Malacca (or Melaka in Malay) is a sleepy old city with a quaint colonial town centre and is a great place to spend a few days on a trip to Malaysia. Malacca can easily be overlooked as a place to stop in Southeast Asia, but it shouldn’t be.
It was listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008 for a reason and is a lot more appealing than the classic touristy cities in Malaysia such as Kuala Lumpur.
The city was key in the early 1800’s as it was a major trading port and has seen a lot of diversity in its history. From protection by the Chinese, to the Portuguese, Dutch and British reigns, this history is evident in the versatile and gorgeous architecture and remains of the city. Travellers will find some of the best food in Malaysia, unique cafes, timeworn architecture and well preserved historical sites in Malacca. Don’t miss it on your next trip to Malaysia!
Your best bet is to get a bus from closer and larger cities, as Malacca does not have an airport. The closest cities would be Singapore, Johor and Kuala Lumpur. I traveled from Singapore and it took just 3 hours, but from Kuala Lumpur it’s only about 2 hours! It costs about $33 SGD, but is about RM11 to get to and from KL.
The bus station is about 15 minutes out from the city centre, so you will have to get a taxi from the bus terminal. Be careful and read the signs so you don’t take a doggy taxi! There is a special taxi rank for the legitimate taxi drivers.
Where to Stay:
The best location would be as close to the Dutch Square and Jonker Street Walk as possible. I stayed on the river at an amazing Air BnB that was just one block away from Jonker Street, which is super central.
If you’re opting for hostels, you can find some great ones in the area, too. But, I highly suggest you stay at the Wayfarer Guesthouse. It by far looked like one of the most well kept and stylish little guesthouses I saw in Malacca and had the best views along the river, over St. Francis Xavier Church and the rest of the town.
The best view in Malacca from our balcony on the top floor
What To Do:
Dutch Square / The Stadthuys:
The uniquely red old town square or Dutch square is where you will find the Christ Church, the most crazy and brightly decorated trishaws and the majority of tourists. Middle-aged men driving Hello Kitty and Frozen themed trishaws was as equally entertaining as it was creepy.
Cruise Down the Melaka River:
A relaxing way to see Malacca from a different point of view. The cruise is open from 10am until late in the evening and is best at sunset. The town looks just as beautiful during the day as it does at night! It costs only RM15 and lasts about 20 minutes.
Jonker Street Walk:
Where you’ll find many touristy shops and the night markets on the weekend. Despite being a prime tourist location, it’s still fun for shopping and eating in this area.
Masjid Selat at Sunset:
About a 15 minute drive from the city centre and through what looks like a deserted island town, you will find this stunning ‘floating’ mosque. Visit at sunset to see it lit up and listen to the call to prayer in the calming atmosphere. I would recommend getting a taxi there and asking the driver to wait for you. For about an hour it cost me RM40.
Walk up to St. Paul’s Church + Ruins:
Right near the Stadthuys, you will see St. Paul’s Hill that leads up to St. Paul’s Church. You will find great views over Malacca at the top along with the ruins of the church that was originally built in 1521, which makes it the oldest church in Malaysia and Southeast Asia. After Malacca was colonised by the Dutch, instead of a place of worship, it was converted into a burial ground and you can still see the head stones there today.
Wander around & find Street Art:
If you walk around the streets in the Jonker area, you will find many cute doorways, interesting street art and many delicious cafes. This was probably my favourite thing I did in Malacca as everything is so charming.
Where To Eat:
Kaya Kaya Cafe:
It doesn’t look like much on the outside, but inside you will find an open roof beaming sunlight into a peaceful and lush cafe. The menu is cheap and offers some interesting breakfast choices. I ate here twice because it was so close to my guesthouse.
Walk down to the very end of Jonker Street and opposite the stage, go inside what looks like a little shopping arcade you will find the Backlane Coffee. Don’t leave without trying their cakes and the owl ice coffee. There is aircon aplenty and it’s really modern – the kind of cafe you would not think you could find in Malacca!
In the backlane
You cannot miss this one! The entry is covered in lush green vines and probably wouldn’t be too easy to find, unless you have google maps. I recommend taking a break from the harsh heat in here with an ice coffee and cheesecake in a jar (one of the best I’ve ever had!)
You’ll find this restaurant/cafe in the middle of the Jonker Walk and is the one spraying water over passers by to cool them down. Inside you will find many tourists and it was always busy when we walked past, so assumed it would be good. Sadly, the food was quite terrible, except for the spring rolls.
Bistro Year 1673:
For satay, fresh juice and stirfrys, this large restaurant in what looks like an alleyway in Jonker Street is a cheap option for lunch and dinner.
Sangkaya Nuts About Coconuts:
I’m usually not one for coconut, but this ice-cream was just amazing and probably some of the best I’ve ever had. It’s a great treat to cool you down after wandering around in the heat all day.