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Mmmmm, Melaka! Or should that be Malacca? We’re not sure but we do know this is home to some of the best street food we’ve ever tasted (we said this in our previous guide to Melaka blog so it must be true!). No trip to this marvellous Malaysian outpost is complete without a visit to the weekend night market, held along the length of Jonker Street every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
You can still have a pretty excellent adventure to Melaka without visiting the night market thanks to its colonial charm and historic sites, but we would highly recommend you try to plan your trip here to coincide with the night market.
We know Penang and Ipoh are increasingly touted as the ultimate food destinations in Malaysia and that might be true, but the sheer character and number of novel, nom-nom foodstuffs available during the Jonker Street Night Market take some beating. And did we mention the gifts and crafts available were not your usual tourist tat*? *although that is still available, fake goods fans.
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Jonker Street runs through the heart of Melaka, and is the main Chinatown street. It was once famous for its antique shops, but has now given way to a lot of tourist shops plus the usual chains like 7 Eleven. During the week, Jonker Street is open to traffic and has all manner of weird and wonderful places to explore including a Mamee Noodle Museum (easy to spot as you are greeted by the massive Mamee monster). However it is the weekend when it truly comes alive when the streets are closed to traffic and the night market stalls open up.
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What can I buy at Jonker Street night market?
There are a huge range of wonderful things to buy and eat at the market – you’ll find stalls selling everything from souvenirs, food produce, clothing, toys, jewellery and accessories, temporary tattoos, art prints and Studio Ghibli merchandise (we bought some Totoro ornaments).
We found many stalls selling very unique gifts that we’ve not seen before in any other night market in south east Asia and we would say Jonker Street is definitely one of our favourites.
What to eat at Jonker Street Night Market – the best food and drink
With oodles of noodles and magnificent Malaysian morsels to taste, this must be one of the best night markets in South East Asia for food. From chicken rice-balls to creamy coconut ice-cream, you’ll find some delicious delights to suit even the most adventurous traveller’s tastes. Our food favourites at Jonker Street Night Market include:
This stall sells the best coconut shake we’ve ever tasted (a mix of coconut water, coconut flesh and vanilla ice cream)! The coconut huskers were also very entertaining – throwing balls of coconut flesh up and down in the air which was very fun to watch!
Coconut shakes cost 5RM, or you can purchase a ball of husked coconut flesh and water in a plastic container for just 2RM. You’ll find them at the very start of Jonker Street near the river.
Satay or curry fish balls
This savoury snack is very popular at the night market. A cup of these delicious fish balls with either a sweet and spicy curry sauce or a satay sauce will usually cost around 4RM.
Pure mango smoothies
Fresh fruit in a cup is widely available but the mango ones are utterly devine, and cheap at just 5RM a cup.
A few stalls sell this spicy dish which is similar to a curry laksa. The Nyonya Laksa has a rich and creamy coconut-based noodle soup with broth made from chicken and prawns. It is usually topped with sliced cucumber, a boiled egg, sambal, fish balls and fishcake slices.
This zesty, bitesize snack made from flaky pastry and filled with a zingy pineapple jam is a winner. Although you can find shops all over town selling pineapple tarts (generally in pre-packaged boxes, ready to take home as gifts), Jonker Street Night Market is a great opportunity to try a hot, fresh one straight from the source.
Steamed rolled rice noodles with tofu, hoisin sauce, a chilli sauce and roasted sesame seeds – delish!
Mr. Pau’s dim sum street food stall is a bit hit with visitors to the night market. They are super tasty and really cheap – 5 dumplings cost just 4RM.
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Whilst food was our main priority (a full belly is a happy belly!), the nightly market entertainment also kept us amused. One of the highlights and most joyful moments of our trip was the sight of hundreds of old(er) ladies taking part in synchronised line dancing on the main stage and along the streets (something we’d seen before in Chiang Rai but nothing quite on this level). All of the dancers were wearing red t-shirts so they likely belonged to a senior dancing group (or have started a local fan-club for ‘Dancing with the Stars’).
