In a nutshell
The cultural significance of the city of Melaka is the root of much of its appeal. It is intensely stimulating, yet charming and soothing. An icon of cultural diversty, an incredible world of mismatched wonders and delights.
Why go to Melaka
In 2008, Melaka was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site and has since seen a steady rise in the local tourism industry. The city is a true gem for the cultural junkie. It is packed with relics from an era of colonisation, fascinating museums, countless incredible food options, a huge rainforest, beaches, and even a desert. The diversity of the area is really quite incredible.
Adventurous and outdoorsy people will be in no shortage of entertainment here. With things like the Skytrex canopy tour, go karting, ATV tracks through the rainforest, canoes for hire on the beautiful Ayer Keroh Lake, picnic spots, incredible hiking trails, and the amazing biodiversity, it is less about trying to find something to do than it is about trying to squeeze everything in.
Explore the architecture and museums that pay tribute to the times of a bygone era. From places like The Stadhuys and Christ Church Melaka to a museum that was created inside a gigantic old Portuguese ship, there is just so much to see! Bring your camera and your good shoes!
When to go to Melaka
Melaka remains hot and humid for the entire year round. While there are periods of more rain, the temperature does not vary and it will no doubt be between 26 and 30 degrees Celsius on your trip. Avoid the rainy months of June and November, and should your schedule allow it, try to head there around April or May for some sunny exploration.
Where to stay in Melaka
A large portion of the accommodation options in Melaka are geared toward the upmarket traveller. However, options for other interests, budgets and preferences are in no short supply. No hiccups or troubles here – it’s time to start booking your vacation!
Some of the best backpackers that we have ever seen are located in Melaka. Backpacker’s Freak Hostel is a prime example. Free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, and a cosy movie room separates the lodging from the rest. All this for a minimum of MYR 18!
Slightly more expensive, but so incredibly worth it, is Heeran House. Oozing tranquillity, the accommodation is nestled beside the Melaka River. With a full English breakfast included with your very comfortable room, the rates are very competitive. Rooms start at MYR 159 and heads up to MYR 269.
Countless options abound for the discerning traveller in search of accommodation. Some of the more personally impressive places include the Vintage Eleven and the Equatorial Melaka Hotel. Prices begin at around MYR 250 and head north of MYR 1200 at the upper-end.
Where to eat in Melaka
What to eat in your time here? You need to be ready for this. The town is packed full of cultural gems, international restaurants, fine-dining establishments, and deserts that really remind you what you do all that exercise for.
Be sure to get a coconut shake at Klebang Original Coconut Shake - yes, that is the name of the place. It may actually change your life. Also, candied fruit from Jonker Street - we loved this!
You also need to get in on some Sate Celup, skewers of various things stewed in a pot of wonderfully fragrant and delicious sauce and vegetables. This was without a doubt the best thing that we ate in Melaka - and that is saying so much!
There are two skybars with expansive views, expertly cooked steaks, and sunset happy hour specials. If you can spare the change, indulge in the experience. There are also a plethora of international options for when you need the taste of home.
How to get around Melaka
Getting around Melaka is not excessively easy, and the options that are available provide less freedom than your own scooter. However, with a bit of common sense and grit in moments of difficulty, getting around is manageable. Busses are a good bet for the competent and flexible traveller. They are cheap and run many routes around the city. Metered taxis, while they never use the meter, are a more expensive and sometimes more inefficient option. Traffic tends to build up in peak hours with the small size of the roads.
A great option, if you are willing to burn off some of your coconut shake while you take in the sights around town, is a bicycle. MelakaBikeShare offer a really easy and convenient process for MYR 10 for twelve hours. Many of the local accommodations also offer bicycles for rent at rates that vary from place to place.
Lastly, trishaws offer a fun and moderately inexpensive ride to points around the city. It is generally agreed that MYR40 for an hour of use is a fair deal. Be sure to set the price with the driver before you get rolling, though!
How to get to and from Melaka
Getting from Kuala Lumpur to Melaka is relatively painless and pretty speedy, really. For around MYR 10 – 15 and two hours of your time on a bus, you will arrive in Melaka Sentral. The route is a popular one, and such, busses leave very frequently, as much as every half an hour from 7am to 11pm. Reliable and established carriers include the Transnasional and KKKl Express.
Leaving from KLIA or KLIA 2 is not much different, however, the busses are far less frequent, so be sure to check the time of your arrival against the departure times. Taking a taxi to Melaka saves you very little time and comes at a much higher expense, and as such, is not recommended.
Getting in from Singapore there are many carriers offering the service with some running multuple trips troughout the day. The StarMart Express and 707Express are a good example of this. Most busses leave from the Golden Mile Centre (505 Beach Road). However, some leave from behind the textile centre on 200 Jalan Sultan Street. Prices vary between MYR 70 and MYR 100, setting you back a fair chunk of change.
One could fly from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur and then hop on a bus from there to Melaka, but this would not save any time and would cost you much more money.
Coming from Sumatra, in Indonesia, there is a ferry that departs from the Pekanbaru pier at either 9am or 9.30am, depending on the day. It costs around MYR 120 and will see you spending around seven hours on the buoyant sea.
Is Melaka a safe place to visit?
Melaka has had absolutely no issue with safety in the past and is a pleasant town to explore. While you do not need to live in fear or maintain a hyper vigilance, it is always wise to remain cautious about one's belongings and more expensive items. Keep your eyes open and you should be just fine!