BEST THINGS TO DO IN MALACCA
Malacca (Melaka) is renowned for its unique historical and cultural heritage, and it has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since July 7, 2008. Despite being one of Malaysia’s smallest states, Malacca, which is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, has plenty to offer.
Aside from the old palace and the heritage buildings left by the Europeans, the older part of the city proper features many private houses and shops dating back nearly a century or more. Many of them have exquisite features on the front, such as sculpted porcelain tiles and painted plaster reliefs. So, let’s get started exploring all of the best things to do in Malacca right now.
24 Best Things To Do in Malacca (Melaka)
A’ Famosa Resort is a massive holiday and business resort in Alor Gajah (about 45 km away from Malacca City Center). This 530-hectare integrated resort includes a 27-hole golf course, a water theme park, a mini zoo (Safari Wonderland), night entertainment (Old West), sport & recreation park, a resort hotel, and several blocks of condotels and villas.
The water theme park, which claims to be Malaysia’s largest, offers a variety of slides, pools, and activities for families, adults, and children. Safari Wonderland, on the other hand, is a wildlife safari with over 100 species of animals, as well as a Walk-through Area, Chicken Farm, Monkey Island, and a truck ride through the Safari park itself. The park also hosts a variety of animal shows, including Elephant Encounter, Color of the Birds, and Animals Fun Play. – Best things to do in Malacca for families.
02 Adopt some butterflies & reptiles – Melaka Butterfly & Reptile Sanctuary
This sanctuary was built on an 11-hectare jungle area and opened on February 1, 1991. It is home to numerous butterfly and fish species, as well as peacocks, pheasants, partridges, blue crowned pigeons, finches, budgerigars, sun parakeets, insects, and scorpions. It also houses amphibians and reptiles such as giant iguanas, lizards, giant tortoises, exotic frogs, pythons, cobra, crocs, and alligators.
Due to the serious effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on business starting in 2020, management has recently introduced some adoption programmes in order to maintain the costly operation. There are several types of adoption packages available; for more information, please visit the official website of Melaka Butterfly and Reptile Sanctuary. – Among the best places to visit in Melaka with kids.
03 Learn about Malaysian and ASEAN traditional architecture & culture – Mini Malaysia & ASEAN Cultural Park
Mini Malaysia & ASEAN Cultural Park is in Ayer Keroh, about 12 kilometres from Malacca City. This theme park is divided into 2 sections and covers a total area of approximately 13.5 hectares. The Mini Malaysia section, which opened on 17 July 1986, showcases traditional wooden houses from 13 Malaysian states, while the Mini ASEAN section, which opened on 3 September 1991, showcases traditional houses from every Association of Southeast Asian Nations member country (ASEAN).
Weekly cultural shows and traditional games such as congkak, a board game played with small stones, are among the park’s other attractions. You can also enjoy the park performer’s dances, which will include Malay, Chinese, Indian, Portuguese, and other traditional dances.
04 Try out some high-speed water slides – Melaka Wonderland Theme Park & Resort
Melaka Wonderland is another prominent water theme park in Malacca. It was built on 9.2 hectares of land with 360 hectares of natural recreational forest surrounding it. Although it is smaller than Sunway Lagoon in Kuala Lumpur and A’Famosa, the theme park offers a wide variety of water activities for children and adults.
Aside from thrilling rides such as a high-speed water slide, a large wave pool, and a tornado chaser, this park also provides lake activities for families such as a pedal boat, tube ride, as well as rabbit and fish feeding. If you’re travelling with family or friends, don’t miss out on this exciting location.
05 Camping in the midst of the lush greenery – Malacca Botanical Garden
Malacca Botanical Garden (Taman Botanikal Melaka in Malay) was established in April 1984 as Ayer Keroh Recreational Forest. This is a massive botanical garden that spans over 359 hectares, with up to 10 hectares dedicated to camping. It is also a recreational park with a variety of attractions, facilities, and outdoor activities including the Malacca Forestry Museum, Malacca Bee Gallery, Prehistoric Garden, Storyland, jogging & cycling tracks, children’s playgrounds, replica dinosaurs, Orang Asli Park, Deer Park, suspension bridge, watch towers, and beautiful picnic areas.
