You can spell it Malacca or Melaka but either way this bustling town is a justifiably popular stop on Malaysia’s west coast.
It’s conveniently wedged midway between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, on the seaside and oozing with character thanks to its colonial history and importance as a stop for spice traders. In 2008, Malacca won UNESCO World Heritage status.
You’ll want to spend at least a couple days here but for cyclists on longer trips, Malacca can make a convenient base for a week or more. The accommodation and food are cheap and there’s plenty to do.
Sleeping: Malacca is packed with hotels. Things get booked up on weekends but any other time you should have lots of choice. All the places we list here have free wireless internet (wifi) for guests.
Tony’s Guesthouse is our top pick in Malacca. You’ll get a warm welcome here and for just 24RM you’ll find yourself in a colourful fan room. Shared bathroom facilities are spotlessly clean, there’s a kitchen to make tea or coffee and Tony turns out top-notch breakfasts in his cafe downstairs. Highly recommended. (24 Lorong Banda Kaba, off Lorong Bukit Cina)
Discovery Cafe is another decent budget option. It’s in a bright-yellow house on the canal so you can’t really miss it. Rooms here start at 30RM. They’re also in the basic but clean category. The friendly owner enjoys chatting. If you’re sitting downstairs in the bar area, he’s quite likely to come up with a tray of fresh fruit to share with you. A huge travel library of guidebooks is a nice added extra. The only catch is that live music kicks up around 9pm for a few hours each night. It’s not heart-thumping stuff, more light rock, and we enjoyed it but if you need total silence to sleep it could be annoying. (No. 3 Jalan Bunga Raya, Tel 06-292-5606)
Ringo’s Foyer is tucked away just off the main streets of the historical district. It’s a bit hard to spot. Two small metal doors have the name written above them. We went to check out options when Tony was full and we had to move. We loved the very friendly welcome from the staff, the common area with TV and the sunroof but felt the rooms were a bit basic. The mattresses in the dorms looked very thin and the beds were just crammed into a small space. Some of the beds we saw did not even have frames, just a mattress on the floor. Given this, 35RM for a private room seemed a bit much. Dorms were 13/RM a bed and separated by gender. (46A Jalan Portugis)
Eating: There’s no shortage of places to eat in Malacca. All the usual street food is easy to find and at night a market sets up along Jonker Walk and side streets in the historical area.
Capitol Satay is a good option for a fun meal out. Huge containers of bubbling peanut sauce are brought to your table and you can pick what you want to dunk into the sauce from a large buffet. Chicken, shrimp, beef, tofu, vegetables. It’s all there for 0.70RM/stick. The place is a bit famous with locals in Malacca and it’s packed on weekends. Get there early (before 6pm) if you don’t want to queue for a table. (41 Lorong Bukit Cina)
Shopping: Malacca has several large and modern shopping malls. Most are not far from the A’Famosa gate and the area where the light and sound show takes place in the evenings. There’s a Carrefour supermarket and all the usual clothing and gadget shops.