Destination Malaysia Boleh Travel Rambles Travel Tips

Melaka itinerary and travel tips

Fun things to do in Melaka, Malaysia

Located between Johor and Negeri Sembilan in Malaysia, Melaka is a popular destination for Singaporeans looking to getaway for a short weekend trip. This charming town boasts beautiful architecture of yesteryears, revived with the quirky shops and eateries that promise to satisfy even the most fastidious taste buds. 

Nonetheless, there’s more to Melaka than just affordable good food. Most visitors to Melaka stay for just 1 to 2 days, usually over the weekends, but if you are like me and prefer to take your own sweet time slow travel, you may want to consider a longer stay. Read on for our 4 days 3 nights itinerary and travel tips that we gathered along the way. 😉 

  1. How many days do you really need in Melaka?
  2. What is there to do in Melaka?
  3. A detailed 4D3N Melaka Itinerary (for reference)

How many days do you really need in Melaka?

Many Singaporeans or those staying in Kuala Lumpur would take a weekend trip in Melaka, usually driving in on a Friday evening or early Saturday morning and back to Singapore on Sunday evening. If there’s a public holiday or long weekend, you can expect the crowd in Melaka to be even scarier bigger!

Through our conversations with the local shopkeepers, we learnt that we were ‘lucky’ that we didn’t visit during the Labour Day long weekend. There were queues everywhere, especially at restaurants. Some people had to wait for a couple of hours just to get a meal!

Melaka travel tip #1: Avoid visiting Melaka over the public holidays or long weekends if you are not up to braving the crowds. If inevitable, make plans early for meals at popular places or opt for the less trodden path.

We were keen to avoid the crowd. Hence, we travelled to Melaka on a Wednesday and departed on Saturday afternoon. That gave us ample time to enjoy Melaka attractions, the good food, and the happening Jonker Street pasar malam (night market) minus the crazy crowd.  

How many days you need really depends on what you plan to do, and how much time you have to spare.

What is there to do in Melaka?

Take a (photo) walk down memory lane

Views of the old town (Left to Right) A mural along Melaka River; a mural at a back alley

The Melaka town centre is easily accessible, and for those who enjoy walking, you can explore the old town either on foot or by cycling. In many ways, Melaka, especially the Jonker Street vicinity resembles Singapore in its earlier days. There’s Kampung Bukit China (Chinese ‘village’), Kampung Chetti (Tamil village), Kampung Jawa (Jawanese village), etc. 

There are some traditional businesses that are still in operation; i.e. Yat Heng (at 72, Jalan Hang Kasturi) that sells rattan furniture, T. S. Lim Trading (at 63, Jalan Tokong, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia) that sells homemade Nyonya beaded shoes, etc. 

Besides dining and shopping, the streets and alleys of Melaka town boast many creative street art that immortalise the locals’ ways of life from a bygone era. Make time for a photowalk and capture some good memories.  

The author with her new rattan chair purchase

Melaka travel tip #2: Don’t be afraid to explore back alleys as you may stumble upon beautiful artworks or even a nice cafe! However, solo female travellers should exercise caution (especially at night) even though Melaka is a relatively safe destination. 

Learn about history and culture

Christ Church – An iconic Melaka landmark

There are many places of interest and historical sights around Melaka old town. The Stadthuys – a 17th century town hall – has been converted to house various museums. During our visits, some were not open but there were signages at the front that gave us an inkling of the history. 

The Dutch Square (Red Square) was just a stone’s throw away. The iconic Melaka landmark is located right in the centre of the town by the Melaka river, and just across it lies the popular Jonker Walk. For those who are interested to understand more about Melaka and its people, why not visit the Melaka Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum?

Peranakan refers to an ethnic group of mixed heritage (i.e. Chinese and Malay or Indonesian heritage), which one can find in Singapore, Malaysia and perhaps Indonesia. Personally, I love Peranakan culture (which is prominent in Malacca and Penang) for their interesting skills, vibrant colours and flavourful food.

Delicious Cendol and other dishes at Restoran Nyonya Makko

Melaka travel tip #3: Those looking for the best Cendol in Melaka (local dessert that contains coconut milk and palm sugar syrup.) can head to Restoran Nyonya Makko, which serves Peranakan cuisine. While their main dishes were so-so, their cendol was the best that we’ve tried in the town centre.

Go on a cycling tour in the suburbs of Melaka

Melaka cycling tour in the suburbs

If you are looking to get better acquainted with Melaka, this local cycling experience by Joseph will get you out of the town centre and usual tourist attractions. You will cycle along different landscapes; rice paddy fields, beaches, countryside and villages and catch a glimpse of the locals’ daily lives.

Note: There are several cycling tours conducted around Melaka town centre that include food stops and museum visits. As my travel companion and I are pretty familiar with the old town, we decided to explore the city centre on foot, and by Grab car, while opting to explore the Melaka suburbs on a bike. 

