It’s amazing how quickly today’s travels become yesterday’s memory. When I graduated from college seven years ago, one of my first stop offs on my fledgling jetsetting ways was Malaysia’s historical city, Malacca (Melaka).
Back then, my naïve perspective gave me trepidation of exploring Malacca’s aging streets that were devoid of any semblance of a path. Now I’m a seasoned traveller, used to uncovering little known places off of the beaten track, so this time around, I eagerly explored the quaint and colourful streets that personify Malacca’s rich diversity.
Enchanting is the word that springs to mind when trying to sum up Malacca. Charisma flows from the old long houses and into the Malacca river that runs through the city. The canal is referred to as the Venice of the East, and the adorning bridges certainly strike a resemblance. Strolling along the meandering river down to The Majestic Malacca where I stayed previously was a fond wander down memory lane. Yet it was how much the city had changed that caught my attention. The pristine wooden boardwalk was just one example of how much work has taken place over the past few years to modernise and enhance the city’s rich heritage.
There’s been a youthful injection that has blended in seamlessly with the deep-rooted history. Rather than replace the old with the new, the old has been recycled. Buildings that have maintained their century old structural identity have become world class and completely unique artisan cafes. Decorative modern street art complements the colourful houses and antique shops. Along with amazing nyonya cuisine, art galleries, temples and mosques, this heritage city has the most eclectic vibe.
Where I Stayed:
I stayed at the extremely contemporary and hipster Rosa Hotel. Their exposed brick and smoothly plastered unpainted walls perfectly fit their warehouse theme.
Would I Stay Again:
If you follow me on Instagram (which you should do!) and saw my Instastories, you’d see I was loving the décor. I’d definitely stay at the Rosa Hotel again. It’s about a 15-minute walk to the Red Square, which is doable but not ideal, however they provide Uber coupons worth RM5.
Their coupon deal essentially works out that you have free transportation in and out of the Rosa Hotel. I’m looking forward to visiting once they’ve set up their planned rooftop bar and swimming pool.
Where Did I Eat:
Malacca is well known for its great food, however, I didn’t get to indulge in all of the places I’d been salivating over to try nyonya cuisine at because I made the foodie blunder of visiting Malacca during the week when many of Jonker Street Night Market’s restaurants were closed after 5pm. But what I did have made my belly very happy.
The Daily Fix was the perfect solution for my brunch and coffee fix.
Their quirky mismatch of furniture created the hipster vibe and the smoothie bowl (RM18.90) is a delicious work of art fit for any Instagrammer. You know such great care is made in preparing this fresh seasonal fruit bowl of colour when I’m trying to find the best angle to snap a picture.
And the coffee is divine.
The amount of hipster places available will satisfy any Instagrammer cravings, but be prepared to have your mind blown by The Baboon House. This was the most Instagrammable coffee shop I’ve ever been to, and they don’t allow pictures! Which means you have to be monkeyish mischievous to get that discreet picture, because, let’s be honest, an interior consumed by tropical plants, bamboo winding staircases, and clinging vines is like catnip for your instafeed. You’re going more for the experience of feeling like you’re sitting within a jungle ruin than the food as their menu consists mostly of burgers, a small selection of sandwiches and a couple of breakfast sets.
For some traditional nyonya chicken rice balls, I sat in at Restoran Famosa Chicken Rice Ball. These are dangerously tasty. The chicken rice balls only cost 40c and quickly disappear. I also recommend the BBQ pork and the roasted chicken. Yum!
What Did I Do:
Ancient buildings like Christ Church, Stadthuys, St Paul’s Church ruins, and Melaka’s Sultunate Palace are just some of the renowned landmarks that earned Malacca the World Heritage Site title from UNESCO.
All of these historical sites are within a 5-minute walk of each other around the Red Square, which is the heart of the city.
I was surprised at how big Malacca is. I predominately explored the old town streets around Jonker Street for hidden gems, of which I felt like I only scratched the surface of. There’s lots of temples and mosques built in the midst of long houses, including Malaysia’s oldest temple, Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, which is very ornate and worth seeing. We even saw the world-renowned traveller, Michael Palin, there. He didn’t recognise me, though.
The River Walk is very enjoyable and you can take it up from the Red Square to Villa Sentosa, the living museum. You’ll be shown around this 1920’s Kampung House by a household resident, but do check opening times before planning to go.
It’ll take you about 30 minutes to walk if you go along the boardwalk, so drop in to The Majestic Malacca for either high tea or a drink if you need a welcome respite from the heat.
I regrettably didn’t have time to visit the Baba-Nonya Heritage Museum. My aunt and mother did though, and found the museum completely captivating. Said it was well worth going to so I’ve earmarked that down as a must do for my next trip to Malacca and something I recommend you do.
The Floating Mosque (Masjid Selat Melaka) was built in 2006 on stilts along the seashore of the Straits of Malacca to give the impression that it’s floating when the tide rolls in. Get an Uber here and back because the golden domed mosque was beautiful to see. After a long day of walking, it was so relaxing to sit and watch the sun slowly set while listening to the lapping waves at your feet.
How Did I Get Around:
UBER! Uber is such a convenient and easy way to get around Malacca. There’s plenty of one way streets in Malacca, so you might have to wait 5 minutes longer than you would expect, but we always got our lifts without fuss.
The only time that we came into any sort of issue using the service was booking our Uber car from Malacca to Kuala Lumpur . Five drivers cancelled on us before a real humble and lovely driver finally accepted our request and brought us all the way back to KL.
I don’t know how long I’ll be in Kuala Lumpur, but I’ve already designated Malacca as my weekend getaway retreat.