Once a bustling trading port, Melaka (Malacca) has a layered history of architecture and culture and is now an internationally recognised heritage site. The diverse mix of temples, mosques, churches and Dutch government buildings, China Town and a Portuguese fortress give this city a truly unique feel.
From Kuala Lumpur, you can reach Melaka in a couple of hours by car or bus. Once there, the Melaka Town Bus can get you around the historical city. Flag down a trishaw, easily spotted thanks to their flowery decorations, or rent a bicycle to explore the sights at your own pace. A lot of Melaka’s attractions and shops close on Tuesdays, so plan accordingly.
Enjoy fresh Portuguese and Malay seafood dishes in the small fishing village known as the Portuguese Settlement, southeast of the city centre. Admire the A Famosa ruins and its 16th-century St. Paul’s Church.
More European influence came from the Dutch, who evicted the Portuguese and ruled the port city for more than 150 years. Remaining examples of Dutch architecture are the Red Square’s striking 17th-century Stadthuys (City Hall) and 18th-century Christ Church. The Stadthuys is now the Museum of History and Ethnography.
Get a glimpse of how the Malays lived before European settlement in the Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum. On the waterfront, immerse yourself in Melaka’s trading history and explore the Quayside Heritage Centre and the Maritime Museum in a replica Portuguese ship.
At night, take a river cruise to see the historic waterfront warehouses and churches in a different light and sample typical Chinese-Malay cuisine afterwards. In Chinatown (Bukit Cina), the hawkers at the Jonker Street Night Market serve delicious food, skillfully prepared in front of you. Order chicken rice balls and hunt for souvenirs and antiques after your meal.
To end your day, stroll along the Melaka waterfront for a view of the brilliantly lit mosque, Masjid Selat Melaka, on nearby Melaka Island.