Sleepy colonial town or a gem with laneways and heritage buildings waiting to be discovered? Malacca is best explored by foot!
We’re pretty well-versed when it comes to going on road trips to our neighbouring countries. From Johor Bahru’s hip cafes to a girls’ getaway in Bangkok, we’ve been there and done it. But somewhere in between is the quaint, small town of Malacca. It’s just a four-hour drive from Singapore and it sits two hours away from the bustling capital of Kuala Lumpur.
A little like Singapore, Malacca is a coastal town with humble beginnings as a fishing village. Rich in culture, Malacca was subsequently under the colonial rule of the Portuguese, Dutch and British. But the most distinct is its traditional culture carried on by the Baba Nyonya Peranakans. Ready to explore? Let’s go!
Guide to Malacca: Where to eat
1. Nyonya Delight Homestyle Cooked Food
Don’t look down on this unassuming joint. It may appear a little shabby on the outside, but it serves up some of the most delicious Nyonya-style dishes you’ll ever try. Tuck into bowls of Nyonya laksa, lontong and ayam rendang. You can even try some authentic homemade Nyonya kueh – our favourite is the ondeh ondeh and ang ku kueh.
Nyonya Delight Homestyle Cooked Food, 2199-c, KM8, Batang Tiga Barat 76400 Malacca City, Malaysia
2. The Daily Fix
This charming, rustic cafe is located within a gift store, so if you blink you might miss it! Still, that doesn’t mean you’re going to find an empty place. It packs up really quickly, especially on weekends – but we’re not surprised. Its coffee is one of the best in Malacca. While you’re at it, dig into the selection of eggy breakfasts and pancakes. Who can 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
3. Pak Putra Tandoor & Naan Restaurant
Don’t be fooled by the exterior; this place serves up the best naan we’ve 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 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
4. 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, it’s located at the edge of Jonker. Stroll around the traditional stores surrounding it and you’ll find an old school barber and an old-fashioned hardware shop.
Sin See Tai, 18, Lorong Jambatan, Kampung Jawa, 75100 Melaka, Malaysia
5. Local food to try: chicken rice balls, assam laksa and chendol
What trip to Malacca would be complete without paying tribute to its much-lauded local delicacies? You’ll find them on almost any corner. Start with chicken rice balls – that’s chicken rice 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.
Oh, and assam laksa in Malacca is unlike the ones with milky broth we’re accustomed to in Singapore. Instead, it’s spicy and tangy with a rich flavour coming from the thick fish broth. Need dessert? Get a bowl of chendol full of gula melaka goodness, of course.
Guide to Malacca: Where to shop
6. Jonker Street Night Market
This is a highlight of Malacca you simply can’t miss. Open from 6pm to midnight on Fridays to Sundays, it’s like a pasar malam in Singapore, but ten times the size and fun (with plenty of mouthwatering street food to boot). Stock up on souvenirs to bring home such as ‘I love Malacca’ t-shirts and adorable handmade trinkets. Feeling peckish? Nibble on bites from street stalls serving curry fish balls, dim sum and rice noodles. Or, sip on fresh coconut shakes that’ll give Mr. Coconut fans a run for its money.
Jonker Street Night Market, Jalan Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
7. San Shu Gong
You’ve gotta stop by San Shu Gong before you leave. It’s the best place to stock up on local snacks, candy, drinks and pastries to bring a taste of Malacca back with you. Think pineapple tarts, fresh prawn paste, kaya jam, jackfruit chips and instant white coffee. Make sure you’ve got an extra bag with you, ’cause we’re pretty certain you’ll need lots of space to bring back all these goodies.
San Shu Gong, 33, Lorong Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
8. The Clay House
Shop handmade cups, bowls, lamps, aromatherapy burners and more at this pottery studio. Get your hands dirty and sign up for a pottery workshop while you’re at it! The studio owner will pretty much let you make anything you want. Plus, you can get it glazed and bring it home. Wanna learn something while on holiday? Check.
The Clay House, 18, Jalan Tukang Emas, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
9. Orangutan House
There’s 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 tee or bring home a painting; his artwork exudes positivity, good vibes and local pride.
Orangutan House, 59, Jalan Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
10. Antique shops and warehouses
Teeming with antique stores, the streets of Malacca beckon you to put on comfy shoes for a good stroll. Walk into warehouses selling crystals and gemstones, including porcelain stools, agate face rollers and rose quartz stone massagers. Or hit up rattan specialty stores for rattan swings, sun chairs and mirrors. Alternatively, try porcelain antique shops to check out Peranakan rarities, and fabric stores displaying Peranakan batik, which is distinct for its floral and colourful themes.
Guide to Malacca: Where to stay
11. 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 in the lobby. Rooms are done up in a hybrid British and Chinese style, while 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
12. Rucksack Caratel Jonker Wing
If you want to be right at the vibrant Jonker, 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.
Rucksack Caratel Jonker Wing, 16, Jalan Laksamana, Bandar Hilir, 75000 Melaka, Malaysia
13. 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, and the building is home to a lounge and an old-world bar, an airy library, and an 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
14. 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 two-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
We can’t wait to spend a weekend in Malacca! Good food and endless shopping await…