It’s honestly refreshing that the likes of Malacca – alternatively spelled “Melaka” – are getting more attention these days. This Malaysian city is a great option for a weekend getaway from Singapore and appeals to both youngsters and grownups with its great sights, night market and delicious food everywhere.
Malacca has been dubbed as the unofficial historic capital of Malaysia: this city carries with it the Peranakan or Baba-Nyonya culture of Malaysia. For a city to carry Peranakan culture, it means that thriving within its walls are locally-born Chinese people and customs, blending together with Malaysian culture in a way that’s simply easy to fall in love with.
True enough, Malacca’s charm knows no bounds – this breathtaking city is generous with its gorgeous sights, its food is second to none, and its rich history is more than worthy of being explored.
If you want to travel on a budget to Malacca and discover some new sights to explore, pay close attention to these tips: this is how you can make the most out of this colorful city without breaking your piggy bank.
What to Do In Malacca
Malacca is not a huge town and it can be seen over a day or two. Staying overnight in town is the best way to enjoy the night market that happens at Jonker street but you are heading over for just a day trip, fret not, you will still have time to see plenty.
You can visit all the main sights by walking around or taking one of the fun decorated trishaws driving around, blasting music. Another way of enjoying the city views is to take a boat tour along the river. These are short boat rides and are available all throughout the day. Don’t forget to take your camera with you, the buildings on the riverside are covered in interesting street art.
When you are tired of sightseeing just head to one the many cafes and enjoy some local ice coffee and a big slice of crepe cake. In the meantime, check below all the places you can’t miss when visiting Malacca.
1. Villa Sentosa (living museum)
We’re not going to lie – this is probably on top of the itinerary list for every traveler heading to Malacca, but there is a good reason for that. It’s a living museum in a 1920’s house where guests are toured around by a household member describing objects and memorabilia from a time long forgotten. It carries Ming dynasty ceramics, a hundred-year-old Quran and photos of family members, so it really feels like you traveled through time, which is a charming experience on its own.
- Address: Jin Kampung Morten, Melaka City
- Opening hours: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM, 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM
- Price: no standard price; you donate as you enter
2. Batik-Making at Melaka Batik House
If you are looking for something different to do in Malacca, you are going to love this suggestion. Batik is a traditional art form where the fabric is decorated with colorful patterns using wax and dye. Usually, batik designs feature flowers and bold colors, and the resulting design is worn on special occasions. You can choose to buy pre-made Batik clothing, but where’s the fun in that? Luckily, Melaka Batik House has taken it upon themselves not just to let you run wild with your design ideas and make your own Batik, but they’re also keen to help you out if you don’t know where to begin.
- Address: PT 15251, Melaka International Trade Center, Ayer Keroh
- Opening hours: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM daily
- Price: SG $13.06
3. Malacca Butterfly & Reptile Sanctuary
Animal lovers, rejoice: Malacca is a haven for you (well, it feels like that, at least). Also going by the name of Taman Rama Rama, the Malacca Butterfly & Reptile Sanctuary snaps across a wide jungle area and landscaped park. Guests can go through five different areas: the Butterfly Garden, the Reptile Aviary, the Wild Photo Late, Nature’s Art Center and the Koi River Valley. Each area brings with it its own unique charm, so make sure to hit them all!
- Address: Lebh Ayer Keroh, Melaka
- Opening hours: 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM everyday
- Price: SG $7.36 for adults and SG $5.36 for children below 12 years old
4. Jonker Street
We find that often, the one unique place in a city that truly shows what that city is like is its markets. Jonker Street in Malacca is no different – this Chinatown street has evolved from a lineup of antique shops to a buzzing market filled with clothing, crafts, and restaurants. A laid-back night is what you can expect here, so we’d advise you put this in your itinerary when you’re itching to take a break. This is the place to do some shopping and try all the street food around: dumplings, candied fruit, deep fried ice cream, satay and much more.
- Address: Lebh Ayer Keroh, Melaka
- Opening hours: 6:00 PM – 12:00 AM every day
- Price: Varies per stall
5. The Stadthuys
You can’t miss the most famous square in Malacca with its reddish walls, the Clocktower, Christ Church and all the historic building around. Built sometime between 1641 and 1660, one of these historic buildings, The Stadthuys, is hard to miss with its bold, red design and outstanding Dutch colonial architecture. It’s now evolved into a history museum featuring Malacca’s expansive story through time, starting from the Malay Sultanate, and then extending to three colonization periods Malacca has witnessed (Portuguese, Dutch and British), until the present. Any lover of history would find a trip to The Stadthuys well worth the effort.
- Address: Jalan Gereja, 75000 Malacca, Malaysia
- Opening hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Monday to Thursday), 9:00 AM – 8:30 PM (Friday to Saturday)
- Price: None
Must-eats in Malacca
Malacca is the place for food lovers! The variety of cuisines and dishes to try to make will astonish you and make you want to come back for more. It doesn’t matter if you prefer savoury dishes (thinks chicken rice balls) or sweeter desserts (you must try the cendol!), you will find something that will suit your palate.