Be a tourist and enjoy sightseeing in Melaka

A view of the idyllic Melaka River in the town centre

For those who enjoy a more leisurely Melaka trip, sightseeing is a must-do activity, especially for those travelling with the elderly and young. Hop on the Melaka River Cruise to sail down the idyllic Melaka River (Tip: go during blue hour between 6.30pm – 7.30pm), where you’d pass by beautiful murals, century-old bridges and floodlit monuments. 

For a different perspective, head to Menara Taming Sari and take in an aerial view of Melaka at a height of 110m. The rotating observation deck is actually a gyro tower – the tallest in Malaysia! – and it promises a very comfortable ride! The best part? It’s located near several malls and markets, so you can head straight to shopping and dining right after enjoying the views.

Melaka travel tip #4: When heading to attractions for good views, it is best to visit during late afternoon or evening time to 1) avoid the heat, 2) enjoy a more beautiful view of Melaka in the gentle blue hour or lit with beautiful lights. 

Eat and drink to your heart’s content

Food at Jonker Street Night Market on a Friday evening

There’s a longstanding food debate between Singapore and Malaysia on who serves the best food. Ahem, well there must be a reason why Singaporeans kept going over to Malaysia to binge, right? Well, there are countless kopitiams (local coffee shops), cafes and restaurants where you can dine and drink to your heart’s content. 

A foodies’ trip in Melaka is pretty common amongst Singaporeans, so this one needs no further explanation. I like to explore eateries that are frequented by the locals, so here’s a list of the best breakfast places in Melaka recommended by people whom we crossed paths with. If you enjoy cafe hopping, these are the top 3 cafes in Melaka that are so good that I would revisit them.  

A detailed 4D3N Melaka Itinerary (for reference)

Jonker Walk, Melaka, in blue hour on a quiet weekday evening

Everyone has a different list when it comes to ‘the best things to do in Melaka’ since we all have different interests and preferences. If the above appeals to you, here’s a brief summary of our Melaka trip for your reference. 🙂

Day 1 [Wednesday] 

Morning: Depart Singapore to Melaka via 707-Inc direct coach. The journey was approximately 4 hours, including going through immigration checkpoints.   

Afternoon: We dropped off at Hatten Hotel, and had our lunch at Restoran Nyonya Makko (a 5-minute walk away) followed by check-in to the nearby The Nest House (2-minute walk). After check-in, we freshened up and decided to explore the town centre on foot, appreciated street art and visited two cafes along the way.

Evening: We strolled along the Melaka River, which was a very pleasant walk and had dinner at a restaurant along Jonker Walk, which was very quiet after 6pm. Apparently, the shops close around 5pm – 6pm on weekdays; the hours are extended only on Fridays and weekends when there’s the pasar malam (night market).  

Day 2 [Thursday] 

Morning: We took a Grab to Jalan Limbongan for breakfast as recommended by a local shopkeeper that we met the day before. It was a short 10+mins ride from our hotel, and after that we decided to visit the nearby Pantai Klebang (beach) for the famous sand dunes (another 10-minute ride). We didn’t see the sand dunes but it was a nice walk by the beach. 

Afternoon: It was approaching noon by the time we were leaving the beach, and we needed a respite from the heat. So we headed for the outlet shopping malls that were conveniently near our accommodations (just a few minutes walk). Later in the afternoon, we headed for a small bite at Locahouz cafe and visited some attractions in the vicinity. Then, we walked to Menara Taming Sari (Malacca Tower) for a panoramic view of Melaka. 

Evening: We continued shopping in the nearby markets and malls around Taming Sari while waiting for a friend (local) who treated us to dinner. Since we were anticipating an early morning tour the following day, we decided to head back earlier to rest.  

Day 3 [Friday] 

Morning: We took a Grab to Kampong Ayer Salak – the starting point of our cycling tour with Joseph. Breakfast was included in the tour, so we literally rolled out of bed and prepared to set off. The tour lasted till noon and Joseph was kind enough to send us back to our accommodations, as it was not easy to get a Grab from the kampong.   

Afternoon: We went back to the old town in search of coffee and food, and to collect my rattan chairs that I purchased on the first day. As it was a Friday, more shops were open and were preparing for the night market that will be in full swing by 6pm. 

Evening: The Jonker Street night market is one of the main highlights of Melaka and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Although it was crowded, we were still able to find a seat and savour some local delicacies while soaking up the happy atmosphere. There were many handcrafted and food souvenirs to bring home, and we wished we had a more loaded wallet and bigger luggages. 😛

Day 4 [Saturday] 

Morning: We took a Grab to Kedai Minuman Siang Chiang for breakfast as recommended by a local shopkeeper, and discovered Nonya Secrets across the road. After that, we went to get some food souvenirs since we were planning to return to Singapore in the afternoon. 

Afternoon: Upon check-out, we walked to Hatten Hotel to wait for our 707-Inc direct coach from Malacca to Singapore. By the time we reached Singapore, it was near evening and time for a rest. 🙂

– End – 

Upon the easing of border restrictions in May 2022, my friend and I took the 707 coach from Singapore to Malacca directly. This Malaysian city is more charming than usual, and it definitely warrants a visit beyond the old town. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment.  

The above information is based on personal experiences and should only be used as a reference. For more information on the destination, do check out:

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