Malacca

Christ Church, Melaka

Malacca (Malay: Melaka) is the capital of the state of Malacca, on the west coast of peninsular Malaysia.

Understand

Modern-day Malacca is a vibrant old city with a unique historical and cultural background from being the capital of a powerful Malay kingdom before the colonial era, as well as subsequent Portuguese, Dutch and British rule. The city centre was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in July 2008, along with Georgetown, Penang.

History

Before the arrival of the first Sultan, Malacca was a simple fishing village inhabited by local Malays. Malacca was founded by Parameswara, also called Iskandar Shah or Sri Majara, the last Raja of Singapura (now known as Singapore) following a Majapahit attack in 1377. Parameswara found his way to Malacca in 1400 where he found a port, accessible in all seasons and on the strategically located narrowest point of the Malacca Strait. This later became Malacca.

There are some interesting legends surrounding the foundation and naming of Malacca. According to the 16th century Malay Annals, the city was founded by Parameswara. Some believe it more likely that he was a Hindu prince and political fugitive from nearby Java. The legend goes that Parameswara was out on a hunt in the region and had stopped to refresh himself near what is now the Malacca River. Standing near a melaka (Indian gooseberry) tree he was surprised to witness one of his hunting dogs so startled by a mouse deer that it fell into the river. Parameswara took this as a propitious sign of the weak overcoming the powerful and decided to build the capital of his new kingdom where he stood, naming it for the tree under which he had been resting. Another account says Malacca is derived from the Arabic word Malakat, meaning market. Malacca had a navigable harbor sheltered by nearby Sumatra across the narrow straits. The location was supplied with an ample quantity of fresh water, enjoyed a prime location relative to the shifting monsoon winds, and had a central location in regional trade patterns, all of which soon made it a prosperous trading town. Its fortunes increased with its official adoption of Islam in the 14th century. The Sultans of Malacca were soon attracting Arab traders from far afield. However, Malacca continued to trade with merchants of all races and religions.

After the visit of the Chinese Muslim Admiral Cheng Ho in the mid-15th century, contact between China and Malacca intensified. In exchange for protection against Siam, Malacca became a vassal state to Ming China. To ensure Malacca's safety, a new and powerful kingdom was founded by the Sultan of Samudra-Pasai.

The power of the Malays began to rise through the 15th century. In the Malay Annals, Sultan Mansur Shah was mentioned as having six wives, and the fifth was stated to be a daughter of the Ming Emperor. However, in the Chinese chronicles, no such event was recorded.

Things started to change with the arrival of the Portuguese in 1509. They were at first welcomed, but Indian traders soon turned the sultan against the Portuguese and they had to flee. In 1511 the Portuguese returned, and at their second attempt seized the city. This marked the start of the formation of a large Eurasian community. The Portuguese turned the city into a massive walled fortress complete with a tower bristling with cannon. It was believed that such fortifications could withstand the encroachments of other European powers eager for a slice of the Asian luxury goods trade.

An alliance between the Dutch and the Sultan of Johor saw the loss much of Malacca's power. In 1641 the Dutch navy put a blockade on Malacca and they seized the city after six months. During the siege much of the Portuguese city was destroyed.

Only after 150 years did the Dutch lose their hold on Malacca. In 1795 The Netherlands was conquered by the French, and the British were keen to take over the Dutch holdings in Malacca. By that time, Malacca had lost most of its former importance, although it remained an important part of Asian trade routes.

The A Famosa gate is all that remains of the old Portuguese and Dutch forts. As the Napoleonic Wars wound down the British knew Malacca would be returned to Dutch control. In order to make the city indefensible the city walls were blown down. A last minute intervention by a British officer, the young Sir Stamford Raffles (founder of British Singapore) saved the gate. Shortly after its return to Dutch rule, the Dutch and British governments swapped colonies - British Bencoolen in Sumatra for Dutch Malacca.

