Malacca, on the southwest coast of Malaysia, has a rich and varied history. Visitors can enjoy the multicultural historic center, museums and temples, and many cafes and restaurants.

A UNESCO World Heritage SiteTrishaws

The town occupies a strategic point on the Malacca Strait, which runs between Malaysia and Sumatra and has been home at various times to the Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, and British. In the Middle Ages it was an important stop on the trade route between China and the Middle East for ships carrying cargoes of spices, textiles, and other goods.

By the 15th century, up to 2,000 ships could be seen in the harbor at one time. There was an established Chinese community by this time and the Chinese admiral Zheng He often called into the port during his voyages.

Malacca was taken by the Portuguese in 1511 and was later occupied by the Dutch and the British prior to independence. Today it is a thriving town with smart waterfront developments and a bustling Chinatown. In 2008 Malacca (along with George Town, also on the Malacca Strait) was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site as an exceptional example of a multicultural trading town in South East Asia.

Tourists can enjoy walking the compact town center and visit museums that record the town’s heritage. They may also visit temples and go shopping in Chinatown and, of course, eat traditional Malay food in one of the many cafés or restaurants.

Malacca can be reached by bus or taxi from Kuala Lumpur. There is also an express bus from Singapore which takes 3-4 hours.

Historic Centre Of MalaccaDutch Square, Malacca

The historic center shows both Dutch and British influences, with the Queen Victoria Jubilee Fountain having pride of place in the central Dutch Square!    

There are two old and imposing red-painted buildings on the Dutch Square: Christ Church and the Stadthuys. Christ Church, the oldest Protestant church still in use in Malaysia, was built by the Dutch in the 18th century but also has 19th-century British additions. The 17th-century Stadthuys is the oldest building in the town and is a fine example of Dutch architecture. It was originally used as the official residence of the Dutch governors and now houses the town’s Museum of Ethnography and History.

Beside the Stadthuys is the Porta de Santiago, an archway and gate that are the only remaining parts of the Portuguese A Famosa Fortress. There are a number of little shops and stalls selling souvenirs near the Dutch Square.

You can also hire a colorful trishaw and take a ride with a friendly driver and loud music. Tip: Negotiate the trishaw fare before the ride. Some trishaw drivers provide entertaining commentary, sharing interesting facts about Malacca during the journey.

Chinatown And Jonker StreetMalacca Chinatown

Not far from the Dutch Square is the vibrant Chinatown area of Malacca. The famous Jonker Street runs through the center of Chinatown and is renowned for its antique shops. Nearby is Heeren Street, once known as “Millionaire’s Row”, with its distinctive Peranakan (or Straits Chinese) architecture.  

If you want to stop for something to eat or drink, try the Geographer Cafe on Jonker Street which sells a wide variety of traditional Malay food, with a number of vegetarian options. Visit Jonker Gallery, a cultural and arts space, for unique exhibits and workshops. Try local delicacies like the famous Jonker 88 cendol and chicken rice balls.

There are many interesting places of worship in Chinatown, including Cheng Hoon Teng, the oldest Chinese temple in Malaysia, Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi, built in 1781 and one of the oldest Hindu temples in the country, and the Kampung Kling Mosque.

 

Museums Of Malacca

There are several museums dedicated to Malacca’s history and heritage, including the following

Maritime Museum

The riverside Maritime Museum features a replica of a Portuguese ship that sank off the coast of Malacca. Inside the ship are exhibitions and displays of Malacca’s long maritime history and pivotal place in the spice trade. There are also a number of maps and paintings.

A separate building on the museum grounds contains a curious mixture of space travel, dinosaurs, navigation equipment, and salvage from shipwrecks. There is also a display of the marine environment and ecosystems. The museum is open from 9 am – 6 pm every day except Tuesday (there is an admission charge). Visitors must remove their shoes before going inside the ship.

Additional Tip: Plan your visit during weekdays to avoid crowds. The museum is not only educational but also offers a chance for kids to try on traditional sailor costumes.

Cheng Ho Cultural Museum

Situated in Chinatown, this museum is dedicated to the history of Malacca and the life of the Chinese admiral Zheng He. It occupies a number of old shophouses and has models and artifacts from Zheng He’s treasure ships. At the back of the museum is the Cheng Ho tea house, a restored Ming period house where you can enjoy a cup of tea prepared and served in the traditional style and watch a quirky puppet show of Zheng He’s life and voyages.The museum is open every day from 9 am – 6 pm (there is an admission charge).

History and Ethnography Museum

This is housed in the Stadthuys on the Dutch Square and gives an insight into the various ethnic communities of Malacca and the town’s history. Artifacts include porcelain, musical instruments, and ancient weapons. The museum is open from 9 am – 6 pm every day except Monday (there is an admission charge).

Malacca Sultanate Palace Museum

Immerse your family in the history of Malacca by visiting the Sultanate Palace Museum. The replica palace offers a glimpse into the city’s glorious past. Engage your kids with the interactive displays and cultural activities inside the museum. Consider hiring a guide for an insightful tour.

Other Things to do in Malacca

Visit the Malacca Zoo

Enjoy a day at the Malacca Zoo, home to a diverse range of animals. The zoo is known for its conservation efforts and offers educational experiences for children. Check the zoo’s schedule for animal feeding times and educational shows. Consider participating in special programs like behind-the-scenes tours for a more immersive experience.

Take a River Cruise

Relax with your family on a river cruise along the Malacca River. Admire the beautifully lit buildings along the riverbanks as you learn about the city’s history. Evening cruises are particularly enchanting with the city lights reflecting on the water. Opt for a guided tour to learn about the history and landmarks along the river.

Indulge in Peranakan Cuisine

Try authentic Peranakan cuisine at one of the many local restaurants. From Nyonya laksa to chicken rice balls, your taste buds are in for a treat. If you’re unsure about what to order, consider trying a Nyonya set menu for a variety of authentic dishes. Some restaurants also offer cooking classes for a hands-on experience.

Visit the Upside Down House

Have a blast at the Upside Down House, a quirky attraction where everything is, well, upside down! It’s a unique experience that kids will love. Capture gravity-defying photos and have a good laugh at the quirky installations. Visit during off-peak hours to avoid crowds and have more photo opportunities.

Relax at Klebang Beach

Unwind at Klebang Beach, a serene spot away from the hustle and bustle. Let the kids build sandcastles or take a dip in the sea. Bring along a picnic, sunscreen, and beach toys for the kids. The sunset at Klebang Beach is breathtaking, making it an ideal spot for an evening family outing.

Famosa Fortress

Climb the ruins of A Famosa, a historic Portuguese fortress. It’s a great spot for family photos and offers panoramic views of the city. Visit in the evening to witness the fort illuminated, creating a picturesque setting and stunning sunset shots.

Where to Stay in Malacca

 

Malacca is a treasure trove of experiences for families, offering a perfect blend of history, culture, and entertainment. Your adventure in this charming city is bound to create lasting memories for you and your loved ones. Enjoy your stay in this magical Malaysian gem!

Guest Author: Karen Warren is a freelance writer, book reviewer, and novelist. She writes about travel on her blog WorldWideWriter.

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