8 Incredible Things to Do in Melaka (Malacca) - One Day Backpacking Guide to the Historic Port City of Malaysia

8 Incredible Things to Do in Melaka (Malacca)

One Day Backpacking Guide to the Historic Port City of Malaysia

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Melaka or as it is previously known as Malacca is one of the most important port cities in the history of trade. Situated in the Malacca Strait that connects South Asian sea and Europe to the East, the city was once the seat of the Malay Kingdom and has gone through several periods of prosperity and neglect, resulting in a city so unique, you need to see for yourself when you are traveling in Malaysia.

Due to its diverse nature with the city's unique Nyonya culture (Chinese + Malay) and the influence from the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English, Melaka has plenty to offer for travelers who are curious about the history or simply enjoy experiencing unique cultures. Here are 8 incredible things to you in Melaka.

10 Days Itinerary For Malaysia - A Backpacking Guide

Melaka Things to Do Map

Melaka Things to Do Map

Southeast Asia Travel Video

Breath Asia from Pete R. on Vimeo

When to Visit Melaka

Getting cloudy evening in the morning at the Melaka Straits Mosque.

The best time to visit Melaka is at the end of the year from November to January as the temperature is a bit more bearable than say, April - July.

It is really humid, warm and often rainy throughout the year in Melaka so it doesn't really matter when you visit. If your trip doesn't align with my recommendation, you will likely to still enjoy Melaka as much as during the end of the year but you might be sweating a little bit more.

Where to Stay in Melaka

Budget - Ringo's Foyer Guest House - 6 USD/Night (Dorm)

Mid-Range - Once In Peninsula - 12 USD / Night (Double Room, Shared Bathroom and Free Breakfast)

How to Get to Melaka

First and foremost, you will have to get yourself to Malaysia and to do that, I would recommend you browse through Skyscanner or Momondo for a cheap flight from your home country.

From Kuala Lumpur, you can get a bus from Terminal Bersepadu Selatan for 10 MYR and it will take around 2 hours each way. You can easily book your bus ticket online at Easybook.com.

Top 10 Things To Do In Kuala Lumpur.

From Singapore, there are several buses leaving from Singapore to Melaka every day. It should cost you around 80 MYR and it will take you 4 hours to get to Melaka. Again, you can book your bus ticket from Easybook.com for this trip.

How to Get Around Melaka

Most of the places I listed here are all in walking distance except the Melaka Straits Mosque.

To get to Melaka Straits Mosque, I would recommend you to use GRAB taxi app to get to the mosque. It should cost you around 7 MYR each way and it should take around 10 minutes to get there.

To get to the city center from the Melaka Sentral bus station, you will have to walk to the local bus platform and get on the number 17 bus (there should be a number labeled on each platform), which leaves every 30 minutes and cost around 1 - 2 MYR per person.

You can also get a Grab taxi from the bus station to the city center and vice versa which should cost you around 7 MYR one way.

Daily Budget

1 daily budget 0.5 daily budget -1 daily budget -1 daily budget -1 daily budget

This place is quite cheap compare to all the other countries in the world. If you are planning a trip here, you can expect to pay around 25 - 45 USD per day per person and that should include accommodation and 3 meals.

Keep in mind that this is just a suggested daily budget based on my style of traveling, which is leaning more toward the budget side of things. If you want to stick to this budget, expect to sleep in dorms, eat out only a few times, and be comfortable using the cheapest and most convenient way of transportation, which often times involves walking.

Travel Insurance

If you are looking for travel insurance to go along with your trip to Malaysia, I would recommend WorldNomads.com, which is what I use to look for a travel insurance that fits my kind of adventure. They have a simple and flexible search system that allowed me to find the right insurance for the right amount of time at an affordable price in seconds. If you need travel insurance, give WorldNomads.com a try.

Get a Quote from World Nomads

8 Incredible Things to Do in Melaka

1. Stroll Around Stadthuys and Visit Christ Church

Stadthuys and Christ Church is one of the most photogenic places in Melaka.

The Stadthuys and its vivid red-colored square is the landmark of Melaka city center. As you can see from the name, the square was built by the Dutch during the colonization and it is considered to be the oldest remaining Dutch structure in the East.

The iconic clock tower at Stadthuys Square.

This is where most of the tourists are at and for good reasons as it is one of the most photogenic places in Melaka. The square consists of the iconic clock tower, a good meetup place, the History Museum and the impressive Christ Church, an 18th-century Anglican church and one of the oldest functioning Protestant church in Malaysia.

The Stadthuys or the Red Square from the balcony in Melaka

The square is best seen from the balcony of the museum building which is accessible from the stairs in the square facing the Christ Church.

2. Walk the Jonker Street during the Day and at Night (on Weekends)

Welcome to Jonker Street

On the weekends (Fri - Sun) at night, the famous Jonker street turns into a walking night market full of people with plenty of handcrafts, clothes and street food for you to enjoy.

You will see these colorful tricycles everywhere around this area of Melaka.

If you are not there on the weekends, the street is still very lively during the day with local restaurants and shops catering to all types of travelers. You can try the Durian ice cream (it's better than it sounds!), the famous chicken rice, and be sure to try the Nyonya traditional dishes.

