06 Mar What to see and do in Melaka in one day!
When I started to organize my trip through Malaysia and Singapore, the city of Melaka appeared on all the itineraries I saw online. And that’s because Malacca is one of the most important and most charming colonial cities in all Malaysia. And a positive point? That is a city so small that with a day or two maximum is enough to see it. To make it easier for you and take everything well organized, in this article I want to tell you what to see and do in Melaka.
Over time, different cultures have passed through Malacca, leaving a very great artistic heritage. To give you an idea, in 1511, the Portuguese conquered the city. Something more than a century later, the city passed into Dutch hands, and later it was a British colony. All these European roots can still be seen on the facades of their buildings, in the mix of religions and their temples and in their gastronomy, among other things. And how could it be otherwise, all this meant that in 2008, Melaka was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Really, do not forget to visit this city. It is not a stunning city with skyscrapers or an island of transparent waters, but it has a huge charm. You can take a day trip from Kuala Lumpur or take the opportunity to stop when you leave Kuala Lumpur to Singapore or vice versa.
How to get to Melaka
If you are in a city near Melaka, such as Kuala Lumpur, I recommend you go there by bus, as it will be the fastest, easiest and most economical way.
I went from Kuala Lumpur by bus with the Transnasional company. Buses leave from Terminal Bersepadu Selatan in Kuala Lumpur and the journey takes about 2 hours and a half.
You can buy the ticket in the same terminal or on the busonlineticket website as I did. The ticket price (July 2019) is RM 13.60 per person, less than 3€.
And finally, to get from the Melaka (Melaka Sentral) station to the city center, you have two options. Take the bus 17 that will leave you in Dutch Square, in the center of the city, or take a Grab (European Uber), as I did. To give you an idea, my hotel (Hatten Place Melaka) was 8 kilometers from the station and the grab cost me 10RM (€ 2.15). From my point of view, for what the Grabs cost in Malaysia, it is much more worthwhile than taking a bus, but that is everyone’s decision;).
What to see and do in Melaka
And now, it’s the time to begin with the little guide in which I tell you what to see and do in Melaka. There are many places that you can see, but I will talk about the essentials so in a day or two you can enjoy this city to the fullest. In addition, I will prepare a map to make it easier for you to organize the route and not miss anything at all;).
As I said before, the city is small, so it can be easily explored on foot. In fact, this is how it should be done;).
Stroll along the Melaka River
Without a doubt one of the best things to do in Melaka is to walk along the river bank, admiring the street art amd colorful facades, the cafes in the canal, all the flowers … And if you are lucky enough to see a sunset and as they begin to illuminate all the streets you will see how beautiful it is. But better than trying to explain how beautiful it is and the charm it has, I’m going to leave some pictures for you to see.
IMPORTANT! If when you walk along the river you see the boats that make you small cruises and want to buy a ticket, don’t do it, it’s not worth it. Of all my trip to Malaysia and Singapore, I think it’s the only thing I regret. It is much better that you walk along the canal quietly, stopping wherever you want, taking pictures… Believe me!
One of the coolest streets in Melaka! Located in the heart of Chinatown, this street is full of shops and restaurants with typical Malaysian food.
If you are lucky and go to Melaka on the weekend, starting at 6:00 pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays you can enjoy the Jonker Street Night Market. They put street food stalls, live music, karaoke … I heard about this market when I had already organized the whole trip through Southeast Asia and went to Melaka during the week, but I heard that this night market is essential.
At the beginning of the article I told you that Melaka was in the hands of the Dutch. There is no place in the city with more Dutch influence than the Red Square, also known as Dutch Square.
In this square you will find some of the most important buildings in the city, all reddish / salmon. The Christ Church, built in 1753, the Clock Tower, the Queen Victoria Fountain or The Stadthuys, a building that served as a town hall.
In addition, around this area you will find the rickshaws. But not the ones we are used to seeing in other cities in Southeast Asia. In Melaka, the rickshaws do not go much less unnoticed. Characterized with Disney characters or other drawings or full of hearts and flowers, with lights and speakers with loud music. Yes, at full volume. You are going to hallucinate!
St Paul’s Church
Did you know that the oldest church in all of Southeast Asia is in Melaka? Well, that’s right, it’s the church of St. Paul, built in 1521 by the Portuguese Duarte Coelho. Although well, more than a church, we could say that they are already ruins.
It is located at the top of the hill called by the same name, St. Paul’s Hill. The visit is free and from the church you can enjoy beautiful views of the city.
Porta do Santiago (A’Famosa Fort)
Going down a road from the church of St. Paul, you will reach A Famosa Fort (Porta do Santiago), which was part of a Portuguese fortress built in 1511. As you can see when you go to see it, due to the damage caused by the invasion of the Dutch, only this part survives, the main gate of the fort. This door is undoubtedly one of the essentials to see and do in Melaka as it is one of the oldest European architectural remains in Southeast Asia.
If I had not told you yet;), Melaka is a huge mix of cultures, and in this street you can see it very clearly. In it we can find three temples of different religions: Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu.
This is not a essential visit from my point of view, but if you are walking around you can see them.
The temples are: the Chinese Cheng Hoon Teng temple, the Masjid Kampung Kling mosque and the Sri Poyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Hindu temple.
Melaka Straits Mosque
This is the only essential visit in Melaka that is far from the historic center, specifically on the island of Melaka, an artificial island. Depending on where you stay you can walk there or take a grab (like the Uber in Europe). I stayed at the Hatten Place Melaka, 2.5kms from the mosque and I like to kick the city so much that I walked back and forth, but it depends on each one!
For me, it’s the prettiest mosque I’ve ever seen. Apart from its beauty and architecture, because its location, on a pier over the sea. I recommend you go at dusk, to see the mosque day and night. Surely you will not see a prettier picture in the whole city.