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Melaka: The Land Of Hype And Heritage

Nisha Nicole Nair

12 Mar 2021

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Image via Unsplash/Fred Rivet

If there’s one place you visit in Malaysia, let it be Melaka. Originally spelled ‘Malacca’ by the British, Melaka still holds memories of bygone times (it isn’t in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites for namesake!), but some parts of this state have slightly morphed into ‘insta-worthy’ spots.

A brief backstory before we begin: Melaka was colonised by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British, which explains the traces of culture they left behind in multiple areas mentioned below:

The Glorious Food

It would be an understatement to say that Melaka is a food haven. In fact, it is one of the top reasons people visit in the first place seeing as it is home to a plethora of palatable dishes.

The Nyonya cuisine, originating from the Peranakan Chinese, is prominently known for the cacophony of flavours, namely coconut milk, lemongrass, galangal and tamarind incorporated in their meals.

One of the most frequented joints in Melaka is Jonker 88, serving authentic Nyonya Assam Laksa (spicy noodle soup) amongst a multitude of other reasonably priced delicacies.

Image via Flickr/Alpha

While retaining its local food authenticity, the café scene in Melaka is also exponentially gaining immense popularity serving Gen Y-favoured dishes. The Daily Fix café, a tourist favourite, does just that!

You’d come across divine combinations of lattes and Gula Melaka (palm sugar originating in Melaka), as well as fluffy Pandan and Durian pancakes.

 What sets this place apart is that despite their rather fusional gastronomy, guests are often made to feel right at home basking in the 1940s ambiance this café exudes.

Another must-visit hipster cafe is Calanthe Art Café. Its highlight? It offers a selection of coffee from all 13 states in Malaysia!

Image via Flickr /MohdFazlinMohdEffendyOoi

Exceptional Architecture

Much like its food, buildings in Melaka render a unique blend of Asian and European elements. Cruise around town in the brightly coloured trishaws freely available to feast your eyes on the spectacular structures, both historically preserved and state of the art.

Along Jalan Gereja majestically stands one of the oldest and most distinctive Anglican churches in Melaka – the 18th century iconic Christ Church.  Located in Dutch Square, its vibrant red exterior and Dutch roof tiles are impossible to miss, making it one of the most conspicuous landmarks for tourists.

Image via Unsplash/Bari Abikar

Looking for something more picturesque and aesthetic enough to garner more likes on an Instagram post? Aboard the 45-minute Melaka River Cruise from one of the three jetties available, and look at the tasteful graffiti and murals local artists have creatively taken to the streets (officially known as the Malacca River Art Project) along the river running through the city.

You may opt to take a leisurely stroll along the riverbank for a better view (and picture).

Image via Flickr/MohdFazlinMohdEffendyOoi

The Nightlife

We have to talk about the Jonker Night Market that operates only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (do include these days in your itinerary as it’s deemed as one of the BEST night markets in Asia!).

We know, we know. Not the kind of nightlife you were expecting to learn of, but bear with us and we’ll get to that.

Braving the crowds at the Jonker Night Market will have you sweating buckets and your feet aching from all the walking, but will also leave your tummies pleasantly appeased. The throngs of locals and tourists on weekends say a great deal about this place –it’s one of a kind!

Deep-fried/roll up ice-cream, light bulb drink and liquid nitrogen Korean snacks to name a few. That’s right. Not your average night market.

Image via Flickr/Marufish

There’s also something to cater to the nocturnal crowds. You could either choose to get your adrenaline pumping at one of Melaka’s most hip and funky nightclubs, Mixx, or wind down while relishing in the panoramic views of the city’s township on Alto Sky Lounge.  

Party goers claim that the DJs in MIXX play a good variety of thumping RnB tunes, and there are also live bands for those who prefer to just bob heads. Located on the 22nd floor of Hatten Hotel, Alto Sky Lounge also offers live bands in a rather posh setting, apt for dates and business meetings.

For a completely disparate experience, join in a Portuguese folk dance in Portuguese Square if you happen to be in Melaka during their festivals, Festa San Pedro and Festa Senjuang in June.

Satisfactory Accommodation

Image via Kandoi.sid

This is another thing worth noting. It’s amazing how you can travel for 1km in one direction and find and find a baronial hotel rich in heritage and history, such as Casa Del Rio portraying Arabic, Chinese and Dutch imprints intertwined with the stunning Mediterranean architecture, and then go the other direction and discover something modish and classy like Doubletree by Hilton. Opened only in 2017, Doubletree displays a very modernistic outlook, with leading-edge facilities.

Whether you are travelling alone, as a newly-married couple on your honeymoon, with a family of five or a businessman on work duties, Melaka gratifies you in numerous ways. For one of the smallest states in Malaysia, it sure is bursting with greatness.

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