Sue is a mother and grandmother living in sunny Malaysia. Like many Malaysians, she is passionate about food.
Best Places To Visit In Melaka
Melaka is a city not just influenced by the European colonial powers. The Chinese also came to trade and settle down with the local Malays.
After all, at the height of its prominence, Bandar Melaka or Melaka City was an important port along the Straits of Malacca This historical city has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 7 July 2008 and listed among 45 "must visit" places by the New York Times. A World Heritage Site is a place that is of special cultural or physical significance.
Melaka gained fame mainly because of its strategic location as a good port accessible in all seasons and situated at the narrowest point of the Malacca Straits. It was formerly named Malacca and some still refer to this popular name.
Allow me to be your guide on this tour of the ten best places to see in Melaka. I am sure you will be fascinated by its rich historical background. Book your Hotels in Malacca.
Welcome to the Top Ten Places To Visit In Melaka!
Where is Bandar Melaka? - Short drive from the capital, Kuala Lumpur
Melaka is on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia and easily accessible by road from the major towns. The North-South Highway makes the trip a short one.
From the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA ) the journey takes about 90 minutes while driving from Kuala Lumpur will be about 2 hours or so. If you are coming from Johore and heading north to Melaka the journey may take 21/2 hours.
Melaka On Google Map
Melaka History - Courage of a mouse deer leads to the beginning of an empire
The history of Melaka began with a simple fishing village inhabited by local Malays. In the fourteenth century, a Hindu prince, Parameswara was driven from his home in Palembang by Javanese enemies and found himself in this small village.
According to legend, he was resting under a gray tree while hunting when one of his dogs cornered a mouse deer. In self defense, the mouse deer pushed the dog into the river. Impressed by the courage of the mouse deer and feeling it was the sign of a good omen, Parameswara decided to build an empire at that very spot. He could see it was strategically located to be an excellent trading port.
He named the place after the tree he was sheltering under, the Melaka tree.
Another version of the story tells of Parameswara choosing the name Malacca from the Tamil word "mallakka" which means upside down. Old illustrations of the dog and mouse deer shows the dog falling on its back into the river which gave him the idea of the name Malacca.
Courtesy of Wikipedia
Melaka Street Map Guide - Landmarks interesting places to visit in Melaka
Interesting Places to Visit
2. Christ Church
3. St. Francis Xavier's Church
4. St. Paul's Church
6. Malacca Sultanate Palace
7. Dutch Graveyard
8. Independece Memorial
9. Jonker Street
10. Nyona & Baba Heritage
11. Hang Kasturi Mausoleum
12. Kampung Hulu Mosque
13. Cheng Hoon Teng Temple
14. Kampung Kling Mosque
15. Sri Poyatha Temple
16. Hang Jebat Mausoleum
17. Hang Li Poh's well
18. Sam Poh Kong Temple
19. Bukit China Hill
20. St. Peter's Church
Courtesy of melaka.net
# 1. Jonker Street
Antiques from the ancient port
Jonker Street, a narrow street located in Chinatown has some of the oldest houses dating to the 17th century. This street is famous for its antique goods with its past associations with Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese and British. You can find Chinese porcelain pieces, old coins, unusual lamps and various Buddha statues.
Another attraction of Jonker Street are the rickshaws. The are almost extinct now as modes of transport with highways, air-conditioned taxis and buses. Tourists are game to try a ride in these colorfully decorated trishaws equipped with stereo systems and loudly blaring the latest pop songs. A ride in a a trishaw is one of the things to do in Melaka that will be remembered for a long time. A family vacation would not be complete without a trishaw ride.
This is your once-in-a-lifetime ride on this outdated mode of transport to get around the places to visit in Melaka. After all it may not be around forever as less and less people are taking up this trade.
Don't be too shocked when you hear Beyonce providing you the musical accompaniment as you sit in your trishaw, lol.
Rickshaw at the Town Square
During the weekends the street is closed to traffic from 6pm - midnight. The locals will line the streets with stalls to display their wares from antiques to souvenirs and of course local food. The whole street takes on a carnival atmosphere.
Local Ruler Marries A Chinese Princess - Marriage of two cultures when the city was called Malacca
The strategic location of Malacca meant that it was an important stop for Chinese admiral Zheng Ho's fleet during the Ming dynasty.
In order to enhance better relationships, a delegation was led by the Princess Hang Li Po to marry Sultan Mansur Shah who reigned from 1456 until 1477.
This resulted in a mass settlement of Chinese people which led to a community of Peranakan or Baba-Nyonya. Nyonya are for the ladies while Baba are for the men.
This community identify themselves as descendants of the late 15th and 16th century Chinese immigrants. Some have intermarried with the local Malays and are usually traders.
Most of those descended from the early settlers speak two or more languages and towards later generations have assimilated to the Malay culture with their own particular way of dressing as well as cooking style.
Why not stay at The Baba House Hotel Malacca Town which is traditionally designed based on the culture of Baba-Nyonya.
# 2. Admiral Cheng Ho's Cultural Musuem - Brought the Chinese Princess to Melaka
To have a better understanding of the Chinese influence, one of the best places to visit in Melaka is the Admiral Cheng Ho's museum. The museum displays the life and times of the historic Ming dynaasty admiral whose voyage to this part of the world played an important role in the Melaka sultanate. The rooms like Tea House and Treasure Ship Living Cabin will offer you a glimpse of his life.
The museum located in Jalan Hang Jebat is in a central location and easy to get to from wherever you are staying. Admission fee is RM 10 for adults and RM 5 for students and children. This is one of the best places to visit for a bit of history lesson on Melaka and should be included for your family vacation.
# 3. Portuguese Square - Mini Lisbon
Be sure to have a meal at the many dining places in the Portuguese settlement
The Portuguese conquered Melaka in 1511 and ruled for 130 years. The people living there now are the descendants from the marriages of Colonial Portuguese and the local Malays some 400 years ago. They call themselves Eurasians. Many families still maintain their traditional surnames like Sequiera and Lopez and continue to be devout Catholics. They speak a language which is a mixture of Portuguese and Malay.
The Portuguese Square,sometimes called mini Lisbon is located in the midst of the Portuguese Settlement on the outskirts of Melaka town and is the center of the Portuguese culture in Melaka and in Malaysia. This is the place to visit in Melaka to see the Portuguese influence on the lives of the local people.
The square hosts stalls selling souvenirs, seafood restaurants, pubs and a small museum all with a distinctive Portuguese flavor. During the weekends the community put on traditional dances in their colorful cultural costumes. The best way to get there is by taxi which is fairly cheap.
Be sure to have a seafood dinner at one of the many restaurants there. The vendors tend to rush in and offer you a table when they spy a potential customer. Just don' t be intimidated by them.
# 4. A Famosa, Melaka - Once a might Portuguese fortress, this is one of the top places to visit in Melaka and always included in any tour of the city
A Famosa or "The Famous" in Portuguese is a fortress located in Melaka. It is among the oldest surviving architectural remains in Asia. All that is left of the mighty fortress is this tiny gate. In 1511, the Portuguese fleet under the command of Alfonso De Alberquerque attacked and defeated the native ruler of Melaka. He had a fortress built around a natural hill near the sea. The fortress is one of the places to visit in Melaka that every visitor must not miss.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
# 5. The Stadthuys - Oldest Dutch building in the East
The Stadthuys, pronounced "Stad-Haus" means town hall. It is one of the most prominent buildings and a top place to visit in Melaka. Visitors can never miss this bright salmon pink piece of Dutch architecture. It was built in 1650 as the official residence of the Dutch Governor and his officers.
The Dutch defeated the Portuguese to capture Melaka in 1641and ruled there till 1798. They were not interested in developing Melaka as a trading center preferring to pay more attention to Indonesia. However they still left their Red Building , the Stadthuys as a landmark. The Dutch ceded Melaka to the British in The Anglo-Dutch treaty in 1824.
The Stadthuys now houses the History Museum and Ethnography Museum. On display are traditional bridal costumes and relics from Melaka's 400 year history.
Christ Church Melaka
Melaka Town Square
# 6. Maritime Museum - This old Portuguese ship is an interesting place to visit in Melaka
The Maritime Museum was constructed after the 'Flor De La Mar', the Portuguese ship which sank off the coast of Melaka on its way back to Portugal. The ship was believed to be carrying priceless treasures seized from Melaka.
Visitors to the museum can see artifacts from 14th century Melaka Sultanate to the Portuguese, Dutch and British periods.There are also exhibits of foreign ships which called on this strategic port. This is a place to visit in Melaka to see the the ancient trading ships.
The Maritime Museum is located just ahead of the Stadhuys. The best way to get there from the Stadhuys is by walking to better appreciate the galleries, museums and other historical buildings. Admission is RM 3 for adults and RM 1 for children.
Office Number: +603 284 7090
Opening Hours: Daily: 09:00 hrs - 17:30 hrs
Friday: 09:00 hrs - 12:15 hrs, 14:45 hrs - 17:30 hrs
# 7. Air Keroh Recreational Forest
Best place to visit in Melaka to enjoy the flora and fauna of the Malaysian rain forest
This 359 ha recreational forest offer visitors tranquility and peace in its cool green surroundings. You can take a walk through virgin forests rich in plant and animal life. Recreational facilities include Prehistoric Garden, children's playground, Aborigines Park, Deer Park, picnic spots and refreshments kiosks.
Trees are labeled so it is an education in the flora and fauna of the Malaysian forest. There are observation towers and tree houses scattered throughout the forest for visitors to do a spot of bird and insect watching. Well marked trails are available for those who enjoy jungle trekking as well as three jogging tracks. There is also a suspension bridge for the more adventurous.
