLUS Seremban-Port Dickson,
70300 Mambau,
Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia, Tel: 606-672-2726

Port Dickson

Port Dickson (100 kilometers southeast of Kuala Lumpur, about 1½ hours by car) is a seaside resort, consists of the town itself and a series of sandy bays stretching 17 kilometers south along the coastal road. Facilities are available for swimming, fishing, water skiing, windsurfing, tennis, and golf. Unfortunately, many areas of the beaches are no longer scenic and have pollution problems. Despite this, clean and picturesque coves can still be found. Several rest houses and hotels provide meals and accommodations. Company-owned bungalows can be rented for a weekend or several days at reasonable cost, but they have become harder to find.

The town of Port Dickson grew up around port linked to a railroad that brought in rubber and tin from plantations and mines on the interior of Malaysia. Port Dickson (PD) is said to have been named after a British officer, Sir John Frederik Dickson in 1889. Others mention that the place was named after another British officer who supervised the British ports handling ore in Lukut, a district of Port Dickson at the time.

Port Dickson is more famous for its attractive beaches, ample amenities and good infrastructure. There are also various types of accommodation for those wishing to holiday here. The beaches of Port Dickson (PD) is a famous weekend retreat for city dwellers. Among the famous beaches here are Teluk Kemang and Blue Lagoon. There are also infrastructure for watersports dan beach activity.

Getting There: By Car: It takes just over an hour by car to travel from Kuala Lumpur to Port Dickson along the North-South Expressway (PLUS). Contact: Tourism Malaysia Negeri Sembilan, Address: Seremban Plaza, Jalan Dato' Muda Linggi,70100 Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, Tel: 606-763 5388 / 762, Fax: 606-763 8428, Email: mtpb.negerisembilan@tourism.gov.my

Seri Menanti Royal Museum

The Seri Menanti Royal Museum (50 kilometers from Seremban, in the royal town of Seri Menanti) was built in 1902-1905. Originally a palace for the Negeri Sembilan Royal family, this five storey wooden palace, was built using no nails or screws. The carpenters at the time used wooden pegs so that the palace would be able to withstand the times.

It also uses 99 solid timber pillars, soaring 65 feet. Black in color, the palace also has intricate flower motifs beautifying the regal palace.Visitors can find costumes, weaponry, bed chambers as well as documents on the royal lineage on display in the museum

Getting There: By Car: The turn off to Sri Menanti is about 13 kilometers from Kuala Pilah town. Signs to Sri Menanti are clearly marked. Once on this road, just head straight in. The old Palace is situated at the end of the village. By Bus: From Kuala Pilah bus station, there are daily buses to Sri Menanti or you could hire a taxi from the taxi stand at the bus. Contact: Tourism Malaysia Negeri Sembilan Address: Seremban Plaza, Jalan Dato' Muda Linggi,70100 Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, Tel: 606-763 5388 / 762, Fax: 606-763 8428, Email: mtpb.negerisembilan@tourism.gov.my

Perak State

Perak is fourth largest state in Malaysia. Also known by its honorific Darul Ridzuan or "Abode of Grace", it is home to 2,258,428 people, covers an area of 21,035 square kilometers and has a population density of 107 people per square kilometer. It borders Kedah at the north; Thailand's Yala and Narathiwat provinces to the northeast; Penang to the northwest; Kelantan and Pahang to the east; Selangor to the south, and the Straits of Malacca to the west. [Source: Wikipedia, Perak Tourism]

Perak means “Silver,” a named derived from silvery tin ore found in the state. It is the second largest state in Peninsular Malaysia and is famed for its natural tropical beauty and rich cultural history. During the British colonial period it was the home of large tin mining operations and rubber tree plantations, the remains of which are still visible today. Perak’s capital is Ipoh, known historically as a tin-mining center until the price of the metal dropped, severely affecting the local economy. The royal capital is in Kuala Kangsar, where the palace of the Sultan of Perak is located.

Perak is blessed with white sandy beaches, coral reefs, magnificent caves and rainforests. It is where you can find the lush Lenggong Valley, which embraces four archaeological sites in two clusters which span close to 2 million years, one of the longest records of early man in a single locality, and the oldest outside the African continent. According to UNESCO: “It features open-air and cave sites with Palaeolithic tool workshops, evidence of early technology. The number of sites found in the relatively contained area suggests the presence of a fairly large, semi-sedentary population with cultural remains from the Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Metal ages.”


Ipoh (midway between Penang and Kuala Lumpur) is capital city of Perak State. Home to about 700,000 people, it is situated in western Malaysia in the tin-producing Kinta Valley. It has a very hot, rainy, tropical monsoon-type climate, with an average annual rainfall of 200 centimeters (80 inches). Limestone and tin have been produced here by both modern and ancient methods. The city thrived when tin was widely used and declined after its prices declined. [Source: Cities of the World, Gale Group Inc., 2002, adapted from a October 1994 U.S. State Department report]

Ipoh has a thriving market and railroad. Known as "the city of millionaires," when the price of tin was high, it has a lovely park, Japanese Gardens, and Chinese cave temples. The city was occupied by the Japanese from 1942 until the end of World War II. The coastal town of Lumut is 90 kilometers miles southwest; its modern naval base has contributed to its fast growth. Known for its shell and coral handicrafts, Lumut is the site of the annual Sea Festival.

Local Tourism Office:
Tourism Malaysia Negeri Perak,
12, Medan Istana 2,
Bandar Ipoh Raya,
30000 Ipoh,
Perak, Malaysia, Tel: 605-255 9962/ 2772/ 1012, Fax: 605-253 2194

Sights Near Ipoh

Sungai Klah Hot Springs (near Ipoh) covers 6.5 hectares and is nestled in the serene and lush forest patches, surrounded by hills and clear cold mountain streams and rivers. It has a free flowing Hot Springs Swimming Pool and Therapeutic Park situated at the foot of the Titiwangsa Range. Families visit the park for family baths hot springs boiled eggs. Some foreigners come here to experience the local Malay massage. For more adventure, visitors can hike along the Sungkai River. Getting There: By Road” From the North-South Expressway (PLUS), get off at the Sungkai Toll Exit and turn left at the junction. Just 1 kilometers down the trunk road, turn left and follow the signs. The park is just after the Sungai Klah FELDA village. Contact: FELDA Residence Hot Springs, Tel: 605 438 8801/438 8803

