“Kuala Lumpur or Melaka?” If you’re asked the same question and haven’t been to both big cities, you would probably choose the ones popular – Kuala Lumpur. But my intuitive mind always goes for something distinct – to the more remote, countryside in this case. I then turned the question “What’s in Kuala Lumpur and what’s in Melaka?”
I may have failed to see the world’s famous Petronas Towers, the varied Malaysian culture and heritage I’ve learned in Melaka are more than just a trip. It is way beyond my expectation indeed. Who would not be drawn with its home-grown galleries, crimson colonial buildings, colorful graffiti, and themed stylish trishaws? It’s a vibrant, multi-hued commercialized city with sprawling hotels, galleries, mansions, and shophouses. These along with the kaleidoscope of its architectural styles also signify its well-preserved Portuguese, British, Dutch and Peranakan elements.
Before going into details…
Across the Border
From Sembawang, we took the MRT bound for Jurong East where the coach transporting us to Melaka waited. It was 6 am but it’s still dark and we witnessed their sunrise at around 7 am while on the train. Yes, you read it right, the Melaka, like Singapore, sunrise is 2 hours delayed from the Philippines yet there’s no time difference between them.
The four-hour travel didn’t make us bore with the cozy double decker. I had naps in between the trip while listening to music. We passed two immigrations (Singapore and Malaysia). We also made a 25-minute stopover in Johor, just enough time to purchase our 1.5 GB sim cards at 19 ringgit and had a light snack since we’re not allowed to eat inside the coach.
We’re dropped at Hatten Square upon arriving in Melaka. We were carrying bags and figuring out where our hotel is located. Tourist be-like huh? Yes, because we truly are. Alas! We found our way to our weekend haven in the city at Imperial Heritage Hotel. Our hotel rooms are great and equipped with lots of amenities you can enjoy even without leaving the room. It’s blazing hot outside so we decided to start our exploration after an hour or two.
Let the journey in Melaka begins…
What to see and eat in Melaka?
We spent the whole afternoon until evening outside the heritage area and the sand dunes. But first, we ate our late lunch at Station Kopitiam inside Dataran Pahlawan mall adjacent to our hotel while Fordy was at the play center.
Heritage Sites and Tourist Spots
The walk, walk, and walk starts here… But you can ride as well. You may have an option to rent a bike, be transported with a rickshaw, get a taxi or grab, or just pay a carriage to tour you around the city center.
Maritime Museum & Naval Museum Malacca
This 34-meter high ship-museum is a Portuguese ship that sank near the area of Malacca. The museum displays various ship models. There are also exhibits of textile, spices, silk, and porcelain.
Malacca’s development sector achievements are recorded and preserved in this museum. Outside the building is what they call as its transportation area. Here, you will find the Twin Pioneer CC MK1 vintage aircraft that was used in the 1950s. Just steps away is the Lukut River Railway locomotive and a coach used between 1957 and 1988 and the Nubian Thornycrof fire engine mobile model used between 1985 and 1995.
You can actually take some snaps inside the plane. However, taking photos inside the locomotive, which is also a souvenir shop, is prohibited.
Historic A’Famosa Fort
The remains of A’Famosa is preserved whitewashed gatehouse which is downhill right from the historic St. Paul’s Church.
The Busy Rotunda
Have a glimpse of the interesting Portuguese, British, Dutch and Peranakan cultures comprising the Malaysian heritage. This busy area is an obvious tourist hub where most of Melaka’s attractions are located. The flock of locals and visitors here even made the whole of it more humid and hotter. Just be cautious on your stroll.
Christ Church Malacca
Dutch-built Christ Church is reputable as Malacca’s defining structure for its distinctive history and design. It’s the most famous attraction in the area of Stadhuys.
Pasir Cantik or the Sand Dunes
After our afternoon wanders around, we ended up to catch the spectacular red-hued sun setting in the white sand dunes of Pasir Cantik. This area is quite far from the city center, but booking a grab is easier and cheaper here. It’s a 15-20-minute smooth ride. But the real challenge was the walk, approximately 30-40 minutes from jump-off towards the sand dunes. It doesn’t matter though. With the best reward the long walk thereafter, it’s worth the sweat and heat after all. We enjoyed so much that we failed to notice the deepening night. Then we realized the darkness that succumbs plus the creepy raspy calls from the crows.
We were supposed to have a night spent at the Jonker Walk but we’re exhausted after dinner and decided to do it the following morning.
Have a leisurely walk through the busy Jonker Street, the Chinatown of Malacca City. Here are a variety of goodness, restaurants, attractions, cafes, historical landmarks, and rich history. It is actually notable for its night market but we opted daytime to enjoy the view and the stuff to buy.
There are lots of spots for your IG posts here just like we did:
Get the most of the Malaysian and Singaporean food in this area. They have a bunch to offer which are not only delicious to your stomach but so too to your eyes.
Trade Route Melaka River
Another must-try here is the Melaka River Cruise, which is among the top attractions in the city. The river, notable as a trade route, flows through the city’s central area from its Dutch Square passing Tan Boon Seng Bridge and getting views of the restaurants lining the riversides.
Foods served at Imperial Heritage Hotel are sumptuous. They have different cuisines on the table but dominant of which is the Malaysian and Singaporean menus. They are mouth-watering and really favor my pallet and appetite for spicy choices.
The foods on the streets and food hubs in Melaka are also interesting. You’ve got to see and try them yourself to feel that culture that is theirs only.
Apart from the literal race to catch our coach back to Singapore, our Melaka travel is definitely amazing. However, it didn’t end there. A significant misadventure happened as soon as we’re back to Singapore. Read my previous articles: A No IT Trip to Singapore: How It Went? – It’s an Epic! and My Misadventure Series (#3): Losing Valuables at a Mall’s Toilet in Singapore.
Have you been to this culture-rich big city of Malaysia? I’d love to hear your story.
Note: Our visit to Melaka is packaged at 7,000 in pesos inclusive of two-way transportation between Singapore and Melaka and hotel accommodation.
Day 1: From Jurong East, Singapore to Melaka, Malaysia
Imperial Heritage Hotel
Maritime Museum & Naval Museum Malacca
Pasir Cantik/Sand Dunes
Day 2: From Melaka to Singapore
Packaged Tour – 7000
Watch Asa ni Quen?’s vlog for this trip:
*Credits of Some Photos: April and Art