Malacca is a centre of Peranakan culture. When Chinese settlers originally came to Malacca as miners, traders and coolies, they took local brides (of Javanese, Batak, Achenese, etc. descent) and adopted many local customs. The result of this is an interesting fusion of local and Chinese cultures. The men are addressed as Babas and the women Nonyas by their servants meaning Master and Mistress.

A small group of Eurasians of Portuguese descent continue to speak their unique creole, known as Cristão or Kristang.

Get in

By plane

Malacca International Airport (IATA: MKZ) (formerly Batu Berendam Airport) is located about 10 km from the city of Malacca. However, there are no flights from or to this airport since March 2014.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport KLIA, (IATA: KUL) is the nearest major airport and is about 1.5-2 hr away by car.

Malaysia Airlines does not fly to Malacca, but it maintains an office at Lot 1&2, Block A, Ground floor, Century Mahkota Hotel, J. Merdeka, Melaka. ☎+60 6 282 9597.

By Bus

Many long-distance express buses connect Malacca with both Kuala Lumpur, Seremban, Johor Bahru, Singapore and other parts of Peninsular Malaysia. All long-distance and local buses now operate from the Melaka Sentral bus terminal, a good 4.5 km from the historic core of the city.

To reach the main historical district take bus number 17 which departs from the domestic bus terminal of Melaka Sentral at the bus bay '17'. This bus goes to Chinatown and Taming Sari. The closest stop to Chinatown is Dutch Square, which you will easily identify from the brick red Christ Church and Stadthuys. Price is RM1/person. Note that bus 17 is a loop line, so when you need to go back to Melaka Sentral you will take it at the same place where you got off, but using bus 17 back to Melaka Sentral does take much longer than the inbound journey. If you wish to take a taxi instead then head towards the rear of the building. There's an official taxi stand that will appoint a driver to you. The standard rate is 20RM for a trip to any hotel in the city.

From Malacca International Airport

From Kuala Lumpur

Southbound buses now leave from new bus terminal Bersepadu Selatan, which is located just next to LRT station and KTM Komuter station Bandar Tasik Selatan. Easiest way to get there from Chinatown is walk to Kuala Lumpur old railway station (just opposite side of canal from LRT Pasar Seni station, use overpass) and take KTM Komuter train for RM1.10 or take LRT from Masjid Jamek station. Buses are leaving every half hour, cartel price of ticket to Melaka Sentral is RM12.20 with all bus companies, ride takes 2 hours.

From Kuala Lumpur International airport

From Singapore

Many bus companies operate from Lavender St. bus terminal directly to Melaka Sentral. Bus schedules vary between companies but some operates have hourly buses. Best show up and buy tickets in advance if you want to travel on Saturday morning and return Sunday afternoon as many Singaporean tourists have the same idea. The fares can vary starting from around SGD14-50 one way depending on class of the bus.

Bus rides often take any time between 3.5–5 hours depending on how long it takes to cross the Singapore-Malaysia borders, which during peak periods can cause massive delay. You will have to get your passport stamped at each end of the border and you must bring all your luggage with you when you are making an entrance into each country. Generally, the bus will wait for you at the border but sometimes they will expect you to catch the next bus if you take too long going through custom. Make sure you remember what you bus looks like (the number plate is quite a handy thing to remember). The buses will also have a 20-30min rest stop along the way where you can purchase food and use the toilet facilities (whose cleanliness can be questionable). The Singapore customs area has decent toilet facilities, if required.

Some of the companies operating to/from Malacca are:

By train

Malacca Town is not served by any railway lines. The nearest railway station is at Pulau Sebang/Tampin, ☎+60 6 341 1034, in the Alor Gajah district about 30 km (18 mi) away. The station is on the main Kuala Lumpur-Johor Bahru line and served by all trains.

Via Bus:The "Tai Lye" bus goes from the Tampin townsite to Malacca. You'll be looking for bus #26. When you get off the train, walk down the road to the right about 400m until you reach the main road. You now have two options. 1) Cross the road and wait until bus 26 comes toward you, wave madly at it, and it will stop to pick you up. 2) When you reach the main road, turn left and walk about 600m into town. You'll come to an intersection that T's the main road, with a road branching left up a hill. Walk up that road about 200m and the bus station is on your left. This is a less risk but more walk option. If you've got lots of luggage, you can also take a taxi from the train station to the bus station. If you get lost walking, just ask locals for the "bus station". Few speak English here, but they'll understand where you want to get to. The bus fare is RM4.30, and you'll need actual Ringit currency to pay it with. The trip takes about an hour and a half.

