Is Malacca worth a visit?
Malacca (also spelled Melaka) is famous for that red church. You see it in all the photos. Malacca is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site owing to its well-preserved historical center, multi-cultural heritage, and history as a trading town for a succession of European powers (first the Portuguese, then the Dutch, then British).
But even UNESCO World Heritage sites can be boring.
So what is Malacca really like and is it worth a visit? It was a question I had on my mind before visiting and nothing I read really convinced me one way or another if Malacca was really worth a visit.
We spent 3 full days in Malacca and enjoyed it. But not for the obvious reasons. Although the colonial highlights (the Dutch-built Christ Church and the Portuguese-built St. Paul’s Church and A’Famosa fort) are worth a visit, combined they’ll take about 2 hours to see. And while they’re “worth a visit” if in Malacca I would never recommend that you come to Malacca for the sole purpose of visiting those sights. They’re interesting but they won’t blow your socks off.
Below: Christ Church. Built by the Dutch after their conquest over the Portuguese. Completed in 1753. Note the colourful “Pokeman” and “Hello Kitty” Rickshaws parked out front.
More than any tourist highlight, Malacca’s charm is it’s prettiness, low-key-vibe, and walkability. It’s a pleasant kind of place you can wander around for a few days. It’s why many people flock to Malacca for a weekend, including a lot of Singaporeans (despite Malacca being a 3 hour drive from Singapore).
Our favorite activities were walking along the river, seeing the street art (which they seem to have in all the popular Malaysian tourist towns), visiting a few of the Chinese temples and Mosques in the old town, and eating/drinking at the many restaurants and bars. Malacca also has a weekend night market that is worth seeing.
Related: A Visit to Ipoh (our favorite place in Malaysia)
3 days was more than enough. By the 3rd day we were getting bored. But we enjoyed Malacca and were glad we stopped here. In our case it was our final destination in Malaysia and a convenient jumping off point to get to Singapore (see practical information below)
Related (another Unesco site): What’s Georgetown (Penang) like?
– Accommodation. We stayed at The Blanc Boutique Hotel which is absolutely fabulous and perfectly located. It was Lissette’s birthday so I had decided to splurge. Agness at reception is incredible. On the day of Lissette’s birthday, we came back to the room and it was decorated with balloons and flowers. Sweetest birthday she’s had in a long time.
– Getting to Malacca. We took the train from Ipoh to Pulau Sebang/Tampin (Malaysian trains are great!). Pulau Sebang/Tampin is a small station. You can take a taxi or call Grab from there, it will take about 35 minutes to get to your hotel in Malacca.
– To (and from) Singapore. We took the bus (Luxury Coach Services) to Singapore. You meet up at a designated hotel in Malacca and they’ll take you to the border, wait for you, then drop you off in downtown Singapore. Excellent service. The trip took us 5 hrs. You can also find a lot of day tour options to Malacca from Singapore.
– Day Trip from Kuala Lumpur. Want to save the hassle? Take a Private Day Tour to Malacca from Kuala Lumpur.
– Eating. We didn’t have much luck with our restaurant choices while in Malacca. The one exception was breakfast (and great coffee) at Ola Lavanderia Cafe.
Related: Guide to Malaysia, covering what to See and Do in Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo
Related: Why you should visit Singapore at least once in your life
Related: A Visit to Lake Maninjau and Bukittingi, West Sumatra. And going Rambo on the locals
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We’ve been to a few UNESCO WHS that have left us feeling meh but your photos show a picturesque town that definitely looks like it’s worth a short visit. Your intro photo certainly catches the eye and the Hello Kitty rickshaws cracked me up. But… the cat captured my heart. Totally unique!
Thank you Anita. I think I’ve got maybe 3 photos of cats on this blog. I prefer dogs. But I never saw any cat with eyes like that.
I like small charming towns that are very walkable, it is just so much easier and enjoyable to explore places on foot. Sounds like you stayed in a perfect location? Definitely a plus the easiness of getting over the board into Singapore. Was there nice street food at the Weekend Night Market?
Malacca a good stepping stone to Singapore and since you get a lot of people coming for the weekend it’s easy and inexpensive to book yourself on a bus that will take you to Singapore. But you have to go with the better companies because I’ve heard of foreigners getting stuck at the border (there’s a different line at customs for foreigners which takes longer. Some of the operators don’t want to stick around for you). As I say, Luxury Coach Service was excellent and we actually got delayed an hour because a French guy got held up for questioning.
So they’ll wait for you.
Yes, the street food very good.
I never really explored Malacca when I was there. Nice piece. Does look very interesting to explore the alleys and back streets. Must return one day!
Malacca was the first place ever where I was told I couldn’t use a public swimming pool unless I had Speedos (.i.e. skimpy briefs) on. I’ve since found out that it’s a fairly common requirement, especially in western Europe and I now know why German men etc. wear ‘budgie-smugglers” on a regular basis when they are round the pool or on the beach. How did that all transpire, because I also spent too long in Malacca and fancied a dip because there wasn’t much else to do!
So did you end up getting the Speedos or did you say “screw it” to the dip?
I said ‘screw it’ to the dip of course – I’m British and wouldn’t be caught dead in such a garment!!
Yeah, that’s what I thought 🙂
I had just returned from a day trip there! I was actually putting it off because I’m not really into historical tours and so I was surprised that I liked it – like you said, its walkability, you can just stroll to see the sights and streets and it’s very laidback. There are also resorts & hotels in the beachside which seem relaxing and good for families – we’d been there only for afternoon drinks in a restaurant, but it’s very nice and I made a mental note to book an overnight on that part of Melaka if I come back.
We didn’t think of going to the resorts Katherine, isn’t really our thing. But good for families as you say because walking around a bunch of old ruins the last thing a bunch of kids are interested in.
Overall a nice place for a couple of days. But I’ll never tell anyone that they absolutely HAVE to go to Malacca. Just a nice little stopover if working your way down the Peninsula as we were…
Thank you for taking the time to comment.
Thank you, Frank. I am deleting Malacca from my list. Although, it has never been in it.
I’ll prefer Bergamo, Italy.
I was happy to un-inspire you Victor 🙂