This quirky city in the south of Malaysia is full of culture, beautiful views and delicious food. There are so many things to do in Melaka that I’d suggest spending a couple of days there. Fully immerse yourself and explore all that it has to offer. There are my top picks…
Go for a Swim
We found this outdoor public pool by accident, and it turned out to be one of the best wrong turnings I’ve ever taken. This little oasis of cool water is a haven in the sticky heat of Malaysia, so grab your bathers and get ready.
The opening hours here are a little bit strange – you can only use the pool for a limited amount of time per visit. You pay for a ticket on arrival, and when your time is up, loud sirens will sound. It kind of kills the chilled vibe, but it’s just the way it works here.
Opening times are 10-11.45am (aside from Mondays); 2.30-4pm; 4.30-6pm and 6.15-7.30pm during the week. Weekend sessions run from 9-10.30am; 11am-12.30pm; 2.30-4pm; 4.30- 6pm and 6.15-7.30pm. Get there just before the beginning of the session to make the most of it.
There are sometimes swimming lessons, but not many tourists seem to know about this spot, so it’s normally nice and quiet. Heading for an afternoon swim was one of my favourite things to do in Melaka, and definitely makes a nice break from wandering around in the sunshine.
Head towards the maritime museum (you can’t miss the huge ship!) and turn left near Jalan Merdeka. There’s a small car-park and lots of signs – it’s referred to as ‘MBMB’.
Get Some Retail Therapy
I know, I know – you don’t travel to Malaysia just to go shopping. But. The mall here is air-conditioned, there are lots of high-street brand outlets and it gets pretty tempting to buy something new after living out of a small rucksack for months. If you fancy doing some shopping, head to the Megamall. There are several buildings that make up the mall, one of which houses a tattoo studio.
There are plenty of cheap, local eateries here, as well as a Subway and McDonalds for anyone craving some home comforts. Head to Starbucks and make use of their speedy WiFi. There are some other little strips of shops around here, too, that aren’t technically attached to the main mall area. Wander around and enjoy the air-con – this might have had a lot to do with why I’ve added this to my list of things to do in Melaka!
Get an Adrenaline Rush
This observation tower initially looks a bit out of place in this old-towny city, but is actually really cool. For $4, you get to ride in the little pod and see a full 360 degree view of Melaka. Be prepared to queue a bit, as this is one of the most popular things to do here.
Head here in the early evening after a day of wandering the streets. You’ll get to see where you’ve been all day, and the dusky light makes Melaka look even more beautiful. It’s also just pretty fun to be spinning around, so is a great option for anyone with kids!
Jonker Street Market
Jonker Street is one of the best things about this city – a long street lined with traditional Malay buildings, tasty food stalls and plenty of souvenir shops. Head here early evening between Friday and Sunday to explore the night market. The streets get even more crowded with aromatic carts selling delicious local food, and there’s a really lovely atmosphere to it all. Imagine a Christmas market back home, but with fried noodles and spring rolls.
Try and head here if the daytime, too – make sure you look up, as there are streams of lanterns and bright lights strewn across the street. It’s beautiful, vibrant and sums Melaka up perfectly.
River Wanders and Tuk-Tuks
The river here is lovely to wander along, and will take you alongside some beautiful houses, quirky graffiti and riverside cafes and bars. You can also book a boat tour or hire a tuk-tuk from near the main bridge over the river. This is also home to the huge ‘I <3 Melaka’ sign that you need to get a photo of!
The tuk-tuk ‘car park’ is a sight to behold on its own – dozens of little carriages attached to bicycles, all with their own theme. Some are covered in Hello Kitty dolls, blasting out pop music; others look like something you’d get married in. Either way, visiting this little area is one of the coolest things to do in Melaka, so make sure your camera is fully-charged.
Hiring a tuk-tuk for a ride, or for a few hours, is a quirky way to spend the afternoon. Get ready to take plenty of selfies with all of the random stuffed toys and flower garlands dangling around you!
Make Time for the Museums
The Heritage Museum is worth a visit if you fancy soaking up some history. This small museum is full of info on Malaysian history, religion and culture. The tours here are educational, but you’re also free to wander at your own pace if you prefer. The entry fee is around $4 and well worth it if you fancy more of a cultured day.
A Famosa is a fort that was built during the 16th century by the Portuguese. There might not be that much of the buildings left, but there is definitely an energy here that reflects the fort’s past life. This used to be home to hospital buildings and official government buildings. The ruins hold a sense of occasion, so give yourself an hour or so to walk around them. This site is at the base of St Paul’s (see below), so you can easily fit them both into a history-day.
Take in Some Temples
This is one of the best things to do in Melaka. There is a street here that is peppered with different places of worship, from a Chinese Buddhism temple to a mosque. We spent the morning wandering, exploring and learning all about different religions. Sure, the internet and high school can teach you the basics, but there’s nothing like kneeling among locals in an incense-filled temple and being encouraged to chant along with everyone to open your eyes to the wonder of different faiths.
Cheng Hoon Teng Temple was one of my favourite places of worship to visit on my entire trip. There is such a lovely vibe to this temple, and you’ll be very welcome here. This is also the oldest temple of its kind in Malaysia, so definitely worth checking out.
Kampung Kling Mosque is also a really special place. I loved how much they embraced tourists here – there are clear signs in English letting you know where you are allowed to walk. There’s also a clothes rail full of long cloaks/ shawls to put over your head and body when you arrive. Some of the mosque is obviously off-limits, but what you can see is pretty beautiful.
St. Paul’s refers to both a hill and the church on it. It’s a bit of a steep climb, but worth it for the view. Head here early morning to avoid the heat!
You can also work your way over to Melaka Straits Mosque, which is stunning. Grab an Uber and spend a few hours exploring. It’s quite far away from the main touristy area, but there are normally cabs waiting around outside.
Dogs. That Is All.
Weirdly, Melaka has a dog cafe you can visit that is full of Huskies. Needless to say, this is one of the more random things to do in Melaka. The Huskitory is a place for any dog-lovers and is home to beautiful Huskies and tasty snacks. Entry is just under $5, and includes a free drink and cute souvenir. You can take as many selfies as you wish, and there are often baby Huskies here, too. Book in advance and brace yourself for a whole lot of puppy loving.
One of the best things about this city is how easy it is to just walk around. Most of the homestays and hostels are within walking distance from the centre. It’s really easy to find all of the attractions, as Melaka has great signposts – makes a nice change! There are so many things to do in Melaka that this list can’t cover them all. I’d recommend going for a long weekend if possible.
Melaka is easy to get to from Kuala Lumpur, and is a great base to use if you fancy visiting other nearby cities or towns. Accommodation and food here are lovely, and reasonably-priced. There are lots of little local eateries tucked away, as well as bigger, Malaysian chain restaurants and international places such as The Hard Rock Cafe if you’re really craving something from home.
I loved this city for the amazing atmosphere it has – it’s full of bright graffiti, stunning buildings and friendly locals. What more could you ask for from a weekend getaway?