I have to admit, Melaka seemed kinda weird when we first arrived. It’s such a mash up of cultures and we wandered around a bit perplexed for the first day or so. Having said that, Thijs and I both loved it and ended up staying longer than planned. Even though we were very hot and sweaty on most days we managed to squeeze in a lot of activities!
How to get there: we took the bus from KL down to Melaka and it only took around 2 hours. We then took grab through town from the bus station to our accommodation.
Where to stay: We stayed at a guest house when we first arrived and then moved to Ringo’s Foyer. Ringo’s is a hostel full or surprises; capsule dorms, private rooms, a library and a fantastic rooftop adorned with plants, international flags, beers and games. I definitely recommend staying here – we had a great time and it does seem to be the best spot for meeting fellow Melaka travellers!
Here’s a run down on my favourite things to do in this culturally diverse, and surprising city:
- Check out the street art – wander down the river and Melaka is challenging Penang for its interesting street art, beautiful murals and impressive colours.
- Take a chilled river cruise – take the river boat down to see the arty sights, or take during the night for the lights that highlight the winding riverbanks of the Melacca River.
- Climb up Bukit Cina – this ancient Chinese cemetery is worth a wander through for views across the city and a chill out with a view.
- Sip cocktails at the tallest rooftop bar – head to The Shore Hotel rooftop bar for happy hour (until 9pm), and see the city light up below you.
- Wander through Chinatown – take in the smells, the shops and the excitement once you hit Jonker Walk!
- Bargain at the weekend market on Jonker Walk – a lot of the stalls are items from the local shops which means you don’t miss out too much during the week. Fun to try the street food and get a bargain of course.
- Go cycling – not keen on walking around? Pick up a bike at ‘JT Mart’ for a couple of quid and cycle your way around, perfect to explore a little bit further out of the main town.
- Visit Cheng Hoon Teng Temple – ‘Green Clouds Temple’ in Chinatown was built in 1673 and is the oldest functioning temple in the country! Every aspect of the temple tells the story of the Chinese in Melaka; their lives, beliefs and concerns.
- Drink tiger beers at very small local bars – after dinner one night we ended up in this old guy’s kind of front room, there was tables and he was serving beer, the two things you need for a bar! Try the road parallel to Jonker Walk for ‘Jalan Tokong’ to find this guy plus “Let it be” another front room kinda bar place where you can play pool and drink beers for cheap! There’s loads of bars on the river but they’re MUCH more expensive, I fully recommend supporting small local businesses haha!
- Get a Lebanese wrap at Monkey Motel & Cafe – cooked fresh, and can take a while but totally worth it. Beef, veggie and chicken options available with mouthwatering flavours and they’re really cheap too.
- Drool over chicken rice balls – there’s a few spots but Nasi Ayam Hoe Kee, just near the river end of Jonker Walk does an amazing one with decent chilli sauce too for about 12 Ringit per person. Loads of chicken, sauce, cucumber and rice balls – dig in.
- Enjoy a warm Portuguese egg tart – is course there’s Portuguese influence here too haha! If you know, you know.
- Check out the mix of history – see the Stadthuys, Dutch graveyard, St Paul’s Church, A Famosa and many more historical spots that bring to life the mixture of cultural and historical influence here in Melaka.
- Go shopping – I loved all the shops here, especially the clothes. There’s a few more expensive spots, but it’s easy to find a bargain to.
- Explore the culinary delights of Little India – venture outside of Chinatown and the main centre for a variety of curry options, beautiful colours in shop windows and a totally different atmosphere, right around the corner.
- Explore abandoned areas – whilst cruising down the river we noticed a tall abandoned clock tower, naturally we were keen to check it out. It was here we found an old factory and building which had a load of old toilets in – would LOVE to know what went on on there but sadly no-one that passed by really knew!
- Get your sweat on at the gym – Boon Leong Gym has no AC and you can’t use the treadmill for more than 15 mins (I assume it’s cos you’ll pass out), however it’s cheap (5 ringit, about a pound) and great for a travel workout. Follow it with…
- A cool down at the local swimming pool – just near to the Menara Viewing tower there’s a local swimming pool. Again 5R (£1 ish) to use and really fun, plenty of locals too who love coming for a chat and asking where you’re from.
There’s actually a lot of other stuff to do in Melaka too but we didn’t quite make it all. As you know, I like to write about what I’ve experienced myself, but check out this list too for other ideas.
Read more about Malaysia:
- How to escape city chaos in KL
- 24 hours in the Cameron Highlands
- How to experience Penang
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