A bare two hours by motorway south of Malaysia’s busy capital of Kuala Lumpur, the pace of life slows, measured by the thick surrounding rain forest and the shadows of centuries-old buildings. The city of Malacca was once a simple fishing village, until its advantageous location on Malaysia’s western coast brought it to the attention of the Portuguese, English and Dutch sailors and settlers, who all left their mark upon the city.
Exploring the Historic Centre
Recently designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Malacca’s historic centre features the imprint of the many people who have made the city their home over the last five centuries. Chinese settlers built the stunning Cheng Hoon Teng Temple in 1685 and visitors can wander through its exquisite pagoda-style rooms and admire the artistry and contemplative grandeur of its design.
Both Heeren and Jonker streets recall the mark the Dutch left on the city during their 150-year rule. Here visitors will find a narrow warren of alleyways that feature small shops, quaint eateries, historic homes and religious sites sacred to Muslims, Hindus, Christians and many other faiths. For those wishing to spend a few days in the city, this area also offers a range of lovely accommodation.
Malacca also offers visitors a wealth of insight into its past in the various museums dedicated to its maritime history and glimpses of the culture of its varied residents. The Malaysian Navy Museum is a good site for families to visit, as it features a replica Portuguese sailing vessel, as well as a military helicopter and Navy ship. Those wanting to learn more about Malacca’s culture can visit the Malay and Islamic World Museum or the Baba and Nyonya Peranakan Museum. Both venues are excellent resources that serve to educate visitors with interactive displays and ever-changing installations.
Malacca’s beautiful river walk offers a soothing stroll for visitors to admire the city’s skyline reflected on the still water. Those who love shopping can duck into the nearby Dataran Pahlawan area of the city, where boutiques, tourist-themed shops and galleries will serve as sources of irresistible temptation.
Arriving in Malacca
As Kuala Lumpur is the obvious travel hub for visitors both entering the country from international locations or already travelling within its borders, visitors wishing to add Malacca to their itinerary can find a range of bus routes from Kuala Lumpur to Malacca, which arrive in Melaka Sentral bus terminal, just a few miles from the historic city centre. It’s possible to also purchase bus tickets to Malacca online from any of Malaysia’s most popular bus companies, which makes visiting this beautiful city even more convenient.
Malacca does not have a train station; however, visitors from all parts of Southeast Asia travelling by rail can terminate at the nearby Pulau Sebang station and hire a taxi for the remaining 15-mile journey to Malacca. Rental cars from Kuala Lumpur or even arrival by ferry.