What You Need To Know in Melaka
Red Square in Melaka, Malaysia
Short clip to look how interesting Melaka is!
It is my first time in Melaka even though I have visited Malaysia for three times along my life, haha! Last month, I spent 19 days in Melaka because of business trip on behalf my office. Melaka, also known as Malacca, is one of UNESCO heritage site. It was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on July 7th, 2008, and plays a fundamental role in the economy of the State.
Melaka reflects a multi-cultural heritage that evolved from their strategic location along the trade routes from Great Britain and Europe through the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, and the Malay Archipelago to China. This city was also shaped by colonization from the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British.
The core zone of Melaka Core Heritage is comprised of two sections bisected by the Malacca River. This historic center reflects its diverse culture in the variety of religious and government buildings, ethnic quarters, festivals, dances, costumes, art, music, food, and daily life.
Beside has a historical story and full of heritage buildings, heritage core area of Melaka also has some interesting sites such as Jonker Street (as a Chinatown) with many antique shops and its night market, Red Square (Dutch Square), Muzium Samudera, Gereja St. Paul, Buddha Relics Museum, etc.
PLACE TO BE VISITED IN MELAKA
There are a lot of places to be visited in Melaka, such as:
- A’ Famosa Fort
- Christ Church, also known as Red House or Red Church
- The Stadthuys
- Paul Church
- Melaka Sultanate Palace
- Menara Taming Sari
- Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum
- Mini Malaysian & ASEAN Cultural Park
- Cheng Hoong Teng Temple
- Maritime Museum or Muzium Samudera
For the detail of those places, you can read more on:
Why I’m not write the detail of those places on this post? Because I didn’t get in and visit those places! Yeah, I know it was very strange when you stay for a long time (19 days which is a half month is a long term) in the center of tourist place but you didn’t visit the top list places in it. Can you imagine that I have spent every single day with walking, walking, and walking in same places in the Melaka heritage core to do my field survey?? Yes, I did it!! Everyday I walked 15 – 30 km, wew.. That’s why I feel bored and not interested to get into the museums, heritage buildings, etc.
But fortunately, because of my experience walking and strolling around in Melaka, I can share to you some attractions which can be recommendation for you when you go to Melaka outside the lists above.
1. Jonker Street
Also known as The Jonker Walk is a China Town in Melaka which located along Jalan Hang Jebat. Jonkes Street on the past was full of antique shops, but now just some of them still opened as antique shops and most of them has turned to clothing and crafts outlets as well as restaurants. When you ask me, where is the best places to buy souvenirs? Absolutely, Jonker Street! Haha. There are a lot of shop sell souvenirs in here, just choose some of them. They also have similar price from one to another shops.
Jonker Street which is located at Jalan Hang Jebat
The history of Jonker Street
The story of Jonker Street goes back to the the Dutch Period of Melaka. The servants and subordinates of Dutch masters used to live at nearby Heeren Street (now is Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock). However, as soon as Dutch left, it became noblemen’s street! Rich Babas and Bibiks started to live and trade here giving the street a deep-rooted ethnic and cultural flavour. Now the street is officially named as Jalan Hang Jebat and it is popularly known as the Jonker Street. Due to availability of collectible items dating back to medieval times at many shops, it is also referred as the Antique Street. Due to Chinese influences, its also referred as the China Town of Melaka. During Dutch Period, it was known as rich men’s street as rich Baba Nyonya had by that time established their businesses here.
The best part of Jonker Street
The best part of Jonker Street is the night market which only opened on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night start from 6 PM. On the night market, many street vendors occupy this street to sell everything from tasty treats to cheap keepsakes. Vehicles are banned to pass along this street during the night market.
Night market at Jonker Street starts from 6 PM every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night
2. Kampung Morten
The village is named after JF Morten, a British Land Commissioner when the commission was established in the early 1920s. Morten was involved in the development of this village, which was used to be a mangrove swamp. Othman Mohd Noh was credited as the founder of this village.
Kampung Morten is located next to the Melaka River. For those who took the ride on the Melaka River Cruise, maybe you will get an brief history of Kampung Mortern by the narrator.
Unlike the urban villages in other states, Kampung Morten still retains traditional features such as home design, decoration and landscape. The government has also been helping the villagers by providing funds and assistance to ensure the village remains in its natural form. In 1998, the state government has gazette Kampung Morten as a traditional Malay village of heritage significance and turned it into a tourist attraction. This village has more than 100 traditional Malay’s houses.
