Malacca (in Malay: Melaka) had intrigued us because of its name that seemed rather malay but very European.
We heard of Malacca in the past, a little by chance, in some books that told stories of Pirates set right in this city.
So there were already many elements of this city that attracted us even before we even met it, and we are happy to have included it on our Full-Time Travel.
You can reach Malacca from Kuala Lumpur’s TBS Bus Station (10 RM) in a couple of hours. The bus station is about 4 km from the centre but there is an urban bus that connects it.
As we didn’t know about the bus, we decided to go for a 2.5 km walk to our guesthouse. After a few metres, however, we are approached by a car with two nice gentlemen on board who offer us a ride, and in a moment we find ourselves at our destination. Great Hello, this Malacca!
This first positive impression was then confirmed over the days we spent in this quiet town on the west coast of Malaysia.
Here are the reasons why we think Malacca is a place that MUST be included in every itinerary.
What to see in Malacca: the river and its colors
The nicest part of malacca is its riverfront.
Away from traffic and noise, this area of the city is definitely relaxing. In addition to silence, we fell in love with the colorful graffiti covering the walls of buildings and bridges that allow you to pass from one side to the other of the river. In the evening, the river lights up the lights of small coffee on its shores, and the view of the boats is truly romantic.
What to see in Malacca: the colonial historical center and the hill
Dutch Square, with its red brick buildings, is definitely the most tourist place in Malacca.
On the square there is Christ church and the clock tower. This is certainly the most obvious symbol of the colonial past of Malacca, which for its strategic position in spice trade, has suffered the Dutch, Portuguese and English domains.
More witnesses from this past are the Door of Santiago and the remains of St. Paul Church that were part of “A Famosa” fortress, built by the Portuguese and later destroyed by the British.
To reach the remains of the church you’ll have to climb some stairs, if it was not for the heat! It is still worth reaching the top of the hill, especially for the city view.
This part of the city is the busies with tourists and it is often quite crowded. Here, however, we admired the most trash rickshaw ever seen… Full of Hello kitty puppets or Pokemon ones, they bring tourists from Dutch Square to the Door of Santiago. The journey includes a loud musical background…
What to see in Malacca: ChinaTown and Harmony Street
Getting lost in the neighborhood of ChinaTown is an absolute experience in Malacca. Among the alleyways are ancient houses, today shops, built by the first Chinese arrived in Malaysia. It is thanks to the marriages between Chinese men and Malaysian women that Nyonya Cuisine was born. These dishes are a mix of the two cultures: the spices of Malaysia and China’s pork meat. Absolutely to try in Malacca, we were hit by the sweetness of dishes.
Still in China town, it definitely deserves a visit called Harmony Street. The name comes from the fact that on the road coexist a Hindu Temple (Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Temple), a mosque (Masjid Kampung Kling) and a Chinese Buddhist Temple (Xiang Lin Si Temple). It is truly fascinating to observe in one street the rites of prayer made by the believers of the various religions: barefoot enters the Hindu Temple, covers the head in the mosque and light incense in the Buddhist Temple.
What to see in Malacca: the Night Market in Jonker Walk
The Chinese quarter, that during the day is peaceful, at night (from Friday to Sunday) changes completely. The streets are filled with stalls that sell food, clothing and various accessories (we witnessed the demonstration on how to apply a gel freshener on the wall of the toilet bowl… all the ladies were really interested in this new device!)
But the thing that makes great this Night Market is the show that is held on the huge stage set up among the stalls. Every night, artists and not, sing and dance trying to show tourists their talents. Really funny!!
What to see in Malacca: the mosque on the sea
At last but not least, the Masjid Selat Melaka Mosque, built on the artificial island Pulau Melaka, in front of the city. The Mosque is really beautiful. At sunset it gives its best. The waves of the sea are part of this show, but there’s a huge “BUT”. The rest of the island is an open-air construction site. High buildings everywhere, many of them are completely empty and left to decay. Despite this, the Mosque is still a place that has hit us very much and we recommend visiting it if you are in Malacca.