Melaka (or Malacca) is the city in Malaysia, which is known as ex-Dutch colonial city, UNESCO World Heritage Site and the place with lots of cool things to do. Usually frequented by visitors from Malaysia and Singapore during weekends, it is surprisingly not very well known between foreign visitors. Melaka city is worth visiting for it’s really cool architecture, yammy food, hip mood and lots of things to see and do.
Melaka is easily reachable from Kuala Lumpur by bus: it’s just couple hours journey and around 10$ for return ticket. It’s possible to visit Melaka as a day trip from Kuala Lumpur, but i highly recommend to spend at least couple of days here as it’s cool place to enjoy and could be very busy for 1 day.
Melaka was a simple fishing village inhabited by local Malays. From the early days it was important port city. The city was found by muslims and hugely influenced by Chinese in return to protection of Siam. But at 16th centre the Portuguese came and turned the city into large colony with impressive fortress. After 150 years sultanate get the city back with the help of Dutch, who also controlled the city for a while. All of it left a lot of Heritage in Melaka: fortress, Dutch buildings, Chineese temples, mosques and large indian community all together brough amazing mix of culture to the city.
Don’t be confused, sometimes Melaka is written and pronounced as Malacca. There are 2 ways of transcription: Malacca is mostly used by Malaysians and Melaka is more international name. So i will use the last one.
What to do in Melaka
There are several dozens of cool things to do here and i will highlight my personal favourite. Here is what to do in Melaka for 2 days.
Melaka is located on the west coast of peninsula of Malaysia and got a river inside the city. Few years ago all the banks were reconstructed and turned into recreational area. River cruise along the river in Malaka is an enjoyable way to spend 40 minutes. It will bring you cool views and relaxed ambience. Price for the ride defferst during the weekdays (15.9RM for international adult) and the weekends.
Walk around Dutch heritage streets
Old city centre is a mix of nice streets, little shops, pretty cafes, hotels, temples and museums. This part of the city is inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage site together with Georgetown as a great example of colonial port city. Melaka Old town is well maintained and a cool place to get lost and find the best spots. Make sure to look around and walk to the small side streets: some of them got lots of cool street art, which is not so famous as the one in Georgetown, but absolutely worth having a look. Spot the road, which is full of red houses, Red Christ church, St. Paul’s hill and Stadthuys. Get lost and enjoy!
Check cool hip cafes
Melaka is a city of great coffee places. There are lots of them in old town and almost all of them are great. Modern, hip, with lots of stylish small details and good food and coffee. Some got several spaces inside with different mood and some special stuff, which is really cool to see. Some are more vintage, while others are more modern hi-tech designed. While being in Melaka, i was in 4 different coffee places and all were equally good.
Prices are almost the same (think about 2-3$ for a good coffee, 3-5$ for a cake and 5-10$ for a dish), so simply choose the one you love better.
View from the top from Menara Taming Sari
Melaka is not high city. There are several small hills in the centre and some new skyscrapers few km away. The best way to have a look to the city is having a ride at Menara Taming Sari. It is a gyro tower, offering a 360-degree view of Melaka. Though at first the Tower looks like the one from amusement park which will bring you to the top and make a free fall back to earth, but this one is not like this. The ride is very smooth and if you are afraid of heights, it won’t be big problem. The ride itself is seven minutes long, but that’s enough to see everything. I really loved it very much and totally recommend not to miss as it’s an unique way to see the place from the top.
Try watermelon juice
One of the unique things in Melaka is the way they serve watermelon juice. They simply take a small watermelon, make a hole in it, mix flesh with the blender, add some ice and serve it right in the watermelon. The price is 7-10RM depending on the size of watermelon.
Walk along the river promenade
If you had a river cruise, you probably have noticed that there are lots of street art and long pedestrian walkaway along the way. There is a 9km walkway along the river, which is surrounded by pleasant street cafes, street art and simply nice place to have a walk. Its a good place to stroll or have a bit of jogging. Also numerous bars and cafes around (though, i wouldn’t call them so good as inside the Old city), so you can have drink with a view to the river. Some of the bars turns into a big party places at night.
Browse Jonker street
Jonker street is said to be the second important attraction in Melaka. It’s a place to go at night as it’s turned into walkable streets with some market stalls and also there are lots of very nice cafes and restaurants there (Laksa is very good, recommended), souvenir shops etc. I wouldn’t call it something unique, but something that is worth checking while you are here.
Ride tuk-tuk with Hello, Kitty or Pokemon decoration
This is the funniest thing in Melaka: all the city centre is filled with local version of tuk-tuk. Basically it’s a bicycle with the carriage, there is no motor or kind of it, they are man powered. But the decoration is really crazy fun: lots of toys and almost every tuk-tuk got it’s main topic like «Frozen”, «Pokemon», «Spiderman” or “Hello, Kitty”. At night every vehicle plays some loud music (mostly Malaysian) and turn on lots of neon lights. Absolutely fun! All the rides are for 2 people and they are made for some romance rides, which could be double fun if you are not dating or 2 guys.
Where to stay
Melaka got some very nice and hip places to stay. I choose The Settlement Hotel. It is beautiful place with great design, one of the most beautiful stone bathrooms i ever saw, relaxed ambiance, spa and individual service. It is located 2 km away from the Melaka historical city centre close to the old dutch settlement, which wasn’t big deal as they have a complimentary shuttle service.
When to go
Melaka is a popular weekend destination, so it is really packed during the weekends, but there are much less people during the week. And also the prices for some attractions are lower. I explored it in Monday and have found that only couple of museums were closed, which wasn’t big deal.
How to get to Melaka from Kuala Lumpur
Terminal Bersepadu Selatan also called Bandar Tasik Selatan) is a modern bus terminal that services almost all of the bus trips heading south of Kuala Lumpur. Bus services to Malacca from TBS start from 7am and continues till 11pm. It’s better to buy your ticket in advance. The price for return trip is less than 10$ and the busses are very clean, safe and organised.
To get to the bus station in KL it’s better to call UBER from the city centre, the price is around 12-20RM depending on time. From Melaka bus station take the bus #17 from platform 17. It stops directly near the main attraction (Stop “Clock Tower») and goes directly to the Settlement hotel i have mentioned before. The price is 2RM.
Also Melaka got it’s own airport and very good bus connection with Singapore, so it’s also worth considering visiting it as a stop between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
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