Sam Poh Tong Temple (five kilometers south of Ipoh) is a famous cave temple located in Gunung Rapat. It is said to be the biggest cave temple in the country, and is an impressive work of art with various statues of Buddha interspersed among the stalactites and stalagmites. According to legend, the cave was discovered in 1890 by a monk from China who was passing through Ipoh; he decided to make it his home and a place for meditation. He remained there for 20 years until his death. Till today, nuns and monks who dedicate their lives to Buddha still occupy the Sam Poh Tong. The present temple facade dates back to the 1950s and a stiff climb of 246 steps will lead you to an open cave with an excellent view of Ipoh and its surroundings. Other attractions at the temple include a beautiful Japanese pond full of Japanese carps and tortoises, which are a symbols of longevity. Getting There: By Road It is located in Gunung Rapat, just 5 kilometers south of Ipoh. Contact: Tourism Malaysia State Office, Tel: 605-255 2772/9962, Email: mtpbperak@tourism.gov.my

Tempurung Cave (Gua Tempurung) (near Gopeng, 24 kilometers south of Ipoh) is the largest natural limestone cave in Peninsular Malaysia. Approximately 1.5 kilometers long, it has five huge domes which ceilings resemble coconut shells, each dome has different formations of stalagmites and stalactites. The domes also differ from one another in terms of temperature, water level, content of limestone and marble. Getting There: By Road: The cave is located in the vicinity of Gopeng, 24 kilometers south of Ipoh. Contact: Tourism Malaysia Perak Office, Tel: 605-255 9962 /2772/1012

Kellie's Castle

Kellie's Castle (14 kilometers south of Ipoh) was meant to be a home away from home for Scottish Planter, William Kellie Smith in the 20th century. Being far away from home, Kellie desired his new residence to be reminiscent of his home back in Scotland. The castle is perched on top of a hill in what used to be a rubber estate.

William Kellie Smith was an interesting man who was popular with his South Indian workers. Kind at heart, he erected a Hindu shrine for his workers on the castle premises. As a token of appreciation, his workers erected a statue of Kellie complete with a white suit and hat. Construction of this unique castle began in 1915. However, it came to an abrupt halt with Kellie's sudden death in 1926. The solitary castle, looks almost surreal in these wild plantations of Perak, it projects a strong personality and an aura of mystery.

Recently, efforts have been made by the Perak State Government to rescue this magnificent structure from the encroaching foliage. Besides being haunted, the castle is believed to have hidden rooms and secret underground tunnels. The road that leads to Kellie's Castle follows the contours of the land in a dizzying, maze-like fashion, adding to the mystery and romance of the place. Getting There: By Road: The castle is situated on the way to Batu Gajah town at the Kinta Kellas Rubber Estate, about a 30-minute drive and 14 kilometers south of Ipoh City. Contact: Tourism Malaysia State Office, Tel: 605-255 2772/9962, Email: mtpbperak@tourism.gov.my

Pasir Salak: Where British Colonial Official was Assassinated

Pasir Salak Historical Complex (70 kilometers from Ipoh) pays tribute to Malay nationalist heros Dato' Sagor and Dato' Maharaja Lela. There are memorials erected in their honor, in the shape of a sundang (broad sword), a replica of the type of knife used in the killing of J. W. W. Birch, a British colonial official who was assassinated in Perak in 1875, an event that led to the outbreak of the Perak War.

This is the place where the flames of Malay nationalism first stirred. Birch was assassinated on the banks of Sungai Perak (Perak River) by followers of a Dato Maharajalela, local Malay chief. Birch was speared to death while he was in the bath-house of his boat, SS Dragon, moored on the river-bank below the Maharajela's house. Tension between the British colonial administration and the Malays escalated into open conflict. Dato' Sagor and Dato' Maharaja Lela led locals against the forces of the British colonial administration. But unfortunately the Perak War ultimately led to the extension of British political influence over the Malay Peninsula but also, it can be argued, launched a spirit of Malay nationalism.

Other attractions at the complex include the J.W.W. Birch Monument, the grave of Sipuntum (the alleged assassin), Datuk Maharaja Lela's fort, the Lela Rentaka cannons used against the British colonial army, and two Rumah Kutai (Perak traditional house) filled with local historical and cultural artefacts. Getting There: Pasir Salak is near Teluk Intan (Teluk Anson). By Road: From the North-South Expressway (PLUS), EXIT at Simpang Pulai Interchange. From there, take the route to Batu Gajah, turn towards Kampung Gajah and follow the signboard to Pasir Salak Historical Complex. Contact: Pasir Salak Historical Complex Office, Tel: 605-631 8999

Lenggong Valley Archaeological Site: UNESCO World Heritage Site

Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley (240 kilometers north of Kuala Lumpur) was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012. According to UNESCO: “Situated in the lush Lenggong Valley, the property includes four archaeological sites in two clusters which span close to 2 million years, one of the longest records of early man in a single locality, and the oldest outside the African continent. It features open-air and cave sites with Palaeolithic tool workshops, evidence of early technology. The number of sites found in the relatively contained area suggests the presence of a fairly large, semi-sedentary population with cultural remains from the Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Metal ages. [Source: UNESCO]

“The lush Lenggong Valley on the Malay Peninsula contains evidence in open-air and cave sites along the Perak River spanning all the periods of hominid history outside Africa from 1.83 million to 1,700 years ago. Undisturbed in situ Palaeolithic stone tool workshops are located on the shores of a paleolake and ancient river gravel beds and dated in a long chronological sequence. A meteorite strike 1.83 million ago blocked and diverted the river preserving Palaeolithic tools at Bukit Bunuh, where hand axes are among the oldest so far discovered outside Africa. Analysis suggests these were made by hominids which thus provide an extremely early date for hominid presence in South-East Asia. A catastrophic Toba volcanic eruption 70,000 ago caused abandonment of a workshop site containing multiple tool types at Kota Tampan. Other workshop sites date from 200,000-100,000 BP at Bukit Jawa, 40,000 BP at Bukit Bunuh and 1000 BP at Gua Harimau. The relative abundance of these sites hints at a relatively large or semi sedentary population.

“Perak Man was discovered within Gua Gunung Runtuh cave. Perak Man is South-East Asia’s oldest most complete human skeleton. It is radiocarbon dated to 10,120 BP and identified as Australomelanesoid, a hominid type occupying the western part of the Indonesia archipelago and continental South-East Asia at the end of the Pleistocene and early Holocene. Within the large karst outcrop of Bukit Kepala Gajah are 20 caves. Three of these, Gua Gunung Runtuh, Gua Teluk Kelawar and Gua Kajang, have revealed prehistoric burials. Together these four sites in two clusters sites represent the sequence of significant stages in human history unrivalled in the region.

