November 22, 2011

SELAMAT MALAYSIA: Melaka Heritage Trail

Melaka is a very inexpensive city yet does not fall short on character. It has all the modern comforts to make one’s holiday pleasurable without sacrificing its old world distinct qualities and charisma.

Although among the third smallest Malaysian estate, it is well drenched in culture and history. Well placed along the spice trade in the Straits of Malacca and with a successful thriving port, it captured the attention of the Portuguese, Dutch and the English. Its independence was returned after the World War II but not before these European colonizers left their mark mixed with the early settlers’ customs creating a unique multi-cultural vibrant texture.


The attractions are concentrated in an area and stands close together that you can finish it in a day, but a hurried pace would go against the vibe of the place. This historical city declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site only July of 2008 gives off an easy atmosphere that force you to take it easy and just luxuriate in the moment.

As with any city, the best way to experience Malacca is by walking through it, and this heritage city is easy to navigate as you make the river that runs in the middle your guiding point.

Start your walking tour at the Tourist Information Center just across the Malacca Town Square also known as the Dutch Square. You’d instantly know you’re in the right place when you find yourself surrounded with buildings coated with red paint, so unlike anywhere in Malaysia. Landmarks clustered in these area includes the old General Post Office turned into a Youth Museum beside the oldest Dutch church in the far east - Christ church that face the Tan Beng Swee Clock Tower with the Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Fountain in between it. Separated by a small narrow road lined with souvenir shops is the Stadthuys - Dutch for Muncipal Town Hall and holds the title for being the oldest and biggest colonial building in Southeast Asia.

Malaysia Youth Museum and Melaka Art Gallery

Christ Church

Victoria Fountain and Tan Beng Swee Clock Tower

 Victoria Fountain with Stadhuys on the backdrop

Climb up a flight of stairs at the side of the Town Hall and continue on to a St. Paul’s hill where the ruin of St. Paul church stands. Originally built by a Portuguese Sea Captain in gratitude to the Virgin Mary for saving his life at sea, the Dutch later renamed it to St. Paul’s Church and served as their house of worship for more than 100 years.

St. Paul's church interior
 granite tomb stones with Portuguese and Dutch inscriptions

Make your way down the hill and you’ll pass by the Dutch graveyard where most of their military officials and family members are buried.

Continuing on downward will bring you to the iconic symbol of Melaka – the Porta de Santiago. Built in 1512 as part of the 4 main gates of the Portuguese fortress and was restored by the Dutch by forced labor when they overthrew the Portuguese in 1641. The Dutch fortified it with bastions and canons to counter attacks from invaders.

Also in the area is the Melaka Sultanate  Palace Cultural Museum which is also worth a visit.  Here are some more of interesting places in this heritage trail:

Melaka Sultanate Palace Cultural Museum

Malay and Islamic World Museum

Coronation Park 

Middlesburg Bastion

When you’re tired from all that walking, hop on a heavily decorated rickshaw and just wander around town with the wind on your face. The people of this charming place are a hospitable and kind lot and tourist rates are regulated so there is no risk for rip offs. A platter of freshly made roti chanai and local coffee at an al fresco table beside the river is a great way to cap this tour.

GETTING THERE: most visitors to this small vibrant town come by road. Kuala Lumpur in the north is approximately 1.5 - 2 hours, while Singapore in the south is about 3 - 4 hours away. No railway serves Melaka, the nearest train station is in Tampin, roughly about 45minutes from Melaka.  Buses are more straightforward, cheap and convenient, check here for schedules:


  1. I could start this heritage walk with roti and cap it with roti again hahaha, I just can't get enough of it :)

  2. That is not a bad idea Claire, we are with you on that:-D


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