Melaka is a historic state located in the southeast of Kuala Lumpur, awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2008 and also listed as one of the 10 best places to visit in Asia for 2017 by Lonely Planet.
Below are suggestions of what to do in Melaka:
#1 – Dutch Square, Paul’s Church, A. Famosa
These are the top tourist attractions in Melaka. It is where most of the crowds and the noise are. The Dutch Square is an iconic tourist spot of the city. Here you can find the colonial history of Melaka, from the Portuguese to the Dutch and later the British. Within the square you will see the Christ Church which was built in 1753 to commemorate the centenary of Dutch occupation in Melaka, and the Stadthuys which originally served as the official residence of the Dutch governors and was used as a town hall throughout the British administration; it now houses a collection of museums.
A short climb up the hill behind the square is the St. Paul’s Church. The church was in built 1521 during the Portuguese era. Although it was originally well maintained, what’s left is just a ruined church with a big statue of St. Xavier. The hill location offers a view of the old town and photo opportunities. Down the hill is A Famosa, a Portuguese fortress and the oldest surviving European architectural remains in south east Asia.
#2 – Museums
There is an abundance of museums in this very small city, from Maritime, Jewelry, Ethnography, Architecture Museum, etc, name it and they have it.
However, the only museum that I think it is quite unique and interesting is the Malay Living Museum in Kampung Morten where an old lady, Hajja Fatima, welcomes and greets visitors. She toured us around the house and told us their family history. Appropriately called “Living Museum,” Fatima is one of the daughters of the owner who built the house. She and her family still live in the house.
The Malay Living Museum showcases traditional lifestyles of kampung life during the 20th century. It is worth a visit to learn how the Malay people lived in the past. Here you will also see many antiques and memorabilia.
There is no entrance fee but visitors can donate money to the DONATION BOX. The family do not receive any funds from the government but have opened their house to the public.
#3 – Jonker Walk
Jonker Street is a Chinatown street very famous for tourists. Walking around Jonker can be very amazing and at the same time can be frustrating as there is lots of traffic from both tourists and cars during the daytime, with rather narrow sidewalks.
On Friday to Sunday night the street comes alive. The entire street is occupied by stalls, street vendors of foods, clothing and other bling bling’s. There is also a weekend flea market where most of the vendors were oldies. They sell mostly antiques and old cheap keepsakes. Other things to see and wander along the Jonker Street are the beautiful colonial buildings and colorful windows.
#4 – Sunset at the Straits of Melaka
About 1.5 km outside the center of Melaka is the beautiful Melaka Straits Mosque (Masjid Selat Melaka). It is by far one of the nicest mosques I have ever seen. The architecture is just amazing with beautiful landscape surroundings. Perfect for a sunset and blue hour photography.
This mosque is open to the public even for non-Muslims. Anyone can enter the mosque and appropriate clothing is provided inside in case you aren’t suitably dressed.
#5 – Eat Like a Local
Just like Penang, Melaka is also famous for mouthwatering food ranging from Nonya cuisine to Chinese and Indian. Along the street corner of Jonker Walk you will see a long queue of tourist at the Kedai Kopi Chung Wah Restaurant. This place is very famous for their rice balls. The rice balls are hand rolled balls from rice, usually served with steamed chicken and soup. EE Ji Ban Chicken Rice Ball is another famed rice ball restauant on Jalan Melaka Raya 3.
Cendol is an ice dessert good for the hot and humid weather of Melaka. Just outside the center of Melaka, along the street of Jalan Melaka Raya 10, you will find Unicorn Café which serves Nonya food at a very reasonable price. Their Cendol here is something to die for. For those who love Durian, you can also order delicious refreshing Durian Cendol at Jonker 88.
Many restaurants here are open 24 hours. Just down the street from our hotel was a local Halal restaurant called Restoran Madinah. You can see their long list of menu items on the wall. This is a place to enjoy a good kopi or teh tarik and a roti in the morning, while at night, we often walked to our favorite restaurant along Jalan Temenggong street for big meal at Tiga Ros Restaurant. They have a huge variety of food at a very cheap price, you can get dosa, roti, tandoori, kambing soup – this is very similar to our “papaitan” in Ilocano plus a good masala tea & avocado milk shake.
#6 – Street Arts & meet Artist Gogh
In terms of Street Arts, this place is not as famous as Penang but local artists have taken the streets of Melaka. Take a stroll along the Melaka River and you will find the most colorful and vibrant murals on buildings and houses.
If you’re lucky, you will occasionally bump with Vincent van Gogh’s brother Francis Gogh (!!) who can be found sometimes in the small alley of Melaka selling his paintings & drawings.
#7 – Rickshaw/Trishaw Ride
You will think there is a big festival and some kind of rickshaw competition. The rickshaws here are definitely are an attraction in itself. They are adorned in beautiful flowers and different cartoon characters from Hello Kitty to Minions with colorful lights. Not just that, they will also play the loudest music while you get rickshaw tour ride around the town.
#8 – Off the beaten track tips
Walk a little about 1 km outside of this tourist attractions and you will find a very quiet neighborhood of Melaka. Some hidden hole in the wall coffee places and restaurants can be found here.
How to go to Melaka?
From Kuala Lumpur International Airport
If you’re flying from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, the cheapest way to get to Malaka is by taking a bus at the KLIA1 or KLIA 2 ground floor. Malaysia coaches are very comfortable with fully reclining seats and it is just 2 hours travel to Melaka Sentral. Buses from the KLIA1-2 cost 25 Ringgit.
If you have decided to visit Penang first before heading to Melaka, the best and cheapest way to get to Melaka is by taking a coach. There are different bus companies that go to Melaka, one can buy ticket from any travel agents in Penang or buy online.
From Melaka Sentral (about 1 hr 45 mins) I took Bus No. 17 for 1 MYR, I asked the driver to drop me off at Jalan Merdeka (where the Clock Tower, Church etc are). The trip took about 15 to 20 minutes
Where to Stay?
We stayed at Fenix Inn Hotel for about $30 a night. The hotel is located in between between Jalan melaka Raya 1 & 3. There are a lot of hotels along that street, anyone can just walk-in and bargain for the price.