The Lenggong Valley has provided a fertile and environmentally stable habitat for repeated human occupation since early Palaeolithic times. The archaeological deposits are relatively undisturbed and generally in good condition, largely due to low visitation...The authenticity of the property relates to the intactness of the sites themselves and of their landscape setting that allows understanding of ancient river gravel beds and the impact of meteoric impact. The documented evidence supports the values claimed for this site from 1.83 million to 1,700 years ago. The recent Lenggong Valley research relating to the story of early human migration ensures the reliability and authenticity of the property. Much of the documentation has been independently peer reviewed through the academic publishing process, albeit not yet on a fully international scale. The artefacts and research are available for study.”

Getting There: By Road Lenggong is located on Route 76 which links Kuala Kangsar with Baling. To reach it from the North-South Expressway (E1), exit the highway at the Kuala Kangsar Interchange (Exit 143). From there take Route 76 in the direction of Baling. The archaeological sites in Lenggong includes Bukit Jawa, Kota Tampan, Gua Gunung Runtuh and Gua Harimau. Contact: Jabatan Warisan Negara Zon Tengahm Zuraini bt Zamri, Tel: 6019-567 2455, Pusat Informasi Pelancongan Hentian R&R Raja Muda Nazrin, Tasik Raban Lenggong, Tel: 605-751-2350

Lenggong Valley Archaeological Cave Sites

Bukit Jawa is an open site where evidence of Palaeolithic culture was found. Discovered by researchers from the Universiti Sains Malaysia, in 1996, it contains evidence of a Paleleothic community unearthed in sediments at Sungai Perak. Hammers and other tools and thousands of stone shards found at the site suggest that the Paleleothic community used the site for tool making, 100,000 — 200, 000 years ago.

Gua Gunung Runtuh is located at Bukit Kepala Gajah, one of eight limestone caves in Lenggong Valley. Excavations started in 1990 (Zuraina; 1994, 2005) uncovered evidence of Late Paleolithic activity from 13,000 till 10,000 ago. The caves are said to be more than 540,000 years old (Mokhtar; 2005). Finds here include tools, food and a human remains.

Kota Tampan provided evidence of the first Palaeolithic culture in Malaysia. Excavations were first carried out in 1938, followed by another one in 1954. A survey by the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) revealed that Kota Tampan appears to have served as tool-making center during the Palaeolithic era about 74,000 years ago. Kota Tampan is also a reference site for Palaeolithic culture in South- East Asia as it also has classifications and stone tool making technology of the age.

Gua Kajang is located at a limestone complex at Bukit Kepala Gajah. This was the first cave in Malaysia to be excavated in 1917 by Evans. Urn fragments, stone tools, food as well as human bones were uncovered. Further research carried out by Universiti Sains Malaysia found evidence that Gua Kajang was used between 11,000 to 5,000 years ago. This cave may have also been used as living quarters and burial ground by the Paleolithics and Neolithics. A burial site was found with a Paleolithic human (GK1), buried in a fetal position with offerings of food and tools, dated 10,820 years ago. One meter southeast is a Neolithic grave with a human (GK 2) buried elongated position with food deposits, stone tools and earthenware, dated to 7,890 years ago. The earthenware found is the oldest found in Malaysia. A huge part of the floor cave has been damaged due to guano harvesting activity and some parts of the cave walls have been drawn over with graffiti.

Gua Teluk Kelawar, Lenggong

Gua Teluk Kelawar (one kilometer from Lenggong) is located at the Bukit Kepala Gajah limestone complex. Research was first carried out by the Malaysian Archaeological Research Centre in 1990. Later on, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) also carried out excavation works and found that the cave was used 11,000 to 6,000 years ago. Among the many artefacts found at the site are tools and food deposits such as river snails. There was also evidence of wild boar and deer, and this denoted that the environment was very much the same as today’s tropical rainforest.

Research also uncovered human remains (GTK 1) dated to 8,000 years ago. There were also stone tools and food deposits at the site. The burial indicated that the Palaeolithic era in Malaysia continued until early Holocene, before they made pottery. Gua Teluk Kelawar also has protective features commonly found during the formation of limestone in Malaysia.

Stone tools found here include shaped pebbles and hammer. The tools are similar to those used at Kota Tampan and Gua Gunung Runtuh. There are also pottery shards with early minimal designs (6,000 years ago). Animal bones come from monkeys (Macaca sp.), deer (Muntiacus munjak), wild boar (Sus sp.), and reptiles. There were also river snail shells (Brotia costula and Brotia spinosa). Human remain, dated to 8,000 years ago, named Perak Woman, was found at Gua Teluk Kelawar in 2004. She was 148 centimeters tall and was believed to have been 40 years old when she died.

Lenggong Archaeological Museum, Lenggong

Lenggong Archaeological Museum (100 kilometers the north of Ipoh) is located in Kota Tampan, near Lenggong. Also known as Kota Tampan Archaeological Museum, it is located at a Paleolithic site dating back 74,000 years ago. It is recognized as one of the oldest site of human activity in West Malaysia.

Lenggong Archaeological Museum displays ‘Perak Man’, the oldest human skeleton found in Peninsular Malaysia in the caves nearby. This skeleton is dated 10,000 to 11,000 ago, around the beginning of the Neolithic era. The first survey carried out was by Collings (1938, albeit with many issues) and by Sieveking (1958). Research carried out by Zuraina (1989, 2003) at the Kota Tampan site in 1987 — 1989has been able to resolve issues and problems by previous researchers. This site is also used as a reference point for Palaeolithic culture in the region.

The Lenggong Archaeological Museum is situated near the Lipur Lata Kekabu Rainforest, only two kilometers from the site. There is also an on-site exhibition at KT 1987, KT 2005 and at Lenggong Archaeological Museum on early settlements in Malaysia. Contact: Jabatan Warisan Negara Zon Tengah, Zuraini bt Zamri, Tel: 6019-567 2455, Muzium Arkeologi Lenggong, Tel: 605-767-9700, Fax: 605-767-9703. Pusat Informasi Pelancongan Hentian R&R Raja Muda Nazrin, Tasik Raban Lenggong, Tel: 605-751-2350

Getting There: The city of Lenggong is located through Kuala Kangsar (onwards to Grik). By Road: Lenggong is located on Route 76 which links Kuala Kangsar with Baling. To reach it from the North-South Expressway (E1), exit the highway at the Kuala Kangsar Interchange (Exit 143). From there take Route 76 in the direction of Baling. The Lenggong Archaeological Museum or also known as Kota Tampan Archaeological Museum is situated here. It is located near Bandar Lenggong.

Belum Forest Reserve

Belum Forest Reserve (northern parts of Lake Temenggor, northern Peninsula Malaysia, 5½ hours from Kuala Lumpur) is one of the largest untouched forest reserves in Peninsula Malaysia. It is home to many large mammal species such as elephants, tapirs and tigers and sued to have some rhinoceroses. This forest possesses an immense wealth of flora and fauna with much of the area still unexplored and undisturbed by humans. Various tour operators now offer guided tours to certain areas of the reserve and will arrange for the necessary permits, river and road transport and accommodation, which may include camping.

Belum Forest Reserve was nominated to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017 According to UNESCO: “The total area of the Royal Belum State Park is 117,500 hectare and straddles the northern undisturbed and pristine lowland dipterocarp, hill dipterocarp and lower montane forests (up to about 1,533 meters above sea level) of northern Peninsular Malaysia forming the northern and strategic component of the Central Forest Spine (CFS). The State Park is considered as one of the oldest, protected, undisturbed and pristine land mass in Peninsular Malaysia of more than 130 millions years old, relics of the geological confluence of the southern Gondwanaland supercontinent and northern Laurasian supercontinent. Geographically, about 57 percent of its area is located in the range of 80-300 meters above sea level and 41 percent in the range of 300-1,533 meters above sea level. There is only one main river system, Sungai (River) Perak that originates from the Perak-Kelantan border in the north-east and flows southward to the Straits of Malacca at Bagan Datoh. Among the smaller rivers that are found in the State Park and drain most of the areas are Sungai Kenarong that originates on the west, Sungai Tiang and Sungai Kejar that originate on the east of the State Park, in addition to more than hundreds of smaller tributaries and streams that feed the Lake Temengor. [Source: UNESCO]

“Geologically, the Royal Belum State Park is situated on the eastern side of the Western Belt of Peninsular Malaysia, right along the tectonic boundary of two continental plates (Sibumasu and East Malaya plates). This area consists of diverse rock formations of mostly metamorphosed marine sedimentary rocks of Early Silurian-Devonian age (~ 440 to 400 meters.y. ago) belonging to the Baling Group, and the Triassic granites. The igneous body intrusion that occurred in the Late Triassic age (ca. 220 meters.y.) had lifted the area and became a land mass and physical landscape what we observed today. This intrusion and other related tectonic activities resulted from the collision of two supercontinental plates had shaped the area to what it is today as a metamorphed and uplifted Baling Group. This substratum has become the niche and habitats for the rich and diverse biodiversity in the State Park.”

Getting There: By Road: To get there from Kuala Lumpur, take the North-South Expressway and head north towards Ipoh. Passing Ipoh, take the Kuala Kangsar exit, and head towards Gerik. Take route 4, which is the East- West expressway. This will take you to Pulau Banding, the jumping off point for your adventure. The journey from KL is about 5 1/2 hours. Admission to Belum Rainforest is best arranged with resort owners in the area. [Source: Contact: Belum Rainforest Office, Tel: 605-791-6800]

Animals and Plants in Belum Forest Reserve

According to UNESCO: “Biodiversity (Fauna): With respect to fauna biodiversity, the State Park also hosts a total of 10 species of iconic hornbills, the highest number in the country, in the region and is also believed in the world as well, per unit area. As far as recorded, the hornbills have been using the State Park as their nesting and breeding grounds as well as where they find their food sources, namely the fruits. Besides, it also has 80 species of mammals including the threatened Asian elephant (Elephas maximus maximus), the iconic and threatened Malayan tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni), the Malayan gaur (Bos gaurus hubbacki), the Malayan tapirs (Tapirus indicus) and etc. These big four have been under great threats ever since Malaysia has embarked on intensive agriculture, and the State Park has been their refugia where they could roam the whole range and breed freely, thus ensuring their survival and conservation. In addition, the State Park also contains a total of 18 species of frogs and toads, 67 species of snakes, and amongst the insects, there are more than 132 species of beetles, 28 species with possibly three new species of cicadas, 97 species of moths and 41 species of dragonflies and damselflies had been recorded via a few past scientific expeditions.

“Recently, two new species of thrips, the pollinating insects of the tropical timber trees were described and reported from the area, namely Biltothrips perakensis and Scirtothrips temengorensis, both named after the state and forest reserve, respectively. Obviously the biodiversity of the insect fauna is well-underestimated and it is under-studied as well. Probably there are more insect fauna species that are yet to be discovered and recorded from the State Park and only conservation will ensure its richness is ascertained. The long interaction between the ecosystems and habitats of the State Park with the plants and animals in it had paved the future for biodiversity conservation of the tropical humid world. The above statements illustrated the significance of biodiversity conservation and scientific value of the State Park not only to Malaysia, probably South-east Asia but also the tropical old world. As far as it is currently known and recorded there is no extinction yet of the flora and fauna in the State Park.

Biodiversity (Flora): The most iconic flora in the world are the gigantic rafflesias whose flowers are the largest in the plant kingdom. In the world there are about 26 species, in Malaysia there are eight species and in the State Park and its vicinity it is represented by four species namely, Rafflesia cantleyi, R. kerri and R. azlanii, the latest was named after the Patron of the Malaysian Nature Society Heritage Expedition in 1998. The fourth species for Peninsular Malaysia, R. sumeiae occurs south of the State Park, as far as currently known. The occurrence of four endemic species of Rafflesia in the protected State Park is most significant for biodiversity conservation in the World. The State Park also hosts more than 3,500 species of seed plants and many of them are endemic to the area, hence not found elsewhere in the world and many also are rare in Malaysia and the region. A total of more than 89 species of mosses; 48 taxa of ferns and fern-allies (or lycophytes), more than 374 species in 84 families of flowering plants were listed and recorded including 15 endemic species such as Etlingera triorgyalis (Zingiberaceae), Ternstroemia evenia (Theaceae), Orchidantha fimbriata (Lowiaceae), Areca tunkui (Palmae), Ryparosa fasciculata (Falcourtiaceae) and Drypetes oxyodonta (Euphorbiaceae) amongst others.

