Malacca is one of the best day trips you can do from Kuala Lumpur. I visited here with my officemates in KL for the weekend and it’s not an understatement to say we had a really good time. To be honest, I would’ve gone back here if I’d known about it sooner.
Malacca (locally referred to as Melaka) is a heritage town, located about 2 hours from Kuala Lumpur. It’s a great place for those who love history and culture or those who are looking to get away for a while. Malacca features colonial architecture and museums, a diverse culinary scene, and many activities.
How to get to Malacca
It is easy to get to Malacca.
From Kuala Lumpur, head to TBS (Terminal Bersepadu Selatan). There you can find buses bound for Malacca. First trip is 5:45AM and last trip is 11:45PM. Fare is around RM10-15, travel time is 2 hours.
From the terminal in Malacca, book a taxi/Grab or ride a bus to Dutch Square, which is the historic center in Malacca.
How to get around
Most of the attractions in Malacca are located in Dutch Square and Jonker Street, Malacca’s own chinatown. They are just walking distance from each other and the best way to explore them is by foot.
You can also ride a rickshaw. The rickshaws in Malacca are an attraction in itself because they are colorfully and playfully decorated. It’s convenient to take a rickshaw if you’re with kids or you find that you don’t have enough time for a walking tour. Rickshaws offer a tour for around 45 minutes for RM50 only.
There are also guided tours in Malacca, but based on other people’s suggestions it’s still best to explore the city DIY.
One Day Itinerary in Malacca
Here’s a suggested day trip itinerary.
Start your tour at around 9AM in Dutch Square. This area used to be a fishing village, but due to the strategic location of Malacca it was converted to a key trading port during colonial times. Today you can still see terracotta buildings built way back in the 17th century. The top attractions here are the Stadthuys, Christ Church, and Queen Victoria’s Fountain.
From the Dutch Square, walk up the hill to St. Paul’s Church. Built in 1521, it is considered the oldest church in Southeast Asia. It is no longer used as an active church but it’s still open for visits. Going up the church is a bit tiring but it’s worthwhile since it offers a nice view of Malacca Straits that separate Malaysia and Indonesia.
From the church, proceed to A Famosa, where you can see a fort remnant.
Next to A Famosa is the city museum complex, where you can find several museums near each other. The most visited one is the Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum, which is built in a traditional hardwood style similar to that of old sultanate palaces. This museum offers a glimpse of Malacca’s history. That saying, feel free to choose a museum that captures your interest:
- Malay and Islamic World Museum
- Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum
- Buddha Relics Museum
- UMNO Museum
- Governor’s Museum
After your museum visit, walk over the bridge to Jonker Street. Around 11 or 11:30AM, stop for lunch. There are various restaurants around here, so choose wherever you fancy! We had lunch in a Chinese restaurant. We ordered roasted pork and salted-egg chicken, which are both my favorites.
After lunch, it’s time to explore Jonker Street. There are so many things to see here – including food stalls and restaurants, quirky and quaint coffee shops, and museums. There are also lovely old houses.
Jonker Street also has shops where you can buy souvenirs and clothes, including fabrics with Malaysian design. One of the places that we liked is The Orangutan House, which sells fun shirts. My friend’s favorite print is “To lah or not to lah — that is the question in Malaysia!”
Just off Jonker Street, you will find Harmony Street (Jalan Tokong) where you will find old places of worship. Cheng Hoon Teng Temple is the oldest traditional Chinese temple in Malaysia. Sri Poyatha Moorthi is the oldest Hindu temple. Masjid Kampung Kling is a mosque with intricate architecture.
Then head back to the entrance to Jonker Street. At around 5-6PM, this street transforms to a lively night market with various stalls selling food and knickknacks. Make sure to try out Melaka’s popular food items, such as coconut balls.
After having dinner at the Jonker Street night market, go on a river cruise along Malacca River. You don’t need to book in advance and the queue is usually short. Fare is around RM16-20 per person.
The river cruise is a fun, relaxing experience. You’ll forget the day’s tiredness as the cruise glides smoothly along Malacca River. At night, you can see riverside hotels and buildings looking glam under the night lights, cafes where people are enjoying drinks, and streetart and murals you might miss on your walking tour. The tour guide also points out interesting subjects, such as historical buildings and the mangrove area.
If you still have time, consider going to the riverside for a stroll or a cup of warm drinks.
What to eat
Food is one of the reasons to visit Malacca! You can find various food stalls and restaurants along Jonker Street, where you can find everything from street food to proper rice meals.
Malacca is also known for the culture of Peranakan (also called Baba Nyonya), which is a combination of Chinese Strait and Malaysian flavors. Some of the food you should try are nasi ayam redang, laksa, and otak-otak. For the drinks, the classic teh tarik won’t fail to impress.
Where to Stay
There are various accommodations in Malacca that cater to all budget. Here are some recommended ones:
- The Baba House Hotel. Book via Agoda
- Rosa Malacca. Book via Agoda
- Hatten Hotel Melaka. Book via Agoda
Is It Worth Visiting Malacca?
My answer would be, yes! I haven’t met anyone yet who wasn’t charmed with Malacca. It’s true that it has areas which are touristy, but a lot of its history and culture have been preserved. Not to mention that there is good food everywhere!
It’s also easily accessible from Kuala Lumpur, so it’s a good place to add to your itinerary whether you’re staying for just a few days or a few weeks in Malaysia. Here’s a sample 3-week itinerary in Malaysia that includes Malacca.
The ideal stay in Malacca is at 2-3 days. After that, there is really nothing much to do, but you may still want to stay just to unwind and relax. Malacca is family friendly and there are a lot of options for hotels — it’s a great getaway for everyone.
Reminders and Tips
Here are more reminders for your trip to Malacca:
- Reserve bus tickets in advance, especially if you’re going on a weekend. If you’re staying in KL, it may seem like a nice impromptu destination but bus seats run out. Malacca is a popular destination among Malaysians and Singaporeans.
- You will need to walk around a lot, so wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
- Melaka is best explored from late afternoon until night, when Jonker Street is alive with food stalls and the river reflects the lights from buildings and streetlamps.
Realistically speaking, there is only so much you can do in a day trip to Malacca. This is something that we had to learn for ourselves when we visited here. We printed out guides, but we realized that our Places to See is too ambitious and our Food to Eat is too long. From our experience, here are some tips for you to make the most of your day trip:
- Do your research prior to your trip and decide what you want to prioritize.
- Maximize your time and book a return bus at 10PM or later.
- If you’re staying for more than a day, you’ll find that there are still various things you can do. You can go to a public beach, engage in outdoor and wildlife activities like visits to a botanical garden and crocodile farm, or head to other attractions which are a bit far from the center such as the Melaka Floating Mosque.
Has this Day Trip Guide to Malacca been helpful to you? If you have comments or questions, let me know in the comment section below.
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Katherine Cortes is a 30-something freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).