Melaka also known as Malacca is a UNESCO World Heritage site in Malaysia and is the heritage capital of Malaysia. It is about two and half hours by road from Kuala Lumpur. Melaka was originally a fishing village in 14th century. As the legend goes, a Sumatran price, Parameswara founded Melaka and named it after the ‘Melaka’ tree. He later converted into Islam and became the first sultan of Melaka. Post the Malacca sultanate, Melaka was ruled by Dutch, Portuguese and British as an important trading city. This left it’s mark in form of beautiful heritage buildings and museums throughout the city.
The city is a delight with an amazing balance between old and new and you can see right away that different communities like Malay, Chinese, Indians and Dutch all blend seamlessly.
How to get there:
Melaka is about 2.5 hours south of Kuala Lumpur city and about 2 hours from KL airport. There are regular buses available from both the city and airport with fares ranging between RM 12 – RM20. You can also book your seats online here. A cab from Uber or Grab will cost you between RM 160 – RM 220 and the drive through the countryside is beautiful.
Melaka’s Heritage Trail :
The heritage trail in Melaka city can be covered on foot easily or by cab. You can also explore the city with uniquely decorated rickshaws that are super colorful with blaring songs playing. Kids will surely to enjoy the ride.
The trail starts at Dutch Square and goes through the city covering museums, administrative buildings, old forts and markets. We suggest concluding the heritage trail with a river cruise in the evening and dinner at Jonker’s Walk.
The Dutch Square is the most recognised landmark and busy square in the city. It harbors the most popular buildings all in maroon, the Christ Church, Malacca Art Gallery, Youth Museum and the Stadthuys, surrounding the Queen Victoria Fountain and the Red Clock Tower.
The Christ Church was founded in 1753 and is the oldest functioning protestant church in Malaysia. It has been constructed using wooden pews instead of nails and is a wonderful example of Dutch architecture.
The Stadthuys buildings were used as administrative offices and Governor’s residence and now houses a number of museums. These buildings are believed to home many secrets and a few passageways have been discovered during current renovations.You can hike up to St Paul’s Hill from behind the building passing the governor’s museum on the way.
St Paul Church
St Paul’s church(Melaka) & white watchtowerOn top of the hill, are the ruins of a Portuguese church which was founded by a Portuguese captain to thank for his survival through enemy attacks at sea. The church also acted as a base for St. Francis Xavier during his visits to southeast Asia and after his death in Macau, his body was interred in the main hall here for nine months before it was moved to Goa, India. The Basilica of Bom Jesus located in Goa, India, holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier.
Read about Basilica of Bom Jesus in our blog
A Famosa was the fort built by the Portuguese after their fleet defeated the armies of Malaccan Sutanate. Porta de Santiago is the gate house, is the only part of the fortress which still remains today.
Melacca Sultanate Palace
To the left lies the Malacca Sultanate Palace, which is a replica of the original palace built by the extinct sultanate of Malacca and acts as a cultural museum. You can spend an hour or two getting to know the history and culture of Malacca.
Proclamation of Independence Memorial
Towards the left again, is the Proclamation of Independence Memorial which stands in memory of the event of the last British governor of Malacca handing over his offices to the new Malaysian Governor of Malacca on August 31, 1957.
Our next stop is the very unique maritime museum which is a restored Portuguese ship called Flora de la Mar. The ship is very well maintained and this museum is a great source to understand the maritime history of Malacca.
As we walk towards the Tan Kim Seng Bridge near the Dutch square, to cross the river to reach our next stop, you will see the beautiful murals on the riverside shops, houses and restaurants. Very similar to Venice, you can take a ferry ride to cruise through and see the beautiful bridges, colonial buildings and villages. In addition, we recommend a riverside walk to click some great shots.
Next we stroll through Jonker Street, a great place to shop for souvenirs and experience the local cuisine and drinks. Don’t forget to try the street food, must have are the famous chicken rice balls, cendol and the different types of noodles and satay.
Baba Nyonya heritage museum
After a hearty meal, next stop is Baba Nyonya heritage museum, which showcases the local history of ethnic Chinese-Malays called Baba-Nyonya and their lavish lifestyle.
St Francis Xavier Church
If you have time we suggest you visit St Francis Xavier Church which is a 10 minute walk. A little ahead is the the Bastion House, which is a British heritage building and is now the Malay and Islamic World Museum.
The church was built in 1856 on the site of an old Portuguese church by Father Farvé, in honour of St. Francis Xavier. Another interesting church is the St Peter’s Church which is about 10 minutes away. It is the oldest roman catholic functioning church is Malaysia.
We recommend finishing the heritage trail with a ferry ride through the Melaka river and then heading back to Jonker’s street for dinner.
Melaka is a quick drive from the urban Kuala Lumpur and a two day stay will ensure you can soak in the heritage and the culture of this city completely. It’s the perfect place to take a break with kids or after a business trip to KL. So don’t miss visiting this beautiful city the next time you travel to Malaysia.
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