For those who want to do some camping, there is a 10 ha camping ground with basic facilities like water and special areas for campfires and barbecues. The charges are quite reasonable. If you prefer slightly more comfortable accommodation, cabins with kitchenettes are also available.
Contact Air Keron Recreational Forest Information Center for more details.
# 8. Air Keroh Crocodile Farm
Meet these big reptiles in their natural environment
Air Keroh lies about 15 km from Melaka city and there you will find the largest crocodile farm in the country. This sprawling 3.2 hectare park houses more than 200 species of crocodiles living in its natural environment. Some of the species include the humpback, albino, African Dwarf, Siamese, Tailless and many more.
The highlight of a visit to the crocodile farm is of course the exciting performances by the trained keepers with the crocodiles. The performances are sure to keep you at the edge of your seat. The times of the shows are usually displayed prominently at the farm. There are also fixed times when the crocodiles are fed and these are equally fun to watch. The kids will love this part of the family vacation.
The crocodile farm is opened to the public from 9am - 6pm everyday with an entrance fee charged.
# 9. Air Keroh Butterfly Farm - Butterflies of every color imaginable
The Butterfly Farm has more than 200 species of local butterflies as well as some rare species like the Raja Brooke's Birdwing. The Raja Brooke's Birdwing is a distinctive black and electric-green birdwing butterfly from the rain forests of Borneo. The butterfly was named after James Brooke, the rajah (king) of Sarawak and is a protected species.
Visitors can enjoy watching the butterflies fly freely in this landscaped farm and sipping nectar from pineapples placed at various spots. A truly wondrous sight to be surrounded by the many different species of butterflies.
The farm also houses more than 400 specimens of insects like spiders, scorpions and other six-legged and eight-legged insects.
# 10. Taman Mini Malaysia & Mini Asean - Traditional houses of the Malaysian states
The Taman Mini Malaysia is located near the town of Air Keroh close to the Butterfly Farm. This is a great place to explore for those interested to see the traditional architectural style of Malay houses. Each replica of the home on stilts displays the style of the 13 states of Malaysia and are furnished with arts and crafts particular to the culture of that state.
During the weekends there are cultural shows and traditional games of the different states. For those who like to sample a taste of living in these traditional homes there are chalets for rent.
Melaka Homestay - A Family Homestay - Taste the village or "kampung" lifestyle of Melaka
Homestay program is a way to taste the traditional way of life in a village or "kampung" which is totally different from the bustling city life. Guests are given the opportunity of living with Malaysian families during their homestay experience.
The homestay program is run by the Ministry of Tourism, Malaysia. Different packages are available depending on how long you wish to stay and are often in the region of RM 180 per person for a 2 day 1 night stay inclusive of meals.
Homestays in Melaka - Stay in a traditional Malay home to experience a different way of life
These homestays are part of the Homestay Malaysia Program and are endorsed by the Ministry of Tourism.
- Homestay Seri Tanjung
Twice winner of the National Beautiful competition, the village offers traditional massage, coconut plucking, rubber tapping,etc.
- Homestay Parit Penghulu
Rubber tapping, batik painting and cultural night performances are some of the activities for guests
- Homestay Kampung Alai
Activities include top spinning, cultural performances, local traditional games, village tour
- Homestay Kampung Morten
Located in Bandar Hilir, Melaka
- Homestay Tambak Paya
Located in Tiang Dua, Melaka
- Homestay Ayer Limau
Located in Masjid Tanah, Melaka
- Homestay Kampung Pulai
Located in Merlimau, Melaka
Did Someone Mention Food? - No, I didn't forget. A Malaysian never forgets to talk about the best desserts in town!
After all that travelling you must be wondering about the kind of food that is unique to Melaka. A good Malaysian hostess like me is bound to tell you about those delicious desserts that Melaka has to offer.
Walking along Jonker Street in the heat, you will certainly enjoy the tasty dessert of cendol. This is a green colored jelly (made from rice flour) in the shape of worms and served with shaved ice, coconut milk and palm sugar. The cendol can be served in a bowl or sometimes in a glass. This one shop I went to served it in a specially paper container shaped like a durian. The cendol may look a bit strange to you but believe me, it tastes great!
Nyonya kuih as the name suggests originated from the Nyonyas, the descendants of the Chinese Immigrants who came with Admiral Zheng He. The Nyonya kuih are bite sized desserts made from ground rice flour and usually steamed and can be sweet or savory.
San Shu Gong For Snacks And Tidbits - Be sure to drop by to pick up some Melaka "treats"
"San Shu Gong" is a great place to buy Melaka tidbits and snacks. It is located on Jonker Street and not so easy to miss with a giant dragon right at the street junction. There is also a cafe for you to enjoy the famous Melaka durian cendol. For those who are not durian fans there is of course the regular cendol.
© 2010 Sue Mah
Liz Westwood from UK on October 28, 2018:
This is a great guide to Melaka with great photos.