The magic that attracted the Portuguese, Dutch, and later the British colonists in the 1500s still endures in Melaka to this day. This place will bring a smile to every history buff’s face. Though much has changed, most parts of the historical city are still well-preserved and dedicated to tourism. Melaka is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Just short of a two-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, you’ll find yourself standing at the epicentre of food and culture of this multicultural country. The small city is robust with interesting sights, smells, sounds, and flavours. Check out the things to do in Melaka below.
1. Be reverent in Christ Church
Clad in bright terracotta-red. Christ Church is impossible to miss. Constructed in 1741 and completed in 1753 by the Dutch, it was originally known as Dutch Reformed Church of Malacca. It was changed to Christ Church and placed under the umbrella of the Anglican church when the British took over. The church is still in operation and runs its services every Sunday. Many will be snapping pictures outside the building, but do enter the vicinity to be immersed in its history. The handmade pews remain unchanged for the past 200 years. No photography is allowed inside the premises, hence, do take a few moments to marvel at the architecture if you head inside.
Address: Gereja Christ, Jalan Gereja, Bandar Hilir, 75000 Melaka
Website: Christ Church
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 9am - 4:30pm; Sun: 8:30am - 1pm
Price: Free; Donations encouraged
Let the wild, wild west of A’Famosa Old West Cowboy Town sweep you off your feet. When the sun sets and you think the fun is over, things are just revving up at this theme park. Grab a bite before heading in because much-anticipated shows start at 8PM. Before that, you’d want to explore the vicinity that displays rustic buildings and raggedy landscapes. Children will really enjoy the funfair and thrilling rides too. Lined back to back, catch how Cowboys and Cowgirls run the town, then see how the Red Indians play with fire, before ushering the colourful carnival that features floats, music, and dance. Just when you think it is all over, you’ll be greeted by the longest and most vibrant show of fireworks.
A'Famosa Old West Cowboy Town Ticket in Melaka
The Baba and Nyonya are offspring of Chinese traders who settled in Melaka during the British colonial rule after marrying local Malay women. It resulted in the amalgamation of cultures and customs that are unique in the Straits Settlements. This Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum is a combination of three terrace houses owned by the late Baba Chan Cheng Siew (1865 - 1919). The purpose of this museum is to educate and preserve the colourful identity and culture. Be escorted to every room in the house and spot intricate furniture and fixtures that ranges from Greco-Roman columns, hand-painted tiles, black wood furniture inlaid with mother of pearl, and gold-leaf fixtures. Don’t hurry when touring the museum because you’ll want to take it all in with your eyes as photography is not allowed.
Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum Tour Tickets
Duration: 45 minutes
4. Go on a gastronomical adventure at Jonker Street Night Market
Jonker Street Night Market is the collection of the crème de la crème of Malaysian hawker food. Located right smack in the middle of Melaka’s Chinatown, it was once known for its collection of antique shops. Now, restaurants, bars, boutiques, and souvenir shops line the street. This place comes alive on weeknights. The road is closed to accommodate the array of hawker stalls that meander the road. There is music and singing in the air, and it feels like a weekend street party. Journey down the street and munch on delicacies like bak chang, poh piah, pai tee, onde-onde, and durian chendol.
Jonker Street Night Market
Address: Jalan Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka
Website: Jonker Street Night Market
Opening hours: Fri - Sun: 6pm - 12am (closed from Mon - Thu)
5. See the city in Menara Taming Sari
Because Melaka is a historical town, you don’t really see skyscrapers within the city. If you want to get a bird’s eye view, you’ll have to go on a ride in the Menara Taming Sari (Taming Sari Tower). The name Taming Sari originates from a magical Malay weapon (keris) owned by a legendary Malay hero. The magic that you will experience on this Taming Sari is a gorgeous, 360-degree view of Melaka. The 110-metres (360 ft) gyro tower accommodates up to 66 people per 7-minute session. During you will see Portuguese and Dutch structures, St. Paul’s peak, and the Melaka river that flows into the straits. Later in the evening, you can catch the sunset. If you visit at night, you will see the city’s night lights in all its glory.