“The keystone family of the tropical flora, the Dipterocarpaceae is well-represented in the State Park with at least 32 species including the gigantic and rare Shorea foxworthyi, S. acuminata, and etc. Other threatened dipterocarps which are found in the State Park include Dipterocarpus costatus, D. kerri, Hopea helfer, H. odorata, H. sublanceolata, Parashorea stellate, Shorea faguetiana, S. ovata, S. parvifolia, S. platyclados, to name a few. The Quenn of the flowering plants, the orchids are represented by more than 150 species including the rare and threatened Cleissostoma complicatum, C. williamsonii, Plocoglottis javanica and etc; and aroids are also well-represented by more than 80 species, as far as they are currently known. The gymnosperm is represented by some species of climbing Gnetum including the dinosaur-aged cycads, Cycas macrocarpa and C. clivicola which occur in the State Park. The number of species and individual of plants reflect the highest density of biodiversity per unit area probably in the World. The vegetation of the Royal Belum State Park is typical of the ever-wet and ever-green tropical rainforest of the Sunda Shelf that may be classified as the lowland dipterocarp, hill dipterocarp and sub-montane forests with some elements of deciduous monsoon forests too. The monsoon forest which exhibits deciduous phenomenon in dry season represents the southern portion of the Asiatic influence. The vegetation and flora, hence represent the confluence of the southern Malesian and Australian elements and the northern Asiatic of Thai-Burmese-Indochinese elements. This mixture of the floras augurs well for the conservation of plant diversity. The richness of the plant species and the high endemism occurring in the State Park justify its potential in in situ biodiversity conservation in the World.

Bukit Larut: the Wettest Place in Malaysia

Maxwell Hill (Bukit Larut) is named William Edward Maxwell, a British official in Perak, who explored the area in 1884. Perched at 1250 meters above sea level, it is the wettest place in Malaysia, with an annual rainfall of over 500 centimeters, Temperature here hovers around 15 degrees centigrade in the early morning and late afternoon, dipping to 10 degrees centigrade at night.

The Tea Garden House, situated mid-way up the hill, was once the office of a tea plantation. However, when their tea plants did not grow very well here, the British shifted their agricultural endeavour to the Cameron Highlands, where the Boh Tea Plantation is now. All types of Malaysian flowers including the rare giant fishtail palm thrive here while tulips are grown on an experimental basis. The golden sunflowers grown here are the largest in the country.

On a clear day, one can view the peninsular coastline and the Straits of Malacca, sometimes stretching as far as Penang to the north and Pangkor Island to the south. The scenery is captivating during the day, magical and bewitching at night. However, the view is often obscured by cloud build-up in the afternoon, especially from September to December.

Getting There: By Road On the North-South Highway, take the Taiping exit. Follow the signs leading to Taiping after the toll and from Taiping town head towards the lake gardens. There are signs showing the way to Bukit Larut (Maxwell Hill). Contact: Bukit Larut Office, Tel: 605-807 7241/ 7243

Taiping Lake Gardens

Taiping Lake Gardens (in the city of Taiping, 3½ hours from Kuala Lumpur by car) is built on top of an abandoned tin mine, the gardens were opened in 1880, earning them a place in the history books as the first public garden in then-Malaya. Huge ancient rain trees (“angsana”) line the lake; their branches stretching from one end of the road into the waters across, making the perfect backdrop for couples taking their wedding photos.

Spread over 64 hectares, the lake has ten scenic lakes and ponds, a Lotus Pool, charming bridges, tracks for jogging and reflexology, all surrounded by tropical plants, flowers, trees and wildlife. For kids, a roller-skating rink, paddleboat rides, and a playground ensure that the outdoors appeal more than the latest video game.

Getting There: By Air: The nearest airport is the Penang International Airport, about a 90-minute drive from Taiping. Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is about a four-hour drive south via the North-South Expressway. By Road: To get to Taiping from the North-South Expressway (PLUS), exit at Changkat Jering Interchange and take the Simpang route before turning right towards Taiping. The Taiping Lake Garden is easily accessible through Jalan Istana and Jalan Kelab Baru. By Bus: Taiping is well connected to the rest of Peninsular Malaysia by express buses, which arrive at and depart from the long-distance bus station at Kamunting (6 kilometers from the town centre) and Simpang (7 kilometers from the town centre). Buses also travel direct from Taiping to Singapore and Hat Yai in southern Thailand. Southbound buses depart from Kamunting and call along Simpang (Medan Simpang) to pick up passengers before heading to the highway via the Changkat Jering interchange. Bus tickets are available from counters located at Medan Kamunting and Medan Simpang. By Train: Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) operates a number of daily services along the main north- south line which stop at Taiping station. Contact: Perak Tourism Malaysia Office: Address: 12, Medan Istana 2, Bandar Ipoh Raya, 30000, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia, Tel: 605-255 9962/2772, Fax: 605 253 2194, Email: mtpbperak@tourism.gov.my

Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary

Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary is located in Matang Mangrove Forest, the largest mangrove area in Peninsular Malaysia. This ecologically diverse and abundant mangrove habitat stretch along the west coast tidal mudflats of northern Perak for almost 50 kilometers plus another 40 kilometers along the shorelines of the sheltered river systems within the reserve's five estuaries. During the migration season between August and April every year, more than 200,000 migratory birds from 50 species to stop over here.

There are also well-equipped and informative visitor centres where you can get detailed educational programs and displays, which focus on the importance of safeguarding and preserving the mangrove ecosystems and the large numbers of resident and migrant bird species. The Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary has won the "Best Tourist Attraction (Natural Attraction)" category during the Malaysia Tourism Awards, a prestigious award presented to agencies and organisations which contribute to the development of tourism in Malaysia.

Getting There: By Road: Although the bird sanctuary is in the state of Perak, it is actually easier to get to it from Butterworth (Penang). Take the North-South Expressway south from Butterworth (Penang) for about 30 minutes, then turn off at Jawi for the town of Kuala Kurau. Another 30 minutes onwards and you should see the signs for the sanctuary. Contact: Contact: Pn. Haliza, Chairperson of the Kuala Gula Eco-tourism Committee, Tel: 605-807 0842, En. Jalani bin Din, The Village Head, Tel: 605-890 5481.

Kedah State

Kedah state is located in the northwestern part of Peninsular Malaysia. Nicknamed Malaysia’s rice bowl because of its vast paddy fields, it is home to around 2 million people, covers an area of 9,500 square kilometers and has a population density of 199 people per square kilometer. The state consists of the mainland and the Langkawi islands. The mainland has a relatively flat terrain, which is used to grow rice, while Langkawi is an archipelago, most of which are uninhabited islands.

Kedah was previously known as Kadaram by the ancient and medieval Tamil people, Kataha or Kalahbar by the Arabs, and Syburi by the Siamese when it was under their influence. To the north, Kedah borders the state of Perlis and shares an international boundary with the Songkhla and Yala provinces of Thailand. It borders the states of Perak to the south and Penang to the southwest. The state's capital is Alor Setar and the royal seat is in Anak Bukit. Other major towns include Sungai Petani, and Kulim on the mainland, and Kuah on Langkawi. [Source: Wikipedia]

Kedah is the 8th largest state by land area and 8th most populated state in Malaysia Kedah has a relatively heterogeneous populace constituted by three major ethnic groups; the Malays, Chinese and Indians as well as some Malaysian Siamese ethnic groups, similar to most of the other Malaysian states. Prior to the formation of the Federation of Malaya, there was an ethnic group known as the Sam Sam people. They are culturally Malay Muslim but speak Siamese language. Most of these communities are almost extinct due to assimilation with the Malays. In some places in Kedah, the Sam Sam people still retain their Siamese language as their mother tongue. These communities can be found in Pendang District, Kuala Nerang District and Kubang Pasu District (Changlun, Kodiang, Jitra, Wang Tepus, Guar Napai, Malau, Ason and Napoh). Kedah has a very small Orang Asli community. Orang Asli only can be found in the Baling district.

