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Malacca Travel Blog. First Impressions.

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Malacca is a strange place. Arriving on the bus from Kuala Lumpur, on motorways that could easily have been in Surrey, I felt as if we’d left Asia. It was all a bit too Western. We got off the bus at Malacca Sentral, not to be greeted by touts, but by helpful people pointing us in the direction of the official taxi rank. The taxi drivers didn’t try to rip us off, they got together to discuss where we were going, agreed on a reasonable price and who should take us. When the driver couldn’t find our guesthouse he drove around searching and didn’t charge us any extra.

Malacca pretty street photo
Malacca is incredibly pretty in parts and really well preserved. We’ll share more photos of beautiful places in Malacca.

Refreshing and lovely, but really weird, I’m not used to this after months in Southeast Asia. More from our Malacca travel blog section on pretty, historic Malacca, impressions, travel tips, thoughts and places to see.

We also talk a little about food and restaurants in Malacca, further down the page.

Food in Malacca photos
Malacca was where we first tried nasi lemak, fat rice. It wasn’t for us! We also tried Indian and Nyonya food in Malacca.

Malacca is famous for many things, other than its UNESCO-listed old town and night markets, including being home to Malaysia’s Mr Universe, photo below.

Malacca famous person photo
Malacca is famous for being home to Malaysia’s Mr Universe.

Malacca Travel Blog

I’m struggling to write a blog post about Malacca in Malaysia, it’s so diverse and parts we like, parts we don’t.

The city itself is incredibly modern, but the old town that centres around Jonker St. is a different world. Old, really, really old, and stunningly beautiful.

Malacca (AKA Melaka ) is UNESCO listed, conserved and preserved, painted, spruced and ready to impress. But I’ve got this weird feeling that I’m in a kind of historical theme park.

 Malacca or Melaka, Malaysia.
Another ancient and stunningly preserved doorway in the Malacca Old Town Area. Chinese, of course.

It’s beautiful and gorgeous, but it’s SO full of tourists, so full you can barely move on the weekends, let alone find a room.

The roads are littered with crazy, decorated, musical pedal rickshaws pumping Gangnam Style through pimped up sound systems. There is a Hard Rock Cafe.

 Malacca or Melaka, Malaysia.
Malacca’s weird musical cycle rickshaws pump Gangnam Style into the night. The local tourists seem to love them.

Jonker St. itself is a historical and architectural delight, turned gift shop.

I have mixed feelings. I love it, but it’s not the sleepy old town I expected.

The diversity is what gives Malaysia and Malacca its uniqueness. The Indian, Malay and Chinese communities live side by side with colonial history showing through.

There is blending, of course, but each community retains some identity.

 Malacca or Melaka, Malaysia. Colonial charm. Read more about the fascinating mix of cultures in Malacca here.
A beautiful old colonial cafe. We stopped here for breakfast and it was good.

Back at our guest house we’re woken by the call to prayer from the mosque at 5 something am, shortly followed by the gongs of the Chinese Temple directly opposite, our first day of exploration has begun.

 Malacca Travel Blog. Chenese Temple or Melaka, Malaysia.
A stunning Chinese Temple, first of our places to visit in Malacca.

Within 2 minutes we can be in a Hindu temple dedicated to Ganesh, step inside and you really wouldn’t know you were anywhere other than India.

I really love the authenticity, diversity and acceptance. Malacca is, without a doubt, my favourite part of Malaysia so far. If I had to recommend one part of Malaysia to visit, this would be it.

It’s not what I expected, but that’s OK. I suppose it’s like going to Devon or Cornwall and expecting genuine fishermen to live in the fishermen’s cottages and finding tea shops instead.

I think I just expected too much. Expectations are your worst enemy sometimes.

We have almost a week to explore and enjoy Malacca before we head south towards Singapore for Johor Baru and Legoland, I’m looking forward to some great food while we’re here. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Malacca Old Town Travel Blog and Guide
Sights like these are common around Malacca’s historic Old Town, but get there early before the hordes of tourists arrive.

