Best of Melaka Travel in 1-day walkingJune 13, 2015
Melaka touches me with its mixture of culture where you can find traces of countries from the east (China and Japan) and west (Portugal, Spain and England). When I had a chance to travel to Melaka for a period of 3 days and 2 nights, I realized if I want to experience this place to the fullest, I had to make a good travel plan.
Ok, the first thing I need to do is to get an hotel at the center of Melaka City. I decided to choose the only 4-star heritage RC Hotel for its prime location along Melaka river. The room comfort, vintage decor, stunning river view and customized service is what makes it one of the best luxurious hotels in the heritage area.
The room rate during low seasons starts from RM268++. You may check the actual pricing and make the booking at Agoda’s RC Hotel page.
Since my plan is to make good use of my time on the second day, I decided to explore Melaka by foot for one whole day, but not just going chaotically from one place to another. So I made a detailed itinerary that guided me through the best of Melaka! The result is I visited them one by one and managed to cover all in just one day, from 9.10am to 10pm! It was a crazy day that filled my head with unforgettable and important details and information, but it was worth it!
Included in my list is 12 attractions and 3 eating places to be covered. Base on my research about Melaka, I made a travel plan consisting of the most important destinations.
The following is the summary of what I had visited and the actual timeline. It was a long fruitful day for me. I hope you’ll get some inspirations from reading my experience when you plan your next Melaka holiday.
Cheng Ho Cultural Museum
Menara Taming Sari
Flora de la Mar Maritime Museum
St. Paul’s Hill
Queen Victoria’s Fountain
Chung Wah Chicken Rice Balls
No. 8 Heeren Street Heritage Centre
Straits Chinese Jewellery Museum
San Shu Gong
The Baboon House
Jonker Street (Closed for vehicle traffic)
I had a wonderful sleep. Took my breakfast and started my expedition with my precious camera. My first destination is an award-winning museum called Cheng Ho Cultural Museum. It is about 100m from where I stayed.Without Cheng Ho (or Zheng He 郑和), Melaka would not be what it is like today so the understanding of this great man is a good way to start my first attraction of the day.Ticket, movie, a guide and 45 minutes were everything I needed to enjoy and understand the development of diplomatic relations between China and Melaka. The museum showcase Cheng Ho’s intelligence and incredible grasp of international relations. This very well put-together museum in an original and very large house made me understand why many of his soldiers and bodyguards married to locals. They eventually formed the Straits Chinese (Baba Nonya) community. Once again, this place is not to be missed, especially if you are a fan of history.
Learn about the man, Cheng Ho who visited Melaka 5 times during his 7 voyages.
My next destination, Menara Taming Sari is 700m away from Cheng Ho museum and took me 7 mins walk to reach. I bought a ticket, rented binoculars and couldn’t wait to have a bird’s eye view of Melaka. In the waiting area my excitement continue to rise. The sun shone brightly on the east side of the buildings; the weather was exceptionally clear and fine that I could even see the Sumatera Island when the revolving gyro reached the top. Many other major attractions around the city are all so near to each other. I really enjoy the spectacular panoramic view of Melaka City!
Most of the famous attractions are situated around Jonker Street. So I took a slow scroll to get there. On the way, I visited my third destination – Flora de la Mar Maritime Museum. This is a replica of a Portuguese ship that sank off the coast of Melaka. This impressive museum is a restored Portuguese ship. I bought a ticket of RM5 and started to count stairs. Quite a bit of stairs to negotiate so be prepared for that. I felt as though I was on the set of Pirates of the Caribbean. This is the museum that will tell you everything about the trading history of Melaka. It made for an educational visit. I could easily spent 1-2 hours there, but I had other attactions to discover.
Next in my must-go list was St. Paul’s Hill or Bukit St. Paul. About 500m from the maritime museum, there are quite a number of other museums along Jalan Kota. I picked a few and took pictures from the outside, just to have more authentic architectural photos.
Built in 1521, St. Paul Church was once a fort defense structure. St. Paul’s Hill was an important place on my plan because both the Portuguese and Dutch left their mark there. Stairs are a challenge and entrance is free. St. Paul’s Church is located on top of the hills that is partly preserved due to the war destruction. The Portugese tombstone inscription gives an insight to the history but it would be good if there is a guide to tell the story. There are great views of the city from the top and some interesting history billboard found on the way up and near the base of the hill. All in all I am happy because I managed to visit the highest travel point in Melaka.
