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The Best Reasons To Visit Melaka
The best reasons to visit Malacca, Malaysia
The historical city of Melaka, or Malacca as it is more commonly written in the west, is a historic city on the south west coast of Malaysia. I would like to share with you the best reasons to visit Melaka, the sites most worth seeing and, in my opinion, the best hotel to stay in.
I lived in Malaysia for two years and the attractions and hotels that I am recommending in this review of Malacca are all places that I have personally visited.
With UNESCO protection there are plenty of historical and interesting places to go in Melaka, and it makes the perfect destination as part of a tour of Malaysia.
Situated just north of the Equator, Malaysia's climate makes it an ideal destination for a winter holiday in the sun.
I hope that my personal recommendations of the best reasons to visit Malacca, the most interesting sites and the best hotels will help you to plan the holiday of a lifetime.
Travelling to Melacca
Situated on the south eastern coast of Malaysia, facing the Indonesian island of Sumatra across the Straits of Melaka, is the colonial city of Melaka.
Melaka is ninety two miles south west of Malaysia's capital city Kuala Lumpur, seventy eight miles south west of Kuala Lumpur's international airport and one hundred and forty seven miles north west of Singapore, which means that it is not difficult for travellers to visit.
Although Melaccaa has an international airport it is not possible to fly directly there from other Malaysian cities or from Singapore.
Do not be put off by this, as buses travel to Melaka regularly from KL and Singapore, taxi travel is comparatively cheap in Malaysia, and you might be able to arrange to share a taxi or negotiate a reasonable fare.
An Introduction to Melakan History
Melaka was founded sometime around 1400 by Parameswara, an Indonesian prince, and at the pinnacle of its power the Sultanate of Malacca ruled over the whole of the Malaysian peninsula and the neighbouring island of Sumatra.
Starting out out as a small fishing village, Melaka developed to become one of the major centres of the spice trade. It was an important link between the spice traders in the East and the merchants in the West.
However, the immense power that the Sultan of Melaka wielded lasted for less than a century.
The Portuguese arrived in Melaka in 1511, and they used the city as a trading post until 1641 when they surrendered to the Dutch. This signalled the beginning of the decline of Melaka's importance, due mainly to the Dutch preference of using Sumatra as its main trading post and the gradual silting up of the port.
In 1795 Holland was occupied by France and they allowed Britain to assume control of Melaka. The British took formal control in 1824, and Melaka's demise was rubber stamped as Penang and Singapore became the centre of British trade in Southeast Asia.
The decline of Melaka had a plus side, as with the later decline of Penang. Melaka and Penang became largely forgotten, and instead of the colonial heritage being demolished or modernised it was allowed to slowly decay. It was this negligence that allowed the historical parts of the cities to survive and they eventually obtained joint UNESCO World Heritage protection in 2008.
Visit Historical Melaka
Melaka is UNESCO Protected
UNESCO City Since 2008
The Malaysian cities of Melaka and George Town are both cities that are rich in the history in history, with the Asian and European influences leaving them with a unique heritage.
Melaka has many buildings from the Colonial period, including churches and government buildings, with many of them remaining from the Dutch and Portuguese period in the 16th century.
Melaka first made a move towards conservation in the late 1970s, and started to protect its historical buildings, and eventually obtained joint UNESCO World Heritage protection, along with George Town, in 2008.
The UNESCO listing has encouraged Meleka to smarten up the the area around the river. This has now been turned it into a heritage area and buildings are being renovated to strict standards. The river itself has also had a make over. Where it was once a muddy mess, it is now much cleaner, due to a new barage system.
Melaka is home to many distinctive tall and narrow Dutch colonial houses, and these too are being renovated. Many of the renovated buildings are open to the public, such as the Puri hotel that I review a little later.
Melaka UNESCO Heritage Site Tour Video
The Historical Center
Traditionally melting pot of Asian and European influences, Melaka has a thriving historical centre, that is still being renovated.
At the centre of the area is The Stadthuys, an imposing reminder of the Dutch time in Melaka. It was completed in the 1660, and used to be the town hall and governors' residence. Today it is home to several museums and art galleries, and believed to be the oldest example of Dutch colonial architecture in the Far East. The admission price is RM5 for adults and RM2 for children, and it is open daily between the hours of 9am and 530pm
The heritage area encompasses Jonker St, the area adjacent to the river and around the Stadthuys. There are many buildings worth visiting, such as St Paul's church, a 16th century Portuguese building. The area around Jonker and Heeren streets, to the west of the river is a maze of narrow streets, decorated houses, boutique shops, mosques and temples.