Traditional housing in Kampung Morten
3. Melaka Riverwalk
TThe Melaka River or Sungai Melaka which flows through the middle of Melaka was a vital trade route during the heyday of Melaka Sultanate in the 15th century. To enjoy this river and see the sights of Melaka at a leisurely pace, you can use Melaka River Cruise. (how to get Melaka River Cruise will be explained near the end of this post).
There are a lot of restaurants along the riverwalk in Melaka Heritage Core Area. Most of them opened from 4 PM till midnight. Many tourists have dinner in here, enjoy their beers and the romantic sense of river’s lighting.
Riverside view of Sungai Melaka. Enjoy your food and drink and feel the riverside wind
Along the riverside, you can see some heritage buildings and some mural paintings. Most of the paintings talk about the historical of Melaka or other genre of painting. But not only along riverside, you will also find some paintings in some buildings in heritage area.
Mural in Melaka heritage area create an active street whrough the painting along the building’s wall
SOME RECOMMENDED RESTAURANTS TO BE TRIED
Well, I didn’t have much time to try so many restaurants in this trip. My business trip pushed me to have a quick lunch or dinner and also sometimes I ate at the random time (not in lunch or dinner time). So, let’s see… haha
1. Zhong Tai Seafood Restaurant
This Chinese restaurant located near Hatten Hotel (where I stayed for 19 days). They serve their customers with the fresh fish and cheap till medium price. I ate twice in this restaurant because half of my teammates are from China and they said this restaurant has a similar taste with restaurants in China.
There are a lot of Chinese – Malay restaurant around Zhong Tai Restaurant. So, if this restaurant is full of customers, you can move and try the other restaurant near here.
2. Restoran Nyonya Makko
Restoran Nyonya Makko is a famous one of Nyonya food or Peranakan food. Their food is a mix from Chinese – Malay, which is very common in Melaka.
Nyonya Makko Restaurant has many old stuff which be their decoration
3. Geographer Café
I found this cafe when stroll around the heritage core area for did a survey. And then, when I did another field survey and need to stand in front of this restaurant from a half hour, I chose to get into the café, sat on the corner near the road, and ordered the ice coffee, haha.
Geographer Café located in the corner of Jalan Hang Lekir. Anyway, I waited a long time in front of the restroom in this restaurant. I think there is someone inside. Then, I looked there is a passcode machine. WEW!! You should ask the password to waitress to get into the restroom, HAHAHA
This cafe with its warm ambience reflects the gracious old charm of the seasoned traveller and truly maintains the tradition in a place where East meets West. Visitors are provided a window with a “Living Museum” as they keep an exciting look-out for the bustling activities that pulse through the many narrow streets nearby, which are lined with shops, houses and buildings, centuries old.
4. Jonker 88
Jonker 88 Restaurant, always full of customer!!
Jonker 88 is a old shop house converted to a restaurant. Many classic and vintage stuff in this restaurant. Some visitors call it a museum restaurant. There are also old coins and paper money if you are interested, a lot of traditional wooden structure in this restaurant such as the ceiling and doors, old paintings of historical characters, and old clocks as well.
I have been there twice without taste any food! : ( They always have long queue and full of people. I didn’t have a chance to taste the Nyonya Asssam Laksa and the Original Laksa which are very famous from this restaurant.
5. The Daily Fix
This restaurant is one of many restaurants in Jonker Street which we don’t know if they have a huge room inside, haha! This restaurant is located inside a souvenir’s shop. The first time I came in, I was interested to have a look some souvenirs in here and unexpectedly they have a huge room which functioned as a restaurant in the middle of building. Looking around this restaurant and so many people sat on there, I guest that they have some famous menus or cheap food/drinks or others. Because I didn’t have time to wait to get a table, I walked out and continue my job.
The Daily Fix Restaurant in the same building of Rasa Sayang Souvenir
6. Street Food in the north alley of Jalan Bunga Raya and Jalan Bendahara
Accidentally found this street food provide customers with short tables and chairs
Accidentally we found it when we walked to do our survey. There are a lot of people in this aisle. When we ask one of the owner of this street vendor, he said they open daily start form 5 PM to midnight. Most of visitors are local people. Looking how many people came here and how they sell their food uniquely, I think this place should I recommend for you.
7. Discovery Cafe
This place not only sell their food but also sell the their environment with their cozy design.
Discovery Cafe has many delicious foods and photoable spots, lol
LOCAL TRANSPOTATION IN HERITAGE SITE
There are three ways to accommodate your movement in Melaka which I recommend. Because the heritage site is quite small, so you can stroll around by:
Because of Melaka Heritage Core Area has a short distance from one site to other sites, most of tourists choose to walk for their movement. In fact, the roads on this area do not only provide pedestrians but also motorized transportations. But, the different material and color of pavement give a sign for motorized to be slowed down.