If you’re looking for a relaxing and refreshing spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, this is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Melaka.
06 Interact with dinosaurs – Zoo Melaka
Zoo Melaka, also recognised as the Malacca Zoo and Night Safari, is Malaysia’s second-largest zoo, trailing only the National Zoo of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur. It is a huge zoo with a total area of approximately 54 acres that houses over 1200 animals, including 215 species of birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. A mini safari, multi-animal show, elephant and horse rides, a souvenir shop, and a night zoo are among the other attractions at the zoo.
The newest attraction in Zoo Mealaka is Dinosaur Encounter, which opened in late December 2020. This is Southeast Asia’s largest interactive dinosaur park, with over 100 species, 150 dinosaurs of 1: 1 scale, and a 5 acre land area within a forest park.
07 Visit the scary crocodiles – Melaka Crocodile & Recreational Park
Melaka Crocodile and Recreational Park (Taman Buaya dan Rekreasi Melaka in Malay) is Malaysia’s largest crocodile farm, spanning 3.5 hectares of reserved forest land and established in 1987. It has approximately 100 crocodiles from all over the world, including African Dwarf, Siamese, Indian Mugger, Hunchback, and many others. They are housed in large pond enclosures and are well cared for in an environment that is nearly identical to their natural habitat.
Aside from that, it also has a reptile corner, mammal house, walkthrough aviary bird park, mini water playground, Malaysia miniature, petting zoo, haunted house, and herb’s garden. Throughout the day, visitors could also enjoy various performances such as a snake and crocodile show as well as a cultural show. This is yet another best place to visit in Melaka for families with children.
08 Reminiscing about the history of Hang Tuah – Muzium Hang Tuah
Muzium Hang Tuah (also known as Hang Tuah Center or Hang Tuah Museum) is a new museum dedicated to the legendary Hang Tuah (the greatest warrior of Melaka in the 15th century during the reign of Sultan Mansur Shah).
This opulent museum includes a mini-auditorium that can be used for theatre, film and video screenings, cultural performances, and so on. There are also five houses named after the five warriors, Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat, Hang Kasturi, Hang Lekir, and Hang Lekiu, which house other exhibits such as martial arts, silat, a kris exhibition, and arts and crafts.
09 Hike up to the historical graveyard – Bukit Cina (三宝山)
Bukit Cina (Chinese Hill) is a well-known historical hilltop cemetery in Melaka. This is the largest Chinese graveyard outside of China, spanning over 25 hectares and containing more than 12,000 graves dating all the way back to the Ming Dynasty’s mid-15th century.
According to legend, Bukit Cina was originally a gift to Ming Dynasty princess Hang Li Po, who married Sultan Mansur Shah, as their residence. It is now a public park and a popular jogging venue, with paths winding their way up the hilltop. You can spend 30-60 minutes exploring all of the routes, and you’ll meet a lot of other runners and joggers, especially between 5 and 7 p.m. If you make it to the top (about 308 m), you will be rewarded with a spectacular panoramic view of Melaka City.
Poh San Teng Temple (Sam Po Kong)
This is a historical Chinese temple located at the foot of Bukit China that was built in 1795 by a Chinese Kapitan during the Dutch Malacca (1641–1825) era. It is dedicated to Tua Pek Kong (Chinese:大伯公 – God of Prosperity). At the side of the temple, there are 7 wells dubbed “Seven Dragon Wells” that were dug by Admiral Zheng He (a famous Chinese diplomat during the Ming Dynasty era).
Perigi Hang Li Poh (Hang Li Poh’s Well)
Also known as the King’s Well, is another well-known historical landmark in Melaka which was built in 1459 by the followers of Hang Li Poh. This well never runs dry and serves as the only source of water During the dry season. The Dutch built substantial brick walls around the well in 1677 to safeguard the water source, and it is today a popular “wishing well” among the locals & tourists.
Malacca Warrior Monument
This majestic monument was built to commemorate the Malacca Chinese anti-Japanese volunteers who were killed during the Empire of Japan’s occupation of Malacca as part of the British Straits Settlements during World War II. It was officially unveiled in 1948 by then-high commissioner Sir Edward Gent. This monument carries 4 Chinese characters written in Chiang Kai-Shek‘s calligraphy.
