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Malaysia is clearly the kind of country you have to go to if you want to relax. Admittedly there’s Kuala Lumpur, the capital of the country, but otherwise it’s possible to relax almost anywhere in the country. In Langkawi, you can spend some time chilling on the beach. George Town is the second largest city of Malaysia, however it’s a relaxing city. I’d say Melaka (sometimes written Malacca) falls into this category, a nice and quiet city. I felt like Melaka wasn’t too big nor too small, and I was quite surprised to find out almost half a million people live there! Let’s find out what to do in Melaka!
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Description of Melaka
Before talking about the things to do in Melaka, let’s describe the city quickly! Melaka is really a peaceful town, people are relaxed, there are not too many cars and not a lot of noise outside. Wandering around the streets of Melaka, I was wondering sometimes if I was actually in Malaysia. On the same street, you can see a Buddhist temple, a mosque, a church and a Hindu temple a little bit further. The “landscape” changes a lot from one street to another one, it’s a bit disconcerting!
Indeed, the Malacca area was colonized by the Portuguese, then the Dutch and finally the British (like Galle in the south of Sri Lanka). They all left their marks. Moreover the Chinese and the Japanese passed by in the past, and of course various communities live here now (Malay, Indians and Chinese). I guess you understand now why Melaka is a big melting pot! You can really feel it when you’re visiting the city.
By the way, a new community saw the light of day in Melaka : the Baba Nyonya. The Baba Nyonya are the descendants of the first Chinese immigrants who got married with Malay people. They have their own dialect, their own customs, their culinary specialities and even their museum in Malacca, the Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum. The museum recounts their history. I didn’t go but feel free to visit this museum. It’s 16 ringgit (3.50€). FYI, it’s forbidden to take pictures inside!
Melaka is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008 and honestly, I understand why it’s the case. This town is a gem you cannot miss if you go to Malaysia. And once again, I went there ’cause I followed the advice of other travelers. I had absolutely not the intention of going there (anyway I didn’t even know the existence of this place a few weeks before getting there). The tourists haven’t overrun the place yet.
What to do in Melaka
The psychedelic trishaws
In fact, the only tourist trap you’ll see there : the psychedelic trishaws. Those are eccentric tuktuks : usually decorated (Hello Kitty, Disney…), music blasting from the speakers, and lighting up in the evening. Ask a driver to have a ride in the city (I didn’t do it, so I don’t have the prices!). They’re usually gathered in the city center. I didn’t do it but try if you want to!
Visit the historic city center
So… What can you do in Malacca? Visit the historic city center of Malacca. This is where you’ll see the famous psychedelic trishaws, but there’s more than that. There’s also Dutch Square, where you’ll see the Christ Church. But also a mill, fountains a “I love Melaka” sign, Stadthuys the city hall, and red buildings. By the way, Dutch Square is also called the Red Square.
The Cheng Hoon Teng Temple
Just nexto to the city center is Chinatown. Take some time to have a walk there! The streets there are not pedestrianized, but there are almost no cars passing by, and it’s nice to have a walk there. There’s a temple you have to see, the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple (the temple of green cloud). It’s the oldest functioning temple in Malaysia, it dates back to 1673!
The Melaka Straits Mosque
There are so many mosques you can visit, they’re all wonderful : Masjid Tengkera et Masjid Kampung Hulu among others. But there’s one you cannot miss, the Melaka Straits mosque. It’s actually a floating mosque inaugurated in 2006. I went there in the morning but from what I heard it’s better to go there in the evening, because the mosque lights up. There’s nothing special inside the mosque, but you have to see it from the outside in the evening!
The night market
A classic in Southeast Asia, the night market. It’s on Jonker Street, and like all the night markets in Southeast Asia, you can find almost anything there. The market in Malacca mostly serves local food, and you eat for less than two euros. I really liked this market. I went there just a few hours after arriving in Malacca, a Sunday evening, and I was ready to go back the day after to have dinner. That’s when I found the night market is only open from Friday to Sunday evening. Now you know…
Other things to do in Melaka
You can also get on top of the Menara Taming Sari tower to have a nice view of the city (didn’t do it). It’s 23 ringgit (5 euros) to get on top. You can also visit the villa Sentosa, a typical Malay house turned into a museum. I really wanted to see it but it was closed when I went there… There’s also the St. Paul Church in the heights of the city and the fortress A Famosa next to it. Finally, take some time to have a drink in one of the numerous bars along the Malacca river, it’s really nice.
I was pleasantly surprised by my visit of Malacca. If you stay in Kuala Lumpur, take some time to go there, it’s less than two hours away. But you don’t need to spend weeks there, two days are enough, three days is perfect! You can even go on a full-day trip to Melaka from Kuala Lumpur. Click here for more info. You’re probably gonna spend some time in the country, so check out this post listing the best places to visit in Malaysia!
How to get to Melaka
It’s possible to get there by bus from the Kuala Lumpur bus station. It’s only 10 ringgit (2 euros), and it’s a 2-hours ride. It’s also possible to get there by bus from Singapore. It’s a 5-hours ride.
How to get around in Melaka
Melaka is a small town, you can get around by foot!
Where to stay in Melaka
If you’re traveling on a budget, the Ola Lavanderia Café is a cool hostel. Click here to book your stay. If you’re looking for a mid-range hotel, you’re gonna like the Muk by Victoria. Click here to book your stay. If you prefer luxury hotels, I suggest you to stay at the Casa del Rio. Click here to book your stay. Otherwise click here to check what are the hotels available in Melaka.
Finally, if you prefer to stay in an apartment, click here to check the apartments available on Airbnb.
Melaka travel tips
- Traveling soon? Check out my travel resources page! This list of travel accessories can also be useful!
- Wanna go to Malaysia? Check the visa policy here. Most people can stay up to 90 days there without a visa.
- Do not go to Malaysia without a travel insurance! Here’s why buy travel insurance!
- Want a tailor-made trip to Malaysia? Get a free quote here!
- Always use a VPN when traveling. I use ExpressVPN and I love it! Here’s why use a VPN when traveling.