Top 5 Things To Do In Malacca, Malaysia: Filmed Entirely on the iPhone
The city of Malacca is dubbed the Historic City and is a popular holiday destination, especially for tourists from Singapore, which is just two and a half hours drive or 240 kilometers away. The influences of Asia and Europe have endowed Malacca with a multi-cultural heritage with its government buildings, churches, squares and fortifications, starting from the 15th century Malay Sultanate to the Portuguese and Dutch periods in the 16th century. Malacca and her sister city, Georgetown in Penang are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008. Today Malacca is a beautiful city that is truly a melting pot of cultures with its unique blend of Chinese, Portuguese and Dutch influences. Here are the top 5 things to do when you visit Malacca. Number one, take the cruise along the
Sungai Melaka. You can enjoy a relaxing 45-minute river cruise along the Sungai Melaka and witness the city's vibrant heritage. The cruise allows you to explore Malacca's rich history and contemporary wonders as you journey past some of its stunning landmarks. The river cruise operates daily from 9 am to 11.30 pm with each cruise covering around 9 kilometers. The Muara Jetty will be a great place to start the cruise. The cruise costs 25 ringgit per adult. You can admire the city's beautiful art murals and travel under historic bridges like the Tan Kim Seng Bridge and Pasar Bridge.
Number two, soak in the Peranakan culture and heritage. The origin of the Peranakans can be traced back to centuries ago when the Chinese came to trade in Southeast Asia. The Chinese then married the local females and their descendants are known as Peranakans which have their very own distinct culture and customs. The Peranakans retain some practices of Chinese culture but at the same time adopt local Malay traditions in terms of language, dressing and food.
Nyonya usually wear baju kebaya, similar to Malay. However, they practice Chinese customs, especially in festival celebrations, marriage and ancestral worship. To have a thorough understanding of the Peranakan heritage in Malacca, the place to go to is the Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum located at Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock.
The museum, which was renovated from three well-preserved townhouses is privately-owned and run by a local Peranakan. As you enter the museum, it is as if you have gone back in time and stepped into the home of a wealthy Chinese Peranakan family with its peached-coloured walls, classic wooden furniture and intricately-carved windows and doors. Indeed, this museum is the former home of a wealthy baba, Chan Cheng Siew and his family and showcases valuable antiques such as hand-carved wooden furniture and precious dinnerware made of ceramics.
The house has no windows on the walls. Ventilation and light come into the house through the main courtyards. Rain would fall through the courtyards to cool the house and also bring good luck and prosperity into the house, as it is believed that water signifies wealth. One of the unique features of this house is its gold-gilded staircase. No nails were used in creating the staircase, lending to the superstition that the only time a nail is used in the family is the "final nail in a coffin". Tok Panjang literally means "long table". With eight children in the Chan family, it was indeed necessary to have such a long table.
The heart of a Peranakan home is the kitchen. This household used to have two cooks. The main cook would buy the ingredients from the market and do the cooking while the assistant would clean and prepare the ingredients for cooking. A good nyonya must know how to pound a shrimp paste known as Belachan. A potential mother-in-law would be able to see if the nyonya is a suitable bride for her son just by listening to the rhythm in the pounding. The Baba & Nyonya Museum opens from 10 am to 12.30 pm and then, from 2 pm to 4.30 pm. Number 3, re-live Malacca's colonial past.
Malacca was the location of one of the earliest Malay Sultanates but the monarchy was abolished when the Portuguese conquered it in 1511. The Portuguese was in turn driven out by the Dutch in 1641. in 1824, it came under the British rule with the signing of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty. Let's explore some of the most interesting colonial places in Malacca. A Farmosa or "The Famous" in Portuguese is a fortress built in Malacca in 1512. The fort changes hands in 1641 when the Dutch drove the Portuguese out of Malacca and changed hands again in the late 18th century when the Dutch handed it over to the British to prevent it from falling into the hands of Napoleon's expansionist France. The Porta de Santiago Gateway and the restored
Middelburg Bastion are the only parts of the fortress that remain today. They are among the oldest European architectural remains in Southeast Asia and the Far East. The Dutch Square or the Red Square is a great reflection of Malacca's rich history and colonial past. The most prominent building in the Red Square is the Stadthuys which used to be the administrative centre of the Dutch governor and is believed to be the oldest Dutch building in the East.
