There are many things to do in Melaka as it is one of the largest and most popular places to travel around Malaysia. The Portuguese influence in the city’s buildings and architecture are still very evident, especially in the churches all around the city.
And like everywhere in Malaysia, the food is also very diverse, so there are many choices for tourists to enjoy. From Chinese to Malay to Hindu influences, Melaka’s culture is truly one of a kind. We will discover for you in our Melaka travel guide.
Melaka (also spelled as Malacca) is the capital city of the state of Malacca and has a very rich background, with influences from the British, Portuguese and Dutch still seen and felt everywhere in the city today. In this blog post, we will tell you all about Melaka and the many reasons why we fell in love with this historic and cultural treasure.
Melaka Travel Guide
How to get to Melaka
How to get to Melaka by plane
You can fly directly to Malacca International Airport which is only 10 km away from the city center. There are regular flights coming in from foreign locations like Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh City, Pekanbaru and other Malaysian cities like Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Subang.
Travelers can also reach Melaka from Kuala Lumpur International Airport as it is just 1.5-2 hours away from the city. The airport receives flights from all over Asia and the entire world.
How to get to Melaka by bus
If you’re coming from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or other parts of Peninsular Malaysia, Melaka Sentral Bus Terminal is the reception area of long distance express buses. 707 Express, Delima Express and Transnasional are the most well known bus operators that travel to Melaka.
A trip from Singapore to Melaka costs around 13-22 MYR and can take up to 5 hours. Traveling from Kuala Lumpur only takes 2 hours and costs approximately 10-12 MYR.
How to get to Melaka by boat
Daily ferries from different parts of Indonesia make their way to Taman Melaka Raya’s port, Jeti Shahbandar. Harbour Master’s jetty can be found near the Maritime Museum and can be accessed by those in Melaka through Malacca Town Bus No. 17.
Those traveling from Bengkalis can pay up to 50 MYR for a one-way ticket while traveling from Dumai costs 110 MYR and lasts around 2 hours. Those coming from Pekanbaru are in for a long ride as the journey to Melaka can take up to 6 hours but only costs 120 MYR.
Best time to visit Melaka
If you’re thinking of going to Melaka, the weather is a big consideration as you don’t want to go when it gets too hot or too rainy. It’s easier and more fun to explore the city on its drier and cooler months, so the best time to visit Melaka is from April to early May.
The month of October also has good weather, while June to August is the low season for Melaka so you can expect great hotel deals during those months.
Transportation around Melaka
While Melaka is a pretty big city to explore, you can still go around by foot if you’d like. If not, there are many public transportation options to help you move around this historic metropolis.
Transportation by monorail
Melaka’s monorail system has a complicated past but it has been improved and optimized for the convenience and safety of its passengers. It has been fully operational since 2007 and has daily trips from 10 AM to 10 PM on weekdays and extends until 12 AM on weekends. Tickets cost 10 MYR ($2.50 USD) for a 30 minute ride from Taman Rempah to the Hang Tuah Station in Jalan Bunga Raya.
Transportation by bus
There are different kinds of buses that leave from Melaka Sentral Bus Terminal to certain destinations along several routes in Melaka. Malacca Town Bus No. 17 is famous among tourists as it goes to the historic centre and the Portuguese settlement in the city.
A trip on Bus No. 17 costs 1 MYR for a 15 to 20 minute ride. Those traveling to the west of Melaka passing through Plaza Hang Tuah and Jalan Tengkera should ride Bus No. 18. On the other hand, Melaka Zoo can be reached through Bus No. 19.
Transportation by taxi
A convenient yet relatively more expensive way to travel is by taking a taxi around Melaka. Taxis can also be found in Melaka Sentral but many advice against dealing with local drivers as they can be rude and charge too high. Thanks to Uber and Grab, there are better ways to travel in style. Make sure to download those apps before your trip to Melaka!
Transportation by bicycle
If you love cycling, you’ll surely enjoy going around Melaka on a bicycle. The city has safe internal roads that you can use and you can easily rent one from your hostel or homestay.
You can even join a cycling tour group to meet fellow riders and get to know the city without spending too much on transportation. In 2016, Melaka even started a bikeshare system where you can register online and unlock a bike with a code sent to your e-mail!
