The small Malaysian state of Malacca (Melaka in Malay language) is located between Johor and Negeri Sembilan, a mere two hours away from the capital, Kuala Lumpur. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008, Malacca is a popular travel destination rich in history, perfect for anyone looking for a change in scenery.
We compiled some of the best things that you can do in Malacca so you can start planning that future trip!
1. Jonker Street, Christ Church
Jonker Street is undoubtedly the heart of Malacca, as it is almost always packed with people walking about. It is flanked by heritage houses dating back to the 17th century, which has been repurposed into shops selling antiques, textiles, handicrafts and souvenirs. At the end of the road, there are several food stalls selling local favourites such as fresh sugarcane juice and nyonya laksa.
On weekends, it turns into a crowded night market, which sells everything from touristy t-shirts, souvenirs to toys and temporary tattoos, but the main attractions are definitely the food. We recommend trying the coconut shakes and mango smoothies as well as colourful freshly steamed dim sums!
2. Explore Malacca’s rich history
Malacca is a state steeped in complex and long history. It was once a bustling port known worldwide for varying trade items. European countries coveted its power, and the Portuguese took Malacca in 1511, followed by the Dutch in 1641, the British in 1825 and even by the Japanese in 1942 before the independence of Malaya.
As a result, there is significant Dutch influence in Malacca, especially when it comes to architecture and historical buildings. The Stadhuys and Christ Church are some of them, marked by a distinctive red colour that remains as the hallmark of Dutch-era buildings.
The infamous A’Famosa was once a Portuguese fortress built in 1512. However, after the Dutch occupation in 1641 and an attack by the British in 1807,only the Porta de Santiago gateway and the Middelburg Bastion remains today, and are among the oldest European architectural remains in Southeast Asia.
Don’t miss other historical places in Malacca, including the St Pauls Church, Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum and the Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum.
3. The Shore Sky Tower
For a bird’s eye view of Malacca City, look no further than The Shore Sky Tower. As one of the tallest buildings in Malacca, it offers a splendid view of the city below, the Straits, Pulau Besar and Gunung Ledang. The sunsets here are beautiful too, making it an exceptional Instagram spot! For thrill seekers, go on the glass bottom ledge that hangs off the side of the building for a one of a kind view.
4. Animals and Dinosaurs
Despite being a small state, Malacca has a lot to offer in terms of zoos and sanctuaries. One of which is the Malacca Zoo and Night Safari, the second largest zoo in Malaysia. The zoo is home to over 215 species of animals, including the critically endangered Sumatran rhinoceros.
The latest section of the zoo is the Dinosaur Encounter, which features life size replicas of these pre-historic beasts and is the largest interactive dinosaur park in Southeast Asia. Immerse yourself in this Jurassic Park-like experience by taking pictures with a life-like T-Rex!
Why not check out Malacca’s Butterfly and Reptile Sanctuary too? A mere 5 minutes drive from the zoo, this sanctuary is home to not just beautiful butterflies to snakes, lizards, crocodiles and koi fishes. Walk through the Butterfly Garden, where hundreds of the winged creatures fly freely and maybe adopt one on your way out!
5. Pantai Klebang
Pantai Klebang, or Klebang Beach, is one of the most scenic beaches in Malaysia. With white sand dunes and a wide stretch of beach, it is a popular destination for families, especially during the weekends and school holidays.
The sand dunes make it a popular photography spot, especially for photo-shoots, and the food trucks and stalls parked along the side make it a great day trip spot for families with children. The stalls not only sell food, but also fun beach activities like kites and electric cars for children.
6. Malacca River
The Malacca River runs through the middle of Malacca City and is a serene body of water that has gained popularity after the riverside was revived and restored. With concrete riverbanks, walkways and restored buildings running along the river, it’s now a popular hangout spot for locals.
For a whole other view of Malacca, we recommend checking out the Malacca River cruise at night. The 45-minute ride runs from 9am to 11pm but the view is especially spectacular once the lights turn on. You can even get off
The ride passes through many bridges, heritage buildings and murals, all lit up by colourful lights. The main highlight is Kampung Morten (Morten Village), which is the oldest traditional Malay village in Malaysia. The houses still retain its traditional features, designs and landscapes as tribute to Malay architecture and culture.
7. Cape Rachado
The Cape Rachado Lighthouse, also known as Tanjung Tuan, is technically a part of Malacca, even though you will need to pass through Negeri Sembilan to get to it.
The lighthouse is not accessible to the public, but you’re free to roam the grounds as they are a part of the Tanjung Tuan Recreational Forest and have been gazetted as a wildlife sanctuary. It’s not a challenging hike and is a great spot for avid birdwatchers. If you like, you can even hike downhill to a small, secluded beach that’s relatively unexplored.
Despite merely covering an area of 1,664km2, Malacca’s history makes it one of Malaysia’s major tourist destinations. With its unique blend of heritage buildings, modern living and breath-taking views, book a trip to Malacca today and experience a fascinating glimpse into the history of Malaysia.