Where We Be
Straight ahead is the Dutch colonial church, clock tower, and city hall from the
1650s. The distinctive red buildings are known as Red Square or Dutch Square.
A Walk Around Melaka, Malaysia
We continued south from Kuala Lumpur by bus
to Melaka (or Malacca), a logical stopping point
on the way to Singapore. The heart of this city
has a strong colonial feel to it, and for good
reason: back in the 1500's Melaka was the most
important commercial port in all of Asia. You
can hit the highlights on foot in about 2 hours.

A good starting point is the Stadthuys (Dutch
city hall) and adjacent Red Square (shown left).
From here you can climb a hill up to St. Paul’s
church for excellent views and have a look at
the Portuguese ruins there. Down the other
side is "A Famosa," Melaka's only remaining
fortress gate. Just beyond is the Sultanate
Palace (a wooden replica) and Independence
Memorial. Then it's back to the bridge crossing
the river near Red Square. From here you can
explore Jonker Street -- Chinatown's central
street -- or take a pleasant walk or cruise along
the river (covered on our next page).
If you have time and energy for a few more sights, here are our suggestions. First, head
towards the tall revolving observation deck known as Menara Taming Sari (RM 23 pp, ~$6).
You get a good view of town from the top of the hill. Here's the prospect looking
down the far side of the hill at the ancient fortress gate known as A Famosa.
A Famosa is the last surviving fortress gate in
Melaka. A Portuguese fortress once stood here.
Built in 1511, A Famosa is among the oldest surviving
European architectural remains in all of Southeast Asia
At the base of St. Paul's Hill, just beyond A Famosa, is the Sultanate Palace. This is a wooden replica
of Sultan Mansur Shah's 15th-century palace. Inside is a cultural museum celebrating Malaysian history.
This broad red square extends from the Independence Memorial back towards the river and Red Square. To the right
you can see St. Paul's Hill with A Famosa fortress gate at the base and the ruin's of St. Paul's Church at the top.
Once at the river, you can quickly walk the
walls of this old Dutch fort with its cannons
Straight across the bridge is Jonker Street, one of the most famous streets in Melaka. This is the heart of
Chinatown and all things shopping. You'll find lots of good food options on Jonker Street and surrounds.
Jonker Street is kinda kitschy but in a fun way. Try a pastry at Ghee Hiang with
its karate kid, or water fake flowers on a fake windowsill just because you can.
Tucked into a quiet lane off Jonker Street is a monument to Datuk Wira,
once a Mr. Universe and "The Father of Bodybuilders in Malaysia"
Photo op next to some lovely orange
blossoms near the Mr. Universe statue
Just up the street from our hotel, at the corner of Jonker Street, is the popular
Geographer Cafe where you can get a satisfying Asian Fusion or Western meal
The Baba and Nonya Museum is the #1 sight in Melaka per Trip Advisor. It's a traditional Peranakan Mansion where
you'll learn about how the Chinese-Malay culture melded in Malaysia and became its own thing. Mixed marriages
created babas (men) and nyonyas (women) who were a melding of both cultures and became a “new” thing.
Marriages between babas and nyonyas were encouraged to keep new traditions alive -- and to keep wealth
“in the family.” The house itself is full of rich woodwork and artistry. No photos are allowed past this entryway.
Okay, now that you've had your fill of kitsch, head to the nearby Baba and Nonya
Heritage Museum -- the one must-see museum in Melaka (RM 16 pp, ~$4 US)
These colorful trishaws strive to outdo each other with their vibrant decorations. They also play incredibly
loud music to attract attention -- everything from hip hop to what might be called ice cream truck music.
Going up and down the revolving observatory only takes
about ten minutes but gives you scenic views of Melaka
These row houses probably only look visually pleasing from above!
You'll get a terrific view of the Melaka River as well as the second bonus
attraction we'd suggest -- the replica sailing ship you see below you
This is the Flora de la Mar Maritime Museum (RM 10, $2.50),
a huge replica wooden sailing ship built in the old Portuguese style
You can walk the decks and visit the captain's quarters. Within, life-size
mannequins give you a good idea of what life at sea might have been like.
Okay, one more bonus attraction since you asked so nicely -- Cheng Hoon Teng
Temple is a small but lovely Chinese temple located just off Jonker Street
Believe it or not, this isn't part of the Baba and Nonya Museum but is the entrance to our hotel just across
the street! The Courtyard at Hereen (~$45 per night for a basic room) is built in a traditional Melaka style.
There's a sort of carnival atmosphere here. It's Melaka's tourist central so you'll see
plenty of folks snapping photos, buying souvenirs, and bargaining for trishaw rides.
The church ruins are evocative, especially from the inside. We recommend
going early in the day when it's cooler and the lighting is softer.
A short climb up the hill from Red Square is St. Paul's Church -- or the ruins of it. Built by the
Portuguese in 1521, this is the oldest church building not only in Malaysia but all of Southeast Asia.
Just beyond the Sultanate Palace is the Proclamation of Independence
Memorial. Inside it tells the story of Malaysia's long path to independence.
Here's the view of the Melaka River from the bridge near Red Square.
We highly recommend a walk along the river (see our next page).
In the vicinity of the river are statues in remembrance of
times past -- like this ox-drawn cart and Dutch windmill
Take the Jonker Walk just to enjoy all the food and shopping enticements. There's a famous Night Market
here on Fridays and Saturdays. You'll know you're in Chinatown when you see doors like the one above.