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Although Kuala Lumpur is usually the main destination which draws tourists from all over the globe to visit Malaysia, there are tonnes of other places for you to choose and spend your vacation here. One of those places is Melaka. Coined as the ‘Amsterdam of the East’ it is based in the south of Malaysia and just over two hours from Singapore.

It’s famous nowadays for its colourful rickshaws and this is definitely something which I would recommend you take a ride on, but there are other attractions which will show off their history and heritage. One of the main things I loved about Malaysia was the cacophony of cultures; Malay, Baba and Nonya, Indian and Thai, and the fact they are all there together in unity. In my opinion, Melaka is the one place which truly celebrates all of these cultures in Malaysia and it’s waiting here for you to enjoy.

Keep reading for more about why you should visit Melaka.

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To tour this gem of a city, you can do this in a variety of different ways;

  1. Get a free walking tour – these are provided by the council and are completely free of charge (tips can be given however). I would highly recommend this as it was one of my highlights when visiting Melaka. We had a tour guide named Lingham who was a lovely guy and warned us that he liked to deliver the grand tour of around 3 hours (when it was usually 2). Bless him, he was a trooper! On the tour, he will take you around all the sites of the city and give you a commentary about everything you see. Tours start early around 8.30am to beat the heat. Bring a hat, suncream and water as it does get incredibly hot and there isn’t much shade.
  2. Travel in style with a rickshaw – so the story goes that to make more money, one of the Rickshaw drivers decided to put some flowers on his rickshaw to draw in more tourists. From there, it has escalated pretty quickly and now there are rickshaws decorated in all sorts of bits and bobs. Flowers, Hello Kitty, Pokemon, Batman, Frozen – they are all there to choose from. They even have rickshaws with boom boxes and so you can truly travel around Melaka in style. Prices vary depending on how long you wish to ride for so negotiate a good price.

 

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  1. The Stadthuys

The most iconic buildings when you arrive due to their red completely red coat, the Stadthuys represent their Dutch colonial heritage. Coined the Red (or Dutch) square, here you can explore their traditional windmill, fountain, look inside their church and wander around the museum. Here, we ended up meeting Lingham again to start us off on the second round of the tour (I’m not sure if he took a break – like I said, trooper). It was an informative place, which went through the many different cultures in great detail so check it out!

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2. A Famosa

A Portuguese fort built by Afonso de Albuquerque in 1511, this fort is one of the oldest European remains to still exist in South East Asia. Although, there isn’t much left of the structure, it is still worth a walk through. You can continue your journey through the gardens behind and watch the archaeologists work to uncover more artefacts from when the Portuguese, Dutch and Britons were here.

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3. Bukit St. Paul (St. Paul’s Hill & Church)

This awesome little church on the hill is a welcome respite in the seating heat. St. Paul’s statue stands proudly outside and from the top of the hill you get an amazing view of the Strait. The fort was built in 1521 and here you can wander around and learn about the Portuguese heritage of Melaka from the tombstones if you’re on the free walking tour. The story behind the handless statue is that on the day the it was resurrected, a tree fell on it’s arm causing the hand to fall off. What’s even stranger is that centuries earlier in 1614 someone broke his hand off as a relic…Coincidence or fate? You decide. Personally, I like to think it was fate, but then I am a bit of a dreamer!

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4. Baba & Nonya Heritage Museum

This is the number one tourist attraction and for good reason. The heritage museum takes form in an old house to a prestigious Baba & Nonya family in Melaka. The mansion has been perfectly preserved and the decor is to die for. The zen of the house beams through and you can visit nearly every room including the magnificent open courtyards. My favourite part was their elaborate staircase which has gods and goddesses carved into the wood. There is tonnes of symbolism in their paintings, carvings, carpets and decorations – each animal brings a different energy to the room. It was a fantastic tour which runs on the hour and is well worth it.
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5. Jonker Street

Joker walk is the place to be when in Melaka. It is busy at all times of day and even crowded at weekends as the market which lines the street draws in the crowds from all around even from Singapore! Here you can shop for numerous treats which will delight any foodie. You can also eat at one of their restaurants or cafés and sample some authentic Baba & Nonya cuisine including the famous desert Cendol. At the end, the Karaoke machine is set up on stage and you can watch the locals sing songs and dance.

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6. A Cruise on the river

It is the Amsterdam of the east after all! You can grab a boat ride at any time of day but the best time to take a ride is at sunset or after dark when the canal is lit up with street lights and lanterns. The tour will give you a full runaround on the canal – highlights are seeing the stilt houses and colourful murals painted on the walls.

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7. Melaka Alive

Okay, so this is super cheesy but you have to love it! Every night the stage crafted into a massive flagship comes alive with a performance showcasing Melaka’s history. It is all in English so you can keep up with the story and you’ll be treated with a show of interpretive dance, songs, movies and fireworks!

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Aside from the above, there is plenty more to keep you occupied. There are some impressive malls, temples, museums, art and viewpoints which will make you fall head over heels in love with it. I had such an amazing time in Melaka and made some friends while we were here. You must add Melaka to your Malaysian adventures.

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Would you like to visit Melaka? Is there anything else you would add to the list? Comment below!

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