1. Assam Laksa at Jonker 88
With silky glass noodles and a broth that combines the eclectic flavors of sour tamarind and spicy chili, Assam Laksa is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. But no restaurant serves it quite like Jonker 88 – this humble stall in Jonker knows what real Malaysian Assam Laksa is about. Pay a visit for a hefty serving of Assam Laksa dish that doesn’t hurt your wallet and tickles your taste buds.
- Address: 11 Jalan Hang Kasturi, Melaka
- Opening hours: 9:00 AM – 11:00 PM, every day
2. Melaka Coffee at Calanthe Art Cafe
Tucked behind sprawling trees and vines, Calanthe Art Cafe is for the easy-going traveler in you. This cafe serves coffee from Malaysia’s thirteen states, but its bestseller is their Melaka Coffee. Don’t expect anything near what you’re used to though – it’s not your regular cup of Latte or Cafe Mocha, as it’s made with part sugar, salt, and margarine. It sounds odd, we know, but trust us – it’s worth trying.
- Address: 88, alan Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka
- Opening hours: 9:30 AM – 6:00 PM, every day
- Price: starts at SG $ 3.08
3. Dim Sum at Low Yong Moh restaurant
The surefire way to see if a Chinese restaurant serves great food is if its patrons are made up of Chinese locals themselves – and trust us, Low Yong Moh is filled with locals who give two thumbs up for Low Yong Moh. It’s a casual restaurant serving a wide array of dim sum in different kinds, and it would probably be long before you say you’ve had your fill.
- Address: 32, Jalan Tokong, Melaka
- Opening hours: 5:30 AM – 1:00 PM, every day
- Price: starts at SG $ 0.33
Where to Stay in Malacca
One of the best traits of Malacca is its large offer of comfortable and well-located accommodations all around the city. If you are looking to spend one or 2 nights in the city. The city has plenty of hotels, guesthouses, and hostels that are available for a friendly price so it will be easy to find a place that suits your needs.
1. Victors Guest House
If you want accessibility, go to Victors Guest House – it’s only a few steps away from Sam Po Kong Temple and Porta de Santiago. It’s been known to get a lot of reviews for its cleanliness and friendly staff, which are both always welcome when you’re new to the city. It offers free WiFi, non-smoking rooms, a city view and parking on-site as well.
- Address: 30-1, Jalan Munshi Abdullah, 75100 Melaka, Malaysia
- Price: starts at SG $ 13.40 per night
2. The Riverside Cardamom
Wake up to the refreshing sight of the Melaka River – The Riverside Cardamom is right next to it and is only a five-minute walk from Jonker street. It’s also only a five-minute drive to A’Famosa Fort and Dataran Pahlawan Shopping Mall and offers a variety of amenities like air conditioning, a shower, and free WiFi.
- Address: 22-A, Jalan Kota Laksamana 1/1, Taman Kota Laksamana, 75300 Melaka, Malaysia
- Price: starts at SG $16.74 per night
Best way to reach Malacca from Singapore
There are four ways you can reach Malacca from Singapore:
Take the North-South Expressway from Singapore by driving. It’s only a 2-3 hour drive too, so it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle. Take note though to make time for Singapore-Malaysia immigration clearance on your way there. On your way to Malacca, you’ll chance upon a number of architectural gems and ancient mosques, so you can even make a day trip out of that!
2. Take a private car
If you’re not in the mood for public transport but you don’t want to stay focused on the road for a long time, you can rent a private car. There are many private car rental companies that can take you through the Singapore-Malaysia border, but be sure to check their terms and conditions first (for example, what happens if you want to stretch your legs for a bit and tour the ancient mosques that line the Expressway?).
3. Take a bus
If you really want to travel on a budget, we suggest taking the bus as it’s the cheapest way for you to get to Malacca from Singapore. There are buses lined up at Queen Street, Golden Mile Tower and Park Royal Hotel – among others – that will take you to Malacca. The entire trip takes longer than driving, though – about 3-4 hours – and you will still have to go through immigration. Bus tickets start at SG $25, depending on the bus company.
4. Take a train
There aren’t any trains that go directly from Singapore to Malacca, but you can take a train at Woodlands train station and stop at JB Sentral station in Johor. From there, you can take a train to Malacca by getting off at the Pulau Sebang station. All in all, the journey by train should take about 6 hours and should set you back by SG $9.00 only.
Pack your bags and head to Melaka!
Melaka finds it easy to worm its way into travelers’ hearts – what with its delectable food options and historical sights. Its charm simply knows no bounds. But even if you may be tempted to visit Melaka right away – we know, we know – there are actually recommended times when it’s best to visit this Malaysian state. Those months are in April, May, and October when the climate is less humid and hot.
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