We are just back from a weekend in Malacca, one of Malaysia’s most interesting historical cities about a two-hour drive from KL. While I was expecting a couple of days of culture and colonial architecture, I wasn’t prepared for just how well-adapted they are for the influx of tourists they receive, and more importantly just how family-orientated the whole place is! They have attractions there that you just don’t expect and while I’m pleased we decided to stay over-night, I really wish we’d have had a third day there to explore some more!
Malacca city is an easy place to navigate and if, like us, you pick a centrally located hotel, you can park up your car and do the majority on foot. With the Dutch, British, Portuguese and even the Japanese leaving their mark on the city, there’s a special vibe to the place and so much to see.
From the obvious historical sites such as A’Famosa Fort and St. Paul’s Church, to the vibrant hustle and bustle of Jonker Street with its markets, shops and eateries (which needs to be seen both by day and by night!) the basics are in place to guarantee an interesting visit.
When we arrived our first stop was the infamous Christ Church on the aptly named ‘Red Square’ that is also home to a museum, the Clock Tower and market stalls.
What I wasn’t ready for was the abundance of Trishaws (tuk tuks to my children!) that were out in force in their hundreds decorated to the nines with Hello Kitty, Frozen characters, flowers and flashing lights that offer city tours!
Call them tacky and out of place (if you wish!) in such a historical spot, but you can’t help but get drawn into their Disney-like magic and although you may resist at first, you will end up getting on one at some stage during your visit! They offer to take you round the city to see the top historical sights at a rate of 40RM for an hour circuit.
While we didn’t do this, once we saw the trishaws after dinner lit up in all their glory with music blaring, we just couldn’t resist getting one to take us back to the hotel! And I have to say….. it was fun!
From the Red Square the tourist trail follows on nicely to take you across the road to the river, which in itself is a nice little walk.
Cross the bridge and you get to Jonker Street, the main street of Chinatown that offers shops, galleries, restaurants and arts n crafts. Jonker Gallery is definitely worth a stop if you’re looking for some original little designs; I bought a couple of items of clothing there that I‘m very happy with so mums get yourself a little shopping done too!
Street hawkers selling their food, market stalls selling jewellery, and murals painted on walls (that would be worthy of some gallery time) all make Malacca so colourful and interesting that you’ll find it hard to know where to look.
On Jonker Street we also found a fairly hidden café called The Daily Fix that we stopped at for lunch on Saturday. Perfect with the children as there’s enough quirkiness to keep them busy – from the décor including Chinese lanterns, old typewriters and suitcases strewn around the floor to a lovely swinging bamboo chair in their garden-like cafe! To top it off, they offered a nice menu and everything we tried (from an all day breakfast, to fresh juices, and pancakes!) was extremely tasty. They have high chairs on offer, complimentary water, sweet treats if needed and is perfect for families although it can get busy at peak times!
Lying on the river, another great way to see Malacca is by boat. Melaka River cruises offer just that, 365 days of the year in boats carrying up to 40 passengers. They run daily from 9am until 11.30pm so you can choose whether to tour by day or by night. The journey itself takes just under an hour and will show you the highlights of the city from the water. It’s reasonably priced for foreigners at 15RM for adults and 7RM for children. It’s worth noting here that nowhere that we tried (including the Melaka River Cruise and the Maritime Museum accepted the I-Kad residency card) For Malaysians the price is 10RM for adults, 5RM for children.
Day two of our stay saw us heading to the town centre again but this time opting to check out the Maritime Museum. Very noticeable by it’s Portuguese ship (the Flora de la Mar) on the river’s edge, it’s easy to find and inexpensive to enter. Children under the age of 7 are free and it’s only 5RM for adults.
Your adventure will surely start by climbing up and visiting this impressive ship that stands some 34 metres high! While you can’t climb to the highest points of the ship, you will be able to explore on the decks, take a peak inside the Captain’s cabin and then discover the history of Malacca in the decks below as the museum unfolds beneath you. It was very interesting and very informative and we all really enjoyed it. Your ticket also gives you entry to two other sections of the museum which we did, although it has to be said that the Portuguese Ship was the highlight!
In the afternoon we had a wander around and headed up the hill to the ruins of St. Paul’s Church. With buskers playing music, artists showing off their talents, and market stalls selling a little bit of everything, you can take in the views over the city and do more than just see the Church.
Following on around the hill we then went to the site of A’Famosa Fort which, although small, was a nice spot.
I should also mention that if all this isn’t enough for the little people, there’s even an outdoor playground centrally located between the Fort and the Taming Sari Tower, just a short work along from the Pirate museum. It’s not huge, but it would certainly be an option should you need one!
We finished our day deciding to take the car out and go and see the sunset over the infamous ‘Floating Mosque (more correctly known as Masjid Selat Melaka).
We arrived early so as to visit the mosque beforehand and were given robes to wear to be able to enter. The mosque, as it’s popular nickname would suggest, sits right on the water with stunning views. With a little beach and rocks on the shore, it makes for a nice little spot for children who want to have a bit of free time to play while waiting for mum and dad to get their photos taken! We didn’t get the most amazing of sunsets as it was just too cloudy, but with the mosque lit up it was still a lovely, peaceful view that we all really enjoyed.
We packed a lot of things into our 2 days in Malacca and I’m very happy with everything that we did. However, as I said at the beginning of my blog; there really is so much to do for families that we just couldn’t do it all with the time we had.
The Pirate Adventure looked fun and blared out ‘Disney’ like music to attract the crowds, there’s a planetarium, a zoo on the outskirts of the city that also does night tours, there’s chocolate making workshops at THC Chocolate, there’s a Butterfly and Reptile Sanctuary, and Mini Malaysia & ASEAN Cultural Park which looked gorgeous and I’m disappointed we didn’t get the time to do this! With all these things still to do I guess it just means we’ll need to head back soon and I know we’d all be up for that in a heartbeat! We loved Malacca – truly a fabulous, colourful place and very family-orientated.