10 Admire Malaysia’s oldest Catholic Church – St. Peter’s Church
This is one of Malacca’s major churches and the country’s oldest operating Roman Catholic Church. It was built in 1710 on land donated by a Dutchman.
This one-of-a-kind and well-preserved structure combines eastern and western architecture, particularly in the facade and interior decorations. One of the bells was cast in Goa in 1608, before the church was built. It was salvaged from the ruins of an earlier church that had been burned down by the Dutch. In addition, there is also an alabaster statue of the Lord before the Resurrection.
11 Enjoy an amazing 360° panorama view of Melaka city – The Shore Sky Tower
This residential complex is the tallest building in Melaka, standing 163 metres above ground. It has an observation deck on the 43rd floor with glass flooring and perimeter fencing that provides a magnificent panoramic 360° sweeping views of this historic city and the surrounding area that can span up to 50 kilometres on a clear blue sky.
Furthermore, a glass ledge protrudes from one side of the building, providing daring visitors with a vertiginous view of the ground far below your feet. This is presently one of Melaka’s most thrilling and spectacular tourist attractions.
12 Visit the oldest Chinese temple – Cheng Hoon Teng Temple (青云亭)
This temple, known as the “Temple of Green Cloud” is Malaysia’s oldest operating temple, having been built in 1645 during the Dutch Malacca era. Then, in 1673, additional structures were built using materials imported directly from China. The temple was the primary place of worship for the local Chinese, particularly the Hokkien community. It is a complex with several prayer halls, the largest of which is dedicated to the goddess of mercy, Guan Yin.
The seven-metre red flagpole facing the left wing of the main prayer hall, which houses the remains of two of the three Kapitans who contributed to the temple’s construction, is one of the temple’s most prominent features. In 2003, the temple was granted a UNESCO award for outstanding architectural restoration. This historical temple is now one of Melaka’s most instagrammable landmarks for both local and international tourists.
13 Selfie with some colorful murals – Melaka Street Art (The Well)
Although George Town (Penang) and Ipoh are known as Malaysia’s street art capitals, Melaka also displays some of the vibrant paintings created by many local artists. Street art is strewn about the streets and small alleys, mostly near Jonker Street, and you can clearly see it while cruising down the Melaka River through the city. These murals bring life and colour to the otherwise drab riverbank. Each artwork has a distinct style, and the mural depicts the artists’ interpretation of Malacca.
The best way to see the work is to simply wander around, sample some of the awesome local foods and coffee at the shops throughout this area, and take selfies with your favourite murals.
14 Shop and eat along Melaka’s busiest street – Jonker Walk ( 雞場街)
Situated along Jonker Street Melaka, Jonker Walk is also commonly known the Chinatown of Melaka. It was once an important street for rich Peranakans to stay and do business in the area after the Dutch left, giving the street a deep-rooted ethnic and cultural flavour. As a result, the road is lined with historic houses dating back to the 17th century on both its left and right sides.
Today, Jonker Street has a plethora of wonderful places to shop and eat. There are numerous shops selling antiques, clothes, accessories, toys, snacks, handicrafts, souvenirs, and other items. This reaches a peak on weekends (Friday – Sunday, 6 p.m. to 12 a.m.) when it is closed to traffic and transformed into a vibrant night market. Aside from the aforementioned, tasty street food is the ultimate attraction, with dozens of food stalls lining the street selling some of Melaka’s best street food. – Among the best things to do in Malacca for foodies.
15 Discover the history of Baba-Nyonya Melaka – Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum
This Heritage Museum, which established in 1985, showcases the local history of the state’s ethnic Chinese-Malays, known as Baba-Nyonya or Peranakan. They are the descendants of Chinese traders who migrated to the British Straits Settlements of Melaka and adopted some of the local Malay customs into their culture after marrying interracially.
Aside from learning about the unique culture and history of Baba-Nyonya, it also exhibits objects and arts illustrating Malaysia’s wide cultural diversity. Furthermore, the museum is well-known for its intricate woodwork, furniture, and porcelain.
