A confluence of trade and cultural exchange since the 15th century, the humble fishing village of Melaka has transformed into the charmingly diverse riverside town that it is today.
A stroll down the Melaka River will propel you back in time, with magnificent European colonial architecture reminding you of the Melaka that was once the greatest trading port in Southeast Asia. Yet, prompters of the modern world in the form of colourful street art and fusion of cultures shine amongst the well-maintained ancient structures.
Crowned a UNESCO world cultural heritage site, there is no shortage of attractions in Melaka. Remnants of Portuguese, Dutch, and Chinese cultures still thrive in this wonderfully distinctive town. Take a romantic sunset river cruise down the river or shop at the bustling Jonker street, Melaka is a fantastic place for families, couples, and solo travelers alike.
Although Melaka has its own airport, it is only served by local airlines and very limited international airlines. Most people make their way to Melaka by buses, which connect the town with many cities in Peninsular Malaysia and even with Singapore. You can also get to Melaka from Sumatra, Indonesia via daily ferries to the Harbour Master’s Jetty near the Melaka town centre.
Although ATMs can be found at the bus station and tourist areas, they might not work all the time and sometimes shut down after midnight. Credit cards are accepted at high-end restaurants and hotels, but you will have to pay in cash in most local stores. To be safe, you should always carry enough cash with you to Melaka. Money exchange services with reasonable rates are available at Jonker Street and major shopping malls.
With a tropical weather, you can visit Melaka any time of the year. However, the wettest months are from June to November, with heavy rainfalls typically in the afternoons. The driest months are from April to October, with the days being sunny most of the time. As with all tourist destinations, Melaka can be quite crowded, with accommodation prices more expensive during the holiday seasons like Christmas, Chinese New Year, Malay New Year, and school holidays.
Best explored on foot, Melaka offers an engaging cultural and historical experience. You can also rent a bicycle or hop on a flashy trishaw adorned with fake flowers and blaring pop music with extremely friendly drivers to see the town. To go further out, buses are available but often do not stick to schedules and information on them are hard to find. You will be better off getting a taxi or an Uber.
With so many different cultures and influences converging in one place, you are bound to taste a diverse yet unique range of food in Melaka. Most tourists head to Jonker Street to hunt for local delicacies like chicken rice balls, cendol (a shaved ice dessert with coconut milk and palm sugar), and Nyonya (Chinese-Malay fusion) cuisines, just to name a few. Not in the mood for local food? There are also many fast food chains and restaurants serving Western food around town, particularly inside major shopping malls.
Vibrant but laid-back, Melaka has developed a friendly and easy-going atmosphere. Rich in culture and heritage in a pleasantly non-obnoxious way, Melaka will steal your heart with its charming appeal.