I arrived to Malacca, or Melaka, by bus from Singapore where I stayed 4 days. I knew it’s an Unesco Cultural Heritage site but didn’t really know at all what to expect.
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In all honesty, my initial impression was a bit underwhelming, I could find charm but nothing spectacular that could explain its elevated status.
I don’t do much previous research on the places I visit as I always prefer to ask the locals about things to do, places to visit and how’s life at the place I’m visiting instead of just googling everything, and that’s the point where I started gathering an idea of the place I was.
After listening to a few stories from the locals, I went for a drink at Me and Mrs Jones, which is a live music bar. I started talking with the owner (Mrs Jones herself) and she lent me a book about everything that made Malacca worth its name. It was full of historic events, figures, places and recommendations.
In between going through the book and walking incessantly around town I started to make up my own concept of the place and came to the conclusion that it’s not always about majestic buildings what is worth preserving.
In this case is about all the mix of cultures that have governed Malacca, making it an eclectic place with influences from its previous occupiers.
From Portuguese, Dutch and British to Malays and the always present Chinese community which is even richer here with the legacy of the Baba & Nyonya families which has a museum close to Jonker Street.
The Unesco-protected area itself is not too large and can be walked all over, starting at Jonker Street where there’s a night market every Fri-Sat-Sun you get easy access towards a number of temples from different beliefs, a replica of the Sultanate palace and the historic fortress of a’Famosa. You can also take a boat tour around the Malacca River.
Strangely, being a seaside town, there’s no really a beach there. You have to take either buses or taxis to get to the nicer beaches.
Being an Unesco Cultural Heritage Site (joint with Georgetown) you will get plenty of signage around town to make your way. There’s not really much point in writing an itinerary as you will see that you will walk it all (twice) in 2 days.
After the initial impression, I ended up enjoying my time there. If it’s on your route I’d certainly recommend to stop by for a couple of days. If you’re short of time and have other possible destinations maybe you can skip it.
Where to stay:
I tried two different hostels. One of the cheapest places I’ve ever stayed in my life was 69 Guest House. If it’s low season, don’t book online and you will pay even less! I paid US$2 inc. breakfast!
The atmosphere was good even that there were not many people staying on that time of the year.
Said, the owner, is an incredibly kind guy, I highly recommend staying there.
NOTE you get what you pay for, it’s not the most nice-looking place but it has a good vibe.
Relish the Moment was the second place I stayed, nicely located by the river, it’s certainly more stylish than the previous one.
I stayed there at US$5 with no breakfast. The rooms are nice although it was mostly empty so can’t judge on its atmosphere.
Where to eat:
A Malaysian friend recommended me to try Baba Nyonya food and I can tell you that’s all I ate on my time there! one of the best meals I have had lately was at the Calanthe Art Cafe, try their signature clay pot Laksa and thank me later!!! another good meal was at the 1511 cafe which is next to the Baba Nyonya museum.
Where to go afterwards:
As I was just starting to explore Malaysia I continued north to KL, but you can also take a ferry at Malacca to go to Sumatra, Indonesia.
I went to KL by bus, prices depend on the time of the day, I paid less than US$3 for the trip. A bus to Singapore will cost you around US $15.
Feel free to drop any comments or if you have been to Malacca, what was your impression?