It was 12 noon and I decided to go further to my next four destinations: Stadthuys, Christ Church, Red Square and Queen Victoria’s Fountain. All these attractions are located next to each other and are free of charge. I managed to explore them between 12:15am and 1:10pm.Stadthuys is also known as the Museum of History and Ethnography. It is the oldest Dutch colonial building in Southeast Asia. Strategically located at the center of Melaka, you you won’t skip this place if you travel to Melaka. It was a pity that there were restoration nettings covering the building. It must be quite charming when it is clean and not under construction. Besides its Dutch red exterior old style buildings there are traditional costumes, handicraft and souvenir shops around that you can do some shopping here.
Completed in 1753. the bricks used to build the church were specially shipped in from Holland. I was pretty impressed with the church itself. Unfortunately, the surrounding building was under construction so I couldn’t get a clear shot of the church. Despite the fact that Christ Church must be the most photographed item in Melaka it is forbidden to take photos inside. I wanted to make a few photos, but the cool and peaceful atmosphere stopped me. I am not a religious guy, but as soon as I entered this building I felt very good. It was the same emotion like when I held my son in my arms for the first time! It is an amazing and free place to visit! I gave nothing and received a lot!
On the way to Queen Victoria’s Fountain I took a lot of photos at the Red Square, also known as Dutch Square. It dated from the 17th century and reflects the history of Melaka from Dutch colonization till today. This place amazed me with its tourist density! The name says it all – yes, it’s red and always full of market stalls to check out and an amazing place to find out history of Melaka. Of course you can take photos ad-infinitum like I did – there are spectacular sights, colors, buildings, people, market stalls and those colorful trishaws. This place is really a throwback to the glory days of the Dutch empire.
You can’t miss the Queen Victoria’s fountain as it’s situated in the middle of Dutch Square. Built in 1904 by the Melaka people in memory of Queen Victoria Regina, it has been very well preserved and provides a good photo opportunity. The Britain commemorative tribute is also impressive. I have a childish tradition: every time I see a fountain I must make a wish and drop a coin in the water. This time wasn’t an exception. I made a wish and hope it will come true!
Time is ticking away and it was already 1:15pm. My stomach sent me a message, it was hungry! I made a short walk to the other side of the river and queued up for lunch at Chung Wah Chicken Rice Balls. This place is always busy and you’ll have to wait a bit until you get a table. The queue was long, about 30-40 pax and I waited around 30 minutes.I asked for a half steamed Hainanese-style chicken with rice balls and was amazed with the extraordinary taste of rice balls in which the rice was cooked with chicken broth. Of course I had to mixed the chicken with chili sauce. The taste is simply marvelous! The chicken is the tougher kampong chicken unlike the ones with softer texture I had a week ago in Singapore. It was the best chicken rice I’ve ever had so far comparing with the ones I did in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and also Penang. Tender and juicy chicken goes perfectly with flavorful rice balls. Yummy!Chung Wah Chicken Rice Ball’s business hours are between 7.30am and 3.00pm.
Talking about food, Melaka has some of the best in Malaysia. The editor of this website has done a good job introducing the top food you must try in Melaka. My 1-day holiday could only touch on a few but I am sure I’ll be back again just for the food!!
Leaving with a full stomach, my next destination is No. 8 Heeren Street Heritage Centre which is about 500m away. I took a nice walk along Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, until I found number 8 at around 2:45pm. From the outside it is easy to miss this place. Nothing much to see in the house but the interesting stories told is what worth the visit. The house is opened between 10am and 4pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays.There is no entrance fee but the staff is extremely friendly and welcoming to share their story. One of them, Mr. Goh, sat with me in the courtyard and he told me stories about the history of Melaka and the style of building they’re trying to preserve. It’s definitely worth a stop and there’s a donation jar in front to help these sweet people with their passion.
My watch showed 3.35pm and I followed the same route back until I reached Straits Chinese Jewellery Museum.Prepare to spend an hour at this place – you certainly can’t rush through your visit of this fascinating museum. I brought a RM20 adult ticket and was waiting a little bit before the guide started the tour. The guided tour normally takes about 30-45 mins to complete. But since I am very keen on the Baba-Nyonya culture, I ask a lot of questions and it is good that the tour guide is happy to share his knowledge.The tour was very insightful and informative. This is a living museum which pays tribute to the “Straits Chinese”, or Baba Nonya and the luxurious lifestyle they used to be leading through the jewelries and furniture display. It gave me a peek into peranakan living in the early days. The house is fascinating just to look at and the stories told make it much more interesting. It is such an enriching experience that it is worth the money.