The building was constructed between 1641 and 1660 on the ruins of a fort which belonged to the Portuguese. Adjacent to the Stadthuys is the Christ Church, an 18th century Anglican church and the oldest functioning Protestant church in Malaysia. The construction of the church started in 1741 in commemoration of the centenary of the capture of Malacca from the Portuguese. The church was completed 12 years later in 1753. Originally white, the church and the Stadthuys building was painted red in 1911. Also located in the Red Square is the Queen Victoria's Fountain. It was built in 1901 by the British to commemorate the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria.
It is still standing as elegant as ever until this very day and is probably the only functioning colonial water fountain in Malaysia. Lastly, the Tan Beng Swee Clock Tower, in honour of a generous Chinese tycoon. Tan Beng Swee was a Chinese community leader in Malacca. As a public service, he presented a large clock to the people of Malacca to allow for more accurate time-keeping. This clock was eventually housed in the Tan Beng Swee Clock Tower, which was erected by his son, Tan Jiak Kim in 1886.
The Maritime Museum or the "Flora de La Mar" is a replica of the Portuguese ship which sank in the coast of Malacca while on its way to Portugal. The replica is a staggering 34 meters in height and 8 meters in width. The main focus of the museum is the maritime history of Malacca and the golden ages of Malacca's Sultanate as the Emporium of the East. There are also paintings which display how the Straits of Malacca was a strategic location for traders from both the east and the west who stop by in Malacca and conduct their businesses while waiting for the monsoon winds to change direction.
The museum showcases the different eras that Malacca has gone through. Right at the top of St Paul's Hill is the ruins of St Paul's Church, which was originally built in 1521, making it the oldest church building in Southeast Asia. The church was originally a chapel known to the Portuguese in Malacca as "Our Lady of the Hill", Nossa Senhora do Oiteiro. With the conquest of Malacca by the Dutch in 1641, the church was re-consecrated as a Dutch Reformed Church and used as the main church by the Dutch community until the new Bovenkerk, better known today as Christ Church was completed in 1753. The old church was then subsequently deconsecrated and the structure modified and strengthened as part of the fortifications of Malacca. In 1924, the old Portuguese burial vault in the chancel of the church was partially uncovered.
Further excavation was done in 1930 by the Malacca Historical Society and it was in this period that the tombstones that were scattered around in the vicinity of the church were affixed to the walls. In 1952, a statue of St Francis Xavier was erected in front of the ruins of the church in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of his sojourn in Malacca. A day after the statue was consecrated, a large casuarina tree fell on it, breaking off its right arm.
Incidentally, the right forearm of Xavier was detached in 1614 as a relic. Number four, enjoy the sights and sounds of Jonker Walk. Jonker Street or Jonker Walk is not really a single street but rather an area right in the heart of the city's historical Chinatown and is in the core zone of the Malacca UNESCO World Heritage Site. The streets of Jonker Walk are lined with heritage houses that date back to the 17th century.
It was during this time that the Peranakan baba and nyonya lived and conducted their businesses. Today the shop houses are re-purposed for business and sell a range of things from antiques, textiles, handicrafts to souvenirs. Others have been restored to their former glory and turned into beautiful boutique hotels, museums, galleries and cafes. Jonker Street is also where the different Chinese clans formed their clan associations. Among them, the Hokkiens established theirs in 1837, along with clan associations of the Hainanese and Leizhou community. The Lui Chiew Huay Kuan was established in 1899,
with the purpose of uniting and safeguarding the interests of the Leizhou immigrants in Malacca. As you enter the guild house, you will notice the traditional Leizhou tile flooring, leading to the main Guan Gong altar, flanked by two gigantic statues of the God of Fortune. Another notable guild house is the Hainan Association Building that was set up in 1868. It features a spacious hall
decorated with Chinese couplets with an altar honoring the Heavenly Empress as a centerpiece. The area turns into a night market every weekend from 6 pm to 12 midnight. The Jonker Walk Night Market is a sight to behold.
