Melawat Melaka Bererti Melawati Malaysia
The slogan above translates to “Visiting Malacca Means Visiting Malaysia”. True enough, the heritage city of Melaka provides a glimpse of how Malaysia has become what it is now. A visit to Melaka broadens our understanding of the history, culture and heritage of the gem of the strait of spice trade.
In 2008, the historical city was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Along with George Town in Penang, these two cities in the Strait of Melacca represent more than 500 years of history, culture and heritage unique to this part of the world. Georgetown reflects the East meets West influence during the British period from the end of 18th century. Melaka on the other hand represents the fusion of Asia and Europe from the 1500s up to the time when it was ceded to the British by the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824.
When in Malaysia, make sure to free up at least a day for the visit to the UNESCO World Heritage listed city of Melacca.
How to get there?
Melaka is about 145 kilometers southeast of Kuala Lumpur. If you travel by bus, it would take around 2hrs on a traffic-free day. But usually it takes almost 3hrs to get to Melaka.
If you are coming from Kuala Lumpur, by any means (KTM Komuter, LRT, Monorail, Taxi), go to KL Sentral Station and head off next to BTS or Bandar Tasik Selatan.
From the BTS walk towards TBS or Terminal Bersepadu Selatan which is another building, accessible by a walk bridge. Tickets may be purchased online or at the ticket booths at the TBS. For tickets purchased online, you need to get a Boarding pass is prior to boarding. Bus tickets to Melaka cost between MYR10-15. Passports or any IDs are required prior to ticket purchase.
From BTS, it’s 2-3hrs travel to Melaka. The bus will stop at Melaka Sentral. Melaka Sentral is 15-20mins away from the Old Town (Dutch Square) so you need to take a local bus (MYR2.00) to get there. Look for Gate #17 at Melaka Square. Buses normally depart every 30 mins. Another option is to get a taxi, or Grab / Uber.
The top attractions in Melaka are the following:
1. Dutch Square
2. Jonker Walk
3. Melaka River
4. A Famosa
5. Portuguese Settlement
6. Cheng Hoon Teng Temple
7. Flor de la Mar
8. Menara Taming Sari
9. St. Paul’s Church
10. Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum
My visit to Melaka was on a very limited time hence I only get to visit the first 3 from the list.
Local bus from Melaka Sentral will bring you directly to the Dutch Square also known as Red Square for obvious reason. In this square, you can find the popular landmarks such as the Christ Church, the Stadthuys (old town hall), and Melaka Clock Tower.
Iconic Christ Church
Christ Church is an Anglican church built in the 18th century. It is said to be the oldest functioning Protestant church in Malaysia. This church was built in commemoration of the Dutch’s capture of Malacca from the Portuguese, 100 years prior. It was also built to replace the worn-out St. Paul’s Church which was converted to Dutch Reformist use.
From Dutch Reformist, it became an Anglican Church when possesson of Malacca was transferred to the British East India Company thru the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824. The church was eventually renamed Christ Church.
The church was originally painted white. But in 1911, the church and the town hall building (Stadthuys) was painted red and has remained as such ever since.
I was not able to see the church’s interior as there was a service being held.
Tried out their colorful and bright rickshaw
Stadthuys is the Dutch term for city hall. It was the office of the Dutch governor and deputy governor. Built by the Dutch in 1650, the building is painted red. It now houses the History and Ethnography Museum.
Stadthuys right of the Clock Tower
A few blocks north of Dutch Square is the Church of St. Francis Xavier. It is a Catholic church of Neo-Gothic style completed in 1859. It was built on the site of an old Portuguese church by Father Farvé, a French priest.
Neo-Gothic Church of St. Francis Xavier
Across St. Francis Xavier Church is Bastion Victoria and The Street Kitchen whose walls bears the declaration of Melaka as heritage city.
Bastion Victoria is part of the Malacca Fort. Visible are the recent excavation done, revealing the old wall structure of the fort and the foundation of the bastion along the Malacca River.
A huge red wall with a UNESCO statement is visible from Bastion Victoria. It simply states that Melaka is inscribed as a World Heritage City in 2008.
You could either walk along the banks of Melaka River or take the river cruise. I was pressed for time so I did the former. From the Dutch Square, I crossed the Jalan Laksamana passing by Dutch windmill and then to Jalan Hang Jebat (Jonker). The Malacca River Walk starts near Hard Rock Café then all the way for hundreds of meters. Walking the length of the Melaka River will get you to several corners with wall arts on the side. Coffee shops, restaurants and museums run parallel to the river.
Wall Art and Tree Lane leading to Melaka River
Orangutan House near the River Walk
On Fridays and Saturdays, Jalan Hang Jebat becomes alive at night. The street is filled with everything from food to crafts and clothing. Jonker Walk is that part of Jalan Hang Jebat, the main street in Melaka’s Chinatown
Sundown Sidewalk Scene at Jonker
There was no night market since it was a Thursday when I visited Melaka. Jalan Hang Jebat was almost quiet and the shops were closed after sundown. I could imagine how lively and fun it would be on weekends. For sure, it would be as vibrant and active like the night markets of Taipei.
After a quick visit of Jonker Street, I head back to Dutch Square, got on a Grab car to Melaka Sentral and waited for the scheduled bus trip to Terminal Bersepadu Selatan. I was able to explore a little of Melaka. I would definitely explore is again. There’s so much to see in the world heritage city. The slogan is definitely true.