According to UNESCO, Melaka is “a testimony to a living multi-cultural heritage and tradition of Asia, where the many religions and cultures met and coexisted.” Its history, strong heritage and old world charm attract both local and international travellers. Its accessibility from Klang Valley and Singapore also makes it a popular weekend destination.
Where to go when being in Melaka city?
Finding this little shop could be quite challenging due to its hidden location and humble facade. But once discovered, one would be impressed of Gee’s hand-painted clogs featuring colourful Baba and Nyonya motifs and quirky face series. Gee has almost 16 years of experience in the business, and all of his clogs come in limited editions, priced at RM50 to RM230 per pair. So next time when you are on Second Cross Street (Jalan Hang Kasturi), be sure to stop by and help yourself to a pair. Just look for the hanging clogs on the outside door and you are bound to be in the right location.
Address: C, Jalan Hang Kasturi, 75200 Melaka
Lim Tian Seng
Mr. Lim Tian Seng is an award-winning beaded shoes maker. With 30 years of experience, Mr. Lim’s skill is translated into exquisite creations that come in four designs: open toed, criss-cross, covered toe and modern single strap. He uses imported beads from Japan and Europe on his shoes, in which he stresses that the beads are individually sewn on the base to make the shoes last longer. A piece of beaded shoe takes three days to three weeks to finish, depending on the complexity of the design. The prices of his beaded shoes start at RM220 onwards.
Address: 63, Jalan Tokong, 75200 Melaka
Baba & Nyonya Museum
The Peranakan-Chinese has been synonymous with the identity of Melaka since the 16th century when the Chinese traders intermarried and assimilate into local culture. To learn more about this fascinating hybrid culture, one may head to the Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum on Tun Tan Cheng Lock Street. This family-home-turn-museum features original artefacts and lavish furnishing, including a unique staircase made of solid chengal wood (Neobalanocarpus) with intricate gold-leaf carvings underneath the staircase, said to be the first seen in South East Asia. There are eight scheduled English tours daily, but it is best to book your slot well in advance as they can get full pretty quickly.
Address: 48-50, Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, 75200 Melaka
Melaka River Cruise
We suggest that travellers end their day in Melaka by taking a 45-minute riverboat ride that cuts through Melaka town, preferably during sunset. Departing from Muara Jetty, next to Quayside Heritage Centre and close to the Maritime Museum, the cruise transports sightseers up and down past historic buildings, old warehouses, interesting mangrove stands, churches, traditional villages and hip cafes. The tickets are priced at RM10 per adult and RM5 per child.
Address: Jalan Laksamana, 75000 Melaka
What to eat?
Traditional Melaka Delicacy
When it comes to traditional delicacies, Melaka has a lot to offer since it has multi-cultural living heritage based on the cultures from the Malay Archipelago, China, India, and even Europe. One particular snack that travellers can try is ondeh-ondeh (green coloured balls made with flour and coated with fresh grated coconut) that is sold widely throughout Melaka. But if you are walking near Jonker Street, stop by at Kedai Aku dan Dia (23, Jalan Hang Kasturi, 75100 Melaka) and try its Cinderella Ondeh-ondeh made by a popular cheeky lady known by many as (yes, as you guessed it) Cinderella. Her shop opens at 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and each pack of ondeh-ondeh is sold for RM2.
Pandan Gula Melaka Pancake
For more comfort food, we suggest travellers stop by at the Daily Fix Cafe that sells Pandan Gula Melaka pancake that is now popular among young locals. Filled with delicious gula Melaka (palm sugar), battered then deep-fried, the people at Daily Fix Cafe aim to make an unashamedly lavish old fashion pancake treat. The cafe is spacious and decorated in a traditional yet hip way that most youngsters love. It opens daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Address: 55, Jalan Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka
Melaka’s weather tend to get rather humid, so what better way to cool ourselves down than savouring a scoop of ice-cream, especially from Inside Scoop. Located on Jonker Street since August 2015, Inside Scoop offers both traditional favourites and new invented flavours. The bestseller at the moment is the creamy Musang King that goes well with their waffle cones. A single scoop of ice-cream here costs RM8.50.
Address: 28, Jalan Hang Kasturi, 75200 Melaka
Nadeje Mille Crepes
Some may also say that a trip to Melaka is not complete if one does not try the popular Nadeje mille crepe. Established since 2006, Nadeje has three outlets in Melaka: Plaza Mahkota (G-23, 25 & 27, Jalan PM4); Mahkota Parade (G-23B, EG 4 & EG 5, Ground Floor); and Jaya 99 (G-01, Block A, Jalan Tun Sri Lanang). The decor of all of its outlets is decidedly minimalist to draw the attention to its crepes. There are several flavours being offered, but the most preferred would be the original flavour. All crepes are freshly made every day.
Melaka has the ultimate bragging right for having the best asam pedas (sour and spicy stew dish) in Malaysia. It is thicker in consistency and uses far more spices than the average asam pedas made in other states. To taste this dish, go to Asam Pedas Claypot for the authentic flavour, served hot in a clay pot. Patrons can choose different types of fish like cod, mackerel, pomfret and stingray to be cooked in asam pedas. This eatery is often packed during weekends, therefore it is best to come early. It opens nightly from 6:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.
Address: 86, Jalan Laksamana 5, 75200 Melaka
Fans of Peranakan cuisine should definitely check out Siew Tin’s Nyonya Kitchen (7, Jalan Hang Lekir, 75200 Melaka) serves classic halal Peranakan fare with homecooked taste. The restaurant’s flavourful fish with coconut milk and pineapple, ayam pongteh (bean paste chicken) and dry curry chicken come highly recommended. It opens from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on weekdays, but closes an hour late during weekends.
*Should travellers have an extra time to discover more places outside Melaka city, be sure to seek these highly-recommended local food: Mee Bodoh by Hassan’s Mee Goreng, which literally means ‘too simple noodles’ on Jalan Tengkera; Nasi Lemak Lereh at Tajung Puteri (1, 6th Mile, Jalan Tanjung Kling, 74600 Melaka) and mushroom bun at Machap Baru Night Market.
Melaka gears up for more tourists
To find out more about Melaka’s progress in terms of tourism especially after being enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gaya Travel Magazine catches up with the sprightly Norena Jaafar, who is the Tourism Promotion Division General Manager for the Office of the Melaka Chief Minister. She shares that Melaka is targeting to receive 16.5 million tourist arrivals in 2016 on the back of 15.78 million arrivals recorded in 2015.
Norena further adds that Melaka is aggressively targeting the youth market because according to a six-month long survey conducted by her office, Melaka mostly receives travellers between 20 and 27 years old. The presence of this type of travellers turns Melaka into a youthful and vibrant destination with many hipster cafes and accommodations. These young travellers are more adventurous and willing to explore and try out more of the destination that otherwise will not be visited by older market segments such as the sand boarding activity in Klebang. “Within 10 to 15 years, these travellers will progress socially and economically later in life. At that time, they will surely fee nostalgic towards the places they visited during their younger days therefore they will do so with their own families,” she deduces.
Based on tourist arrivals, Melaka relies on the domestic market, which represents 72% of the overall tourist arrivals to the destination, with the majority coming from Selangor and Penang. “Melaka targets domestic travellers through billboards in all Malaysian states, including ambient advertisements in popular shopping complexes in Kuala Lumpur to make Melaka a top-of-mind destination and create curiosity among the public on what Melaka offers,” Norena reveals.
However, this is not to imply that international tourist arrivals are not important. As a matter of fact, Melaka intends to increase the number of international arrivals by doing more promotions overseas. In terms of the international market, Singapore has always been Melaka’s bread and butter, but now the state is also receiving more tourists from mainland China, South Korea and Taiwan. “Interestingly, without doing any promotion, we received close to 72,000 Korean visitors last year,” beams Norena. Seeing that there is strong potential, Melaka will be participating in the Korea World Travel Fair in June 2016.
For the China market, Melaka utilises Weibo by linking it with the Destination Melaka app, which is compatible with Android or iOS systems. Travellers can learn more about Melaka by downloading it. The introduction of the app is also in line with the expectations of the youth market that Melaka is targeting. Melaka plans to occupy billboard space at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to prompt international travellers to download the Destination Melaka app once they step on Malaysian soil. Melaka also targets the expatriates currently residing in Malaysia and Singapore.
Besides the UNESCO World Heritage Site and its current attractions, Melaka also brims with new products such as the unique mushroom buns that can be found in Machap that is half an hour to 45 minutes away from Melaka city, including Cincin Extreme Park in Jasin. Norena recommends that travellers should explore more of Melaka and obtain local knowledge about where to go, what to do and what to eat.
This article is included in Gaya Travel Magazine Issue 11.2. Read the magazine for free HERE.