Melaka or Malacca is one of the top tourist destinations in Malaysia. Not only for Malaysian, this place is actually really famous also with Singaporean. With just 2 hours journey from either Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, this place is well known as the “it” destination for a weekend getaway. With that being said, there are lots of places here in Melaka to choose from, tourist-wise.
The government especially determined on making this city a prime tourist destination by providing gazillion museums or also called the Malacca Museum Complex. But as a traveler, we might not have that much of a time to visit all of them nor that we have to. In my opinion, the art of traveling is also to find places that worth our time. So, this is our take on top 8 places that you should visit while in Melaka!
1. Baba Nyonya Museum
Starting off this list with one of the underrated places here, in my opinion. Everyone knows Melaka and its famous Dutch Square with all the red buildings and stuff but not many peoples talking about this, the importance of the Peranakan Chinese or Straits-born Chinese in Melaka. They are the descendants of Chinese immigrants who came to the Malay including British Malaya and Dutch East Indies between the 15th and 17th centuries.
Baba is an honorific manner to address a Straits Chinese gentlemen and Nyonya is the term for women.
Being a Chinese descendant in Malay during British and Dutch occupancy, they have no other way except to adapt to all the different culture surrounding them. Which you can imagine how rich the Peranakan tradition and culture have become. The Peranakan people themselves were mostly traders or the middleman of the British and the Chinese and even the Malay hence they were usually well educated.
This museum is actually a real Baba house named Chan Cheng Siew (1865-1919) which managed by the family. Their goals are to keep the history of Malaysia’s Peranakan identity and culture and to share them with the rest of us. Which we all can really appreciate, coming here was like having a sneak peak of the past.
They also offer a guided tour that you can book through their website, a month in advance. Last time we went there, we didn’t book any tour and they still let us in. They just provided a guide book and we freely roamed our self. The downside is that they have a specific time for the tour. For us, going alone was a good idea as we loved to take our time with our cameras which we couldn’t possibly do with the tour.
2. Strait Chinese Jewellery Museum
Another place showcasing the rich culture of the Peranakan is the Strait Chinese Jewellery Museum. When I was searching for this place, I was quite skeptical about the whole jewelry thingy. I mean, how could a museum dedicated to jewelry gonna be interesting enough?? But I was wrong, it is not all about the accessories but it is about the whole Peranakan lifestyle.
They do have a special exhibition dedicated to all the jewelry but the rest of the house is also an exhibition. This is a heritage house building that turned into a museum but still keeping everything pretty much the same like the past. Including the living room, dining area, bedroom, etc. So it didn’t feel like going to a museum, more like visiting somebody’s home.
We didn’t join the guided tour because it already began when we arrived. But this time I was kind regretting that because the whole exhibition has pretty much no information on the display. I was eavesdropping the guided tours a couple of time and the information the guided gave were not written anywhere in the exhibition. So for this place, I will recommend you to join the guided tour.
3. The Red Church
Searching about Malacca will be impossible without coming across the picture of this church. This landmark of Melaka is the oldest functioning Protestant church in Malaysia and was built back in 1741 which took 12 years to complete. It was originally painted white until 1911 when it was repainted into the current iconic red. Good choice indeed!
If you are a Christian or happen to like experiencing different culture/tradition, try to have a Sunday Service here. I think it’s another way to not only see the place but also contributing to the place itself. Because after all, this is a church and their main goal is serving people with a side “job” as a tourist destination.
One of the tips I have is probably to respect others and keep your noise level low here. Again, this is a church so they have photo restriction especially when the serving is going on. If they are having a service then you can just walk around or visit the Youth Museum/Malacca Gallery next door and by the time you come back they most likely will have finished and you can freely go inside and take as many pictures as you want.
4. St. Paul’s Church
Originally built in 1521, this is the oldest church building in Malaysia and even in Southeast Asia. No longer functioning, of course. It was first used a church at the Portuguese periods up until the Dutch periods. And later on, turned into a powder magazine (a place to store the explosive gunpowder) which when this place deteriorate during the British occupation.
If ever been to Macau, you know on of their famous tourist attraction is the Ruins of St. Paul and this place is pretty much a mini version on that. With the addition of the one-hand statue of St. Francis Xavier. There are couples of myth surrounding the loss of the right arm but the history said that a large casuarina tree that fell on the statue and breaking its right arm. There are also tombstones that were scattered around the area.
We don’t spend that much of a time here because there wasn’t much to do anyway. The weather definitely takes a huge part. Maybe midday won’t be a good timing to come here. Because it’s fricking hot in Melaka and there are no shades where you can take covering from the evil sun. Try to come at sunset when the sun is more forgiving and I’ll say the view of the city will be much more beautiful, can already guarantee that.
5. “Flora de la Mar” Maritime Museum
The official name of this place is only Maritime Museum but it is famous for the replica of Flor de la Mar. Flor de la Mar was a Portuguese ship that got famous back in the 16th century until sinking in November 1511. It was built in Liston in 1502 and had been going to numerous places around the globe until the day it sunk on the way from Melaka back to the Portugal.
