During our visit to Kuala Lumpur we decided to take a short overnight trip to the nearby UNESCO heritage city of Melaka.
Melaka offers a much calmer side of Malaysia from the bustling metropolis of KL, which was a welcomed change for us after a busy few days sightseeing. Melaka was very chilled out and picturesque and still very quiet as November is off-peak season. Unfortunately this meant that quite of lot of places were closed but regardless we were able to enjoy a very relaxed day and night wandering the cute streets. So, here is our guide of what to get up-to in Melaka!
Melaka is found on the coast between KL and Singapore and is best reached by bus, either from KL or Singapore – we obviously came from KL. There are an astounding number of daily buses to Melaka (look for Malacca, the regional area, when booking). Early morning buses are cheaper and thankfully some of these leave from hotels in Kuala Lumpur city centre, preventing the need to navigate trains out to the main bus terminal (TBS station) in the early hours. If you’re willing to travel to the station early then you can get the cheapest coaches on offer, but we were too sleepy after a busy few days to contemplate an early morning commute. You can book buses here.
The bus takes between 2-3 hours from the city centre to Melaka. Our bus there was a small day-tour-sized bus and we were the only passangers. On the return we got a coach which was very comfortable considering it only cost £2.50! The chairs properly reclined with foot rests and there was personal AC. We arrived at a small bus station slightly south east of the city centre which was within a 30 minute walk from the city centre. On the return leg we departed from Melaka Bus Station which was not walkable and definitely requires taxis to get there and back.
Everything you could want to do in Melaka is walkable from the city centre, and most of the hotels are situated in the centre so we really found no need for taxis or alternative transport.
We decided to go super cheap on accommodation in Melaka. We stayed at the One River Residence hostel which pleasantly surprised us! It’s basic, but with a comfortable bed and hot showers we were content. Unfortunately there was only one plug socket in our room so we had to take shifts at recharging our devices but it wasn’t really an issue to us. The wifi was good and the social space quite relaxing with an open air view of the river below. The host was lovely and accommodating, letting us into the room despite arriving much earlier than check-in and booking a taxi for us. There was however no safes which I wish we had realised before booking as it’s a big nono to us!
Across the street from the hostel was the insanely cool whole sale market – just look at those drapes?!
As recommended by our hostel host we headed straight to Chung Wah Chicken Rice Ball, the best place in town to try the towns famous rice balls and chicken (you can find it on the roundabout at the start of Jonker Street). Be prepared to stand in a queue to get a table as this place is super popular with Malaysian tourists!
That said the chicken was super delicious – very juicy – and the rice balls were interesting…I didn’t like them much but David did. Personally I think it needed the chilli sauce to give the dish some oomf but it’s worth trying.
Head to Inside Scoop to try some of their homemade ice cream. We tried the chocolate (highly recommend! It was rich and made with Malay cocoa), salted caramel, mango and lemon flavours – the perfect refreshments on a hot day.
We accidentally took a “quick” reboot nap before dinner and slept through until 8:30. OOPS. By the time we headed out to find dinner the options were extremely limited. Unfortunately the famous Jonker Street night Market is only there on weekends. We ended up wandering in a bit of a panic that we’d have to settle for The Hard Rock Cafe before stumbling upon Jonker Street Hawker Centre (see map). This place was clearly the go-to midweek dinner option with both tourists and locals getting their evening feed! We enjoyed some Indian cuisine while being serenaded by some mediocre live music playing!
*Note – Midweek Melaka during off-season is very sleepy at night, be sure to head for dinner at a normal time to guarantee finding food.
On the weekend Jonker Street hosts a night food market which is apparently the bees-knees. Unfortunately we didn’t get to witness this as its only on Friday and Saturday nights but we image that it is the go-to place to grab dinner on weekends!
There are actually not many “attractions” to see in Melaka (unless you’re interested in hopping between random museums and then it has tonnes)! It is however a perfect place to recharge your batteries and slow down between destinations in a pretty environment. We imagined that if we were traveling south from KL to Singapore (or visa versa), we’d stop for the night to relax before jumping into the busyness of another city.
Get lost Wandering
This was how we spent most of our afternoon – heading down random streets and checking out the cool architecture. You’ll find some very cute shuttered houses, and streets where every house has a tiled terrace out front. Not to mention these gorgeous windows. We just couldn’t get enough of them and returned home with millions of photos of them!
Check out the Rustic Red of Melaka Square
And of course take a peak inside the church – its actually much bigger than you’d expect. I believe there is a museum just behind the square but I’m afraid we weren’t feeling inclined during our stay and stuck to relaxing in the square instead.
Walk Along the River
Melaka has a beautiful walkway which runs along the river. Lined with trees and cool houses you’re sure to feel at peace taking a stroll here.
And if you’re lucky you might even make some friends. Though this one didn’t seem to friendly.
Search for Street Art
Melaka seems to joining in on the trend that has made Georgetown in northern Malaysia super popular – street art. There’s even a whole back lane which is covered in Georgetown-esk graffiti. Aside from that there are a ton of other cool street art installations like these ones we snapped!
The Jonker Street tour
More of a walk than a tour, you can find leaflets which will guide you down Jonker Street telling you all about the different buildings! We stuck to browsing and eating our way down this funky little street!
Visit the Portuguese Fort
As one of the oldest European buildings in Asia, the gate house of the Portuguese fort in Melaka has many tales to tell. The fort was first built when the Portuguese over threw the army of Melaka but over time change to the Dutch hands and then the British, who eventually ordered its demolition in the early 1800s. The gate house is free to climb onto and has some information boards to help you understand the history a bit better!
Okay so we didn’t actually go to any of the museums as none of them particularly tickled our fancy but there are a lot of them (apparently a whole 21!) so its worth considering them. Check out the different museums here.
Travelled November 2016 | Cost for 2 people for 1 nights and 1 days in Melaka
Prices are in both Malaysian Ringgit and British Pound, conversions are estimates based upon the current exchange rate.
|Total trip cost:||245RM||£44|
|Return bus to Melaka from KL||65RM||£11.67|
|Food and Drink||130RM||£23.35|
Yeah, thats right. £44 for two people. Because there weren’t any “attractions” which we had to pay to enter we were able to keep costs very low. In terms of costs here, our lunch and a couple of drinks we had late afternoon were pretty expensive so we couldn’t kept it even cheaper if we’d been wise picking!