We give you all the top tips on the amazing family friendly vacation which is just a 3-hour drive from our doorsteps!
Are you looking for a relaxing holiday close to Singapore that doesn’t involve a flight? Does it have to be child-friendly, with great hotels, dining options, shopping and sightseeing? Malaysia’s historical city Malacca – Melaka in Malay – might be just the place for your next weekend getaway. Just a short three hour drive away from Singapore, Malacca is a quaint city with an abundance of rich heritage – making it one of my favourite quick trips!
We recently returned from our fourth trip to Malacca, this time accompanied by a bunch of friends and their toddlers. I can honestly say everyone including my 6-month-old baby had a super time!
First up, here are the hotels I’ve stayed in and would recommend without hesitation. I’m pretty fussy and do a lot of research where my accommodation is concerned so rest assured you won’t go wrong with these picks, mama!
- The Majestic Malacca – Old world charm at its best. Can’t fault this place! Don’t forget to indulge at their Spa Village, too.
- Ramada Plaza Melaka – When we stayed here a couple of years ago, this property was the Renaissance Melaka and the club rooms were great. I’m assuming Ramada maintains the same high standards!
- Casa del Rio Melaka – Relaxing waterfront accommodation close to buzzing Jonker Street and the bustling areas.
If you are newbies to Malacca, you should definitely fit in a bit of sightseeing!
- Jonker Street – One of the most well known streets in Malacca’s Chinatown is home to an array of shops and restaurants. There is a night market held every Friday and Saturday and this is when the street really comes alive with a myriad of stalls.
- A’Famosa – Probably Malacca’s best known sightseeing location, this former Portuguese fortress is among the oldest surviving European architectural remains in Southeast Asia, dating back to the 16th century.
- Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum – This museum is actually a collection of three beautifully restored houses showcasing the local history of ethnic Chinese-Malays. Guided tours are available too.
- The Stadthuys/Red Square/Dutch Square – Surrounded by red buildings, this square reflects the history of Malacca and has a vibrant carnival-like atmosphere with a number of stalls and colourful trishaws zooming the streets playing loud music.
- Melaka Menara Taming Sari – Popular with kids, this 110 metre-high revolving gyro tower offers a panoramic view of Malacca. It is located only a short walk away from the Dataran Pahlawan Melaka Megamall if you want to squeeze in a bit of retail therapy.
There are several other places you can visit and things you can do depending on the duration of your stay such as the Cheng Hoon Temple, the Portuguese Settlement, the Melaka River Cruise, Melaka Sultanate Palace and Mini Malaysia & ASEAN Cultural Park. You won’t be bored in Malacca, that’s for sure!
Here’s a quick tip, mama: Malacca is a place where, in stark contrast to Singapore’s busy life, one is transported to a simpler time. Instead of packing your day with a lot of sightseeing, breathe in the fresh air, sample the Peranakan flavours and imagine what Singapore may have once been like. I’d recommend visiting a few hotspots at a time – you can always cover other places on your next visit (remember you are only a short drive away!)
Last but not least, here are my tips on a very important part of any holiday – the food! Malacca prides itself on having some of the best Peranakan food. I’ve often heard of people visiting this lovely heritage city just for a day-long food trail starting from the early morning hours, grabbing a variety of dishes at a number of popular haunts throughout the day!
I’ve put together a list of some of my must-visit Malacca restaurants. They come with a caveat, though: don’t expect anything fancy where ambience is concerned! These are very basic eateries, but the food is definitely worth a try, mama!
- Nancy’s Kitchen – This little family run restaurant is one of the most popular for authentic Peranakan cuisine (avoid peak hours if you don’t want to queue!). The Kueh Pie Tee (crisp homemade cones filled with a mixture of thinly sliced vegetables and prawns) and the nonya kueh (my favourite being the gula melaka kueh with grated coconut) are my absolute faves, but they do also offer a wide range of other Peranakan specialities and the famous cendol dessert.
- Capitol Satay Celup – This unique satay steamboat experience is well worth the wait! Each table has a hot steamboat pot at its centre, and customers have to choose as many satay sticks as they want, dip it into the hot satay paste pot and voilà – a burst of flavours and spices!
- Chung Wah Chicken Rice – Malacca and chicken rice balls go hand-in-hand. As expected, there are several restaurants serving this specialty, but Chung Wah is the original. This was one of the first restaurants I visited in Malacca and, to this day, my hubby and I often joke about our search for the Chung Wah Chicken Rice balls which he thought were actually balls of chicken and rice rolled together, but turned out to actually be a plate of juicy chicken served with a plate of soft moist rice rolled into balls!
- For the famous chendol dessert, head to Aunty Koh Cendol and Jonker 88 Cendol; but to really satisfy your sweet tooth, try the Mille Crepe at Nadeje located at the Mahkota Parade shopping centre. This multi layered cake is best eaten chilled and comes in a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic flavours. There is an express takeaway queue, so you can just have a few slices packed (complete with cooler bags and dry ice) and indulge in the comfort of your hotel room!
- Finally, for a bustling night outing, make your way to the award-winning Geographer Café, a corner pub at Jonker Street. Set in a traditional Malaccan shophouse, this café plays great music and serves a good mix of Asian and Western pub grub.
Getting there: If you don’t have a car, Malacca can be easily reached by any number of express buses, most of which cost around $30 each way. Click here for a good overview of the schedule and services available.
That’s Malacca in a nutshell, mama! As a quick weekend guide for a Malacca first timer, I recommend you pick a good hotel, relax there, stroll down to the Red Square, take in a river cruise, amble along Jonker street, indulge in a few good restaurants and bars, and get a bird’s eye view of Malacca from the Menara Taming Sari. A blissful holiday awaits – happy travels!