Menara Taming Sari
Address: Jalan Merdeka, Bandar Hilir, 75000 Melaka
Website: Menara Taming Sari
Opening hours: 10am - 11pm (daily)
Price: 3 USD - 6 USD
6. Discover Melaka's history at Maritime Museum
This titanic structure measuring 34-metres (111.5 ft) high, 36-metre (118 ft) long, and 8-metre (26 ft) wide, is a replica of the Flor de la Mar, a Portuguese ship that sank on its way back from Melaka. Inside, the museum has four sections; one detailing the Melaka Sultanate period, another showcasing the Portuguese, the Dutch and lastly, the British colonisation. Browse through a collection of items like porcelain, silk, and spices exchanged by Arabian, Indian, and Chinese traders during the Age of Sail. Head upstairs and view the diorama of the captain’s cabin.
Address: Jalan Merdeka, Bandar Hilir, 75000 Melaka
Website: Maritime Museum
Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)
Price: 1 USD - 3 USD
7. Snap away at the Windmill Dutch Square
The postcard-perfect landmark in Melaka is here at the Windmill Dutch Square. Located at the same area as Christ Church (mentioned in no.1), it is fondly known by locals as the “Red Square” because of the red buildings that surround the plaza. Spot the Stadthuys (largest structure that was once the town hall), clock tower, and the church — all of them a showcase of colonial Dutch architecture. A piece of the British rule on the square is the beautiful fountain erected to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Throngs of tourists can always be seen at this place along with many lavishly decorated trishaws playing beats from their speakers.
Windmill Dutch Square
Address: Bandar Hilir, 75200 Melaka
Website: Windmill Dutch Square
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
8. Head underwater at The Shore Oceanarium
If you are planning to holiday with your children in Melaka, be sure to put The Shore Oceanarium in your itinerary. Located on the second floor of The Shore Shopping Gallery, it is the new premier tourist attraction in Melaka. Upon entry, you’ll be given 3D glasses and a quiz sheet (you’ll get a little gift at the souvenir store upon completion). Fish food is available for purchase as well. The oceanarium is divided into five segments. The first is the Interactive Touch Pool, an area where you can touch various sea creatures such as starfish, stingray, and baby bamboo shark. Then, there is the Jungle Quest where amphibians such as snakes, frogs, and lizards are displayed. Feeding shows are scheduled at the Ocean Journey and Theatre. Catch an aquarium full of piranhas at the River Story section. Don’t forget to say hello to sea turtles at Kampung Penyu too.
The Shore Oceanarium
Address: Jalan Persisiran Bunga Raya, Kampung Bunga Paya Pantai, 75100 Melaka
Website: The Shore Oceanarium
Opening hours: 10:30am - 9pm (daily)
Price: 7 USD - 10 USD
9. Marvel at the deities in Cheng Hoon Teng Temple
Just off the busy Jonker Street is Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, also known as ‘Merciful Cloud Temple’ that was established in 1646. It survived the Dutch and British rule, the Japanese occupation, and now stands proud with an award from UNESCO for its outstanding architectural restoration. Founded by Chinese Kapitan (British appointed chiefs), they worship many deities, but this particular temple is dedicated to Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. You can see her draped in gold and red at the centre of the prayer hall. Ancestral worship is observed here, and you can see smaller chambers filled with photo tablets of the deceased. They also burn ‘hell money’ and earthly possessions made out of papier-mâché for the dead.
Cheng Hoon Teng Temple
Address: 25, Jalan Tokong, Kampung Dua, 75200 Melaka
Website: Cheng Hoon Teng Temple
Opening hours: 7am - 7pm (daily)
10. Blast to the past at St. John's Fort
There is so much more to this location than just a great place for photo ops with a pretty background for OOTDs. St. John’s fort was initially a chapel built by the Portuguese. It was christened after John the Baptist. When they had to fight off attacks from the former Sultan of Melaka and other pirates from the surrounding settlements, it was turned into a fort. However, you will see that the cannons (some of them are the original bronze cannons inscribed with Jan Albert de Grave, Amstelodami) are faced landward. Many interpreted that this was because most of the attacks originated from land. The best time to visit is just before sunset.
St. John's Fort
Address: Jalan Ujong Pasir, 75000 Melaka
Website: St. John’s Fort
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
Perfect for historical buffs and foodies
With an area spanning 227-kilometre square (2,443 sq ft), all the attractions in this town are a stone’s throw away from each other. Many of them are located around the city square. The rest can be reached via taxi or e-hailing rides. Choose to stay in a beautiful resort or the myriad of boutique hotels housed within pre-war buildings, there is something for everyone in the family here. There is no lack of food, entertainment, and education in Melaka. Do take at least three days to savour up every bit of what this city has to offer and devour the delicious food. You might just come back for seconds.
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