Sleepy colonial town, or a gem with laneways and heritage buildings waiting to be discovered? Malacca’s best explored by foot!
We’re pretty well-versed when it comes to taking to our neighbouring countries for a quick daytrip or roadtrip. From our guide to Johor Bahru and the quick delights it offers (plus, it’s really just a bridge away) to bossing a girls’ getaway to Bangkok, we’ve been there, done it. But somewhere in between, is the quaint small town of Malacca, about four hours drive from Singapore and two hours away from the bustling capital of Kuala Lumpur.
A little like Singapore, Malacca is a coastal town which had its humble beginnings as a fishing village. Rich in culture, Malacca had subsequently been under the colonial rule of the Portuguese, Dutch and British. But the most distinct is the traditional culture carried on by the Baba Nyonya Peranakans.
Now that we’re done with the quick history segment, here’s a quick guide to what to do if you find yourself in Malacca for a day or perhaps, a nice long weekend.
The Daily Fix
This charming rustic cafe is located within a gift store, so blink and you might miss it! Still, that doesn’t mean you’re going to find an empty and quiet place. The place packs up really quickly, especially on weekends – but we’re not surprised. The coffee is one of the best there is in Malacca, and while you’re at it, dig into their selection of eggy breakfasts and pancakes. I mean, who could say no to chocolate chip pancakes? Fun fact: Former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard has patronised the store.
The Daily Fix, 55, Jalan Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Kaya Kaya Cafe
Do a walkaround of the Jonker quarters and you’ll find many cafes lining the historical streets – and many still retain the facade of the former buildings. Kaya Kaya Cafe has done just that but step into the joint and you’ll find an industrial setting with exposed brick walls and light bulbs. Food is a hearty affair – after all, ‘kaya’ does translate to rich or wealth which the cafe uses to describe the richness of food, life, relationship, health and wealth.
Kaya Kaya Cafe, 32, Jalan Tukang Besi, Melaka, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Don’t be fooled by the exterior of this place, this place serves up the best naan I have had. Along with Tandoori chicken, Palak Paneer (spinach and cottage cheese), and assorted curries. Located in a residential estate a walkable distance from the Jonker Night Market, this eatery is a must go if you’re going to be in town for just one night!
Pak Putra Tandoori & Naan Restaurant, 56, Jalan Taman Kota Laksamana 1 & Jalan Taman Kota Laksamana 4, Taman Kota Laksamana, 75200 Malacca, Malaysia
Chicken Rice Balls, Assam Laksa and Chendol
What trip to Malacca would be complete without paying tribute to the much-lauded local delicacies? Start with chicken rice balls – it really is chicken rice, only the rice bit is mixed with glutinous rice and rolled into tight balls. Pair it with steamed chicken in light soy sauce and chilli and you’re good to go. Assam Laksa in Malacca is unlike the milky broth ones we’re accustomed to here in Singapore – spicy and tangy, the rich flavour comes from the thick fish broth. Need dessert? Get a bowl of Chendol full of Gula Melaka goodness, of course.
Sin See Tai
Meaning ‘New Generation’ or ‘New Era’ in Hokkien, Sin See Tai is the experimental ground of The Daily Fix. More like a standing coffee shop, the aim of the store is to keep small, thoughtful and sincere. Located at the edge of Jonker, stroll around the traditional stores surrounding Sin See Tai and you’ll find an old-school barber, a shop selling chickens and ducks, and a old-fashioned hardware store.
Sin See Tai, 18, Lorong Jambatan, Kampung Jawa, 75100 Melaka, Malaysia
Antique shops and warehouses
Teeming with antique stores, you ought to put on some sensible shoes to properly explore the streets of Malacca. Walk into warehouses selling crystals and gemstones (including porcelain stools, agate face rollers and rose quartz stone massagers), rattan specialty stores with rattan swings, sun chairs and mirrors, porcelain antique shop with Peranakan rarities, and fabric stores displaying Peranakan batik which is distinct for its floral and colourful themes.
The Clay House
Shop the handmade cups, bowls, lamps, aromatherapy burners and more at this pottery studio. Get your hands dirty and sign up for a pottery workshop where the studio owner will pretty much let you make anything you want, get it glazed and then bring it home. Learn something while on holiday? Check.
The Clay House, 18, Jalan Tukang Emas, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
There is no way you can miss this shop with its colourful exterior, old-timey music on rotation and of course, the giant orangutan mural above artist Charles Cham’s gallery and T-shirt store. Buy a t-shirt or bring home a painting, his artwork exudes positivity, good vibes and local pride.
Orangutan House, 59, Jalan Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
1825 Gallery Hotel
Set on the boardwalk of the Malacca River, this chic hotel in a colonial-style building is located just outside the main Jonker Street area. You’ll feel at peace the moment you step in with leafy indoor plants adorning the concierge area and an interior courtyard with a fountain at the lobby. Rooms are done up in a hybrid British and Chinese style and upgraded rooms feature balconies facing the river and a personal whirlpool tub, to remind you to unwind.
1825 Gallery Hotel, 27, Jalan Bunga Raya, Kampung Jawa, 75100 Melaka, Malaysia
Rucksack Caratel Jonker Wing
If you want to be right at Jonker where the life is, book a place here! The hotel pays homage to the rich cultural background of Melaka and her unique blend of Peranakan, Portuguese and Dutch heritage, with a notable Western influence. The Rucksack Caratel Jonker Wing also has an American diner, making it the perfect place to hang out or stay the night. They also have a Garden Wing if you’re looking for something more tranquil.
Rucksack Caratel Jonker Wing, 16, Jalan Laksamana, Bandar Hilir, 75000 Melaka, Malaysia
TheBlanc Boutique Hotel
If you’re a sucker for the all-white aesthetic, this is the one to check out (or in). Even the exterior of this heritage 2-storey building is painted white. Rooms are bright with spacious beds and shower areas – you’ll be waking up refreshed every morning.
TheBlanc Boutique Hotel, 26-28, Jalan Kubu, 75300 Melaka, Malaysia
The Majestic Malacca
Going on a luxury getaway? Splurge on a stay at this high-end hotel overlooking the Malacca River. The elegant rooms and suites feature antique-style accents, there is a lounge and an old-world bar, an airy library and outdoor pool. Bring it up a notch for the ultimate relaxing trip and book yourself a session at the Spa Village Melaka where you get to choose from an enticing menu of treatments – pure bliss!
The Majestic Malacca, 188, Jalan Bunga Raya, Melaka, 75100 Melaka, Malaysia
Like this story? Here’s more we think you’ll enjoy: