Malacca, or Melaka as the locals fondly call it, is a Malaysian city located about 150 kilometres away from Kuala Lumpur. The capital of the State of Malacca, the city is also its economic and political hub.
Malacca is a charming city with so much to offer – delectable local cuisine, relaxing atmosphere, and diverse attractions – making it highly popular among tourists visiting Malaysia. And because of its proximity to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, it is also a favourite weekend getaway among residents of the two cities.
If you will be visiting Malaysia soon, and have decided to spend a day in Malacca, here are 7 interesting things you can do during your side trip.
1. Visit Malacca’s many cultural and historical attractions.
The reason why Malacca attracts so many visitors is that it is a perfect mix of modernity and tradition. Despite the modern structures and the bustling economy, it possesses a cultural heritage so rich that touring the city is like being taken back to different eras in the past. Once known as the Venice of the East, the city has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.
One of the many cultural attractions highly popular among tourists visiting Malacca is the Malacca Sultanate Palace. The building is a must-see especially for those interested in Malacca’s pre-colonial history. Before the Portuguese came, Malacca was under the rule of the Sultanate of Malacca. The Sultan Mansur Shah ruled Malacca in 1400s. The Malacca Sultanate Palace in Jalan Kota is a replica of the Malay ruler’s palace. Within the Sultanate Palace is the Cultural Museum weapons, photographs, musical instruments, and other memorabilia totaling 1300 are on display. The Sultanate Palace is located at the foot of St. Paul’s Hill and is open six days a week, from Tuesday to Sunday. Admission fee is less than 1 USD per person.
Other noteworthy cultural attractions in the city include Little India and the Portuguese Settlement. If you want to see jewellery designs and furniture that are representative of the Peranakan culture, head to the Straits Chinese Jewellery Museum on Tun Tan Cheng Lock Street. Another museum that’s worth a visit is the Cheng Ho Cultural Museum, named after Cheng Ho, the Muslim Chinese voyager who visited Malacca in the 1400s. Opened in 2006, the Cheng Ho Cultural Museum features exhibits that depict the explorer’s life and travels.
Aside from the cultural attractions, Malacca also has historical attractions for you to explore. The Dutch Square, for instance, is an area that includes the most photographed buildings in the city. These Dutch buildings were constructed between 1660 and 1700. Stadthuys, the most recognizable and the oldest of these buildings, was where the Dutch governors lived during the Dutch reign in Malacca.
Also within the square are Christ Church, the Queen Victoria fountain, and the Tang Beng Swee Clocktower. Featuring a simple Dutch design, the Christ Church is Malaysia’s oldest Protestant Church, and was built in 1753. The Queen Victoria fountain and the Tang Beng See Clocktower were built in 1904 and 1886, respectively.
2. Explore Jonker Street.
Located in the central part of Chinatown, Jonker Street is a busy street filled with street food stalls, shops, restaurants, and cafes as well as residential buildings that date back to the 17th century. Aside from its palpable ethnic and cultural atmosphere, what you’ll love about Jonker Street is that popular attractions are either within the street or just a short walk from it, including the Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum, the Cheng Ho Cultural Museum, as well as a few mosques, mausoleums, and temples.
During Friday and Saturday nights, Jonker Street is turned into a night market where you can find tons of affordable souvenirs and street food.
3. Experience Malacca’s local food scene.
Malacca has a diverse population. Aside from the Malays, there are Indians, Chinese, as well as ethic groups like the Baba Nyonya. This diversity is the reason why the city is a mixed bag of mouthwatering cuisines.
Like Penang, Malacca is known for its local food scene, and it is home to the best food stalls, restaurants, and eateries specialising in Indian, Malay, Chinese, and Peranakan cuisines. Must-trys during your stay in Malacca are chicken rice balls, asam pedas, nasi lemak, nyonya laksa, nyonya kuih, and cendol.
4. Take in spectacular views of Malacca from Menara Taming Sari.
Located in Jalan Merdeka, Menara Taming Sari is a revolving tower that provides breathtaking panoramic views of Malacca. Opened in 2008, the 110-metre high tower, currently one of Malacca’s most popular landmarks, can accommodate 80 passengers per trip.
The tower is open 10am to 10pm daily, excluding holidays. The admission fee is about 2.5 USD per person.
5. Spend a relaxing day at the Botanical Garden.
If you’re travelling with kids, consider spending a relaxing day at the Botanical Garden. The Malacca Botanical Garden is a 359-hectare property that houses a forestry museum, prehistoric garden, children’s playground, picnic spots, and facilities ideal for outdoor activities such as camping, boating, jogging, and trekking. Other major attractions that will keep you and your family entertained at the Botanical Garden include the Book Village and the Deer Park.
The Malacca Botanical Garden is open from Tuesdays to Sundays. Admission is free.
6. Go on a river cruise.
Joining a cruise that will take you through the Malacca River is one of the best experiences you can have in Malacca. The 45-minute cruise will give you beautiful views of the city’s most interesting sights – murals, historical structures, churches, and villages. The cruise starts at Campo del Rio and may go as far as Taman Rempah jetty.
There’s a night and day cruise and while both are highly recommended, a lot of tourists prefer taking the night cruise when it’s a lot cooler and you are treated to a romantic view of the city’s gorgeous skyline.
7. Tour the city on board a beautifully decorated trishaw.
Trishaws are a fun way of getting around Malacca. These bicycle rickshaws are similar to the ones you’ll find in Asian cities like Ho Chi Minh City, except that in Malacca, they are brightly decorated with fake flowers, plushies, and even feathers, and often come with uniquely shaped canopies and very loud music. At about 4 USD per hour, trishaw rides may not be the cheapest but you should definitely try it at least once.
Planning on spending a day in Malacca from Kuala Lumpur? Check out these exclusive tours and activities at Travezl.com.
By: Brendelyn Balaga