Via Taxi:There should be a taxi or two at the train station waiting for someone like you to come along. If there isn't, walk into town with the above directions. You'll see one soon enough. The cost will be somewhere around RM50, but you can try haggling a bit. Either way, get them to take you to your hotel, or if they can only take you to Malacca Sentral, get a cheaper fare (don't wait to discuss this in the taxi!). Honestly, if you have the cash, and more than just a briefcase, this is the easier option. The cars are air conditioned (another bargaining chip if they aren't), and have trunk space for your gear. Plus, you could share the cost with up to three other people. Or if you are alone, maybe there is a local who's also trying to get to Malacca and would appreciate a free ride? Remember to be safe though. Don't get into your taxi until the driver has, always pay at the destination, and watch your stuff! The trip by taxi takes about 40 minutes.

Salira (light blue and yellow) also goes from Melaka Sentral to Tampin via Ayer Keroh and Durian Tunggal. Get off bus at same spot as Tai Lye.

By car

Malacca can be accessed from the North South Expressway. When coming from the south, drive along E2 and leave the expressway at the Ayer Keroh exit. Alternatively, one can leave the highway at the Simpang Empat exit and proceed through normal road to Melaka. This route will pass through the town of Alor Gajah and now with the new highway (ring road) completed, the trip from Simpang Empat to Melaka will take approximately 20-30 min by car.

Malacca city is on the Coastal Trunk Road (Federal Route 5), and can be accessed from the Main Trunk Road (Federal Route 1) by turning off at Simpang Kendong or Tampin, Negeri Sembilan. Malacca is 150 km (93 mi) from Kuala Lumpur, 216 km (134 mi) from Johor Bahru, and 90 km (56 mi) from Port Dickson.

Rent a car

For those who want an easy and direct way out from either Kuala Lumpur's LCCT or KLIA airport to Melaka, an easy way is to rent or hire a car or van. It will take you about 1-1.5 hr to get there. Prices range from RM150-RM400 depending upon the vehicle type and rental duration.

By taxi

Chartered taxi services are available from the end of Jalan Kee Ann. They travel within Melaka state and outside Melaka such as to KLIA International Airport and Kuala Lumpur and carry up to 4 passengers at a time. Many taxis will use a set fare rather than a meter for such trips, so you should agree on a price before getting in. If you rather avoid the negotiations, most hotels are able to book these trips for you (although some may take a rather large commission, so check the fare), or you can book online through a range of companies. Typical fares to KLIA are around 150-200RM, depending also on the car model. Family-taxis are available from some companies.

By boat

Daily ferries run to and from Bengkalis, Dumai and Pekanbaru in Sumatra, Indonesia. All ferries arrive and depart from the Harbour Master's jetty (Jeti Shahbandar) at Taman Melaka Raya near the Maritime Museum. To get to/away from Jetty: Malacca Town Bus No. 17 (Green) goes near the Harbour Master's jetty which is just down the road from the Red Square.