ATMs and Currency in Melaka
It’s much easier to track your expenses if you keep in mind the exchange rate of Melaka’s currency is compared to your country. As an example, $1 USD = 4 MYR, more or less. Click here to see the exact exchange rate of MYR to your currency.
For those who are wondering if there are any ATMs in Melaka, well, of course there are! After all, Melaka is one of the top destinations in Malaysia so it’s possible to withdraw money if ever you run out of cash. Some popular banks in Malaysia include HSBC, Maybank, and United Overseas Bank.
Daily budget travel in Melaka
There are many ways to spend your money in Melaka, depending on what you do, where you sleep and where you eat. If you’re a budget traveler like us and love doing as the locals do, you can have an authentic meal at Hawker centre or in food courts for 5-15 MYR.
If you have more money to spare for food, you can go to a mid-range restaurant and have a meal for around 30-55 MYR ($7.30-13.40 USD). Add a bottle of domestic beer for 7-18 MYR and you’re all set!
Those traveling around Melaka on the bus can expect to pay as low as 5 MYR for a one-way ticket or 50-150 MYR for a monthly pass if you’re staying longer. A one-hour ride on the colorful trishaws of Melaka cost 40 MYR. Finally, the flat rate for a taxi costs around 3-4 MYR and adds around 2 MYR on your bill per kilometer.
All sorts of accommodations can also be found in Melaka. There are dorm beds available for 40-80 MYR while a mid-range hotel may charge 30-55 MYR for a double room. On the other hand, house rentals and luxurious double rooms can be afforded at 500-1,000 MYR.
Things To Do In Melaka
1. Explore A Famosa Puerta de Santiago
Walking around A Famosa is a must while visiting Melaka. It’s full of life and there are many tourists exploring the area, eager for the Melaka local experience. If you don’t feel like walking around, you can choose and ride one of the colorful rickshaws to explore the whole area. And yes, you’ll be riding with background music! It was one of our favorite things to do in Melaka we walked daily around this place.
2. Visit St Paul´s Church
From A Famosa, you need to walk a few flights of stairs to see the St. Paul Church. It was built in 1521 and it’s the oldest church in Malaysia and Southeast Asia. There are people selling souvenirs and you can enjoy the views from the hill. Go for the sunset and you will have great views.
3. Chase the Sunset
We’ve made it pretty obvious in a lot of our shares that we are sunset lovers. We always try to catch one, if we can. While visiting Melaka, we watched the sunset everyday: from the hill in St Paul’s Church, from the Alto Sky Lounge in Hatten Hotel and from the Melaka Straits Mosque. We got to say that all were unique on their own, but each one pretty spectacular.
4. Rent a Rickshaw visiting Melaka
Yes! Cycling around Melaka is possible and it allows you to cover long distances compared to walking. There isn’t too much traffic, it’s flat and you can move faster to the main attractions. Rickshaw are so colorful and cheerful with their music.
5. Visit Melaka Straits Mosque
The Mosque is little bit far from city center but a must visit for us. If you rent a bicycle, it will take you around 15-20 minutes to go there. Just by looking at the pictures we took, you’ll know that it was worth the visit. You’ll see Muslims in their element, as they pray in the Mosque, but the whole place is perfected by the scenery you will witness. The beauty here is surreal. Visit if you have the chance.
More Things to do in Melaka
6. Walk around the Red Square
Visiting Melaka the Red Square is a must for shopping. There are many souvenirs shops here, and is also the location of the historical Christ Church Melaka. It’s so beautiful and it’s UNESCO site if you are chasing places to visit from this list on your trips.
7. Take a cruise in the Melaka River
During the day, the river looks great. But at night, the beauty gets transformed to something more magical. Lights. Ambiance. A nice sight to see. It’s a picturesque scenery near the backpacker area and a few minutes walking distance from all the other touristic attractions of the city. The perfect time to go on a cruise is after sunset so you can see the lights cruising around Melaka.
8. Going around Jonker Street
Walking around Jonker area is a very local experience you should do in Melaka. Here, you’ll see the normal daily life of Melakans. Something you should see when traveling to any new city. Jonker Street is the backpacker area of Melaka. You will find different places for eating, renting bicycles and getting various cheap accommodation too.