Their passion for life was so enthusing that we grabbed some ice-cold beers from a local 7 Eleven and spent a good amount of time watching their crazily cute choreographed numbers – who needs TV when you something as wonderful as this unfurling right in front of your very eyes?!
If you still have a thirst after exploring the night market in Melaka, we’d recommend heading Geographer’s Cafe on Jonker Street, or to the bars along Malacca’s river, just a short walk from the main entrance to the Jonker Street market. Indulge in some happy hour beers and raise a glass to having successfully navigated the night market, a nicely suffused stomach and the bag full of bargains you’ve just likely just bought from the market (or is that just us)?
Jonker Street Night Market address and opening hours
Address: Jonker Street Night Market, Jalan Hang Jebat, 75200 Malacca, Malaysia
Opening Hours: Friday – Sunday; 6pm – Late
Note that the Sunday market is smaller than on Friday and Saturday
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Where to stay in Melaka
We stayed at Hotel Puri – the location was amazing and just a few minutes walk to Jonker street weekend market, the river and many restaurants. The rooms were a little tired looking but there was a fairly decent free breakfast every morning.
Here are some other suggestions for accommodation to suit all budgets:
Here are some cheap hostels that come highly rated on Hostelworld:
Newly renovated guest house with plant-filled inner courtyards and free WIFI. Check out prices and availability for Jalan-Jalan Emas
Ringo’s Foyer Guest House
Budget accommodation ranging from family and double rooms to single and dorm rooms, with rooftop and cycling tours. Check out prices and availability for Ringo’s Foyer Guest House
Traditional guest house with friendly owners – a short walk from town. Check out prices and availability for Tonys Guesthouse
If you are looking for something mid range then these hotels have great reviews:r
Modern hotel featuring contemporary-industrial decor. Check out prices and availability for Rosa Malacca
Timez Modern Heritage Hotel
Boutique hotel located in a side alley just off Jonker street. Check out prices and availability for Timez Modern Heritage Hotel
RC Hotel Melaka
Boutique hotel located just beside the Malacca River with rooms featuring different unique themes. Check out prices and availability for RC Hotel Melaka
Alternatively if you are looking for something more special then treat yourself to a stay at one of these seriously beautiful hotels in Melaka:
The Majestic Malacca
Boutique hotel set along the banks of Melaka River featuring elegantly decorated guest rooms and spa and outdoor pool. Check out prices and availability for The Majestic Malacca
Casa Del Rio
Riverside hotel featuring an infinity pool, fitness centre, spa, 3 restaurants and rooms with a private balcony. Check out prices and availability for Casa Del Rio
Sim cards and pocket WIFI
Having data on your phone whilst travelling is almost essential these days – from planning your route around the city, booking a Grab taxi or for staying connected with friends and family back home. SIM cards are pretty cheap in Malaysia with generous data allowances and are available to purchase from airports, malls and convenience stores (bring your passport along for identification purposes).
You can also prepay online and collect a SIM from KLIA2 airport. Just remember to make sure your phone is not locked to your local network provider before purchasing one.
Alternatively if you do not want to change your sim card then renting a pocket WIFI device might be for you. We’ve used them multiple times and love that we can both connect our devices to it, however the downside to the Malaysian ones is that there is a data allowance of 1GB per day. Pre-order one online with Klook for collection when you arrive at either KLIA or KLIA2 airport in Kuala Lumpur.
Other Malaysia blog posts
- The perfect 2 week Malaysia itinerary and travel guide
- A guide to Georgetown’s street art in Penang, Malaysia
- Cruising in Langkawi – a ‘spirited’ sunset adventure
- Tasting Malaysian cuisine on a Kuala Lumpur food tour
- A cheap day tour in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
- Visiting Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur for the Thaipusam Festival
- Exploring Langkawi’s Mangrove flora and fauna
- Island hopping in Langkawi
- Exploring Kuala Lumpur from above – KL Tower and Eco Forest Park
Did you enjoy our things to do in Jonker Street Market? Let us know in the comments or by sharing it on social media.