A world heritage city is just about three hours away from Singapore, and two hours from Kuala Lumpur. A lovely past mingles with the present here, drawing tourists from all over the world. Take a decorated trishaw ride through the heritage area of Malacca town.
1. The Dutch Square: Its painted red buildings welcome one to Malacca. The church was built to commemorate a century of Dutch presence here. The Stadthuys opposite, which used to be the residence of the Dutch governors, now houses various museums. Kitschy souvenirs are sold in the shops along one side of the square. The Chinese-built clock tower ticks on, ensuring a good time for all here.
2. Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum: Located at Jln Tun Tan Cheng Lock, it is a must-see, for its comprehensive display of the Straits Settlements’ life — the Peranakan style of living. It’s open from Monday to Saturday, A nominal entry fee is charged.
3. Mahkota Parade: The classic giant shopping mall is filled with leading brands. Ease up in comfy leg massage chairs set up on each level, for a few ringgits.
4. Dataran Pahlawan: It houses traditional Malay crafts and eats. Stall after stall sells Malacca cane baskets, kebayas, sarongs, baju panjangs, woodwork, metalware, painted lamp shades, and unusual fried snacks and preserved fruit. Flavoured tamarind is very popular.
5. Jonker Street: This is the most visited place in Malacca and is lined with boutiques, old shop-houses selling Nonya food, antique stores, chocolate boutiques, art galleries. Sketches of Malacca streets, lovely paintings, old tiles and lacquerware are a fine treat.
6. Night market: The Jonker Street night market during weekends has stalls set up on the road, which is closed to traffic. Things old and new, bargains and pricey goods, along with fresh food stalls are for all to enjoy.
7. Food: People come to Malacca just to eat. Such is the draw of Nonya cuisine — chicken rice ball, pineapple tarts, and Malay food like nasi lemak and nasi goreng. Malacca has a unique ice-cream sold in an eggcup-like holder. Nobody minds the messy eating, for the flavours are great — kaffir lime, durian and tender coconut to name a few.
8. Baboon House: A must-do. One must dart into the old shop house to escape from the heat, then relish the super salads, burgers, and its prize-winner — the Almond Orange cake — in the lovely café. Just relax here while waiting to be served, and browse the ethnic crafts on sale.
9. Getaways: The river cruise, especially at sunset, blows away the blues. Hiring a cycle, one can head out into the countryside. Beaches and island a little away from Malacca are also good getaways. The zoo provides a good time in the outdoors.
10. Little India: Another must-see. Fresh flower garlands, spices, betel leaves, idlis and dosas, saris and salwar suits. Tamil is heard everywhere. See Indian temples in Malacca, and eat at Selvam, Saravanan or Lakshmi Vilas. All serve vegetarian and non-vegetarian Indian food.