What to do in Melaka in 2 Days
Melaka is a mid-sized city along the west coast of Peninsula Malaysia. The city has an amazing history as one of the top trading posts in Southeast Asia and is now listed as a UNESCO Heritage site. Throughout the city’s architecture and food, you will find Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese, and Japanese cultural influences.
Getting to Melaka
Take a morning bus from Singapore to Melaka Sentral Bus Terminal. The trip takes about 3.5 hours and costs around SGD 20. There is a slight variance in pricing and duration with different bus operators.
There are lots of pick up points for the bus in Singapore, the most convenient is probably next to Bugis MRT with an 8am departure. However, I suggest you ask your hostel for the closest but to where you end up staying.
There is a quick public bus from Melaka Sentral Bus Terminal to Jonker Street which costs around RM 2 (USD 0.50), with departures every half hour or so. You will need to go from the International to Domestic bus terminal for this.
Things to do in Melaka
The center of Melaka is a relatively small area. The following attractions can be reached either by walking or cycling. I suggest spreading these out across two days and taking your time to wander around the streets more freely.
One of the best ways to explore the town center of Melaka is to just wander aimlessly on foot. Walk around Jonker Street and the small side alleys for a few hours and you are bound to find some interesting shops, cafes, and temples not mentioned in this guide.
Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum – a Chinese Malay townhouse filled with English and Dutch-style hardwood furniture. It has been designed to represent a typical 19th-century Baba-Nyonya (Chinese Malay) home.
Cheng Hoon Teng Temple – Malaysia’s oldest traditional Chinese temple built back in 1646. It is famous for its intricate engraved woodwork.
Jonker Street – the central hub and main street of Chinatown in Melaka where all the activity takes place. You will find lots of small shops with antiques, vintage clothing, restaurants, and cafes. On Friday and Saturday nights the street is closed off to traffic and becomes a huge street food scene. I super highly recommend this if you are in Melaka on the weekend.
Church of Saint Paul – this church was originally built by the Portuguese 1521 making it the oldest church in all of Southeast Asia. Today all that remains of the building is a set of ruins and old tombstones that have been left on display.
Christ Church – this bright red building with the huge white cross is the oldest Protestant church in Malaysia. It was built in 1753 to celebrate 100 years of Dutch rule in Melaka.
Maritime Museum & Naval Museum – this museum gives you a good understanding of Melaka’s history as a busy trading port. You will find old artifacts in here. It’s worth a quick visit.
Melaka River Cruise – a 40-minute river cruise takes you through the waterways which were once used as a trade and commerce center for Melaka. While it is now a lot simpler than its past, you will still see some traditional buildings along the way.
Where to Eat
Jonker Street Night Market – from 6pm to midnight on Friday and Saturday nights Jonker Street really comes alive with lots of street food to choose from. The road will be closed to cars, and there will be food everywhere!
Chung Wah Chicken Rice Ball – this simple dish is one of the most iconic in Melaka, and that’s pretty much all this shop serves. You will usually see long lines of local’s waiting outside the store, so you know it will be good.
Geographer Café – this converted sop house restaurant has some great fusion dishes. It is quite cheap and popular with both locals and travelers.
Calanthe Art Café – this café is tucked away in a quiet small alley called Jalan Hang Kasturi. Here you will find coffee from all 13 states in Malaysia. You can go for a standard coffee or opt to have cream and even butter in your cup. It sounds a bit odd but worth a try.
Where to Stay
Ringo’s Foyer – a budget guesthouse just off Jonker Street with private rooms and dorms. They have bicycles available for exploring the town, and a nice roof terrace for some afternoon drinks with other travelers. The owner is an absolute legend. Note: I’ve personally stayed here twice and loved it.
Melaka’s town center is fairly compact with lots of attractions within easy walking distance. You can cover well over half of the destinations in this guide in just one day.
Cycling is a great option for those attractions a little further out of the town center. Bicycles can be rented, or even borrow for free, at many guesthouses.