The beautiful, charming city of Malacca was, without question, one of my favourite spots throughout my 3 week trip in Malaysia and here’s my list of the top things to do there.
Chilled, café-laden and oozing a rich colonial history, Malacca ticked a lot of boxes for me and I can’t recommend getting this spot on your itinerary enough too.
If you’re tired of big bustling cities in Southeast Asia, then UNESCO-listed Malacca makes for a lovely, relaxing break and even though it can be a little more expensive than other destinations in the country, it’s a price worth paying for a such a clean, welcoming and safe stay.
And on that note, here’s my 10 fab things to do in Malacca, Malaysia …
- 21 Amazing Things to Do in Kuala Lumpur
- Perfect 2 Week Malaysia Itinerary
- Ultimate Travel Guide to Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands
This page contains affiliate links meaning Big World Small Pockets may receive a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to you.
My stay in Malacca was kindly sponsored by Nomaps, but, as always, all views are my own.
#1 Discover the Past Shining Through to the Present
If you weren’t in the know, Malaysia has a rich history of layered colonial empires, migrated people and diverse traditions, which all blend to together to make for a fascinating country today.
And perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the city of Malacca, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its beautifully preserved buildings and tapestry of cultures.
As such, no trip to this city would be complete without soaking in a bit of its unique flavour, meaning one of the best things to do in Malacca is definitely discover how the past shines through to the present.
From the ruined port city walls near the Dutch colonial Quarter to the crumbling former city gates of O Famosa, this is a perfect activity for budget travellers because it’s totally free too.
Just wander the city centre streets and from Portuguese, Dutch and British colonial buildings to Indian, Chinese and Malay businesses, you’ll quickly get a flavour for just how much of an important global trading post, Malacca once was and how the influences of those days create the present city today.
#2 Eat, Eat and More Eat!
And of course, accompanying this global melting pot of architecture, culture, language and customs, there’s no doubt that one of the best things to do in Malacca, as with much of Malaysia, is to eat!
Yup, the diversity of the city’s population has led to becoming a hotspot for world cuisine and it’s generally thought of as one of the best places in Malaysia to tuck in!
With Chinese, Indian, Malay and Peranakan food all on offer, this is both easy and cheap to do (hooray) with loads of small cafes, street stalls and restaurants offering plenty of choices, even for those with small pockets!
#3 Get Your Caffeine Fix
Moving away from food, although not too far, it’s time to talk about cafes, which you’ll know if you’re a regular reader of this blog I spend far too much time researching, discovering, hanging out in and writing about – I guess we’ve all got our foibles!
I mean honestly, judge a city on the calibre of its cafes? Moi? Never!
If I was to do that however, I would give Malacca big points, with special mentions going out to The Daily Fix (they have almond milk), BackLane Café and Navy Navy… just sayin’!
#4 Take a Colourful Tuk Tuk Ride
And if you’ve had too much coffee and can’t sleep, not that this comes from the voice of experience or anything, but I’ve got the perfect suggestion for some evening fun in Malacca!
Yup, the pimped-up tuk tuks that appear to be something of a Malacca special are definitely worth getting involved with!
Upping their kitsch glory at night – when they go to town (literally) on the music and the lights – taking a ride on one seems all part of the course when you’re in this city.
Take your pick from Hello Kitty, Superman and Pokemon-themed tuk tuks, among others, and get fully into the spirit, remembering you are on holiday and nobody knows you are here so it’s ok!
#5 Check Out Some Art
Ok, so perhaps it’s time to balance the books now a little and inject a bit of culture into the proceedings, which, I’m delighted to say, is entirely possible on a budget in arty Malacca.
From loads of gorgeous galleries selling local artists’ work to plentiful street art, you can definitely get your fix in this city.
I’m a big fan of street art and, after Georgetown in Penang, I can definitely say Malacca is probably the next best place to check out the offering in Malaysia, with the best location being the area between the streets of Jalan Tukang Besi and Lorong Hang Jebat in the historical centre.
#6 Enjoy a River Cruise
And actually, where this street art ends is the river and so you’re likely to find yourself along the water if you’ve taken my tips above.
And what a gorgeous place to be.
Yes Malacca is a pretty chilled and charming place as it is, but the riverside setting here really does push it to the next level, especially on a sunny day.
Sailing down the river on a boat trip is one great option for taking it all in, otherwise, just strolling the pedestrian-friendly banks of this waterway is also a great free activity and definitely one of the best things to do in Malacca.
Also good to know that at night this place is a top spot to head for food or a few drinks too.
#7 Stay in a Heritage Hostel
I spent 3 lovely nights in Malacca at a fabulous little hostel called Nomaps, which is wonderfully located in the historic centre of this city, very near the river and both the Chinese and Dutch colonial districts – talk about ideal!
Offering free breakfast, free laundry, a guest kitchen and lightning-fast wifi, this clean and welcoming hostel is set in a renovated heritage building, rendering it wonderfully in keeping with the Malacca experience.
With private rooms, as well as dorms, all with aircon at bargain prices, I’m delighted to say this was one of my favourite hostels in the whole of Southeast Asia thanks to its chilled vibe and great setting.
#8 Stroll Jonker Street
There’s no question, as I’ve mentioned, that just wandering the streets is definitely one of the best things to do in Malacca that will allow you to soak up the atmosphere of this place.
And there’s few better places to do this than the main Jonker Street, which really is the heart of the action in this city.
If you do happen to be visiting at the weekend, then definitely check this street out during the evening too, when it’s shut off to vehicles and a weekend night market prevails, complete with feel-good family vibes in true Southeast Asia style.
#9 Visit the Temples, Churches & Mosques
And just near Jonker Street is the so-called Harmony Street, aka Jalan Tukand Besi.
Scattered with some of the oldest religious buildings in Malaysia, this strip is testimony to Malaysia’s colourful past and present tolerance as Mosques, Churches as well as Buddhist and Hindu temples all rub shoulders with each other in an apparent peaceful coexistence.
Taking a stroll here and snapping the beautiful, old religious buildings is another of the top things to do in Malacca with the highlights being:
- Masjid Kampung Kling Mosque
- Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Hindu Temple
- Cheng Hoon Teng Buddhist Temple
Not far away, the Dutch colonial Christ Church and, on the hill above, St Paul’s Catholic Church (the oldest Christian building in Southeast Asia constructed in 1521) complete the picture.
#10 Take in the View from the Sari Tower
And finally, in at number 10 on my list of the best things to do in Malacca, it’s take in the view from Menara Taming Sari – a 110 metre high tower with an observation deck at 80m that will give you unparalleled views of this city and beyond.
While it’s not the cheapest activity in the book, at 23 RM for an adult ticket, given the fact that most of the other activities on this list are entirely free, means you may have a few dollars to throw at this one.
Mini Travel Guide to Malacca
How to Get to Malacca?
Travel within Malaysia is easy, well organised and cheap – the magic trio for budget travellers everywhere!
Many buses to Malacca go through Kuala Lumpur, where you may have to change services, but there are some direct routes to this city from Singapore, as well as other destinations in Southern Malaysia.
The best idea is to check schedules, prices and book tickets for your bus to / from Malacca online a few days in advance via the website 12Go
I’ve used this site throughout my time in Malaysia and Southeast Asia, and love its simple and straightforward process, as well as the secure online payment facilities.
Most buses arrive into Malacca Sentral Station, from where it’s a 7 RM, 10 minute Grab ride into the centre of the city.
How Long to Spend in Malacca?
As Malacca is a small city, I recommend a stay of 2-3 nights in this destination.
This will give you plenty of time to take in all the sights, as well as some nice chilled time by the river or in a café or 3!
Weekends are best avoided as loads of locals come down from Kuala Lumpur at this time, plus weekday rates in hostels here tend to be cheaper as a result.
If you do want to take a day trip from Kuala Lumpur to Malacca however, then check out this good option.
If you need to do any shopping while you are in Malacca, the Dataran Pahlawan Mall, within easy walking distance from Nomaps Hostel, offers everything you could possibly need and more.
Travel Insurance for Malaysia
World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.
Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.
Don’t Travel to Malaysia Without…
#1 Lonely Planet Guidebook – The Malaysia Lonely Planet is excellent and very helpful for any trip to this part of the world with lots of top tips and useful information, including great eating recommendations.
#2 Birkenstocks – A good pair of sandals are king in Malaysia and I love my Birkenstocks which are perfect for keeping my feet cool, supported and for kicking on and off easily when you visit temples or hit the beach. Literally wore them all day every day in this country!
#3 British Power Adapters – Malaysia primarily uses the British format for power outlets, so make sure you come prepared with a suitable Skross adapter.
#4 Camera and Lens – I love my Sony A6000 mirrorless, which was ideal for capturing this diverse and delightful country.
#5 Sarong – A great multi-purpose travel item that can be brilliantly used through Malaysia as a beach towel / dress, a pillow / blanket on bus rides and for covering shoulders when you visit temples or your head if you visit any mosques. A good sarong is a Southeast Asia travel must-have in my book.
Travel Money in Malaysia
When it comes to paying for things in Malacca, you want to ensure you’re not being charged overseas transaction fees or getting poor exchange rates when using your card abroad, which is why I always take my Wise card away with me wherever I travel.
The easy way to spend abroad with real exchange rates, no markups and no sneaky transaction fees, you can use your Wise card just like a debit card here… and it links easily with Google and Apple pay – sold! Grab yours here.
PIN IT TO PINTEREST!
And there you have it, my list of the 10 fab things to do in Malacca.
Have you been to this gorgeous city?
Did you love it as much as me?
What was your fav thing to do there?