Many tourists walking in Melaka and ejoy their sightseeing
If you want to explore Melaka from heritage area to Kampung Morten and Kampung Portugis, you can ride a bike. Many hotels and restaurants open the bike rent for tourists. Every bike rents have different price, start form 10 RM for 3 hours until 30 RM for 1.5 hours.
If you have a credit card, you can try Melakabikeshare. There are 3 bike stations along Jalan Kota and Jalan Parameswara. You just need to register in Melakabikeshare.com and follow the steps. I only paid 10 RM for 12 hours! Haha.
MelakaBikeShare, unfortunately they only have 3 stations and it make us in trouble when we want to stop in the middle of nowhere
3. River Cruise
Through Melaka River Cruise you can see murals on the building walls along the riverside
Like I mentioned before, if you want to enjoy Selat Melaka and the view along the river, you can try River Cruise. There are three jetties, you can begin the cruise from any jetty:
- Muara Jetty, next to Quayside Heritage Centre, close to the Maritime Museum easily recognisable by the replica of the Portuguese ship Flor De la Mar.
- Taman Rempah Jetty, where a small spice garden is located, next to the Hang Jebat Bridge linking Jalan Tun Mutahir to Jalan Tun Sri Lanang.
- The Shore Jetty, next to The Shore Melaka, a retail, hotel and residential development containing attractions such as Shore Oceanarium, Sky Tower, Toy Museum and 3D Interactive Park.
Price and operating hours of the river cruise:
- On weekdays (Monday – Thursday), MyKadholders pay RM 10.60 for adultsand RM 5.30 for children aged 2 to 12. At weekends (Friday – Sunday) and public or school holidays the MyKad price increases to RM 15.90 for adults. Children’s fare remains the same.
- Foreignershave to pay a little more, RM 15.90 for adults and RM 7.50 for kids on weekdays and RM 21.20 for adults at weekends.
- The Melaka River Cruise is opendaily from 9 am to 11:30 pm.
- Boats depart roughly every 30 minutes from Taman Rempah Jetty
- The Shore Jetty counter hours are 10 am – 10 pm. The first boat departs at 11 am and the last boat is at 10 pm (must buy last boat tickets before 9.30pm. Boats from The Shore Jetty depart every hour on the hour.
Which is the better time to go, by day or by night? At night many of the sights alongside the river are illuminated with colorful lights. But on the other hand, during the day you will get a better view of the murals and other details. You are also more likely to spot one of the monitor lizards which frequent the river bank. Perhaps you should go at sunset so that you can see both day and night.
4. Other modes
If you get tired when walk in the heritage core area, you can hire a becak, horse cart, electric bike, etc. Especially for becak in Melaka, it is a three-wheeler non-motorized transportation which full of colorful ornament and non-stop music (you can request the music, haha).
There are a lot of unique local transport mode for tourist in Melaka. They are so creative!
HOW TO GET THERE (Melaka Heritage Core Area)
Most of the tourists come to Melaka with their travel agent. They book a travel agent which have a touring package in Melaka with start point from Kuala Lumpur, KLIA, etc. But if you want try with yourself, the first step is get your bus to Melaka Sentral. Melaka Sentral is a central terminal in Melaka which provide local and inter-local buses. Some of inter-local buses come from Kuala Lumpur, Johar Bahru, Penang, Singapore, etc.
Fyi, when we arrived in KLIA, we chose to used bus to go to Melaka which goes every 2 hours with price 35 RM per person. We try to book an Uber. When we booked it, the price on the apps was 170 RM, but when we got a call from the driver, he asked us to pay 250 RM. And from the information of our colleagues, most of the drivers will ask the passengers to pay 250 RM from KLIA to Melaka because of their rerouting. Hmm.. Actually, when we came back to KLIA from Melaka, we hired a taxi from our hotel and we paid 220 RM + 20 RM (for driver’s tip).
Back to the topic! The second step is get into local bus number 17 afrom Melaka Sentral and get off in the heritage core area (around red church) or in front of Dataran Pahlawan Mall near the heritage area. You need to pay 3.5 RM directly to the driver (cash) when you get into the bus. Easy, right?
Bus No. 17 in Melaka services the passengers from Melaka Sentral to heritage core area
Finally, I have shared it all to you readers. Good luck and enjoy the heritage site of Melaka!