Steeped in centuries of history, the city of Malacca has successfully transitioned from a bustling 15th-century port town to a world-renowned tourism hub. Every year, millions of visitors come from near and far to make the most of what the city has to offer, making it one of Malaysia’s most popular tourist destinations.
Thanks to its beginnings as an international port, one of the city’s most captivating traits is its diverse mix of cultures, which not only includes the dominant Malay, Chinese, and Indian cultures seen across Malaysia, but Portuguese and Dutch as well. Peranakan culture in particular, a blend of Chinese and Malay culture, has left its own distinctive mark.
If you’re planning a trip to Malacca and wish to truly experience its illustrious past, then you should consider booking a stay at 5 Heeren, a heritage hotel you have to see to believe.
Dubbed as a “museum residence”, the hotel is a seamless fusion of old and new: you’ll get to enjoy the usual modern amenities such as free Wi-Fi, en suite bathroom, and satellite TV while surrounded by the well-preserved old world elegance of a Peranakan home.
You can take your pick of any of the hotel’s 10 guest suites – the decor and furnishings of each room have been tastefully curated to lend a touch of individuality.
The Opium Pearl room – a guest favorite – features an antique wooden Opium bed with intricate gilt detailing and a view of the inner courtyard from the second floor, while the Grand Boulevard and Grand Harbour suites both have private balconies overlooking the charming Malacca River.
The hotel aims to offer a ‘home away from home’ feel, so guests get to enjoy gracious service, complimentary parking for their vehicle, as well as complimentary breakfast.
Situated on a quiet corner of Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, the hotel is set right within the city’s heart at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you’ll have no trouble getting around, as most of Malacca’s top attractions are just minutes away on foot.
Here are some of the things you should check off your list when you’re in Malacca:
Tuck into Malacca’s unique cuisine
While Peranakan cuisine (also known as Nyonya cuisine, using the honorific for Peranakan matriarchs) is just starting to take off outside Southeast Asia, its dishes have long been savored by locals.
You can’t say you’ve been to Malacca without trying dishes such as Nyonya laksa (noodles served in a rich coconut gravy, served with prawns, cockles, lime and a dollop of sambal belacan), otak-otak (a mixture of fish pieces and spice paste wrapped in banana leaves and chargrilled), Pongteh chicken (chicken stew cooked with salted fermented soy beans and palm sugar), and Kapitan curry (a mild chicken curry with Kaffir lime leaves and coconut milk).
For an authentic taste, be sure to go to restaurants run by real-deal Nyonyas, such as Amy Heritage Nyonya Cuisine or Nancy’s Kitchen (non-Halal).
Other notable Malaccan dishes include asam pedas (a spicy and sour fish curry with tamarind), chicken rice balls, and devil’s curry, which you can then wash down with a cold glass of coconut milkshake.
Learn about Malacca’s long, storied past
If you love going to museums, then you’ll love Malacca, as its lengthy history means that there’s a multitude of museums covering different periods of its past. The most popular museum is, of course, the Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum, where you’ll get a tour of three carefully maintained townhouses where four generations of an affluent Baba Nyonya family resided.
The Maritime Museum is also one not to be missed, as it’s housed inside a large-scale replica of the Portuguese ship, the Flor de la Mar (“Flower of the Sea”). Inside, you’ll discover how Malacca got its name and became a formidable trade empire.
You can also simply explore the compact city center, as iconic sites such as Stadthuys (the Red Square), St. Paul’s Hill, and the remains of A’Famosa Fort are located near one another.
Take a leisurely cruise down Malacca River
Escape the heat of the sun and jump on a river bus, which will take you on an idyllic cruise down Malacca River and back, where you’ll get to see street art painted on restored colonial shophouses and listen to a recording recounting Malacca’s history and detailing the sights as you pass them by.
Bridges criss-cross over the river at regular intervals, which is probably why Malacca is known as the “Venice of the East”. However, the cruise is even better at night, as you can view the bridges all lit up, as well as the rooftops and buildings of Morten Village, a traditional Malay village that still maintains a rustic way of living.
Get outside the city
Did you know that Malacca is not only a city, but also an entire state? There’s plenty more to see and do beyond the city’s boundaries.
To escape the crowd during busy periods, you can take a 20-minute drive down to the Malacca Tropical Fruit Farm in Sungai Udang. Visitors can enjoy seasonal fruits like durian, duku, rambutan, and others.
For family-friendly activities that will keep the kids entertained, there are tons of attractions in Ayer Keroh, such as the Mini Malaysia & ASEAN Cultural Park, where visitors can wander around full-scale models of traditional Malaysian and ASEAN homes.
Besides that, you can get up close with a variety of critters and creepy-crawlies at the Butterfly & Reptile Sanctuary, which is right across the road from Malacca Zoo, the second-largest zoo in Malaysia.
Buy some knick-knacks from Jonker Walk
No visit to Malacca is complete without a stop at the famed Jonker Walk, which is just a one-minute walk down the street from 5 Heeren.
Known for its twee, touristy shops by day and lively night market on the weekends, this is where you can buy souvenirs to bring back for friends and family.
Be sure to sample Malacca’s delicious street food, such as satay, fried oyster omelette, or cendol (a refreshing iced dessert of coconut milk, palm sugar, and chewy green ribbons made of flour).
Excited to delve into Malacca’s past and feast on its mouthwatering delicacies? Then take part in the Traveloka Winning Stays contest to win a 2-days-1-night stay for two in the Opium Pearl room inclusive of breakfast, worth RM499.
All you have to do is:
Entries close: 16 April 2017, 11.59pm