Updated: Jun 21, 2021
A rich cultural heritage embracing an amalgamation of Baba & Nyonya, Portugues, Dutch & British influence, all in one city! Melaka or Malacca City is the capital of Malaysian state of Malacca and it offers an experience which is unparalleled and incomparable to any other city in Asia. With European architecture coalesced with traditional culture carried out by the descendants of Chinese delegates of the Ming Dynasty in China, Melaka was one destination I couldn’t skip, even on a tight scheduled trip to Malaysia.
If you’re planning to visit Kuala Lumpur, I would suggest you include a day trip to Malacca City and trust me, my friend, you shall not be disappointed! If you do find yourself planning a trip to Malacca anytime soon, here is a comprehensive guide for you to experience the most in the least amount of time:
When to Visit Melaka:
Melaka Weather is warm and humid throughout the year, however the months November, December & January bring some relief. The entire city can be explored on foot, so I would suggest you plan your Melaka trip during the winter months.
How to Get There:
First and foremost, you will have to get yourself to Malaysia, depending on your itinerary you can find flights from your city to Kuala Lumpur. For the cheapest fares, you can keep a lookout on Skyscanner and Goibibo.
From Kuala Lumpur, you can get a direct bus to Melaka City from Terminal Bersepadu Selatan for 15 MYR and upwards for a one way trip. These buses depart every 30 minutes from 7:00 AM - 11:00 PM and you can get the tickets directly from the bus station like we did. It takes around 2.5-3 hours from Kuala Lumpur to Melaka Sentral. I would suggest starting as early in the day as you can, so you can spend most of your day in Melaka.
How to Get Around Melaka:
Everything I’ve listed in this blog are at a walking distance from one another, however, to get to the city center from the Melaka Sentral bus station, you will have to walk to the local bus platform and get on bus number 17, which leaves every 30 minutes and cost around 1 - 2 MYR per person. Alternatively, you can also get a Grab taxi from the bus station to the city center which would cost you around 7-8 MYR one way.
Things to Do in Melaka: 1. Menara Taming Sari (The Taming Sari Sky Tower) Melaka is not a very large city, but for centuries it was the lifeline of trade connecting the South Asian Sea and Europe to the East. The mixed influence of several cultures over decades has brought about a touristic gem!
Naturally, the first thing we did was to get a panoramic aerial view of the entire city. Menara Taming Sari or The Taming Sari Tower, being the only gyro tower in Malaysia, offers a 360-degree panoramic view of Malacca town and beyond.Once the revolving structure reaches the top, a breathtaking, sprawling view of Malacca as far as the eye can see, up to the Straits of Malacca, is clearly visible.
2. Visit the Melaka Sultanate Palace
Melaka Sultanate Palace was originally built in the mid 15th century but it was struck by lightning and destroyed the same year Sultan Mansur Shah ascended the throne. Lucky for us, a stunning wooden replica of the palace was painstakingly built using traditional construction techniques and materials, based on accounts in the 16th century, Sejarah Melayu (Malay Annals) text.
Today, the complex, also known as the Muzium Kebudayaan (Cultural Museum) houses approximately 1,350 artefacts, prints, photographs and drawings detailing the Malaccan Malay Sultanate’s history and cultural heritage.
Well even if you are not interested in taking a tour of the museum, it makes for a great photo spot!
3. Walk Around Town & Take in the Street Art
In the last few years, the street art scene has really blown up in Malaysia. From the colorful streets of Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur, to the famous artwork by Lithuanian artist Ernest Zachareviv in George Town, Malaysian streets are a treat to the eyes. Even though Melaka is not known solely for its street art, there are extraordinary murals and artworks all over the city centre.
In celebration of the 5 UNESCO Heritage sites in Malaysia, Kiehl’s created this colourful mural with help from street artist, fritilldea. It turned out so well that it has become an extremely popular instagram hotspot.
4. Windmill Dutch Square
Malacca has always held a key position on the trade route and what started out as a humble Malay fishing village now boasts of generations of Asian and European culture intertwined like a melody. The most prominent features of its history can be seen at the dutch square, a historic square featuring maroon-colored structures in the Dutch colonial style.
An ornate Victorian marble central fountain dominates the area, erected in 1904 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. One of the oldest surviving parts of Malacca, Dutch Square’s most prominent building is the Stadthuys. Presiding over the entire south side of Dutch Square it was completed in 1660 and is said to be the oldest-existing Dutch building in the East.
Moving on from the Standthuys, you will notice the oldest functioning Protestant church in Melaka, the Christ Church. Completed in 1753, it was built in commemoration of the centenary of the capture of Malacca from the Portuguese by the Dutch.
Also within Dutch Square is the Tang Beng Swee Clocktower. Even though it fits right into the square with distinctly Dutch features, it was actually built by a wealthy Straits Chinese family in 1886 in honour of Tan Beng Swee, a Chinese merchant.
Don’t forget to get a picture with the I love Melaka sign, because there’s only so many times you’ll get the opportunity to visit the wonderful city of Melaka!
5. Take a ride in the funky Trishaws
Even though I did my fair share of research about the city of Melaka, I was completely surprised by the sheer number of fancy, sort of wacky rickshaws/trishaws I saw around the city centre. All of them fitted with their own music system playing the latest pop music from all over the world and taking passengers around town, these rickshaws were something I’ve never seen before! Here, take a look:
6. Jonker Street
Saved the best for the last because Jonker street is a true paradise for foodies and shoppers! This colorful bustling street across the river from the Dutch Square houses some of the best Nyonya cuisine restaurants among other local food. The street itself is super colorful and lively and by the evening you can see more and more vendors setting shops where you can buy amazing collectibles and presents for people back home!
There’s so much Melaka has to offer, from a quiet walk by the river to live performances and ever bustling city centre. In my few hours of visit, I got to experience a lot and I am glad I didn’t let go of any opportunity of trying local cuisine. I’ll be writing a separate blog on what to eat when in Melaka, so stay tuned!