16 Take a stroll around the city’s most famous landmark – Dutch Square Melaka
Dutch Square, also known as Red Square, is one of Melaka’s most recognisable historical landmarks. The entire square is surrounded by red-painted buildings, and it is thought to be the oldest Dutch building in the East.
When you get close to the square, you will see a slew of vibrantly coloured trishaws captivating tourists with blaring hit songs and creating a carnival atmosphere. You’ll also notice a large number of local and international tourists posing and taking photos in every nook and cranny. Without a doubt, this is Melaka’s most photogenic location.
Queen Victoria’s Fountain
The century-old fountain is the British heritage instead of Dutch even thogh it sits right in the middle of the Dutch Square. It was built in 1901 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. This majestic and historical fountain, which serves as a popular backdrop for tourists at the square, is still in good condition and is likely one of Malaysia’s only operational colonial water fountains.
Melaka Clock Tower
This 15.2 metre high clock tower, commonly known as Tan Beng Swee Clock Tower or Red Clock Tower, was built in 1886 during the British colonial era. According to legend, Tan Jiak Kim, a Peranakan Chinese millionaire, constructed the tower to honour his late father, Tan Beng Swee, who dreamed of a clock tower right in the centre of Melaka when he was alive.
Malaysia Youth Museum
To be more specific, this historical Dutch building houses 2 museums. Malaysia Youth Museum is located on the lower level and are dedicated to Malaysian youth and their contributions to the country’s economic and social well-being at the regional, national, and international levels. The Art Gallery, which is located on the upper level, displays some collections of local artists & seasonal themed exhibitions.
Christ Church Melaka
This Anglican church, which began construction in 1741 and was completed 12 years later in 1753, is Malaysia’s oldest functioning church. It has a simple rectangle layout of 82 feet by 42 feet and was built in the Dutch Colonial architectural style. The 40-foot-high ceiling is supported by wooden beams carved from a single tree. Dutch tiles cover the roof, and Dutch bricks were used to raise the walls, which were erected on local laterite blocks.
The Dutch built Stadthuys (an ancient Dutch translation for city hall) in 1650 as the official office and residence of the Dutch Governor and Deputy Governor. This massive red structure has all of the typical characteristics of Dutch colonial fine architecture. It was turned into a history museum in 1982, and it now exhibits about Malacca’s history, from the Great Malay Sultanate to the Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonizations.
Cheng Ho Gallery
This gallery is devoted to Admiral Cheng Ho, was opened in 2003. It depicts his journey to Southeast Asia and his great legacy in international relations, where he established great coalitions between the Ming Dynasty and African as well as Asian countries, resulting in prosperous & fair trade. Porcelain materials, ship replicas, a collection of books about the story of Cheng Ho & related articles are among the other exhibits.
17 Take a river cruise – Melaka River Park
Tired of walking around the city? Take a ride and relax on the most scenic river cruise along the Melaka River. This is a great alternative for sightseeing in Melaka. This river, which runs through the heart of Melaka City, was once a vital trade route during the 15th century heyday of the Malacca Sultanate.
Years ago, the government spent over RM350 million to upgrade and revitalise the river’s infrastructure, which included the construction of a tidal barrage, the restoration of buildings and bridges, dredging, and the construction of concrete river banks with river walkways. This is a one-of-a-kind 45-minute cruise tour that allows you to witness the splendour of this historic town both day and night. – Among the best things to do in Malacca for families, couples or groups of friends.
18 Learn about the Sultanate of Malacca’s maritime history – Muzium Samudera
The entire museum is a replica of the Flor de La Mar, which was constructed in the 1990s. The dimensions of this ship are based on the Portuguese ship that sank off the coast of Malacca on its way back to Portugal; it is 34 metres high, 36 metres long, and 8 metres wide.
It aims to describe Malaysia’s history as a commercial hub in the past, emphasizing on the Malay Sultanate of Melaka and the development of regional marine activities during the sultanate, as well as the colonisation of Malaya by Portuguese, Dutch, British, and Japanese forces. Paintings, antique maps, ship models, and artefacts related to maritime and trade in Melaka are also on display.
