The northernmost third of the west coast is filled by the states of Kedah and Perlis, the latter being Malaysia’s smallest state at just 800 square km. These are the country’s agricultural heartlands, the landscape dominated by lustrous, bright green paddy fields stretching off in all directions. That wealth has seen the region (ruled by Malay sultans since the fifteenth century) invaded over the centuries by the Thais, the British, the Thais again, and the Japanese in World War II. Indeed, Kedah only reluctantly joined the Federated Malay States in 1948.

Neither state’s capitals– Kedah’s Alor Star, or Kangar in Perlis – demands a trip in its own right, but the major resort island of Pulau Langkawi, with its fine beaches and forested interior, makes an attractive (if expensive) place to pull up for a few days, perhaps en route to the Thai border – which you can cross by boat from the island, or by road and rail through Perlis. Less visited local sights include Ulu Muda Eco Reserve, and the important archeological remains outside tiny Sungai Petani.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Malaysia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Living the good life in Borneo

Living the good life in Borneo

Life in the beautiful region of Sapulot is relaxed and uncomplicated, and the communities who live here want to keep it that way. They are inviting visitors to …

02 Jun 2016 • Ros Walford insert_drive_file Article
7 reasons why Langkawi is Malaysia's ultimate island escape

7 reasons why Langkawi is Malaysia's ultimate island escape

Looking to unwind on a tropical island somewhere in Southeast Asia? Then head to the island of Langkawi, Malaysia’s ultimate escape from the country’s frene…

09 Feb 2016 • Stuart Forster insert_drive_file Article
Quiz: can you locate these national parks?

Quiz: can you locate these national parks?

National parks are some of the world's most awe-inspiring natural places, taking in mountains, glaciers, waterfalls and forests (sometimes all in the same one…

02 Jul 2015 • Rebecca Hallett help Quiz
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month