Synopsis
Malacca (or Melaka) is about 3 hours' drive from Singapore. It was colonised by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British; and was listed as a UNESCO's World Heritage Site in 2008.

How much time you will need: 1 day. If you want to see more than just the main historic sites, you may want to consider staying 2 to 4 days.

What we thought of it: A lovely historic city to visit.
Location
Country: Malaysia

Distance from Singapore: To Malacca - 245 km.
To See & To Do
Bazaars and Street Markets
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Events
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General Information
Historical
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Short Trips From Singapore
Short Trips from Singapore
Malacca
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Page created on 2 Dec 2008
Page last modified on 10 Dec 2008

Review
Malacca (or Melaka in Malay) has more than 500 years of history. It was one of the oldest Malay Sultanate. Historic figures such as St Francis Xavier and Admiral Cheng Ho (Chinese explorer) have been to Malacca. The former Portuguese, Dutch and British colony has conserved its architecture and culture, thus, earning its listing as one of UNESCO's World Heritage Site in 2008.
The "red square" at the centre of town, is a delightful place to visit with its old red buildings and souvenir stalls. Christ Church (built in 1753) is still an active church. The Stadthuys (built in 1650), the official residence of the Dutch Governor, is now the Historic Museum and Ethnography Museum displaying many traditional bridal costumes and relics.
Behind the Stadthuys is St Paul's Hill. We enjoy the slow climb up to the top where the ruins of St Paul's Church (built in 1521) stand. It had been used as a fortress, a burial ground and a church. Here at the top of the hill, you can take a rest and enjoy the breeze whilst taking in the sights of Malacca and the Straits of Malacca.
On the other side of St Paul's Hill stands the only remains of the old Portuguese fort A Farmosa, Porta de Santiago - a gateway of the fort. If you like museums, you'll enjoy wandering around this area, which is mainly a pedestrian-only zone with plenty of museums. The kids particularly enjoy visiting the Maritime Museum and going onboard the replica of the Portuguese ship, Flor De La Mar.
Take a walk down Jonker Street (now known as Jalan Hang Jebat) by day and it's paradise for those who are interested in buying antiques ranging from porcelain to furniture. In recent years, more shops have changed to selling modern clothings for the youth and local products and souvenirs for the tourists.
When you walk into these shops, do check out the architecture of these old restored Peranakan (early chinese settlers with partial malay culture) buildings. Formerly homes to the Peranakans, the interior is surprisingly deep, and often with an indoor open-air courtyard. Some of these buildings have even been turned into boutique hotels and restaurants.
By night on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, the street is closed to traffic and is transformed into night bazaar or pasar malam (night market in Malay) as the locals call it - with lots of lively music, souvenir stalls, food stalls, etc. Strolling through the pasar malam is definitely one of our favourite activities when we come to Malacca.
Besides historic sites, Malacca has added new attractions such as the Menara Taming Sari (Malaysia's only rotating sky tower) and the Eye on Malaysia - Melaka (a 60m-tall ferris wheel). There's a 45-minute Melaka River Cruise that is worth taking to see Malacca from a different perspective. There are also a few large modern shopping malls with shops and restaurants to suit all budgets. You can even find cinemas and a bowling alley at the malls.
Its unique historical background means unique local cuisine too, with peranakan food and portuguese food. Some local favourites include the chicken rice balls, satay celup (meat, vegetables, seafood on bamboo skewers dipped into boiling satay sauce to cook), cendol (local desert made from shaved ice, coconut milk, green noodle-like jelly and brown palm sugar), etc.

Things to Do
  • Climb up St Paul's Hill where the ruins of St Paul's Church and the statue of St Francis Xavier stand. The inscriptions on the tombstones tell a little of the people who lived here a few hundred years ago.
  • Visit the Maritime Museum on board the replica of the Portuguese ship and learn  about the history of Malacca.
  • Take a trishaw (or beca in Malay) ride and see the historic city - the beautifully and colourfully decorated trishaws are an attraction in themselves.
  • Try out popular local cuisine especially those unique to Malacca, such as peranakan dishes, chicken rice-balls, cendol, satay celup (must try - we eat it everytime we're in Malacca!), etc.
  • Go on the Melaka River Cruise to see different parts of Malacca from the river.
  • Walk down Jonker Street by day and check out the unique architecture of the buildings. Then visit Jonker Street on weekend (Friday, Saturday or Sunday) nights for the pasar malam.
Tips
  • Go early to popular eating places. Otherwise, be prepared for queues.
  • Visit the historic sites - their uniqueness has gotten Malacca recognised as a world heritage site.
  • Be careful when walking around the historic parts of Malacca, especially around Jonker Street and the parallel roads - the roads are narrow and often do not have pedestrian pavements.
  • Some of the well-known streets were re-named but the locals still call them by their old names whilst the maps indicate the new ones. Make sure you ask for both names if you want to visit famous places and following a map.
Things to Bring
Clothing casual and light (it can get quite warm walking around) such as t-shirt, bermudas, comfortable walking shoes/sandals, etc. If you are visiting rural areas, mosques and temples, it is advisable for women not to be dressed in shorts, miniskirts and sleeveless garments.

Most hotels provide towels.

Reading material

Accommodation
Accommodation range for budget back-packer hotels to boutique hotels in converted old buildings to luxury class hotels. Most are located around town centre and within walking distance to most historic sites and shopping centres.

Your choice of hotels depends on your budget, the location you want to be based at and the facilities you would like to have in the hotel.

Best Time to Go
Anytime especially over a weekend if you want to visit the pasar malam (night street market) at Jonker Street.

Costs
Museum Entrance Fees RM 1 to RM 3 per adult and RM 0.50 to RM 1 per child age 6 to 12 years old

Trishaw RM 10 to RM 15 for most places around town centre. Check out the prices before boarding. They've been regulated to charge no more than RM 40 for 1 hour.

Food About RM 5 per person at local food courts to RM 30 per person for dinner at the restaurants.

Accommodation Ranges from RM 40 for a double room in a budget back-packers hotel, RM 130 for double air-con room in mid-range hotels and more than RM 330 at high-end hotels. Weekends, public and school holidays cost more.

How to Get There
By Air - Fly to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and take a taxi from there (costs about RM120). It's about 144km away (90 minutes' drive).

By Car - Drive from Singapore to Malacca on the North-South Highway - takes about 3 to 4 hrs. Driving from Kuala Lumpur takes about 2 hrs.

By Bus There are frequent buses that travel between Singapore and Malacca; and Kuala Lumpur and Malacca.

By Train The nearest train station is at Tampin (about 34 km north of Malacca). Then take a taxi to Malacca (costs about RM 40).