Alor Setar and Its Really Tall Tower

Alor Setar (about 80 kilometers north of George Town) is the capital of Kedah State. Also spelled Alor Star, it has a population of around 135,000 and lies near the Kedah River. A railway links Alor Setar with Kuala Lumpur to the south and the Thai railroad system to the north. Once a bustling inland port, the city is now known mainly as a shopping and trading center. The Zahir Mosque in Alor Setar is one of the most beautiful in the country. The city also has a state museum that houses some ancient artifacts, and has an interesting section on early Chinese porcelain ware. [Source: Cities of the World, Gale Group Inc., 2002, adapted from a October 1994 U.S. State Department report]

Located in the heart of Alor Setar, this 165.5-meter tower is one of the tallest telecommunications tower in the world. It is a prominent and modern landmark that signifies the rapid development in the state of Kedah. At its top is the Seri Angkasa Revolving Restaurant.From here, one can enjoy a spectacular view of Alor Setar and nearby Butterworth. On clear days, you can even spot Thailand! Besides landmark-spotting, the tower also serves as an observatory tower from which to look for the crescent moon to mark the beginning of Muslim months. The observation deck stands at a height of 88 meters from the base of the structure.Tickets to the observation deck are MYR 6 for adults and MYR 3 for children (prices subject to change). A souvenir shop at this level ensures that breathtaking views are cemented as little trinkets for your trip home.

Getting There: By Road: From Kuala Lumpur, take the North-South Expressway (PLUS), heading north towards Kedah. Take the Alor Setar Selatan exit into Alor Setar which is about 4 kilometers from this PLUS exit. The Alor Setar Tower is located in the middle of downtown Alor Setar, at the main junction of Lebuhraya Darul Aman and the Historical Palace. By Rail: Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) runs regular train services from Kuala Lumpur to Alor Setar in Kedah. For further details, please visit ; website: ktmb.com.my or contact KTMB at +603-2274 7435. Local Tourism Office:, Kompleks Pelancongan Negeri Kedah, Seksyen 20, Jalan Raja,, Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia, Tel: 604-731 2322/ 730 1322, Fax: 604-734 0322, Contact: Menara Alor Setar Office, Tel: 604-720 2234/ 2075

Mahathir’s Birthplace and Other Sights in Alor Setar

Mahathir's Birthplace, or "Rumah Kelahiran Mahathir", is in Alor Setar. It provides an insight into the younger days of the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia, from his school days to his success as a doctor. Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad was born in Alor Setar on Dec 20, 1925 at No. 18 Lorong Kilang Ais, off Jalan Pegawai. A humble wooden home with the roof made of nipah palm, the single room house was designated a historical building and restored by the National Archives in 1992. Admission is free for all visitors. Contact: National Archives Malaysia Kedah Branch, Tel: 604-772 2319

Zahir Mosque (Masjid Zahir) is one of Kedah's most distinctive architectural landmarks and is an elegant example of Malay- Islamic architecture. Built in 1912, it is one of the oldest mosques in the country. The design was inspired by the vision of the late Sultan Muhammad Jiwa Zainal Abidin II. Its five large, black domes symbolise the Five Pillars of Islam. Located in central Alor Setar, it is the official mosque for the state as well as the main mosque for local Muslims and the venue for the annual Koran reading competition. It is also the burial site of Kedah warriors who died while defending the state from the Siamese in 1821.

Pekan Rabu, literally translated “Wednesday Market”, is a well-known attraction among both the locals and tourists from outside Kedah. From its humble beginnings as a weekly market operating from an attap-roofed shack, it has since expanded into a multi- storey arcade selling a wide range of traditional delicacies, handicraft products and apparel. It is one of the best places to get traditional Malay foods such as serunding, dodol durian, kuah rojak and garam belacan. For its success, the business complex has become a source of pride among the Malay community in Kedah for helping encourage Malays to take an active role in commerce.Opening hours are from 8:00am to 9:00pm daily. Stalls remain open even on public holidays and festivals. Contact: Koperasi Pekan Rabu, Tel: 604-735 5523/731 3846

The Paddy Museum is the first of its kind in Malaysia, and the fourth to be opened in the world after Japan, Germany and the Philippines. The unique architecture of the Paddy Museum represents bushels of harvested rice stalks. Rice motifs are repeated throughout the building, on staircase banisters, the museum gates and the fence surrounding it. The museum showcases the paddy cultivation process in Malaysia and displays all kinds of tools and equipment which have been used in the trade over the years. Through beautiful murals, the artwork of 60 artists from North Korea, the history of paddy cultivation in Malaysia is revealed. Contact: Paddy Museum, Tel: 604-735 1315, Lembaga Muzium Negeri Kedah (Kedah Museum Board), Tel: 604-733 1162

Longest Rain Forest Canopy Walk and Other Sights Near Alor Setar

Tree Top Walk Sungai Sedim is a 950-meter-long tree top walk in the Sedim River Recreation Park. The longest rain forest canopy walk in the world, it was built within the low land of dipterocarp compartment 15 of Gunung Inas Forest Reserve. The spectacular view that you get when you stroll through the rain forest canopy is the main draw for visitors coming to this quiet, all-natural corner of Kedah. The walk-way reaches a height of 50 meters from which you get a "monkey's eye view" of rushing streams and fascinating flora and fauna. Getting There: By Car: From Kuala Lumpur, take the North-South Expressway (PLUS) and take the exit at Seberang Jaya, into the Butterworth– Kulim Expressway (BKE) and heading to Kulim Hi-Tech Park. Next, proceed to Karangan town. Contact: Syarikat Perusaahan Azam Travel Sdn. Bhd., Tel: 604-490 1588/491 0641

The Ulu Legong Hot Spring Recreational Centre (10 kilometers from Baling) is a popular spot for those wanting to enjoy a therapeutic soak in its hot mineral waters. As the only hot spring in operation 24 hours, a hot dip is particularly gratifying when the temperature decreases at night. Apart from those seeking relaxation, people with ailments and skin problems go there to seek therapeutic treatment by immersing themselves in the five hot spring pools which contain high sulphuric content and water temperatures between 30ºC and 60ºC. Getting There: By Car: From the North-South Expressway (PLUS), take the exit at Sungai Petani Selatan, then follow the signboard heading to Baling town. Ulu Legong Hot Spring is located about a 15 minute drive from Baling town. Contact: Ulu Legong Hot Spring Office, Tel: 604-473 2284

Sungai Petani

Sungai Petani (55 kilometers south of Alor Setar and 33 kilometers northeast of George Town) is is Kedah's largest town Due to its close proximity to Penang, Sungai Petani is also part of Greater Penang, Malaysia's second largest conurbation, with the town's logistical needs being served by Penang's well developed transportation infrastructure. Sungai Petani has experienced heavy industrialisation since the 1990s, when Japanese and other international firms began to set up manufacturing plants around the town.