As the most visited museum in Melaka, I think it safe to say that all thanks to the ship replica. The replica is 34 meters high, 36 meters long and 8 meters wide. It’s quite an impressive view from the outside and you can even get inside as they also house exhibits. But the inside itself was kinda cramped which predictable.
Take your time around this place, the area itself isn’t too big but they do provide a bench to sit down here and there. We did spend quite some time here to get time-lapse of the sun going down and it was majestic! The inside of the ship was great but the outside view was all the hype all about. When will you ever get a chance to took a selfie in a massive ship without the seasickness?
6. Jonker Street Night Market
They said the best time to visit Jonker street will be at night time on the weekend when the whole street turns into a night market. One thing sets this place different will be the houses on the left and right. It was like going to a night market back in the 17th century, background wise. But this night market comes with certain positive and negative sides to it.
For me picking the downside were relatively easy. First will be the trash, people just let the trashes overflow the bin on the side of the street. Then probably the questionable authenticity. The whole street itself is historical, yes but the market itself is pretty much as modern as it can get, even down to the food. Which led me to my next point, price-wise eating out here could be even more expensive than having a proper sit-down meal. Because you just pick a snack and eat it while walking and next thing you know, you are already buying other snacks.
But the whole point of a night market is to have fun, isn’t? So even with all my nagging, it’s still a good time going to a night market. It might be too crowded for my liking but the whole atmosphere was pretty fun. There were street performance, food stall, souvenirs shop, street games, even karaoke in the middle of the road. Don’t worry too much about finding the authentic experience and just go with the mood. 😊
7. Melaka River Cruise
This list won’t be complete without talking about the river. People said that this river once called the “Venice of the East” which I don’t think relatable anymore. The river itself, as I have mentioned in the journal, is not the cleanest. The water color isn’t even blue or green, it was brown and not even see-through!
One thing they did right was setting the view along the riverbank hence why the cruise was getting popular. The 45-minutes River Cruise offers views from the colonial building, street arts, heritage buildings, even a small amusement park complete with a Ferris wheel. And yes I do agree that the whole riverbanks are picturesque, to say the least.
BUT, I won’t necessary recommend the river cruise. Why? Because the waiting line is almost always long. And another thing is because the last time we stay here, our hotel was located a bit far out from the center. So we practically have no choice but to walk along the riverbank everytime we want to go to the center which turned out to be a good thing at the end.
I would say that walking around the riverbank will actually be a good idea rather than going on the cruise. With walking, you have the option to stop here and there as there are lots of “photo point” while with the cruise you’ll just passing everything. There are also lots of cafes and bars overlooking the river. Or find a hotel bit further out and you’ll have no other option, just like us. 😂
8. The Shore Sky Tower
I haven’t seen lots of people talking about this place, maybe because it was considered new or maybe because it was not touristy enough. But lucky for us that our hotel, 7 Days Premium Malacca, located just across this place that we were able to find this hidden gems. The Shore is the tallest building in Melaka with an observation deck on the 43rd floor offering a panoramic 360-degree view of the city.
The shore itself is a shopping mall and not all the elevator goes up to the highest floor. The first elevator ride only brings us maximum to the 41st floor. From there, there is another elevator and stairs to reach the Sky Tower and the Sky Deli. Sky Deli is the restaurant they have there but not on the topmost floor. It’s only going like 1-floor up so instead of waiting for the lift, we went with the stair and the view was not bad at all.
At that floor was the ticket counter for the Sky Tower and the entrance for the Sky Deli. We barely have to line up to buy our tickets at all. Then we gave our ticket at the entrance. From there, we just follow the glass path walk which leads to another lift (so many fricking lifts!) or stairs to finally reach the rooftop. But the path walk was cool enough to keep us busy with our cameras for a while.
There are also free binoculars all around the rooftop which we were happily playing around like a kid before using it as a photo prop. For me personally, I will choose this place over the more well known Menara Taming Sari. The entry price might be more expensive but the waiting line was uncomparable.
1-Day Melaka Itinerary
That’s everything that I think should be on your list of places to visit in Melaka. Is it possible to visit all of them in a day? My answer will be an absolute yes. All the main attractions are all located near with each other. So once you reach the city center, it’s easy to reach everything by walking. The Shore will be the one a bit further out but you can enjoy the picturesque walk along the river to reach here.
So, my suggestion will be, stopping first at the Dutch Square, visit the St. Paul’s Church, then the Maritime Museum. After that, cross the river into the Chinatown area for the Baba Nyonya Museum and the Jewellery Museum. Finish everything with walking to The Shore Sky Tower while enjoying the river view.
Hopefully, that’ll help you having a picture in mind about your next Melaka trip. Do check out our Melaka Travel Journal if you haven’t and I’ll talk to you again in the next post. Bye!
Thanks for reading! Check these links below if you want to get some deals on your next trips, as well as we will get something in return to keep us on track. 😉
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Below is our itinerary map in Malacca. There will be more stuff added (once I remember them LOL) so make sure to check this again!