It’s not hard to understand why the historic centre of Malacca was crowned with UNESCO glory in 2008 – the colourful colonial shophouses, historic landmarks and great variety of religious buildings have all contributed. But it is the melting pot of cultures here that really make the city so beautiful.
A quaint fishing village in the 14th century, the strategic location between China and India turned Malacca into a renowned port attracting traders from across the East. Chinese settlers later arrived following the alliance with the Chinese Muslim Admiral Cheng Ho and the state adopted Islam by the 15th Century. A prosperous port, Malacca soon saw centuries of conflict and change; the Portuguese came to conquer in 1509, the Dutch invaded in 1641 and finally the British assumed control in 1824. Returning again to a peaceful port, Malacca has finally seen its revival and is a highlight for those who take the time to visit.
Don’t be foolish enough to write off Malacca if you’re not a history buff at heart. The fantastic cafes dotted around the historic centre, homegrown art galleries and leisurely river cruises mean Malacca has a very laid back heart ideal for a day or two of utter charm away from big city life.
Hagglers be sure to head here over the weekend to stroll through the trinket sellers on the famous Jonker Walk Night Market. Food hawkers are also out in force and many of the small cafes set up tables and chairs on the closed off streets. For a more impressive culinary journey you can enjoy a wide range of multi-cultural dishes to tantalise your taste buds including the local ‘Nonya’ or Peranakan cuisine.
Keep your eyes peeled and cameras close for Malacca’s resident monitor lizards. Harmless to visitors they enjoy a spot of sunbathing on the riverbanks, or at times around town, but these reptiles are harmless and help to keep the river clean.