  • Tunas Rupat Follow Me Express (Malacca ticketing booth at Jln PM10 Melaka Raya. ☎+60 6 281 6766, office ☎+60 6 283 2506, +60 6 283 2516; Dumai agent: Jl. Jend. Sudirman 4. ☎+62 7 653 1398) operates two ferries daily. They depart Malacca for Dumai at 9AM and 3PM. Journey time is just under 2 hr. Tickets cost RM110/170 1-way/return.
  • Tunas Rupat Follow Me Express (Malacca ticketing booth at Jln PM10 Melaka Raya. Tel: +60 6-2816766, office ☎ +60 6 2832506, +60 6 2832516; Pekanbaru agent: Jl. Tanjung Datuk No 153, Pekanbaru. ☎+62 761 858777) has ferries from Pekanbaru to Malacca on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 0900. From Malacca to Pekanbaru, they depart on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 9:30AM. The journey takes about six and a half hours. Tickets cost RM120/210 1-way/return from Malacca to Pekanbaru.
  • NNH Ferry Services Malacca ticketing booth G-15, Jln PM10, Plaza Mahkota Melaka Raya. ☎+60 6 288 1334 runs the Pelita Jaya ferry from Malacca to Pekanbaru on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 9AM.
  • Laksamana Group (Malacca ticketing office stalls on Jln PM10, Plaza Mahkota Melaka Raya) has ferries from Malacca to Bengkalis in Riau Province, Sumatra, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays departing at 1100. Ferries connect to Selat Panjang where there are onward ferries to Batam and the other Riau Islands. From Bengkalis, ferries depart on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 9:30AM.
  • Mulia Kencana (Malacca ticketing office Stall No. 5, Jln PM10, Plaza Mahkota Melaka Raya. Mobile ☎+60 13 373 3545, +60 16 682 6896, +60 12 339 8428) operates three ferries a week from Malacca to Bengkalis. Ferries connect to the town of Pakning. From Malacca, ferries depart on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 1PM. Tickets cost RM50/80 1-way/return. Tickets from Bengkalis to Pakning cost a further Rp 10,000.

Bengkalis are not listed as a visa-free or visa-on-arrival point of entry into Indonesia. However, those entitled to visa-free entry, or at least Malaysian passport holders, do not seem to face any problems.

Get around

Malacca is by no means a small city, but most of the main sites are within easy walking distance from each other and are best explored on foot. Be mindful not to hold up traffic while taking pictures of buildings. The locals have generally good driving sense and adhere to traffic laws.

By monorail

A 1.6-km monorail system was opened with much fanfare in October 2010, but it was plagued with problems and promptly taken out of service. As of December 2010, the monorail is not operational and its planned extension is in doubt.

By car

Streets in the older/historical part of the city are very narrow, so they quickly become clogged during peak hours. This is especially so during the weekends, when cars from other parts of Malaysia and from Singapore flood to the city. Finding a car park lot is also extremely difficult during weekends. Most of the roads are also one-way, so plan your route properly.

By taxi

Metered Taxis are just about everywhere. Chartered taxis on Jalan Kee Ann also travel within the city and should not cost more than RM15 per ride. Taxi Drivers are quite tourist friendly though not all taxi drivers will speak English. A few taxi drivers also maintain their business cards for more business from tourists.

Some taxis do not to use the meters and try to overcharge foreigners, apparently also giving kickbacks to reservation agents at hotel concierge desks.

By bus

Generally the bus system in Malacca is worse than chaotic: there doesn't seem to be a schedule (one can wait for more than an hour for a bus on the coast just north of Malacca), and information about where and what buses to catch at Sentral is non-existent (you may get lucky looking at the printed paper displays near the front of the busses).

Others

See

The Stadhuys and clock tower at the heart of the historic quarter of Malacca
Malacca River at dusk
The Baba Nyonya Museum in Malacca which is in a typical Peranakan house
Replica of the Flor de la Mar hosting part of the Maritime Museum

The older part of the city proper has, in addition to the old palace and the large buildings left by the Europeans, many private houses and shops from nearly a century or more ago, put up by Chinese traders. Many of these have beautiful details such as moulded porcelain tiles and painted plaster reliefs on the front. Unfortunately, they tend to be not well preserved and the city government decided to paint all the buildings in the historical district a bright brick red some years ago, as the constant spitting by passers-by was proving a nuisance, which detracts from their aesthetic value.

Note that on Tuesdays, many museums, shops, restaurant are closed, especially in the Jonker Street area. If you have only one day to spend in Malacca, do not go on Tuesday!

