Very few cities in Southeast Asia boast such rich history and have managed to preserve its architectural heritage as Malacca city. Initially a sultanate, it was later dominated by the Portuguese, Dutch and the British. Although several large scale projects are in progress, the city still possesses a distinct traditional charm. Several different cultures live there together in harmony, surrounded by fantastic examples of Buddhist and Hindu temples, churches and mosques located next to each other.
Malacca is a coastal city, located directly where the Malacca River enters the sea. While the city center has a rather medieval urban grid, with densely built houses and narrow streets, the periphery is organized as semi-independent neighborhoods similar to those of a garden city. The center itself is a place of complex cultural influences and apart from Chinatown it is home to a Museum district with Dutch and Portuguese heritage and a small Little India to the north. With the construction of a new boulevard on the seafront, most of the traffic avoids the center, which is becoming more pedestrian friendly.
Pretty much all of the tourist spots are located in the city centre. The Town Square at the intersection of Merdeka, Laksamana and Gereja streets is a popular meeting point and is home to the old town hall Stadhuys, Christ Church and three museums: Historical, Ethnographical, and Museum of Literature. Up the hill, above the town square the ruin of Saint Paul’s church and Portuguese fortress A Famosa is a good place to contemplate history and magnificent views. On the other side of the river several temples and historical buildings are worth visiting. Cheng Hoong Teng is the oldest Chinese temple in Malaysia. In the same street Moorish, Hindu and Buddhist influences are all visible on the mosque Masjid Kampung Kling. In the main street the Hang Jebat, Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum is a great choice if you want to learn a little bit about the local history.
There is not much of interest outside of the city center, plus the traffic can be quite annoying, so without any doubt the best location for a place to stay would be in the center itself, or next to it. There are several cheap and midrange hotels and guesthouses in Tukang Besi and Kampung Pantai streets in Chinatown. Other reasonably priced accommodation can be found around Melaka Raya street, or in the more centrally located Mahkota Melaka.
Malacca is a relatively large city, but all of its attractions are gathered around the Old town in a perimeter of 1 km, so it’s a perfect place to explore by foot. Public transportation is not that reliable so it’s better to avoid it. Renting a bicycle can be a good option too, as it is fast, cheap and environmental friendly. There are several places in town that offer bike rentals. For those who want to enjoy sightseeing Malacca without much effort, cycle rickshaws or Trishaws plenty abound in the Town square and near Menara Taming Sari tower. The other laidback way of sightseeing is through a river cruise.
Malacca is one of the most culturally rich cities in Southeast Asia, and one of the two architectural pearls of Malaysia (the other one is George Town). It is a cosmopolitan city with a small town charm that attracts people with its unique artistic milieu. Its location between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore makes it a perfect destination for a short holiday and a wonderful escape into tranquility. Malacca is a blend of different civilizations reflected not only in its architecture but also in its delightful cuisine making it a mandatory destination on a regional tour.
Malacca City Travel Guide
- Stay around the city center. Happy Frog recommends The Rucksack Caratel and Courtyard @ Heeren Boutique Hotel
- Wonder around Chinatown
- Religious monuments around the center
- Saint Paul’s church
- Museum area with Dutch heritage
- Have dinner in a local restaurant around Hang Jebat street.
- On foot, by bicycle, bus, rickshaw or boat.
- Go on an excursion to Gudung Ledang.
DO NOT MISS:
- Take a ride on a colorful trishaw;
- Take a boat cruise on Malacca river;
- Hire a bike and go a little further away from the center;
- Climb on Menara Taming Sari tower for the best views of the city;
- Buy an authentic T shirt or a painting in the Orangutan house.