Unlike Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum located at the front end of the road, photo shooting is permitted inside the Straits Chinese Jewelry Museum.
My head was spinning after I was bombarded with so much information so I decided to take a break in Jonker 88 for the famous cendol dessert.Again a very long queue was between me and my dessert! This was quite an experience for me! I stayed in line and waited for my turn to order Cendol. Then I carried the plastic tray with my dessert and walked through the crowded coffee shop trying to find an empty table. Oh, that was a delicious Cendol! Not too sweet, but rich and tasty with fine shaved ice, coconut milk and Gula Malacca.The decor of this restaurant is attractive with a lot to view on walls and surroundings. The indoor seats were fully occupied by people having their meals, so some guys ordered and sat at the park beside to enjoy it. After that they just went back to return the bowls. It shows how good the food is!
This restaurant also sells good nyonya food but it is the cendol that steals the limelight.
How can a trip be complete without shopping for local food stuff? Instead of shopping for souvenir, I chose to take a 5-minute walk to San Shu Gong shopping centre, located right at the mouth of Jonker Street. The shop sells a wide range of local delicacies such as dodol, durian cendol, cream puffs and much much more.Shopping for food stuff was one of the most memorable moment of my day! Staff was polite and friendly. There are over a hundred local delicacies and they offered many free samples for tasting and I just cannot walk away without buying anything. My friend visited this place and he filled up two baskets within minutes – prawn, crab, seaweed sesame crackers, cuttlefish crackers, dried and sweet cuttlefish, dried mangoes, wolf herring crackers, pickled cuttlefish, Gula Malacca, satay fish and white coffee. All these were fantastic gifts to bring home for friends.
The sky began to turn dark and after all the walking and shopping, I need to replenish my energy with a big meal. I walked a few minutes and reached my dinner destination: The Baboon House. I wasn’t in a hurry. Stayed there between 6:10pm and 7:30pm.This restaurant is a real gem! Its decor is like a polished garden. Some part of it looks like forest. the building structure is unmodified and remains the same Baba-Nonya old building, the environment is so relaxing with soft music. They (pretty much) only serve burgers, but these are among the best I’ve ever had on this planet! I had the pork and beef burger, it was so juicy and delicious! Food is homemade and reasonably priced. The staff is very friendly and attentive and the whole atmosphere is just wonderfully relaxing. Don’t miss the full-of-green lush back courtyard. Dubbed the best burger available in Melaka, they are well deserved it.The only drawback was that I was told not to take photos even if I was a customer.
Overall, it is a good place to spend your afternoon to chill out with friends or stay alone reading book. I swear I could have spent my whole day here if I had the luxury to travel for more days.
When I stepped out of the restaurant, I can feel the crowd building up at the other side of the street. I had done my research so I know what’s happening. The whole 500-meter Jonker Street was closed for traffic and stalls appeared selling fingerfood, local delicacies and interesting souvenirs. Although it caters to tourists, it retains its old charm in the midst of Melaka. You need to bargain, but most sellers are polite and will give you a good price.It is so vibrant at night and people are rushing in for many reasons. For me, it had been a long walk so I just picked a bar, sit down, relax and experience the hustle bustle of this street.I believe Jonker Street is easily the most popular place in the city of Melaka. All the best attractions and restaurants I visited today are within walking distant from the street. Find Jonker Street on the map and you’ll see the strategic location and it should be at the top of your “to-be-visited” list.
Lots of energy and excitement when Jonker Street was closed for traffic on certain hours from Friday to Sunday. This is my highlight of the day!
If you are a traveller and have only one day in a place, you got to pick the best to explore. The fruitful day I had in Melaka was my first such experience and it inspired me to go further! Right now I am working on my next city to explore in only one day, and truly to say I am very excited!
Melaka impressed me with everything! I managed to discover its past, its culture, its provenience and origins. I had a chance to speak with locals when I queued up for lunch, I had the pleasure to discuss with guides and asked them everything I didn’t know, I had the honor to debate with other tourists and, finally, I had the opportunity to travel to Melaka! Don’t hesitate and visit this wonderful city, it is worth your every second and penny!
How do you spend your day in Melaka? Feel free to share your travel experience by leaving your comment below.
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