Where to eat in Melaka
9. Taste local food
We loved the food in Melaka! Varied and very delicious. Food is always a good thing to explore in any part of Malaysia because of the huge mix of different cultures in the country. While in Melaka, we enjoyed dining in Chatterz. Here, we had the chance to eat Malaysian local food and also international disnes.
Our favorite choice was Chicken satay, fried eggs and mixed with rice and sambal. This is the typical dish in Malaysia. Salmon with rice and salad was also really good! We really loved their juices, too. Great choices of healthy fruit or vegetable mixes. Refreshing, especially knowing Malaysia’s weather!
10. Have Cake and Smoothies
After visiting the touristic areas of Melaka, you’ll definitely need a good break. Malaysian weather is hot and humid the whole year round, and during our visit in December, the weather was really hot. Coffeevine was another great place to visit for a short snack after looking around. Rachel loves her coffee any time of the day, and we both have a sweet tooth.
Coffeevine has a wide variety of cakes and chocolates, coffees, and smoothies. There will surely have one that fits your taste! The place is cozy, and a good one for relaxing. The ambience is light and perfect, and whether you’re having a break alone, or having a good conversation with someone else, this place should be perfect.
11. Dinner at Alto Sky Lounge
Ahh. The Alto Sky Lounge is one of the highlights of our stay in Melaka. Whether you want to have a nice bird’s eye view of the whole city, a good place to watch the sunset, or a place to have great beer, this is the perfect place. During sunset time, we made sure we are in Alto Sky Lounge, which is at level 22 of Hatten Hotel, one of the highest points in the city. It’s our favorite place to relax, reminisce and plan about our travels, have good old conversation with beer, and really, just have quality time together.
The restaurant is one of the best fine dining options visiting Melaka, and its our top recommended place for you to go to if you’re looking at gourmet fine dining.
We enjoyed fine dining with the best international beers. Fantastic menu options with live band playing while you’re dining. One of the best nights of our trip! We had our choice of Italian seafood pasta, beef steak, and European beers.
12. Try a Vegetarian Dinner
To try something new, we had a full vegetarian dinner in Melaka at Mori Vegetarian Tea House. We tried omelette, mushroom soup and delicious salad with the famous Chinese Oolong tea. Chinese food, whether simple or extravagant, is easily one of the best cuisines to eat. This dinner is highly recommended especially if you love vegetarian dishes. Located at Jonker Street, you’ll feel easily at home in this place. The ambience is perfect.
13. Taste Local Restaurants
Daily Malay food! How can you miss it when in Malaysia? Here, we ordered chicken, vegetables, egg, seafood and later they added steamed rice. Once you are on the table, someone will compute all your food depending on what you ordered. Indian food can be anywhere visiting Melaka. There is no fixed price and we found a fun thing to do in Melaka.
Where To Stay in Melaka
Our stay with Hatten Hotel was such a great comfort, and an important part of our Melaka experience. We had a big and spacious room with a very good view of the city. There were moments at night that you just want to stay in bed and stare at the beauty of the city at night. One very important factor for us is to have good internet connection and we were highly satisfied with Hatten’s connectivity.
Another very important consideration for us is how close or far we will be in the places of interest in the city. This is one of the best reasons why one should stay in Hatten Hotel. The hotel is only 5 minutes walk from A Formosa, St. Paul Church and Christ Church Melaka (Red Square) – places you’ll definitely visit when you are visiting Melaka.
It was such a great comfort, all that easy access. The whole hotel has top notch service, from the staff to the restaurants, and we were highly satisfied during our stay.
How to leave Melaka to Kuala Lumpur
Want an even better experience? Hitchhike to Kuala Lumpur. You guys should know by now how close hitchhiking is to our hearts. Fun and really easy in Malaysia! Get a bus to the toll road and ask for a ride from there. It will not take more than 10 minutes to leave Melaka, based in our experience.
We met many friendly local people and foreigners driving us around Malaysia, all with amazing stories to share. A great experience and a unique way to learn more about the people’s culture and tradition!
Click here to get $30 USD off your first booking with AirBnB!
Did you learn a lot from the post? Did we miss things to do in Melaka?
Let us know what you think in the comments below and til the next post!