The district of Kuala Muda, in which Sungai Petani is located in, has the 2nd largest mangrove area in the country. From Sungai Emas to Bukit Meriam, Bujang/Merbok, Pulau Tiga and Kota Kuala Muda one can trace the path of Kedah ancient capitals. Pulau Tiga, near Laguna Merbok was once the location of His Highness Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin's palace and his headquarters after being defeated and drove away by the Siamese in the Battle for Kuala Kedah Fort in the 18th. century. For not so long after, the Siamese attacked the new palace and razed it down. The Sultan escaped to Penang and then Malacca. Kedah was then broken into several administrative territories and ruled by respective Siamese Military Governors.

Getting There: By Road: Use the North-South Expressway. If you are driving from Kuala Lumpur, follow the route to the Kedah in the north. If you are driving from Perlis or Alor Setar, follow the road leading south. This site is situated 10 kilometers from Sungai Petani and 80 kilometers from Alor Setar. By Rail: Trains stop at Sungai Petani and Alor Setar. For rates and time, please visit ; website: ktmb.com.my

Buyang Valley Archaeological Site

The Bujang Valley (in Merbok, 17 kilometers from Sungai Petani) sometimes referred to as the Ancient Wonder of Kedah, is a rich historical site covering an area of about 400 square kilometers and bounded by Bukit Coras (Choras Hill) and Gunung Jerai. This archaeological area was the site of an ancient Hindu-Buddhist kingdom that ruled the region from the A.D. 4th century.

The Bujang Valley, or Lembah Bujang, is a sprawling historical complex. Once the site of the Srivijaya Empire, an ancient Malay kingdom based in Sumatra dating back from the first few centuries to the 12th century, it is the richest archaeological area in Malaysia. Over the years, numerous artefacts have been uncovered in the Bujang Valley — celadon, porcelain, stoneware, clay, pottery, fragments of glass, beads and Persian ceramics — evidences that Bujang Valley was once a centre of international and entrepot trade in the region. More than 50 ancient Hindu or Buddhist temples, called candi, have also been unearthed, adding to the spirituality of the place. The most well-preserved of these is located in Pengkalan Bayang Merbok, which is also where the Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum is located.

Research and excavation at the archaeological site in Sungai Batu, Bujang Valley started in February 2009. This site has been identified as the civilisation complex at Bujang Valley with an area more than three square kilometers, with 90 small hills. Its location by the Sungai Batu river and its tributaries, made it unique in that each separate tributary formed its own island. Hence, the location of Sungai Batu was important due to its strategic location for trading and defense activities.

The Lembah Bujang Archaeological Museum displays more than 2,500 artifacts from Malaysia's earliest civilization that have been unearthed from the surrounding excavation sites. Gold, gems, ceramics, Hindu gods and beautiful Buddha stone statues dating from the third to 14th centuries are all on display, though its main feature is Chandi Bukit Batu Pahat, a reconstructed temple built to worship the Hindu god Shiva. This museum is the first archaeology museum built in Malaysia, under the Museum and Antiquity Department.

Getting There: Bujang Valley is 17 kilometers from Sungai Petani and 80 kilometers from Alor Setar. Some parts are on an oil palm estate, near the Merbok-Semeling road. By Road: Use the PLUS-North-South Expressway. If you're driving from Kuala Lumpur, head north for Kedah, and if you are driving from Perlis or Alor Setar, head south. Take the Sungai Petani exit. From the exit, follow directions towards Merbok. When you get to Merbok, look out for signs to the Lembah Bujang Archaeology Museum. Contact: Lembah Bujang National History Park Office, Tel: 604-457 2005

Ancient Archaeological Sites in Kendah

Candi Bendang Dalam (Site 50 in Bukit Batu Pahat) is a structure estimated to have been built during the 12th to 13th century. There are Hindu influences prevalent throughout the temple. The the Vimana (6.75 meters x 6.25 meters) and the Mandapa (6.75 meters x 6.20 meters) were built using laterite without a foundation. Discovered at Kampung Bendang Dalam Merbok in the 1960s, this temple structure is situated to the west of Sungai Bujang. Research and excavation works were later carried out in 1974, 1976 and 1981 by the Department of Museum and Antiquities. Getting There: By Bus/TaxiVisitors can use public transportation, buses and taxis, to get to Sungai Petani. Contact: Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum, Tel: 04-457 2005, Fax: 04-457 4635 Jabatan Warisan Negara Zon Utara, Tel: 04-7353643, Fax: 04-7353649

Candi Pengkalan Bujang (Site 19, 22 dan 23), Pengkalan Bujang is believed to have built in the 10th to 14th century, and has been identified as a port. The site contains of six stupas in an area of 3.5 hectares. The architecture of the stupas has both Hindu and Buddhist influences. The site was identified by Dr. Quaritch Wales during scouting trips carried out in 1936 — 1937. Excavations started in 1974 and were carried out by the Department of Museum and Antiquities. From 1986 to 1991, the Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum in collaboration with professors and students from the History Faculty, Universiti Kebangsaan malaysia carried out and excavation project at the complex in Mukim Bujang, especially at Site 23.

