Malacca is a wonderful mix of modern living and centuries’ old heritage, with the tagline ‘Visiting Malacca is visiting Malaysia’. It is a small state but has plenty to offer. The city can be deemed sleepy compared to the bustling Kuala Lumpur, but we aren’t one to complain – it is a place for weekend escapes, as its religious sites, interesting museums and quiet alleyways lead a slower pace of life and a reminder of how great Malacca was (it was once dubbed ‘Venice of the East’ at its peak). See all sides of Malacca with our pick of things to do when in this UNESCO World Heritage city, and while public transportation is a little scarce, most hotspots are within walking distance from each other, so invest in a pair of good walking shoes and start exploring!
Melaka River Cruise
For a quick tour around the city at a leisurely pace, hop on the Melaka River Cruise. During the 45-minute ride, you will get to see the best bits of this historical city, offering sights such as the traditional Malay village Kampung Morten and the beautiful murals alongside Jonker Walk. To join the cruise, locate either one of cruise’s two jetties: one is the Muara Jetty, located next to Quayside Heritage Centre, and the other one is the Taman Rempah Jetty, situated next to the Hang Jebat bridge.
- Opening Hours: Daily 09:00 – 23:30
- Address: Jalan Laksamana, Malacca
- Tel: +606 281 4322
- Price Range: Adults RM15, children under 12 RM5
Menara Taming Sari
If a river cruise doesn’t sound high-flying enough for you, how about an aerial view of the city? Menara Taming Sari in Banda Hilir is a gyro tower, offering a 360-degree view of the exciting city. The ride may only be seven minutes long, but you’ll get a glimpse of practically all the city has to offer; top tourist hot spots such as St. Paul’s Hill and Independence Memorial Building and modern shopping sites such as Dataran Pahlawan and Mahkota Parade. A ride up will cost you RM20, but if you’re looking for a quick way to see the city, this is a must-do.
Explore the Botanical Garden
Escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself with lush greenery with a visit to the Botanical Garden in Ayer Keroh. Home to over 300 species of flora and fauna, enjoy a scenic morning walk, a healthy jog or a bike ride through its pathways, and when you’re done, pay a visit to the Book Village located right in the heart of the park. With over 15,000 books on its shelves, the Book Village makes a great place for a relaxing afternoon with a great read.
- Opening Hours: Botanical Park: Tuesday – Thursday 09:00 – 17:00, Saturday – Sunday 09:00 - 18:00; Book Village: Tuesday – Thursday 09:00 – 15:00, Friday 09:00 – 12:30, Saturday, Sunday and public holidays 09:00 – 18:00
- Location: Lebuh Ayer Keroh, Malacca
- Tel: +606 232 8401
- Price Range: Free
Shop local food products
Some claim that Malacca is home to some of the finest food in Malaysia, and we couldn’t agree more. People from all over Malaysia flock to Malacca to get some of only-in-Malacca food products, so grab the opportunity while you’re in town. Head to two of the biggest food manufacturers in Malacca; Tan Kim Hock for delicious dodol and coconut candy, and San Shu Gong for durian chocolate and bean biscuits. When you’re done, hop over to LW Pineapple Tarts for some fresh out-of-the-oven nyonya pineapple tarts.
Tan Kim Hock
Address: 85, 87 & 89, Jalan Bendahara, Malacca
Tel: +606 282 6099
Operating hours: Monday – Sunday 09:00 – 20:00
San Shu Gong:
Address: 33, Jalan Hang Jebat, Malacca
Tel: +606 282 8381
Operating hours: Monday – Sunday 10:00 – 22:00
LW Nyonya Pineapple Tarts House:
Address: 90, Jalan Tokong, Malacca
Tel: +606 281 1626
Operating hours: Monday – Sunday 10:00 – 20:00
Visit a Malay village
While Malay villages are scattered all across the country, few have managed to retain their traditional ways. Kampung Morten (Village Morten), in Malacca, is fortunately one of these, as this quaint village that sits by the riverbanks of Malacca River preserves its authentic surroundings (with colourful wooden houses) and its original day-to-day way of life. Visit the living museum Villa Sentosa for a rare insight of a traditional Malay house and lifestyle, with a family member (Villa Sentosa is an actual house) as a tour guide.
- Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday 09:00 – 13:00, 14:00 – 17:00; Friday 09:00 – 13:00, 14:45 – 17:00; Saturday – Sunday 09:00 – 13:00, 14:00 – 17:00
- Address: 136, Kampung Morten, Malacca
- Tel: +606 282 2988
Learn batik making
Batik is an intricate art, but that doesn’t mean that it is impossible to try yourself. Learn the art of batik printing and bring back your work as a memento through classes conducted by Melaka Batik House, and gain a deeper appreciation towards this high-coveted art form. Classes are inclusive of lunch and equipment, so slot in a day for these lessons, and you’ll have an experience to remember!
- Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday 09:00 – 21:00
- Address: PT 15251, Melaka International Trade Centre (MITC), Ayer Keroh, Malacca
- Tel: +606 232 3900
Try Peranakan dishes
Malacca is also the birth place of the Peranakan, descendants of 15th century Chinese immigrants who settled down and married local Malay ladies. The result is a unique blend of two very diverse cultures and lifestyles, and Peranakan dishes display this in good measure – Chinese ingredients are fused with spices and prepared using Malay cooking techniques. We especially love dishes like assam fish and otak-otak, but for more variety (and flavour!) head over to five of the best Nyonya eatieries in Malacca and tantalize your taste buds!
Have fun at A’Famosa Resort
A’Famosa Resort, in Alor Gajah, might be a 45-minute drive from the Malacca city centre, but it is well worth the trip if you’re looking for a fun family getaway. The resort consists of a sprawling water park, an animal safari and an impressive ‘cowboy town’, featuring spectacular Red Indian shows and fireworks every night, together with on-site accommodations. Look out for their packages and promotions for more value for your money!
Of course, what is a visit to Malacca without a walk through Jonker Street? It’s definitely the place to go for absorbning the city’s heritage, and to experience some great shopping, dining and nightlife, Jonker Street is lively and lined with museums (such as the Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum), souvenir shops, antique warehouses, and art galleries, together with a multitude of happening bars and specialty stores. Come through during Friday and Saturday nights for its renowned night market, or visit during the day for five of the best Jonker Street shops that you shouldn’t miss. Just bring plenty of cash and enthusiasm!
Banda Hilir attractions
For a lesson in history, the Banda Hilir cluster of top tourist sites are a must-visit. Historical monuments such as the Stadthuys and St. Paul’s Church sit side by side with interesting museums such as the Maritime Museum and the Malacca Sultanate Palaca Museum and if you want a complete tour, sign up with the Dutch Heritage Trail tour for a complete in-depth look. Serving as a great photo op, these attractions are between walking distance with each other, so grab your camera and snap away!