- Kelly Iverson
Malacca may be small, but its laid-back atmosphere in combination with its thriving restaurant and art scene makes it one of our favorite cities in Malaysia. Here’s a one-day itinerary on how to spend 24 hours in this historic city.
The Melaka State Government organizes the Old Melaka Heritage Tour, with walking tours beginning at 9:30 a.m. This is a great way to get introduced to the city while seeing the top major attractions on foot. The tour lasts a few hours, so be sure to wear your best walking shoes. The historic walk begins at the tourist center next to the Red Square, otherwise known as the Dutch Square.
The guide is equipped with a microphone, making it easy to understand all it has to share about the UNESCO Heritage Site. Tourists will visit a number of the top sights and attractions around town, including A’Famosa, the Dutch Square, the roofless ruins of St. Paul’s Church and a few Chinese temples located throughout the city. While participants explore and take one too many photographs, the guide will explain about how Malacca was founded in the 14th century, who conquered it, the Peranakan people and much more. The best part about this tour? It’s completely free.
After working up quite an appetite while walking and exploring the city, visitors of the historic city of Malacca should head to one of the many delicious cafés and restaurants that are found on almost every street corner. The restaurants are in such abundance, in fact, hungry patrons will have difficulty selecting just one to dine at. Malacca is known for its Nyonya food, which originated in the south of Malaysia. Some of the best restaurants in town include Veggie Planet, Nancy’s Kitchen and The Daily Fix.
Learn more about Malacca and the people who reside here at the Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum, the first private museum in Malaysia. The house where the museum resides was rebuilt in 1896, and it is beautifully decorated with items from around the world including finely stitched embroideries from China, furniture originating from Italy, and colorful floor tiles from England. Be sure to go to the museum during one of the free guided tours, which are given throughout the day. They begin at 10 a.m. and the last one is at 4 p.m., with an hour break in-between for lunch from noon to 2 p.m. Entrance into the museum is 16 MYR.
Whether you are a hopeful chef or master cook, Malacca is home to many shopping outlets that house a plethora of Malay, Indian and Nyonya ingredients. Those who love to cook should head to Pahlawan Walk Market, one of many small, bazaar-like shopping areas that are chock full of interesting and strange ingredients. From curries to blocks of palm sugar, food connoisseurs will be happy to find that many of the dishes they have so enjoyed devouring in the city can be made at home with the right ingredients.
Visitors of Malacca cannot leave without having first tried Cendol. This sugary dessert is loaded with seemingly strange ingredients, but when mixed they make for one mouthwatering dish. Shaved ice in combination with palm sugar, coconut milk, red beans and neon green noodles, otherwise known as cendol, is a great dessert to devour when attempting to beat the heat. There are plenty of shops and restaurants where visitors can find this delicious dish.
Once again, visitors are faced with the dilemma of having to choose just one restaurant to dine at. The most popular cuisines in Malaysia include Malay, Nyonya and Indian. The best restaurant in town for affordable, Indian and Pakistani cuisine is Pak Putra Tandoori & Naan Restaurant. For under $5, restaurant-goers can enjoy a sweet lassi, a number of different naans and a handful of Pakistani dishes, all of which are delicious.
The sun has set and the city of Malacca is as quiet as ever. As soon as this happens, tourists should make their way to the Sky Garden for a drink. This rooftop bar is located on the 30th floor of the Swiss Garden Hotel and Residences, within walking distance of Dutch Square. It is here where bar-goers will find luxury seating areas surrounded by walkways with water on either side.
How To Get There
After arriving at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, those traveling to Malacca can take a bus straight from the airport instead of having to go into the city. The cost of the bus is about 24 MYR (a little over $5). From there, the two-hour journey is quick and easy, lacks winding roads and is seemingly free of traffic. The bus arrives at Malacca Sentral, and from there the city center is a short taxi or bus ride away. The bus is easy to navigate, so do not let the idea of taking public transportation deter you from opting for a cheaper ride. To get from the station to the center of Malacca by bus costs only 2 MYR (less than $1).