Getting There: By Road: Use the North-South Expressway. If you are driving from Kuala Lumpur, follow the route to the Kedah in the north. If you are driving from Perlis or Alor Setar, follow the road leading south. Take the exit to Sungai Petani, and take the road to Merbok. At Merbok, follow the signage leading to the Lembah Bujang Archaeological Museum. By Rail: Trains stop at Sungai Petani and Alor Setar. For rates and time, please visit website: ktmb.com.my. Contact: Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum, Tel: 04-457 2005, Fax: 04-457 4635 Jabatan Warisan Negara Zon Utara, Tel: 04-7353643, Fax: 04-7353649

Gok/Bau, Jeniang, Kampung Gading are ancient kilns. Research carried out at Sungai Batu uncovered a complete kiln, with it base intact. Sediments and traces of coal discovered in the kiln date from 1600 years ago to 800 years ago. Although the distance between Sungai Batu is Jeniang 40 kilometers apart both appear to have been involved in the smelting industries which occurred around the same time. Getting There: By Road: Use the North-South Expressway. If you are driving from Kuala Lumpur, follow the route to the Kedah in the north. If you are driving from Perlis or Alor Setar, follow the road leading south. This site is situated 10 kilometers from Sungai Petani and 80 kilometers from Alor Setar. It is situated in an oil palm estate near the Merbok –Semeling road. Contact: Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum, Tel: 04-457 2005, Fax: 04-457 4635, Jabatan Warisan Negara Zon UtaraTel: 04-7353643, Fax: 04-7353649

Perlis State

Perlisis the smallest state in Malaysia. It lies at the northern part of the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia and has the Satun and Songkhla Provinces of Thailand on its northern border. Home to 227,025 people it covers an area of 821 square kilometers and has a population density of 277 people per square kilometer. Bordered by the state of Kedah to the south, it was called Palit by the Siamese when it was under their influence. [Source: Wikipedia]

The capital of Perlis is Kangar, and the royal capital is Arau. Kangar is located in the “rice bowl” area, It main landmark is the state mosque Masjid Alwi Other important towns are Padang Besar, at the Malaysia–Thailand border and Kuala Perlis. There is a famous snake farm and research centre at Sungai Batu Pahat. Among the main tourist attractions are Perlis State Park and Gua Kelam.

Kuala Perlis is where you catch the ferry to Langkawi. It is a small village with a port and ferry terminal. The major activity found here is fishing. There are some good seafood restaurants here. Not only is seafood fresh in Perlis, but it significantly cheaper than in Kuala Lumpur. At many places you can select the seafood you want from a tank and specify how you want it want seasoned and cooked: fried, barbequed, grilled, or sauted. Contact: Tourism Malaysia Perlis Office, Tel: 604-978 1235/ 1213. Getting There: By Road: From the North-South (PLUS) Highway, take the exit via Changlun and take the Changlun- Kuala Perlis highway.

Local Tourism Office:
19, Tingkat Bawah,
Jalan Pengkalan Indah,
Pengkalan Asam,
Kangar, Perlis, Malaysia,

Tel: 604-978 1235/ 1213, Fax: 604-978 1143 Lumut
Tourist Information Centre
Pusat Penerangan Pelancongan Lumut,
Kompleks Pelancongan Lumut Waterfront,
Jalan Titi Panjang,
32200 Lumut,
Perak, Malaysia, Tel: 605-683-4057, Fax: 605-683-8443

Padang Besar at the Thailand-Malaysia Border

Padang Besar is the border town at the Thailand-Malaysia. Many Malaysians travel up to Thailand through this point and likewise for their Thai counterparts, on shopping, business or recreational trips. The main Bangkok-Singapore railroad passes this way. The railway station has a long platform, manned by Malaysians on one side and the Thais on the other. Besides the Immigration checkpoints and some signs, it is hard to distinguish where the border actually lies because culturally, both sides are so enmeshed.

Beyond the rail tracks on the Malaysia side is Pekan Siam, bargain-hunters' paradise. The town is filled with textiles, clothing, handicraft, foodstuff, fruits and souvenirs. Mnay Thais come here load up on stuffer that is cheaper in Malaysia than in Thailand and an headd back to Thailand.

Getting There: By Rail: The easiest way to get to Padang Besar is to take KTM's overnight Express Langkawi coach from Kuala Lumpur's Sentral Station. This coach departs daily at about 8:00pm heading towards Padang Besar, a journey that takes about 10 hours. By Road: From the North-South (PLUS) Highway, take the exit via Changlun and take the Changlun-Kuala Perlis highway to Kangar. From Kangar, continue on route heading towards Padang Besar. Contact: For more information, Tel: 604-976 6722 Tourism Malaysia Perlis Office, Tel: 604-978 1235/1213

Gua Kelam (Kelam Cave)

Gua Kelam(33 kilometers north of Kangar) is one of the most distinctive caves in Malaysia. It is a 370-meter long limestone cave near the small town of Kaki Bukit (literally 'foot hill'). Gua Kelam means “Cave of Darkness.” Gua Kelam Recreational Park is popular for its enchanting 'cave walk' where you can enter from one end of the cave and come out at a different location.

The only path to the cave is via an eight-foot wide wooden suspension bridge. 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 to transport tin ore from a mine located near the stream entrance through the underground cavern to Kaki Bukit.

Now, locals and tourists make their way through the cave via a brightly lit wooden walkway inside the cave. You can still find remnants of the tin mine operation within the cave. As you make your way through the cave, the whispers of a swirling dark subterranean stream, together with the squeaking bats and dripping water from the stalactites, form a concerto of natural sounds.

Getting There: By Bus: Take a bus going to Kaki Bukit at the Kangar's main bus station. Then, take a walk of 10 minutes. By Road: From the North-South (PLUS) Highway, take the exit via Changlun and take the Changlun-Kuala Perlis highway to Kangar. From Kangar, continue on route heading towards Padang Besar and you follow the signboard to Kaki Bukit or Wang Kelian. Contact: Perlis Forestry Office, Tel: 604-938 4466

Perlis State Park

Perlis State Park is situated on Malaysia’s longest continuous range of limestone hills, called the Nakawan Range. The Nakawan Range has beautiful, heavily forested slopes, sheer cliff faces, streams and extensive cave systems.

Some of the major attractions in Perlis State Park includes caves such as Gua Kelam and Gua Wang Burma which is located within the 500 year-old Setul limestone formation. The Park consists of Mata Ayer Forest Reserve and Wang Mu Forest Reserve with a total area of about 5000 hectares.

The park provides the perfect setting for activities such as looking for the ttump-tail macaques and plants like wild ginger, ferns and balsams endemic to the state are found here. Visitor can stay in hostels and chalets or camp at the designated site. Those intending to visit are required to obtain permission from the Perlis State Park management and engage the services of a ranger or qualified guide.

Contact: Perlis State Park Visitor's Centre, Tel: 604-977 7578/7898 Getting There: By Road From the North-South (PLUS) Highway, take the exit via Changlun and take the Changlun-Kuala Perlis highway to Kangar. From Kangar, continue on route heading towards Padang Besar-Wang Kelian. Continue your journey heading to Kaki Bukit Town and you will see Visitor Park Centre.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons,

Text Sources: Malaysia Tourism websites, Malaysia government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in August 2020

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