19 Take in a breathtaking aerial view of the Malacca Straights – Menara Taming Sari
This is a 110-meter-high revolving lookout tower that provides visitors with a 360-degree panorama view of the city as well as the Malacca Straights. This tower is said to be Malaysia’s first Gyro-type rotating tower.
The air-conditioned viewing platform can accommodate 66 passengers, and once full, the ride begins, lifting passengers to a height of 80 metres and rotating for approximately 7 minutes before descending back to ground level. It is one of the most popular activities in Melaka for families with children.
20 Witness Southeast Asia’s oldest European architecture – A Famosa Fortress
Alfonso de Albuquerque built A Famosa (translated as “The Famous” in Portuguese) in 1512, one year after the Portuguese defeated the local Melacca Sultanate. The fortress once had long ramparts and four major towers. One of the towers was a 60-meter-tall four-story fortified structure with 3-meter-thick walls known as Porta de Santiago or A Famosa today. Since then, it has been the tallest structure in the region.
This historical fortress was almost completely destroyed after changing hands several times by various colonial powers that landed in Melaka centuries ago, particularly during the British occupation. Sir Stamford Raffles intervened and managed to save two of the fort’s gateways, including the Santiago Gate, as well as the Stadthuys, church, and jail. These are some of Southeast Asia’s oldest European architectural remains.
21 Visit the historical church ruins – St. Paul’s Church
This church is on St. Paul’s Hill and is part of the Malacca Heritage site, which also includes the A Famosa ruins, the Stadthuys, and other historical buildings. A Portuguese nobleman dedicated the chapel to the Virgin Mary in 1521 as an act of gratitude following his escape from a storm in the South China Sea.
The church is famous for being the location where Francis Xavier, the pioneering Catholic missionary of Southeast Asia, was laid to rest for eight months after his death at sea (from March 22nd, 1553 to December 11th, 1553) before being shipped to Goa. The open grave in the church is still there, but it is now enclosed by a wire mesh.
22 Find out some of Melaka’s unique cultural tales – Malacca Sultanate Palace Museum
The architecture of this museum and palace is said to be based on Sultan Mansur Shah’s palace, which ruled from 1456 to 1477 during the peak of the Malacca Sultanate era. It was built in 1984 from hardwood (for the structure), ‘belian’ wood (for the roof), and wooden pegs (rather than nails) and offers a rare glimpse of the ancient Malay kingdom that once prospered in Malacca.
The palace now houses the Cultural Museum, which celebrates the Malay edge of Malacca’s history. More than 1300 items from ancient Malacca are on display here. Photographs, weaponry, drawings, musical instruments, and gifts from foreign emissaries are among the items on display. All of these items are displayed on the palace’s three floors in eight different chambers and three galleries.
23 Enjoy some traditional Portuguese Cuisine – Portuguese Settlement
If you enjoy traditional Portuguese cuisine, Portuguese Settlement is unquestionably the place to go. This is a small town in Malacca where Kristang (people of mixed Portuguese and Malaccan descent) live and go about their daily lives in Malaysia.
Except for Christmas, when residents decorate their houses with colorful lightings, Christmas trees, and Nativity displays, there aren’t many activities in the settlement as a whole. The majority of tourists who come here are drawn in by the authentic Portuguese cuisine especially in the evening. Since it is near the seaside and has a beautiful view of the Malacca Straits, a slew of courtyard-style restaurants have sprouted up around the area.
24 Witness one of Malaysia’s most beautiful mosques – Melaka Gateway
The King (Supreme Ruler of Malaysia) inaugurated this magnificent modern mosque, frequently referred as a floating mosque, on November 24, 2006. The State Government constructed it on the shores of a man-made island in the Malacca Straights. This mosque, which cost around MYR10 million, was built with a combination of Middle Eastern and Malay craftsmanship and appears to float during high tide.
Aside from the mosque’s physical beauty, the natural beauty of the sunset view from here is also breathtaking. Many tourists and locals come earlier in the evening to watch the sunsets. Non-Muslim visitors are welcome, but must dress modestly and no shoes allow in the prayer hall. Women are required to bring a scarf or rent a shawl to cover their heads before entering.