When in Malaysia: Malacca

Malaysia has been my frequent transfer hub in Asia, but I hardly had the chance to explore it. This is why after backpacking Laos and had a connecting flight in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, I decided to exit the airport to explore one of the Malaysian cities: Malacca.
Little did I know that Malacca (or Melaka in Malay) is more than just about the Malaccan trade that I last heard from history class. Aside from being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Malacca is well-visited for its relaxing atmosphere and cool vibe. It's also very accessible as it's only 2.5 hours away from Kuala Lumpur.

Malacca boasts numerous well-preserved buildings and sites. It's a small area, so a common way to move around is by walking or renting a bicycle. While some travelers only spend day tour in Malacca, I explored the city in 3 days and covered everything. Here are the highlights:

Street art and riverside

There are 2 things that make Malacca a relaxed city with a cool vibe. First, street art is very consistent throughout Malacca. Almost all buildings are painted in vivid colors, making it very popular on Instagram and among photo enthusiasts. Some walls were even designed by famed artists in Malaysia.
Second is that Malacca is surrounded by the Melaka River, which offers a very relaxing view. A good way to enjoy the riverside view is to get an accommodation by the river. There are several accommodations offered in that area from big and chain hotels to guest houses. I myself stayed in one, at Riversong Residence which is a cheap family-ran guest house near Jonker Street.
River cruises are also offered, which is another popular activity when in Malacca.

A Famosa

Malacca was first occupied by the Portuguese. When they won over Malaccan sultanate in the 1500s, Portugal established bases and fortresses in this land. With Malacca situated in the coastal area of Malaysia, it was the perfect place to link Portugal to China where they acquired different spices being one of the most in-demand industries back in the day.
A Famosa is one of the fortresses built by the Portuguese. However, due to the war and test of time, the only remaining part of the fortress is a small gate house, called the Porta de Santiago. The structure reminded me so much of walled city Intramuros in Manila.
At the top of Porta de Santiago is a hill where stands St. Paul’s Church, a chapel built by Portuguese nobleman Duerte Coelho in veneration of Nossa Senhora da Annunciada or the Virgin Mary. It's where the statue of St Francis Xavier can be found. He was the Jesuit missionary who became the pillar of the religious congregation Society of Jesus in Malacca.
Also, there's a small open-air museum in the church that contains old Portuguese tombstones.

Church of St. Francis Xavier

With the spread of Catholicism brought by the Portuguese, Catholic churches also sprung across the city. For one, the Church of St. Francis Xavier was one of the earliest churches built in Malacca.
From the outside, it's an eye-catcher for its unique neo-gothic style of architecture. Inside, it presents a typical Catholic church where Holy Mass is still being held regularly.

Christ Church Melaka

After the Portuguese era in Malacca, the Dutch came who conquered Malacca next. With this, the religion in Malacca slowly changed from Roman Catholicism to Dutch Reformed (also known as Protestantism) that came from the Dutch.

The Christ Church Melaka is just one of the remnants of the Dutch era. It's an Anglican type of church built to strengthen the teachings of Dutch Reformed in Malacca.

Dutch Square

When arriving Malacca, the Dutch Square is perhaps where you'll be dropped off as it represents the downtown and where kilometer 0 is located at.

This building is called Stadthuys, a former residence of the Dutch governors. Stadthuys was patterned next to a traditional 17th century Dutch municipal hall.

All these buildings are trademark Dutch architecture. They were made up of laterite, a component that contributes to the buildings' reddish color.

Riding a trishaw is a popular activity when in Malacca. They're colorful, glowing, and accompanied by loud novelty music. These trishaws are usually parked around Dutch Square, but you can easily see one at any point in Malacca.

Jonker Walk

If you want to experience the night life in Malacca, then head to Jonker Walk. This place is known as the night market where people go from 7PM onwards to eat cheap street food and bargain for different items.
This street is located in China Town area. Back then, it was where merchants used lived, so when you walk along Jonker Street, you'll notice several ancestral houses that people have managed to preserve especially the exteriors. In the smaller alleys of the area, there are more old houses that now serve as guest houses and coffee shops.

Taming Sari Tower

The Taming Sari Tower is a revolving tower that offers a 360-degree view of Malacca. It stands 80 meters that can carry up to 66 passengers. A 7-minute ride costs MYR 23 for adults and 15 MYR for children below 12 years old.

Maritime Museum

Also known as the Flor de La Mar, the Maritime Museum was built like a huge Portuguese ship. This attraction is walking distance from Stadthuys and a few steps away from the ticket counter of the Malacca river cruise. It houses different collections related to the maritime history of Malacca. There is also a display of different ship models for ship collectors. Entrance is 3 MYR (0.67 USD) for adults and 1 MYR (0.22 USD) for children below 12 years old.

How to get to Malacca

Buses to Malacca are available daily in Kuala Lumpur. To catch the bus, head to Bandar Tasik Selatan (also known as Terminal Bersepadu Selatan), which is one of the centralized bus stations in Kuala Lumpur. Aside from buses, different train lines are also connected here.

Several bus companies serve the Kuala Lumpur-Malacca route. KKKL Bus Liner is one of them. The bus departure is every 30 minutes so there's no need to book in advance.

In my case, I just bought a one-way ticket at the counter for MYR 13.40 (USD 3).
Once in Malacca, the bus stops at Melaka Sentral, the central bus station of the city. To get to Dutch Square or downtown area, you can either get a taxi or a local bus.

Since I found the latter cheaper (it only costs me MYR 1.5), I took the local bus at Melaka Sentral. This bus is at the opposite part of Melaka Sentral. Just look for the dedicated bay or local buses going to Dutch Square. From Melaka Sentral, it only takes 10-15 minutes to get to Dutch Square.

When in Malaysia: Malacca When in Malaysia: Malacca Reviewed by Shelly Viajera Travel on 21.12.16 Rating: 5
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