From a great trading port to an irresistible city to visit.
Back in the 15th century, Melaka (or Malacca) was one of the greatest trading ports in Southeast Asia. Traders from around the globe with various interests stopped by this state before continuing their journey to other parts of Asia. Traders were not only from Asia, but also from Europe which at that time sailed to every corner of the world searching for exquisite, exclusive commodities such as spices, coffee and tea in the eastern countries.
Despite the emergence of Singapore as another trading port some time later, Malacca still played a prominent role in Asia. It was here in Malacca that colonial forces (Dutch, Portuguese, and British) first made contact with Malaysia and built their bases, which eventually shaped this country into what we see now.
As it combines influences from three distinct cultures (Dutch, Portuguese and British), Malacca is rich in architectural uniqueness. Everyone that visits Malacca will witness a perfect blend between Dutch, Portuguese, British, Peranakan and Malay ancient architecture.
Malacca nowadays barely changes. Its cultural heritage still charms millions of tourists who stop by, enjoying what was left from the old time.
Transportation to and from Malacca
By bus from Singapore + my experience
Myself and my buddy, Mak Sri, came to Malacca from Singapore by bus. The journey took about 4 hours, including the border checks. I found that buses were the most flexible way to reach Malacca not only because they are cheaper, but also because the buses are available every 15-20 minutes from Singapore. Moreover, we weren’t in rush and could spend more time on the journey.
The tickets could be bought at this site: www.easybook.com. After paying, you will get the printable ticket that has information about where to go, what time and also the phone number you can contact in case something happens.
In my experience, the last point I mentioned was useless. Most of the tour operators open at 9am. It’s impossible to call them, especially if your bus departs earlier than their opening hours. So instead, we followed our instinct and the information on the ticket, we went to Katong Mall, where there was nobody but us and some workers who were getting ready to start their day. We went around the building, checking every corner of the mall in case there was a hidden bus stop, but all in vain. We sat down at the bus stop in front of the mall, then restlessly went back to the mall and tried to figure out what was happening by calling their number and looking for their office, which is located on the second floor of Katong Mall.
As a person who is aware of technology, I googled some sites, hoping to find one bit of useful advice. Instead of good news, I just read negative feedback about this bus. Some even complained that the bus left them without any notice, some were so mad they couldn’t say anything and only one person gave good feedback.
I decided to stop consulting Google.
After some hours behaving like vagabonds, an idea suddenly crossed our mind: we asked every worker that passed us. It seemed like a really stupid idea but at the time, but it turned out that it was a good idea. A friendly uncle with a big smile on his face guided us to the back part of the building. We moved forward hesitantly since we didn’t see a path to it. However, the uncle shouted to us, and encouraged us to use a small hidden path to the back parking lot. Voila! The bus had just arrived.
After checking our ticket and telling us where to put our baggage, the driver ordered us to get on the bus. In minutes, we departed to Malacca.
Imagine if we had arrived late, the bus would have gone without us and we would have each said goodbye to our 25 dollar tickets.
Other bus operators: Luxury Couch, Starmart Express, WTS Travel and Tours, The One Travel and Tours.
Air Asia is the biggest budget airline company in Southeast Asia and is owned by Malaysia. That's why nobody should worry about how to travel to Malacca by plane. Air Asia provides non-stop flights from Kuala Lumpur, or from some countries (such as Indonesia) directly to Malacca.
The best time to go to Malacca
Malaysia is just like us, blessed with a tropical monsoon climate. This means that we experience warm temperatures throughout the year, have 6 months of full-on sunshine and another 6 months of abundant rainfall that might impede your journey. The wet season starts in September and goes through March and the dry season starts in March and lasts until August.
We came at the end of October. The weather was not too bad; it rained for a couple minutes and wasn’t too heavy.
What to visit
Malacca offers a smattering of historical landmarks, museums and traditional shops to visit. Here are my recommendations with some brief explanations (you can read further in my next posts):
If you want to be involved in the bustle of the city, choose Saturday or Sunday for your visit in Malacca. Beside shops, Jonker Street is renowned for its ancient architecture. At the end of the street, you will find some famous landmarks of Malacca such as Stadhuys and so forth. I recommend you stay in this area. This street offers a wide choice of restaurants and budget hotels as well.
Christ Church Malacca
This church was built by the Dutch when they took possession of Malacca from the Portuguese and now it stands as the most well-known landmark of Malacca.
Stadthuys was once the official residence of Dutch governors and officers. This massive, bright, terracotta red building is heralded as the oldest-surviving Dutch building in the East.
St. Paul’s Church
Visiting this church requires your effort and will. A big will - especially if you're not the most athletic type of person. You need to climb up a hill named Bukit Cina, which is actually the oldest and biggest ancestral burial ground outside China.
Judging from its name, you know this fort once belonged to the Portuguese. The remains of the fort are now a preserved gatehouse and located downhill from St. Paul’s Church.
Melaka Sultanate Place
Melaka Sultanate Place is actually a wooden replica of Sultan Mansur Shah’s palace in the 15th century. It’s one of the most visited places in Malacca.
My brief point of view about Malacca
You can skip this part of course, because here I will just go on and on about how much I like Malacca and what impression I got on my first visit.
After visiting other cities in Malaysia such as Johor, Penang and Kuala Lumpur, I don’t think it’s wise to compare those cities just at a glace. Maybe later, when I’ve visited every corner of Malaysia. Still I have chosen Malacca as my favorite city in Malaysia. The people are nice, the price is really budget friendly compared to Kuala Lumpur and the atmosphere is perfect for having a peaceful time, getting away from the hurly burly of the capital. If I have time and opportunity in the future, I will definitely come to Malacca again.