According to history, Kangar Town existed from about 350 years ago, that is since 1653 when Kota Sena was built as the administrative centre for the 14th Sultan of Kedah, Sultan Muhyiddin Mansor Shah. Kangar was then a base (land port) where boats and tongkangs anchored at the confluence of Sungai Perlis, which runs through Kangar Town to Kuala Perlis.It was here at the port that trading was performed, under a big tree that gave shade and respite to the traders. This tree that became a "witness" to many business deals was called "Pohon Kangar" that later became the origin of the formation of the name of Kangar town.

Apart from this particular story there were a few other tales that suggested the origin of Kangar Town. One was that it was named after a type of eagle known as the ‘Burung Kangor’(Spizaetus limnaetu), which can be seen flying in this area in the early days of Kangar. Perlis was under the rule of the Siamese Government, Japanese Government and British Government. Significant physical development of Kangar took place during the British rule caused by tin mining activities. This not only brought about the construction of roads and public facilities, but also the influx of Chinese workers to work the tin mines also shaped the placement and early modern business at Kangar Town.


Development of Kangar Town as seen today took about 400 years. Its establishment as a town began like most of other towns in Malaysia, that is at the edge of the main river. Sungai Perlis played an important role in establishing the earliest settlements which was deemed to have the potential to be a land port connecting the Kangar Town with Kuala Perlis. Malay settlements such as  Kampung Pengkalan Asam which still exists until today is believed to be the earliest settlements in Kangar Town based on its placement along the edge of Sungai Perlis which flows through the town centre.

Around year 1900, which was after the new source of economy was discovered with tin mining, shophouses made of stones and more complete were constructed by the Chinese traders along the main road which connects Kangar and Alor Setar, with the focus given along Persiaran Jubli Emas.  From that business development, Kangar Town began to become the focal point for activities.

The period before independence witnessed the construction of Derma English School in 1948. In the 1970s when the Government of Malaysia began todevelop, more government buildings were built and further strengthened its function as the administrative centre and the capital city. From then on, the development train has branched out of the Kangar-Alor Setar Road.