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Melaka (Malacca) Travel Guide: Top Things to Do in 2023-2024

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If you’re seeking an unforgettable adventure filled with historical wonders, cultural treasures, and delectable cuisine, you’re in the right place. In this comprehensive Melaka Travel Guide, we’ll uncover the top things to do in Melaka, best time to visit, recommended duration in Melaka, traffic options and more essential tip for a Melaka trip, ensuring you make the most of your visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a foodie, or simply looking for unique experiences, Melaka has something special in store for you. Let’s embark on an incredible journey through this captivating Malaysian gem.

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Melaka Overview: Interesting Facts

  • Historic Origin: Founded in the 14th century by Prince Parameswara from Sumatra, Melaka was the last ruler of ancient Malay origin in Singapore.
  • UNESCO Heritage: Melaka has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008, alongside George Town in Penang. Its cultural heritage is a rich tapestry influenced by Chinese, Indian, Malay, Portuguese, Dutch, and British traders and settlers.
  • Historical Treasures: Melaka boasts a wealth of historical attractions, including the A Famosa fortress, Stadthuys town hall, Christ Church, Jonker Street, Cheng Hoon Teng temple, and the Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum.
  • Culinary Delights: Renowned for its multicultural background, Melaka offers diverse local cuisine. Popular dishes include chicken rice balls, nyonya laksa, cendol, satay celup, and asam pedas.
  • Geographical Location: Located in southern Peninsular Malaysia, Melaka sits between Johor and Negeri Sembilan. It encompasses two districts: Melaka Tengah and Alor Gajah, with several offshore islands such as Pulau Besar, Pulau Upeh, and Pulau Melaka.

Top Things to Do in Melaka

Discover the best of Melaka, Malaysia with these exciting activities:

  • Red Square and Stadthuys: Explore the historic Red Square and Stadthuys, Asia’s oldest surviving Dutch building. Marvel at the iconic red architecture, delve into museums and capture colorful memories with trishaws and rickshaws.
  • Melaka River Cruise: Glide along the Melaka River, taking in scenic views of city landmarks like Kampung Morten Malay village, the Melaka Sultanate Palace, and the Maritime Museum. Admire street art and murals along the riverbanks.
  • Portuguese Heritage: Experience the Portuguese influence at A Famosa fortress, Asia’s oldest European structure, and the Portuguese Settlement, offering authentic cuisine and cultural performances.
  • Jonker Street: Delight in local food and shopping in the heart of Melaka’s Chinatown. Savor street treats like chicken rice balls, Nyonya laksa, and cendol, and explore antique shops, souvenir stalls, and art galleries.
  • Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum: Immerse yourself in Melaka’s history and culture at this museum showcasing Peranakan traditions. Marvel at antique furniture, porcelain, costumes, and jewelry from a wealthy Baba-Nyonya family.
  • Skytrex Adventure Melaka: Get your adrenaline pumping at this outdoor park with zip-lining, rope swinging, and obstacle courses. Choose from various difficulty levels and enjoy treetop challenges.
  • Melaka Submarine Museum: Step inside a retired submarine to learn about crew life and submarine technology. Engage with interactive exhibits and displays.
  • The Huskitory: Visit a unique cafe housing over 20 adorable huskies. Cuddle, feed, and snap photos with these friendly dogs while enjoying a variety of drinks and snacks.
  • The Shore Sky Tower: Conquer your fear of heights at Melaka’s tallest building, offering panoramic views of the city and the Strait of Malacca. Walk on the glass-bottomed skywalk or ride the revolving gyro tower.
  • Melaka Raya Nightlife: Experience the vibrant nightlife of Melaka Raya, filled with bars, clubs, karaoke lounges, and restaurants. Party with locals and tourists, savor diverse cuisines and enjoy live music and performances.
Malacca River
Glide along the Melaka River

Where to Stay in Melaka

Enriched by a blend of Malay, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, and British cultures, Melaka offers diverse areas and hotels to choose from. Below are the top areas to stay in Melaka, with recommended hotels in each area:

Jonker Street:

The heart of Melaka’s Chinatown and the city’s liveliest hub, known for its night market, antique shops, temples, and cafes. Immerse yourself in local culture and cuisine.

Suggested hotels include The Rucksack Caratel – Garden Wing, Hotel Puri Melaka, and 5 Heeren Museum Residence.

Malacca City:

Central Melaka, home to historical landmarks like Stadthuys, Christ Church, St. Paul’s Hill, and A Famosa fort. Enjoy a scenic cruise or riverside walk along the Melaka River.

Recommended hotels: Casa del Rio Melaka Hotel, The Pines Melaka, and The Sterling Boutique Hotel Melaka.

Melaka Raya:

The modern, commercial district with shopping malls, restaurants, bars, and vibrant nightlife. Close to the coast for beach activities and the famous Klebang Coconut Shake stall.

Suggested hotels include Doubletree by Hilton Melaka, Swiss-Garden Hotel Melaka, and T Hotel Melaka.

Ayer Keroh:

A serene, green area boasting natural attractions like Melaka Zoo, Botanical Garden, Butterfly Park, and Crocodile Farm. Also home to cultural sites like Mini Malaysia Park and Melaka Wonderland Theme Park.

