Malacca in Peninsular Malaysia is also spelled Melaka and is one of the most exciting parts of the country. Malacca has a varied history, having been colonized by the Portuguese, Dutch, and British. As such, you will find influences from all of these former colonial powers in the food, architecture, and even the language.
This is also a strategically important part of the country that sits on a graceful river. One of the highlights of a trip here is a scenic river cruise that allows you to take in all the delights of Malacca while enjoying the breeze over the water.
Much of the city has remained unchanged for centuries. You can still find crumbling forts and buildings covered with traditional cherry-red façades introduced during the colonial period.
All in all, Malacca offers a serene yet fascinating glimpse into the history of Malaysia. It is a top spot for anyone looking to explore a different side of the country away from big cities like Kuala Lumpur.
Enjoy the views at the Taming Sari Revolving Tower
It is hard not to notice Taming Sari Revolving Tower when you are in Malacca as it soars to a height of 110 meters and can seat 66 passengers at one time.
The ride in the tower takes around 7 minutes to complete as you will ascend and then get to spend 5 minutes at the top taking in the views over the city before descending again.
From the tower you can take in panoramic vistas across the city which stretch all the way to the coast.
Walk around Stadthuys
Stadthuys is one of the most famous landmarks in Malacca, and you will recognize it immediately thanks to the crimson façade.
The building dates from 1650, making it the oldest of its kind built during the Dutch colonial period, and is modeled on the Stadhuis or town hall in Hoorn in the Netherlands.
This used to be the local town hall and residence of the governor but nowadays it houses the History & Ethnography Museum.
Go shopping at Jonker Walk Night Market
Located on Jalan Hang Jebat is the Jonker Walk Night Market, which occurs from Friday to Sunday once the sun starts to go down.
This is one of the best places to come to shop in Malacca, and you will find a vast range of goods on sale, including souvenirs, a selection of antiques, and local handicrafts.
You can also buy other items like electronics and clothing, but one of the best parts of the market is the food.
Some of the street food snacks that you can expect to find here include pancakes and waffles, rice balls filled with chicken, and cendol, which is a kind of dessert made with jelly and coconut milk.
Explore Villa Sentosa
If you venture a little outside Malacca proper, you will come to Kampung Morten, a living museum.
Here you will find a lovely little village house that dates from the 1920s. You will be given a guided tour where you can check out all the memorabilia and antiques such as ancient ceramics from the Ming Dynasty and old family photographs of the house residents, and pieces like a copy of the Quran, which is centuries old.
Visit St. Paul’s Church
One of Malacca’s most famous churches is Saint Paul’s Church which dates from 1521 when the Portuguese colonialists built it.
It was used as a fortress in 1567 and then became a church after the Dutch siege of Malacca.
It used to be called Our Lady of Annunciation, and it also has a Dutch cemetery attached where you can see some of the tombstones of those who would have made the journey from the Netherlands to Malacca in the days of old.
To get to the church, you will need to walk up a small hill worth the effort for the pretty views over the city.
Take a Malacca River Cruise
The Malacca River is one of the city’s highlights, and the best way to experience it is to take to the water on a scenic river cruise.
Back in the days of old, the river would have been one of the most important trade routes in the area, and nowadays, you can cruise past essential spots such as Kampung Morten and enjoy all the city’s sights.
There are also nighttime river cruises that offer you the chance to take in the city illuminations, and the journey usually takes around 45 minutes to an hour.
Visit the Baba & Nonya Heritage Museum
The Baba & Nonya Heritage Museum is the place to come if you want to learn more about the Peranakan culture in Malacca.
Also known as Straits Chinese, the Peranakans came from China. They settled in Malaysia, where they mixed their traditional culture with Malay traditions to create a unique new way of living in Malaysia.
You can see this firsthand at the museum, which is located in a typical Baba & Nonya townhouse adorned with gorgeous period decorations and gives you a glimpse of how people would have lived in the days of old in Malacca.
You can take a guided tour of the residence, and the guides will fill you in on all the history of the building.
Visit Taman Mini Malaysia and Mini ASEAN
If you want to get a quick snapshot of Malaysia but don’t have time to travel around the whole country, consider a trip to Ayer Keroh, where you will find a min-version.
This outdoor museum has traditional houses from all of the 13 different states in Malaysia and some from around the ASEAN region.
There are also cultural shows that take place here at 11 am and 2 pm every day where you can see traditional dancing and costumes firsthand.
Sample some Nonya food
Malacca is famous for its Nonya food, and with that in mind, make sure that you don’t miss the chance to try somewhere you are in the city.
In essence, this is a kind of fusion food that mixes Malay and Chinese flavors to create something unique, and one of the most famous dishes served here is Fish Head Curry which is relatively self-explanatory.
Often meals in Malacca are finished off with a big dish of cendol, which is made of shaved ice, syrup, and jelly noodles.
See some history at Flora de la Mar Maritime Museum
The Flora de la Mar Maritime Museum houses a model of the Flora de la Mar, which was a Portuguese ship that sank off the shore of Malacca in the days of old.
As well as the recreated ship, you will find three different museums here that tell the maritime history in Malaysia. You can climb aboard the Flor de la Mar and enjoy dioramas and other nautical antiques.