The dizzying colours of the iconic trishaws, the strong aroma of street food and the hustling and bustling of stall vendors and visitors, all make the night market an awesome experience. Here you can find hundreds of stalls from mouth-watering street food, toys, souvenirs, apparels to accessories. Besides the night market stalls, you can also enjoy the live music in the pubs around Jonker Walk.
Other interesting attractions at Jonker Walk include the Jonker Walk World Heritage Park which has a very prominent bust of Dr Gan Boon Leong, widely regarded as the father of Malaysia bodybuilding; and the Mamee Jonker House, where the famous snack sets up its first concept store. There is a workshop that teach you how to make noodle snacks and a Mamee Cafe that serves a wide array of noodles. Last but not least, your visit to Jonker Walk is not complete without trying out street food like Tok Tok Candy, Muah Chee and Putu Piring.
Number five, indulge in Malacca's never-ending gastronomic delight. I don't even know how to begin when we talk about food in Malacca. With its diverse range of culinary heritage, you will no doubt, be blown away by the quality and variety of food that you can find here in this historical city. Let me start by introducing a new generation of hipster cafes. What's interesting about these cafes are that they are housed in refurbished historical shop houses which are definitely instagram-worthy. Each of them has their own characteristics and charm, coupled with their own specialty coffee, food or dessert. Here are three of my favorites. The Stolen cup is one of the must-visit cafe along Jonker Street.
It is a cosy local cafe with a rustic interior filled with wooden tables and vintage furniture. The walls are filled with colorful posters with inspirational quotes and pictures. Conveniently located near the entrance of Jonker Street, it is the perfect place to start your day with their breakfast menu. The cafe serves up a great range of beverages and pastries
and our favourite is the pistachio croissant. Next on the list is The Daily Fix. It is definitely one of Malacca's most loved cafes considering the long and perpetual queue leading to the cafe. Nostalgic green blinds greet you as you enter the cafe. The interior deco gives it a very retro feel with wooden tables and chairs. You can see potted plants everywhere and colourfully painted plates adorn the walls. Old antiques such as tingkat and wooden cabinets are part of the display that give you the feeling that you have gone back in time.
The Daily Fix is best known for their pandan pancakes and their dark olio olio is really delicious. Lastly, Calanthe Cafe, which is known for being the only place where you can find specialty coffee from all 13 states of Malaysia. The interior of the cafe is filled with all kinds of stuff from pots and pans to posters of yesteryears. Another part of the cafe makes you feel like you're seated in your old home 40 years ago. One of my favourite food here is the Nyonya Laksa. In fact, it is so good that you have to buy their Laksa paste back home in case you don't have enough. For the restaurants here, these are two of my favourites.
Whenever you ask friends for recommendations for restaurants in Malacca, the name Tong Sheng Seafood Restaurant often pops up and they are famous for their Cheesy Prawn Bee Hoon which was inspired by Hong Kong's Lobster Cheese Noodles. The restaurant started in 2008 by Chef Lee Swee Meng and his son and it has become one of Malacca's most popular Zi Char restaurants. Tong Sheng is notorious for their ridiculous long queue. For weekends, walking-in is almost an impossible. You will have to make reservations before making a trip there. When you are there, the Cheesy Prawn Bee Hoon,
Butter Milk Crabs, Black Pepper Crabs and the Salted Egg Yolk Beancurd are must-haves. The Kam Cheng is a relatively new restaurant in Malacca and offers a modern and fusion Peranakan dining experience prepared by Chef Paul, a former executive chef of Violet Oon Peranakan Restaurant in Singapore. This is probably my favorite restaurant in all of Malacca. The Chicken Rendang is best served with the blue coconut steamed jasmine rice with Bunga Telang (Bluepea) infusion. The Kam Cheng Sio Bak is pork belly marinated with spices, air-dried and woodfire grilled to perfection. Other great selections include Paul's Dry Laksa, Tau Hu Goreng and their desserts, Sago Gula Melaka and Buah Keluak ice cream. So, that wraps up the top 5 things to
do in Malacca. Thanks for watching and wishing you a great vacation in Historical Malacca!