Recommended hotels: Hotel Seri Malaysia Melaka, Imperial Heritage Hotel Melaka, and The Orchard Wellness & Health Resort.

Malaysia Malacca Swiss-Garden Hotel
Swiss-Garden Hotel along the Melaka River

How Many Days to Stay in Melaka

Many travelers advise allocating 1 or 2 days for a Melaka visit to experience its primary attractions and savor its culinary delights and ambiance. Exploring the city center by foot or bicycle allows you to discover Dutch Square, Jonker Street, St. Paul’s Hill, Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, and the Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum.

For those with more time and a desire to explore beyond the city center, extending your stay to 3 days or more opens up additional opportunities. Consider visiting the magnificent Melaka Straits Mosque, a stunning floating mosque by the sea, or exploring the Melaka Zoo and Night Safari, Malaysia’s second-largest zoo. Alternatively, embark on a day trip to A Famosa Resort, featuring a water park, safari park, and golf course.

Malaysia Melaka (Malacca) Zoo
Giraffes in Melaka Zoo

Melaka Weather & Best Time to Visit Melaka

Melaka experiences a tropical climate characterized by consistently hot and humid conditions throughout the year. It features two distinct seasons: the dry season and the wet season.

The dry season prevails from mid-December to mid-March and from June to mid-September, offering more favorable weather conditions for tourists. During this period, daytime temperatures range from 30°C to 34°C, with nighttime temperatures between 24°C and 28°C. While humidity remains high, it’s generally tolerable, allowing visitors to explore Melaka’s historical and cultural attractions, including the A’Famosa fort, Jonker Street, St. Paul’s Church, and the Shore Sky Tower.

Conversely, the wet season is less conducive to travel, as it tends to be rainy and overcast. Monthly precipitation averages around 80 mm, and heavy rainfall can lead to flooding and traffic congestion, making city exploration challenging. The wettest months typically occur in March, April, October, and November, making it advisable to avoid these periods if you wish to stay dry and fully enjoy your visit to Melaka.

See also Best Time to Visit Malaysia

Melaka Transportation: How to Get to and Travel around

How to Get to

By Bus: The most popular and budget-friendly option connects Melaka to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Penang, Johor Bahru, and neighboring areas. Numerous bus companies operate regular services to Melaka Sentral, the primary bus terminal. Travel times vary but typically range from 2 to 4 hours from Kuala Lumpur, 4 to 5 hours from Singapore, 6 to 7 hours from Penang, and 3 to 4 hours from Johor Bahru. Bus fares range between RM 10 and RM 50, and you can book tickets online or at bus terminals.

By Train: Although there’s no direct train service to Melaka, you can take a train to Pulau Sebang (Tampin), situated approximately 38 km away. Pulau Sebang is part of the KL-Johor Bahru line, with train departures from Kuala Lumpur, Gemas, Seremban, or Johor Bahru. The train fare typically falls between RM 20 and RM 30, and the journey takes about 2 hours from Kuala Lumpur. From Pulau Sebang, a taxi or local bus (Tai Lye) can transport you to Melaka for around RM 20 to RM 30.

By Taxi: For a swift and convenient but pricier option, you can hire a taxi from Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, or nearby cities. Negotiate the fare with the driver, which usually ranges from RM 200 to RM 300 from Kuala Lumpur, RM 300 to RM 400 from Singapore, and RM 150 to RM 200 from Johor Bahru. Travel times are approximately 1.5 hours from Kuala Lumpur, 3 hours from Singapore, and 2 hours from Johor Bahru.

By Car: If you have access to a car or rent one, driving to Melaka is possible via the North-South Expressway (NSE) or the Coastal Highway. The NSE is quicker but entails toll fees, while the Coastal Highway offers a scenic route sans tolls but may have more traffic and detours. The driving distances are approximately 150 km from Kuala Lumpur, 240 km from Singapore, and 220 km from Johor Bahru.

Bus to Melaka from Singapore
Bus to Melaka from Singapore

How to Travel around Melaka

Getting around Melaka is a breeze, thanks to its compact size and proximity of attractions:

Walking: Melaka’s historical and cultural sites, including the renowned Jonker Street, are easily reachable on foot. Stroll through the city center to explore shops, cafes, and museums.

Trishaw Rides: For a colorful and traditional travel experience, hop on a trishaw. These flower-adorned, music-blaring three-wheeled carts can be found near Dutch Square and Mahkota Parade Shopping Center, offering an affordable ride to major tourist spots.

Bicycles: Renting a bicycle allows you to discover Melaka’s hidden gems and scenic locations. Bike rental shops near the river or the Stadthuys provide an eco-friendly and enjoyable way to explore the city.

Taxis and Grab Cars: For longer distances, like the Melaka Straits Mosque or Butterfly and Reptile Sanctuary, opt for a taxi or Grab car. Hail a taxi from the street or book a Grab car through a smartphone app. Always ensure the taxi uses a meter or settles on a fare beforehand.

Buses: When venturing beyond the city center to places like A’Famosa Resort or Melaka Zoo, consider taking a bus. Bus stations are conveniently located throughout town, and you can purchase tickets from machines using coins.

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