Update: As our time in Malacca passed we never did find that great food. We tried Indian, Chinese, and Nonya, but unfortunately, we found nothing to rave about. The Indian was authentic, cheap, and good, but nothing unusual about it it was the usual food you’d find in the south of India. You need to go to Little India for that.

Malacca restaurant
This Malacca restaurant was one of our favourites, but it was a little expensive to use often. It’s called The Geographer, and there’s also a branch in Kuala Lumpur, near Chinatown. They also serve red wine, much enjoyed after months in Asia.

Everywhere we go in Malaysia, we gravitate towards the very good Indian food you can find there. You can read more in our post on Indian food in Malaysia.

Traditional nyonya restaurant in Malacca
A nyonya restaurant in Malacca Old Town. The building and decorations were gorgeous, but we didn’t really like the food, unfortunately.

Nyonya cuisine is a result of Malaysia’s mix of cultures and nations, it’s particularly noticeable in Malacca. Nyonya cuisine comes from the Peranakans, local descendants of Chinese migrants who settled in Penang, Malacca, Singapore, and Indonesia, blending their cuisines with local Malay dishes. Nyonya cuisine is a mother’s or grandmother’s food. In Baba Malay, a female Peranakan is a nonya, and a male a baba.  You’ll see a nyonya menu below.

Nyonya cuisine restaurant menu photo
A nyonya cuisine restaurant menu

The Malacca night market serves some interesting street food and we tried satay and more, still nothing too exciting. We visited the Bird’s Nest Soup production facility and museum, found playgrounds and parks for the kids, and the superb Malacca Museum (the one that looks like a giant boat). Malacca is a nice place, just not our scene. It’s pretty, and you have to love it for that. Its history is fascinating but it’s not a place we’d particularly choose to visit again. Back to our main Malaysia travel blog page here.

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This Melaka blog post was written a very long time ago on our first trip to Malaysia. And it is written travel blog style, not as an information post. We’ve since returned to Malaysia many times. I’d have to say now that our two favourite places in Malaysia are Kuala Lumpur and Kuching Sarawak. We still haven’t returned to Malacca, but maybe one day we will.

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Tuesday 19th of August 2014

Yep, I like my Asia as Asia-y as possible. I adore India, Nepal, Vietnam, so Malaysia just doesn't really float my boat. Maybe if I'd gone there first, 20 years ago before I fell in love with Thailand, then India, I would have enjoyed it a lot more, but it was a good experience to see some of Malaysia and I'd very much like to see the rest of it.


Monday 18th of August 2014

Very interesting impressions. I wonder how much you were influenced by where you came from. I visited Malacca in 1999 as my first stop in the "real" Asia after landing in Singapore and spending a week there. It seemed so exotic and cheap in comparison! I didn't know much about it so I loved the history and the old buildings and I loved being able to ride a gaudy bicycle rickshaw from my guesthouse in an old colonial building to the entrance of a modern, western style shopping mall! I agree with folks that suggested that it would be a great entrance city to Asia for people who haven't traveled there before. But I'm also guessing it's a lot busier now than it was 15 years ago, too. Hopefully I'll get the chance to go back and check it out again with the family in tow.


Tuesday 26th of November 2013

I'll be in KL for a week this January. Originally I was thinking of doing just a day trip to Malacca, but maybe I'll stay a bit longer.

Thanks for all the info! :)


Tuesday 26th of November 2013

Hi Beth, you could certainly spend a few days in Malacca exploring the old town and the churches etc. Try and be there for the weekend night market, but it's very busy on weekends. We stayed a week and I was very glad to leave. Malaysia and I don't get on so well.


Wednesday 6th of November 2013

Melaka was my favourite place in Malaysia too - I ended up spending three weeks there! I found a place with the most killer roti cenai and those statues of the bodybuilder made me laugh every time I saw them. I would love to return.


Wednesday 6th of November 2013

Oh I know, those statues are so funny! He's the guy behind the whole Jonker Walk renovation, so Malacca has a lot to thank him for.


Tuesday 5th of November 2013

I agree, expectations are often your worst enemy! Malacca looks lovely though, I wish we'd visited while we were in Malaysia - looking forward to hearing more about your stay there.

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