3. Try the Nyonya Traditional Dishes

Nyonya Laksa and Red Bean Ice Cream in Melaka

One of the unique culture they have here is the Nyonya culture, a combination of the Chinese Strait and the Malaysian cultures, and there are no better way to explore a new culture than with your mouth and stomach!

Peranakan Place on Jonker Street is a great place to try some of the Nyonya dishes. I tried the Nyonya Laksa together with Teh Tarik here and my god was it delicious! I heard that their seafood dishes are also great as well so be sure to check it out.

4. Walk Up to St. Paul's Church and to the Famosa Fort

St. Paul's Church atop St. Paul's Hill in Melaka.

After a nice delicious lunch, let's go for a little walk up the St. Paul's Hill to St. Paul's Church. You can walk along the path behind the Stadthuys museum that should take you all the way up to the fort.

St. Paul's Church atop St. Paul's Hill.

A former Portuguese church turned lighthouse, the St. Paul's Church is another great remnant of the colonial time. Built in 1571, the St. Paul's Church is considered to be the oldest church building in Southeast Asia.

One of the Gate of Famosa Fort in Melaka.

After you checked out he St. Paul's Church, continue onward down towards the A Famosa fort, another remnants of the Portuguese colonization located on the opposite side of the hill.

Too bad the St. Paul's Church was neglected and not maintained throughout its colonial years.

Unfortunately, these 2 remnants weren't being maintained during the change of colonial powers in the region and so it was left to deteriorate to a ruin condition we see today.

5. Learn the History of Melaka at the Sultanate Palace Museum

Sultanate Palace Museum replicating the hardwood palace of the Sultanate during those times.

After Visiting the Famosa Fort, before heading back around the hill, head east towards the Sultanate Palace Museum, an amazing museum set in a traditional-style hardwood palace replicating how the Sultanate of that time live.

A replica of the Sultan Court with all the members labeled in the Sultanate Palace Museum.

The museum is dedicated to Melaka's history, how the sultanate kingdom transformed the region, and how trade were conducted along the Melaka strait. You will also learn about a really fun local legends, conflicts and some really strange punishments they used to do here.

If you are interested in the history of Melaka, this is the place to visit.

6. Visit the Maritime Museum

The museum is inside a replica of a Portuguese ship called Flor de la Mar that sank off the coast of Melaka.

Another great museum to visit is the Maritime Museum which should be on the way back from Famosa Fort to the Red Square (Stadthuys). The museum talks about the history and the process of the maritime trade during the sultanate and the colonial period.

The museum has 3 floors, and is all about the Maritime trade of Malacca.

It was eye-opening to learn about the complex of maritime trade during those time, how they taxed items coming through the port, how they dealt with pirates and best of all, the story of the legendary Enrique of Malacca, a Malay slave boy who may have been the first person to circumnavigated the world before any European.

Oh and did I mention that the museum is in a freaking ship? 😃 It is a replica of the Flor de la Mar, a Portuguese ship that sank off the coast of Melaka.

7. Walk Along the Melaka River in the Evening

People strolling along the colorful Melaka river side.

After an entire day of exploring the city, it is time to relax and enjoy the Melaka River as the artificial lights of the city illuminates the river side streets of Melaka.

Plenty of river side bars and restaurants for you to indulge yourself in.

Stroll along the river side walking path or find a place to sit with a nice glass of beer or have a delicious dinner.

Sunset is the best time to walk along the Melaka river.

The river side right after the sunset is especially beautiful with the colorful buildings and artificial light competing for your attention.

The quiet and peaceful Jonker Street at night on weekdays.

Before you end the day, be sure to go for another walk along the Jonker Street. If you are there during the weekends, there will be a night market full of people but if you are there on the weekdays, the street becomes quiet and peaceful, a total different experience but as interesting. Either way, it's a nice walk back to your accommodation at night.

8. Visit the Melaka Straits Mosque

Melaka Straits Mosque off the coast of Melaka

Last but not least, it would be a crime to come all the way to Melaka and not see the Malacca Strait. Along the strait there is a mosque built on a platform that goes into the water, making it a great place for you to visit and see the Malacca Strait.

It gets quite hot during the day so the best time to visit the Melaka Straits Mosque is either in the morning and during sunset.

The best time to visit the mosque is during sunset as the sun is located perfectly off into the ocean but since it rains a lot in Melaka and you might not have a clear evening to watch the sunset, the morning is also a great time to visit as well to avoid the heat.

The symmetry of the Melaka Straits Mosque

You can get a Grab from anywhere in the city center and it will take around 10 minutes to get to Melaka Straits Mosque. It should cost around 7 MYR to get there per way. It should not be hard to get a Grab back to the city center from the mosque.

Further Reading for Malaysia

Malaysia may often be overlooked by travelers, but the country has so much to offer that you can’t get anywhere in Southeast Asia.

Here is a selection of articles you might want to read about Malaysia:

And there you have it, 8 incredible things to do in Melaka, all be done in one full day. If you do not have a lot of time, you can take an early bus to Melaka from KL, spend half a day exploring 1 - 7, spend one night in Melaka and then in the morning visit the Melaka Straits Mosque before taking an afternoon bus back to KL.

If you have any questions about visiting Melaka, feel free to ask me in the comments below.

The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by Pete Rojwongsuriya, the founder of BucketListly Blog where we will follow his solo journey around the world as he experiences different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.

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