Malacca River Cruise
The once murky Malacca river has been cleaned up, and is now at the centre of the City's heritage zone.
Boat trips are available and the guides are knowledgeable about the history of Melaka and will be only to happy to share this with you. They leave from the Melaka River jetty which is situated in front of the Quayside Heritage Centre.
There are many interesting sights that the guide will point out to you, but for us the highlight was seeing the monitor lizards swimming in the river and lazing on the embankments. It is quite unnerving the first time one glides past the boat, with just its eyes protruding from the water, because at first glance you would almost think it was a crocodile!
Departures leave half hourly from 9am to 11.30pm, they last for about 45 minutes and cost RM10 for adults and RM5 for children.
Melaka river cruise, by day and night
Enjoy A Trishaw Tour
Enjoy A Trishaw Tour
The trishhaws that ply their trade in Melaka are totally different to the ones found in George Town. Firstly they are brightly painted and adorned with advertising and flowers; secondly they have a music system attached to them, which blares out a constant stream of popular music.
A popular place for you to find a trishaw is in the square outside the Dutch Colonial Stadthuys.
I did not actually take a ride myself, but they are definitely worth looking at. If you are feeling brave and have an hour or two to spare then take a tour.
Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum
Malacca Trishaw Ride at Night
The Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum is situated at 48-50 Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock.
The building was built during the Dutch colonial period and was the former home of the Baba Chan family.
Baba-Nyonya, also known as Peranakan or Straits Chinese, are the descendants of the Chinese who moved to what is now Malaysia during the 15th and 16th centuries. They assimilated themselves into the Malay culture, often by intermarrying with the local Malays.
Baba is the name given to the Peranakan male and Nyonya is the name given to the Peranakan female.
The museum is packed with interesting artefacts from the colonial period and I would definitely recommend a visit, espescially if you have not visited similar museums in Penang or Singapore.
Tour Times: Monday - Saturdays, 10am - 1pm (last morning tour 11:45am), 2pm - 5pm (last evening tour 3:45pm)
Melaka Has Amazing Boutique Hotels
Amazing Boutique Hotels
The Hotel Puri is a boutique hotel situated in a converted shop house, in one of Melaka's oldest streets, Heeren Street, which is within easy walking distance of all the downtown attractions.
Do not be deceived into thinking that this is a small hotel. Despite its narrow frontage it easily accommodates seventy three bedrooms and 9 suites over three floors.
Malaysian shop houses are traditionally built with a narrow frontage, but the actual building goes back a long way. These buildings are traditionally built around an internal courtyard, which, along with internal air shafts, would be used to provide light and ventilation.
The building that the Hotel Puri is in dates back to the early nineteenth century and originally belonged to a third generation Chinese Malay called Tan Kin Seng. Tan was a wealthy businessman who left his Malaccan birthplace to move to Singapore. However, he did not forget his place of birth and can be remembered by such structures as Kim Seng Clock Tower and the Malacca Kim Seng Bridge.
This hotel is filled with antiques and memorabilia and has beautiful gardens where you can sit and enjoy an evening cocktail or meal.
All rooms are en-suite and have air conditioning - which provides a pleasant respite from the constant humidity and tropical heat. w-ifi is provided in the communal ground floor areas.
I spent my 40th birthday here and was very impressed with the hotel, and with Melaka.
Hotel Puri Video Guide
5 Of The Best Boutique Hotels in Malacca
- Courtyard @ Heeren
91 Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia "15 Unique, Stylish, and Comfortable rooms at an attractive rate."
- Jonker Boutique Hotel
82 -86A & B, Jalan Tokong, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia "Jonker Boutique Hotel is located right on Jonker Walk itself, all major tourist attractions are at your doorstep."
- The Baba House
121-127 - Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock,Malacca, Malacca, 75200, Malaysia "Housed in a historic building showcasing traditional Peranakan culture."
- Ginger Flower Boutique Hotel (Facebook Page)
13 Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, 75200 Melaka "A small beautiful boutique hotel in a tastefully restored Peranakan townhouse"
- Quayside Hotel
1 Jalan Merdeka, Melaka, Melaka 75000 "With UNESCO World Heritage status, the building itself was once a customs warehouse."