Malacca (locally known as Melaka) is a lovely laid back city in Malaysia, located near the Straits of Malacca. Also known as ‘historic state’, Malacca has been ruled by the Dutch, Portuguese and British thanks to its strategic location which made it an important port along the east-west trade route. Chinese immigrants came to Malacca for trade and mingled with the local ladies of Malay archipelago giving rise to a distinct ‘Peranakan’ culture! The city has been rightly declared a UNESCO world heritage site and still has much of the old heritage intact.
We spent a lovely weekend there soaking in the Peranakan culture, trying delicious cuisine and admiring the lovely architecture of the city.
How to get there: From Singapore, you can take a bus to Malacca. The ride can take anywhere between 4-5 hours depending on traffic at the checkpoint. There are many options to choose from and you can use this site for booking one. We booked 707-inc and were pretty happy with the comfortable seat, leg space and service.
Where to stay: Tourism is pretty developed in Malacca in my view so there are plenty of accommodation options right from 1-room boutique hotels to 5-star ones. We stayed at the beautiful Casa Del Rio and would recommend it especially to throw in a bit of luxury in your trip. Situated on the banks of Malacca river, it has a classic mediterranean inspired architecture with very spacious rooms, great service, good breakfast options and a stunning rooftop infinity pool (My favourite!).
What to do: Culture and food are definitely the highlights in Malacca. To get a glimpse into the life of a Peranakan family you should visit the Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum. The house is a combination of three terrace lots that were acquired by the Chan family in 1861. Four generations lived in the house before it was opened as a museum in March 1985. The name of the museum is derived from the term Baba, an honorific manner of addressing a Straits-born gentleman and Nyonya which addresses a Straits-born lady. I particularly loved the woodwork and porcelain- so beautiful!
A few blocks from here are the Straits Chinese Jewellery Museum which displays Peranakan jewellery and Cheng Hoon Teng temple which is the oldest Buddhist temple in Malaysia.
From the temple, you can walk to the Dutch Square with its quintessential red buildings- Stadthuys, Clock tower and a Church built during the Dutch occupation of the port town.
Malacca is a small town and it is easy to get around on foot. However the heat can get to you, so you can choose from the numerous pretty trishaws to take you around- right from hello kitty and Pikachu to Spiderman!
I chose a pretty hello kitty themed trishaw to visit the A’Famosa fort- a fortress built during the Portuguese occupation.
A short climb from the fort takes you to St.Paul’s hill which has the ruins of St. Paul’s Church along with a more recently erected statue of St. Francis Xavier.
In the evening, you can enjoy the sunset while cruising Melaka river. Its a relaxed way of taking a quick tour of the growing city. We bought round trip tickets from the hotel itself and were picked up and dropped directly at the hotel. So convenient!
Where to eat: No trip to Malacca is complete without enjoying its distinct cuisine. Food there is also very cheap apart from being delicious. So head over to one of the little cafes for cendol, Kueh, chicken with rice balls, satay celup, prawn sambal, Malay style eggplant and chicken rendang curry! For shopping, head to Jonker street to check-out the weekend night market. We bought some egg biscuits, tau sar piah (baked pastry filled with bean paste), coffee and tea. We had lunch at Straits Affair and loved the food-delicious, home made food cooked with love! Ice ball cendol, Iced tea, Mee Siam and Fried Kueh Ku are highly recommended.
For dinner you can head over to Wild Coriander for a cosy table by the river and enjoy their chicken Rendang curry, Prawn sambal, Malay style eggplant with Jasmine rice.
Coconut desserts are best served at Bikini Toppings!
I quite enjoyed my relaxed weekend in Malacca and can’t wait to go there again!