Perlis was originally part of Kedah, although it occasionally came under rule by Siam or Aceh. After the Siamese conquered Kedah in 1821, the British felt their interests in Perak to be threatened. This resulted in the 1826 Burney and Low Treaties formalising relations between the two Malay states and Siam, their nominal overlord. In the Burney Treaty, the exiled Kedah sultan Ahmad Tajuddin was not restored to his throne. Sultan Ahmad and his armed supporters then fought unsuccessfully for his restoration over twelve years (1830–1842).
In 1842, the Sultan finally agreed to accept Siamese terms, and was restored to his throne of Kedah. However, Siam separated Perlis into a separate principality directly vassal to Bangkok. Sayyid Hussain Jamalulail, the paternal grandson of a Hadhrami Arab Sayyid immigrant and maternal grandson of the Sultan of Kedah, became the first Raja of Perlis. His descendants still rule Perlis, but as rajas, instead of as sultans.
As with Kedah, the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909 forced Siam to relinquish its southern Malay vassal states to Great Britain. The British installed a Resident in the Perlis Royal capital of Arau. Perlis was returned to Siam in World War II as a reward for Siam's alliance with Japan, but this brief annexation ended with the Japanese surrender. After World War II, Perlis returned to British rule until it became part of the Malayan Union, then Federation of Malaya in 1957 and lastly Federation of Malaysia in 1963.
Since 2000, the Raja or hereditary monarch has been Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin. He was the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia from 2001 to 2006. Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra was the Regent of Perlis during the five-year period when Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin was Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The Chief Executive or Menteri Besar is Datuk Seri Dr Md Isa Sabu of Barisan Nasional.
The Coat of Arms of Perlis consists of a sturdy green wreath of padi, indicating the wealth of the kingdom and the chief economic activity of the people. The shield in the center represents the pride of the people. Inside the shield is a ring of golden rice surrounding the name "Perlis" written in the Jawi script.
Perlis can be reached by train from Kuala Lumpur and Butterworth (near Penang) on Keretapi Tanah Melayu's Senandung Langkawi, as well as from Bangkok, Thailand on the State Railways of Thailand's International Express. The two main railway stations in the state are Arau and Padang Besar on the Thai-Malaysian border. See the individual pages for details.
Interstate long distance express buses to/from Kuala Lumpur, Butterworth and other destinations arrive/depart from the Bukit Lagi bus terminal in Kangar. Kuala Perlis and Padang Besar also have long distance bus connections.
Hop-on-hop-off town buses are easily accessible. The center for the town buses is next to Kayangan Square. However, town buses do not operate at night. Taxis are few and far between and are usually focused at the bus terminal.
Bukit Keteri rock climbing and Gua Kelam rock climbing. Also try picnicking at Gua Kelam, Sungai Jernih, Tasoh Lake, Timah Tasoh lake, Bukit Ayer. A long way of the road which has paddy field and water cannal, you can see the locals who spend their past time angling 'puyu' fish, a small fish which inhabitants the river, water cannal, timah tasoh resevoire and paddy field. This fish being a delicious dish when fermented with rice juice and salt. It is called 'ikan pekasam' You can spent your night at the seashore road from Kuala Perlis to Kuala Sanglang, enjoying the wind blow and observing the stars. For the muslim travellers, there are many religiuos classes at the local mosques almost every night at 8-9 pm.
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 means "grilled fish" are dishes of seafood grilled with special hot sauce. The seafood is very fresh since it is supplied directly from local fishermen.
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. Awfully cheap too.
Pokok Sawa: This is actually a kampung lunch joint situated along Jalan Mata Ayer, a few kilometers east of Kangar. Simple but very tasty kampung cooking. Ask the locals for directions: everyone knows the place.
Restoran Nasi Kandar Pokok Petai, Mata Ayer - a unique restaurant with the furniture which are made of the timber from the big trees cut to give way for the construction of double tract railway, from Singapore to Padang Besar, to Beijing in the future. Eaters can enjoy 'Roti canai' and 'Nasi Kandar' (curry rice) for heavy breakfast.
Seafood joint at Jalan Sekolah Derma; opposite Derma School. This is a converted house. Great seafood menu for dinner.
For those really adventurous among you, go to Padang Besar Bazaar, where several little stalls serve sup perut ayam i.e. Chicken Gut Soup (arrgh!). This is not a recommendation, since I have never tried the stuff, so you’re on your own here!
You can’t visit Perlis without trying the Kuala Perlis laksa, arguably the best this side of Vladivostok! Head for Kuala Perlis (where else?) at night, and take your pick from the row of stalls by the main road. In the day, try this old Chinese man in Ban Cheong Restoran, smack in the middle of Kangar.
There are four KFC chain store in Perlis, two in Kangar, one is located at Jalan Bukit Lagi and another one is located opposite Kayangan Square at Jalan Penjara, which is opened 24 hour, one in Kuala Perlis and the other in Arau.
There are also two Secret Recipe in Perlis, one in Kangar and another one in Kuala Perlis.
Nightlife is non-existent. Beers can be purchased at all 7-11 convenient stores. Shops close well before 10pm but the Kayangan Square stays open until 10pm. However, you can always join the locals at coffee shop or mamak stall (mostly located at Persiaran Jublee Emas) to have a local drink.
Perlis is relatively a safe place for travellers, however like in any other place, Perlis has its share of crime, so common precautions must be taken against snatch-thieves and scams. Some other precautions: