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Malacca Travel Course

Exploring Malacca

The port city of Malacca once formed part of the historic Strait Settlements of the Malacca Strait. For more than a hundred years beginning in the early 1800s, the Malacca Strait was one of the wealthiest waterways of the world as it connected the maritime trade of Europe, India and the Far East. Malacca is one of the benefactors of this prosperity and its historic and grandiose colonial structures clearly show it.

Due to its strategic location, it was colonised at different points in history by three different colonial powers: the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British. This is, of course, apart from the multitude of immigrants who came to Malacca before and after the Europeans arrived, which include the Chinese, the Malays and the Indians. This surge of different ethnic peoples also resulted in the birth of new cultures. These include the distinct Chinese-Malay culture of the Peranakan people and the Malay-Portuguese culture of the Kristang people.

Sights nearby

With a history as rich as Malacca’s, sightseeing here is definitely a remarkable experience. Excellent sightseeing is not the only activity tourists can enjoy in Malacca, however. Many experiences here are distinctly Malaccan and therefore should be experienced by visitors to this scenic and historic city. There is a wide choice of accommodation here; two choices are the four-star Holiday Inn Melaka and the Renaissance Melaka.

- Dutch Square

Right in the heart of town is Dutch Square, sometimes called Red Square because the entirety of it, including the structures within and the buildings surrounding it, are all in a fiery red colour. The most prominent structure in Dutch Square is Christ Church, a Protestant church built by the Dutch in the mid-1700s as a replacement for an old Portuguese church on the site.

- Old Town

The beautifully preserved old houses of the old Malacca locals can still be found in the Old Town across Malacca River from Dutch Square. The houses are mainly concentrated along Jonker and Heeren Streets. Another prominent street here is Harmony Street as this is where an Indian temple, a Chinese temple and a Malay mosque can be found along one single street.

- Malacca River Cruise

One of the best ways to experience the heritage buildings of the Old Town is actually not on foot. A nice river cruise is a popular activity along the historic Malacca River. The cruise is best done at night as this is when the houses and structures along the River are lit up making for a particularly scenic boat ride.

- Peranakan and Kristang

The best place to learn about Peranakan culture, which arose from Malacca’s melting pot, is the Baba and Nyonya Peranakan Museum. It is housed within a beautiful heritage house in the Old Town. Southeast of Malacca’s city centre is the Portuguese Settlement, occupied now by the descendants of Malaccca’s Portuguese community. People here are Christians and they speak a Portuguese creole called Cristao. This is where the demonym

- Kristang

comes from.

Eating and drinking and shopping nearby

While seeing cultural artefacts from the distinct ethnic groups of Malacca is one thing, it is quite another to savour and taste them. Peranakan cuisine is extremely popular around these parts. The rich

- laksa

curry soup and the chicken rice balls, a twist on the popular Hainanese chicken rice, are just two of the must-haves. The Old Town is the place to be during the weekend as a night market takes place here along Jonker Street. Within Old Town are Malacca's bars and restaurants. Shoppers will want to check out the city’s many antique stores and art galleries, with many near Jonker Street. Cheaper souvenirs can be had at Jonker Walk Night Market. A mid-range hotel choice here is the Jonker Boutique Hotel.

Public transport

Visitors to Malacca come here via Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur International Airport or Singapore. It is easily reached by bus from these locations. Most of the interesting sights in Malacca are very much within a few minutes' walk from each other. Thus, exploring the city on foot is recommended. Those who want a more relaxed vacation can hire the colourful rickshaws parked by the Dutch Square.