Once a Portuguese colony Melaka (or Malacca) has become what I and many travelers believe is Malaysia’s finest city: an exquisite medium sized metropolis in Southwestern peninsular Malaysia that easily traps you in a comfortable paced lifestyle while you visit its several attractions. It is colonial, as well as charming, elegant and active- yet peaceful.
If you get there by bus you will then need to catch metropolitan bus number 17 from the central bus station and ask to be dropped at Dataran Pahlawan; you’ll be smack in the middle of where most of the attractions are. There are two large shopping malls (one of them has a Carrefour with an excellent and cheap food court with AC) set in a green environment, plenty of cheap hotels and guesthouses in nearby Jalan Melaka Raya 1 and 2, and Chinatown is barely 800 meters away. This city is very different from the rest of the country, and you’ll see it as soon as you get there.
During daytime the city boasts a lot of commercial activity and its “touristy” side is not as obvious, but there are several historical attractions that are better seen with sunlight such as the ruins of Fort A Formosa, Stadthuys Square and its famous Christ Church and St John’s Fort. All of these can be visited for free.
Another activity you might enjoy is renting a bike (they are easy to find at 4 dollars per day) and simply cycling around the city, perhaps even visiting the historical attractions it has. We chose this option and made it all the way to St John’s Fort and Melaka’s most important Mosque, Masjit Selat. We cycled for about 3 hours overall, and despite the intense heat had a great time as everything is very bicycle friendly.
If you’re staying in this area you might want to enjoy your lunch in the food court I mention above or at the alley that borders Jalan Merdaka street right in fron of the Carrefour. These food stalls might be a bit cheaper, but you wont have the AC that you could desperately need depending on what time of the year you’re visiting.
Melaka can be extremely hot during the day so make sure you have water at all times. But here is an a little secret: how would you feel if you could jump into cool water during the hotest time of the day? Mbmb swimming pool (right beside Taman Merdeka gardens) is an Olympic sized public pool extremely well mantained, super clean and open to everyone from 2:30pm to 4:15pm every day. The best part of it is that you’ll probably have it for yourself! It only costs 2 ringit per person and is excellent value; we went every day while in Melaka ( for more info visit the Mbmb pool site).
Once the sun begins to set the beautiful center is lit an an array of colors designed to emphasize the different monuments and cultures that coexist. Chinatown’s streets become red, trees shine in green and historical monuments are lit to show off a glamorous style. The flowered rickshaws are extravagantly lit and walking around is delightful, although the music the play might be a bit to loud for your liking.
Initial plan was to spend a couple of days at most but we ended up staying five. We easily made friends with a group of happy sales girls in one of the malls ( they were selling massage sofas and similar luxuries- needless to say that talking to them while trying everything and was a pleasure to all senses!) and met a Spanish couple that had been there a week already.
Next step was meant to be Singapore for two days, which ended up being 1 because of costs, letting Melaka hold on to us for an extra day which was great because we had the chance to participate in an open party that was being held in Little India. Oddly enough we were the only tourists there, but at the same time we were the only westerners enjoying the great Indian food…for free!
Melaka is famous for its colonial architecture and Nonya food, and I was looking forward to getting there. Yet what I found surpassed all what I expected and recommend it as a must see if you ever visit Malaysia.
Have you been in Melaka? What did you like best ? I have no doubt that it is Malaysia’s most picturesque city, what do you think? And please share this post if you liked it 🙂