On my 2nd time to fly to Malaysia, I found myself exploring the UNESCO city called Melaka. I was invited to be part of the bloggers who will participate on a media trip in conjunction with the Asian Urban Youth Assembly (AUYA).
Unlike the other international delegates of AUYA, our program was to explore the city of Melaka and experience what it can offer its growing number of tourists.
Around 3 hours drive from Kuala Lumpur ( and 3 hours as well from Singapore), this heritage town, was once one of the famous ports in Southeast Asia. With its strategic location between China and India, it is one of the most ideal trading ports in the region.
Dubbed as Malaysia’s “Historic Capital” City, this UNESCO Heritage Site is a melting pot of several influences from Malay, Dutch, Indian, Chinese and the British which traces back from its rich trading and colonial history.
I got a chance to tour around the city and noted some of the things you should visit while exploring the state.
Experience Melaka’s Traditional Village, Kampung Balik Bukit
This was our first stop in our trip (even before checking–in in our hotel). A perfect break from our drive from Kuala Lumpur.
We got to try out and dress up in a traditional Malaysian clothes. Baju Melayu for men and Baju Kurung for ladies.
During our visit, we also got a chance to go to the paddy fields by motorbikes/Vespas. The most interesting part during our bike ride was driving along the Chief Minister of Melaka, Datuk Seri Utama Ir. Haji Idris bin Haron. How cool was that?
At the kampung (village), we watched the locals play some traditional sports, duck chasing, tug-of-war and buffalo riding to name a few ( which you can also participate).
After all the afternoon activities, we went back to the homestay, not by motorbikes, but on a carriage being pulled by a buffalo.
It was a indeed a fun activity to start our trip in Melaka.
Food tripping and shopping at Jonker Street
Jonker Street is one of the famous attractions in Melaka. You can visit it any time of the day and marvel at the Chinese houses turned into food/retail establishments. I love how you’ll feel transported in an old Chinese village.
The best days to visit Jonker are during the weekends (Fridays and Saturdays). During these days, the whole street will be closed to vehicles and turn into a full weekend night market.
When visiting Jonker, don’t forget to try out some street food. I had the best cendol I’ve tasted here.
Explore the Night Market
Different from the (more) famous Jonker Street Weekend Night Market, right at the center of town ( a few walks from our hotel – Hatten Hotel), you can find Malaka’s night market.
It is open from Friday to Sunday, so if you are only available on a Sunday night, as Jonker Street will be closed, this is the next location for you to find cheap food stalls and retail shops selling from souvenir key chains to shoes.
Walk around the Red Square
The Red Square, also known as the Dutch Square. It is famous for its RED painted buildings placed side by side together. The main square is the location of the Stradhuys, Christ Church and The Queen Victorias Fountain showing traces of the Dutch and British occupancies.
It serves as the main attraction in Melaka where you will see most of the tour buses do their stopovers.
Taste the savory Melakan food
Melaka is famous for its savory (and spicy) cuisines. One of the things that I kept of hearing on our way to Melaka was the Baba Nyonya cuisine. A fusion dish that came from the Chinese immigrants and the native Malaysians of Melaka during the 15th and 16th Century.
We were invited to try a full Baba Nyonya set at the Equatorial Hotel, where we were served with 10-course meal perfectly served to us like a traditional Baba Nyonya dinner, one dish at a time placed on a lazy susan.
One thing I don’t get about this way of serving, most of the time, the rice will be served at the end when you finished all your viands…so you’ll end up eating only rice… tsk tsk tsk.
Went out roughly 45min from the city center to taste the best kari kambing (mutton curry) and asam pedas (sour and hot dish) in Melaka. If you are visiting this Malaysian state check out Warung Kari Kambing Power & Asam Pedas Claypot to have a taste of these savory dishes. #ICYDKMelaka #AUYA #GayaTravel #fabulousMelaka #DekatJe
Another famous dish in Melaka (which my Malaysian friends said, a must try in the State), is the Asam Pedas. It is literally translated as sour-spicy. We tried the Asam Pedas Pari (stingray) at the Warung Kari Kambing Power and Asam Pedas Claypot at Tambak Merlang. This dish is full of flavor and highly recommended! Plus you need to eat it with your hands if you want a full experience.
Visit the Hang Tuah Centre
To do something cultural, we visited the Hang Tuah Centre/Museum. Known as a venue for weddings, cultural performances and other cultural functions, this place will help you immerse in some of the Malay traditions in Melaka.
In one of the rooms, you can try out traditional games (which are fairly similar to what we have in the Philippines).
While some of my friends tried out the games, I was busy preparing for a grand wedding! My wedding to be exact! Haahaha! I was volunteered to be a groom at the traditional Melakan wedding demonstration.
Made from red velvet with golden ornaments, the wedding dress (both for the groom and the bride) was very lavish and heavy (also very warm). One by one, our friends who acted as our guests joined us in the celebration and blessed us with a sort of ceremonial water. We also had a reception dinner/snack and dance performances were prepared to entertain us and our guests (it really felt like a real wedding haha).
Take note: In order to experience the wedding ceremony demonstration, you’ll have to book in advance, as they need preparations for it (I told you we had food right?).
Travel around on a River Cruise
Known as the Venice of the East, your trip in Melaka will not be complete without trying their River Cruise. I was told that the river was restored as part of the city’s rehabilitation to promote it as a world class tourist destination in Malaysia.
The cruise will tour you around the city’s canal, which connects most parts of the city. It doesn’t really function as a hop-on hop-off kind of cruise as it will go on a full circle in a span of 40 minutes.
Leaving the beautiful city of Melaka. Going back to KL and stay in the capital for the next few days. I have 3 free days before the next trip starts, so if you are in Kuala Lumpur just send me a shout out and maybe we can grab a coffee and chitchat 😆😀. #ICYDKMelaka #AUYA #GayaTravel #fabulousMelaka #DekatJe
View the city from the Menara Taming Sari
Another attraction that will help you see the whole city is the Menara Taming Sari. A viewing tower where you have a view of the whole city from 80m high and rotating 360 degrees.
If you are afraid of heights, this might not be for you. We rode with a group of young students and the kids were all screaming all the way up. However, the view is breathtaking so I guess the screams were worth it.
Ride the Beca
Our first night around town, my attention was caught by the colorful (and bright) tuk tuks called Beca. They are surely the king of Melaka’s road. In the evening they are like fireflies on steroids while on daylight, you will see clearly how they look like, a rickshaw with a big stuffed Hello Kitty as a bumper and a Frozen printed fabric for a cape…and oh, each one has their own boom box.
Learn about metamorphosis at the Butterfly and Reptile Sanctuary
Last but not the least, we visited the Butterfly and Reptile Sanctuary. An 11 acre site that serves as a sanctuary and breeding ground for hundreds of butterflies and a number of lizards, crocodiles and snakes.
Here you will be guided through the whole life cycle of a butterfly (we were all saddened to hear that a butterfly lifespan is just 10 days — note: don’t get attached to a butterfly). After being educated about butterflies, we found ourselves walking around the 11 acre compound while we checked out snakes, lizards and other reptiles in the sanctuary.
There might be an absence of white sand beaches and turquoise waters in Melaka but the state offers a different kind of laid back R&R for all its visitors. An immersion to the rich Malaysian Culture; from history, food and even experiencing the kampung life. Definitely, if given a chance, I don’t mind coming back in this city over and over again.
This trip was in collaboration with Tourism Melaka and Gaya Travel Magazine, in conjunction with the Asia Urban Youth Assembly (AUYA).
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