Heritage area

Others

Do

The City View Tower Of Melaka

Events and Festivals

Buy

Malacca is famed for its antiques, with many a beautiful shophouse interior now filled to the brim with artefacts from all around the Asia Pacific region. Your chances of finding a bargain here are minimal though; prices in many of the tourist-oriented places are absurdly high by any standard, and although many items are touted as being 'more than a hundred years old', most is brand new but 'aged' at the back of the shops.

Shops

A dried fruit purveyors historic shopfront in Jalan Bendahara

Markets and Street market

Malls and Shopping centres

Buy food and Local Delicacies

For restaurants, cafes and dining see the Eat section below.

Eat

Besides the usual Malaysian fare, you'll be able to sample some rather peculiar Malaccan food. On top of the list is of course Peranakan or Baba-Nyonya food, which until recently was totally uncommercialised and confined to the kitchens of old grandmothers. Now, there is a string of restaurants claiming to serve Peranakan food, but most unfortunately seem to be on the tour bus circuit. The dishes are slightly different from those of the Penang Peranakan. Usual ones include ayam pongteh (chicken in bean sauce, originally cooked with pork), ayam buah keluak (chicken cooked with a bitter fruit) and a whole array of desserts. Another famous Malacca dish is what is commonly called "chicken rice ball". Although it is called Hainanese chicken rice, it is not from Hainan, China, but invented by the Hainanese immigrants to Malaysia a long time ago. The chicken for this dish is very much the same as the boiled chicken offered throughout Malaysia; what is unique is the rice - it comes in ping-pong sized balls. Yet another Malaccan speciality is satay celup. It is like lok-lok found in other parts of the country but instead of dipping your skewered foodstuff (fishballs, crabsticks, meat, prawns etc.) into boiling water, you dip them into a boiling vat of satay sauce. The sight of boiling satay sauce may not appeal to you but the crowds at the satay celup outlets seem to suggest that many have overcome their phobias.

Of course, Malacca is where you'll find Portuguese-Eurasian food. The greatest concentration of outlets is at the Portuguese Settlement. Seafood is popular, as are the fiery "devil curries".

For local Malay delicacies, worth trying:

Other local but not typically Malay food:

The recent tourism boom has seen many new food and beverage outlets open in Malacca, and especially in the heritage area of Jonker and Heeren Street. However, competition is great and some outlets fail to survive. Places you discover on your first visit may not be around anymore on your second.

Budget

The popular Malacca chicken rice ball dish.
Chicken rice balls (Chinese)
This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget up to RM12.50
Mid-range up to RM50
Splurge over RM50
Jalan Kee Ann-night opening eating stalls
Noodles
Satay celup-(satay sauce 'steamboat')
Western
Halal food

Mid-range

Peranakan style

Original Malay 'fusion' cooking blending Chinese ingredients and wok cooking techniques with spices used by the Malaysian community. The food is tangy, aromatic, spicy and herbal.

  • Geographér Cafe, 83 Jalan Hang Jebat (Jonker Walk). ☎+60 6 281 6813. The restaurant/bar occupied a renovated old Malacca shophouse. Comfortable and lively/noisy restaurant/bar serving Malaccan standards. Occasional live music.
Japanese+Chinese
Seafood
Western

Drink

When in Malacca, don't miss the cendol ("chen-dul"), a sweet dessert of coconut milk, lurid green noodles and gula Melaka (Malacca sugar), made from palm sap.

Night clubs and bars

Melaka Raya is where most of Malacca's relatively limited nightlife is to be found, with many of the city's pubs, discos and KTV located in that area.

Café, bars and bistro

Sleep

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Up to RM100
Mid-range RM100-RM300
Splurge RM300+

Budget

Heritage area

Melaka Raya

Other areas

Mid-range

Heritage area

Melaka Raya

Kota Laksamana

Others

Splurge

Heritage area and Melaka Raya

Other areas

Stay safe

Melaka is a very safe place with a low crime rate. However, do watch out for pickpockets in crowded areas and bags snatching on the roadside by motorbikes. Carry your identification papers (passport) with you always because there are random checks by the police for illegal immigrants.

Go next


Routes through Malacca

Putrajaya Seremban  N  S  Yong Peng Johor Bahru


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, December 25, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.