14 Sep Melaka (Malacca) weekend trip
Melaka (Malacca) city is the capital of the Malaysian state Melaka. Located on the coast, it was once an important trading port in Southeast Asia and shows history of Portuguese, Dutch and British rulings. In 2008 the historic centre was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We went to Melaka for a weekend trip, staying Friday and Saturday nights. It seems to be busy with day trippers so I suggest you stay at least one night and the weekend is great because thats when the night market is held.
Getting to Melaka
Melaka was part of our self driving Malaysia trip. We came to Melaka from Ipoh which was just over 4 hours driving. After Melaka we returned our car to Senai Airport in Johor which was a bit over 2 hours driving. You can get a bus to Melaka from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Johor Bahru.
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Hotel in Melaka
For our Melaka weekend trip we stayed two nights at The Ibis Melaka. We booked the family room which had a queen and a single bed. It was a good size room with a little couch which could be set up as an extra bed. We were able to park the car in a space around the back for no extra cost. We had breakfast at the hotel both mornings, it was nothing special but super cheap with Tim’s accor card. The best part was it was a 550 metre walk to the Dutch Square. It was a nice walk through Melaka’s Little India.
What to see / do in Melaka (Malacca)
What we did
We had two nights and one full day in Melaka. Starting and ending at the hotel we walked to all the sights.
Melaka’s Jonker street is part of Chinatown and full of shops and restaurants. On Fridays and Saturdays there is a night market held in Jonker Walk. We walked through the market after dining nearby, it was early and already getting busy. It was fun to see all the different things. We found it interesting to see Milo drinks and treats being sold at stalls. Milo is a chocolate malt powder that was developed in Australia but seems to be more popular in Malaysia.
St. Paul’s Church
An uphill walk to St Paul’s hill brings you to the ruins of St Paul’s Church. The high spot gives a great view out over Melaka. St Paul’s Church was originally built in 1521 by a Portugese captain. Standing in front is a marble statue of St Francis Xavier who regularly visited the church. Inside a hole covered with wire is the open grave where his body was buried temporarily before being transported to Goa. Along the walls you can see engraved dutch tombstones. Outside of the ruins there are people with stalls selling souvenirs, paintings, toys and drinks.
Located downhill from St Paul’s church is A’Famosa Fort. Built in 1511 as a fortress that covered the entire hill. Over Melaka’s history the fortress belonged to The Portuguese, The Dutch and The British. What stands now was once a gatehouse.
Red coloured colonial buildings fill Melaka’s Dutch Square. Believed to be the oldest Dutch building in the East, The Stadthuys was used by the Dutch as a residence for governors and a town hall by the British.
Christ Church was completed in 1753 and marked the centenary of the Dutch capture of Melaka from the Portuguese. As well as the Dutch constructed buildings there is also Tan Beng Swee Clock Tower that was built by Chinese and Queen Victoria Fountain that was placed during British rule.
Melaka’s Dutch Square is the most touristy part of the city. Groups were getting off busses when we walked by in the morning and when we returned it was packed full of people taking photos. Here you will find Melaka’s famous trishaws lined up, decorated with characters and playing loud music. I thought it would be fun to take the kids for a ride but the drivers were wanting to do full tours to all the sites we had already visited.
The Melaka river is across from The Dutch Square. Lining the river are restaurants, little old buildings and some beautiful street art. There are boats offering cruises up the river but we enjoyed walking along it. With Dutch Square full of people, we escaped the crowds and strolled along the river, barely seeing another person, it was so peaceful. We also walked along it at night before finding somewhere for dinner.
Melaka Street Art
Other attractions in Melaka
There is quite a lot in Melaka for a small city, If you have more time here are some other attractions in Melaka:
Melaka Straits Mosque
Melaka Straits Mosque is built on stilts over the water and is also known as the floating mosque. It’s located on a man-made island just outside of Melaka city. We were going to drive there but the traffic through Melaka was really busy and we’d had a full day so decided to give it a miss. I have seen some beautiful photos of it at sunset.
Melaka Menara Taming Sari
A 110 metre high revolving tower with 360 degree views over Melaka. Check admission info here. We could see the tower standing tall over the city when we looked out from St Paul’s Hill.
Melaka Maritime Museum
When visiting A’Famosa Fort the kids spotted a large ship across the road. It was a replica of The Flor de la Mar, a Portuguese ship that sank off the coast of Melaka. The ship houses the Melaka Maritime Museum which showcases the different eras as well as Melaka’s Maritime history.
Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum
A house made up of three terraces, lived in by four generations of the Chan family and now open as a Museum. It offers a look into the Peranankan Culture. “The name of the museum is derived from the term Baba, an honorific manner of addressing a Straits-born gentleman and Nyonya which addresses a Straits-born lady.” Read more about it and book a tour on the museum website.
Eating in Melaka
We stayed in Melaka for two nights and while there we enjoyed some great food. Melaka has a fantastic food scene. During our weekend in Melaka we ate at these places:
Geographer Cafe: A large corner restaurant with open walls. The kids had satay sticks, Tim had chilli chicken stir-fry and I had the Jonker fried rice which had a whole fried egg and small satay sticks. Service was quick and we all enjoyed our meals.
The Baboon House: A cafe with a beautiful interior and delicious hamburgers. I am not a hamburger fan but the one I had here was soo good! The potato salad side was yummy too. The kids shared a BLT after the waitress let me know they were quite big.
Calanthe Art Cafe: we didn’t eat here although it too looks cool, we got a wonderfully strong take away iced coffee.
River View Cafe: We went out for dinner pretty early so it was hard to judge what was good based on how busy they were. River View Cafe had seats outside by the river. We chose to dine inside as there were dark clouds rolling in. The inside is quite small and we were at first the only diners. The kids had fried calamari and Tim and I both had Beef Rendang which was full of flavour and spice and packed a fair bit of heat.
Melaka with kids
We visited Melaka with our two children aged 6 and 2.5 years old. Although we didn’t do anything specifically kid related, they both enjoyed Melaka. The historical buildings were great for exploring, the river provided a wonderful atmosphere, food was great and the street art was colourful and fun. We didn’t use our stroller in Melaka, we carried our youngest when walking on roads and other areas were safe for him to walk. We think Melaka is a great place for families to visit in Malaysia.
Book your Melaka weekend trip!