This post may contain affiliate links to tours and hotels. These help us earn a small commission at no additional charge to you.
Rich in colonial history and home to some of the best street food in Malaysia, Melaka should be on your Malaysia must-do list.
A UNESCO World Heritage city with incredible coastal views and Portuguese stylings, there are many things to see and do in Melaka / Malacca and to suit all tastes and budgets.
An easy trip from Kuala Lumpur, there are many tours available to Melaka / Malacca from the Malaysian capital but we’d implore you to stay a few nights in Melaka.
From the iconic Red Square and Stadthuys to the random golden body-building statue (do read on!), there are so many things to see and do in Melaka (but try not to get run over by the famous cartoon cyclos!)
Here is our guide to the best things to do in Melaka / Malacca in 2023:
Table of Contents
How to get to Melaka
How to get to Melaka from Kuala Lumpur
You can visit Melaka as part of a day trip from Kuala Lumpur, or by independently taking a bus and staying a few nights in a hotel/hostel.
If you are short on time, take a Melaka day trip from Kuala Lumpur ,but if you can afford the time, we’d recommend spending a few days in Melaka as there are many activities and attractions plus so much good food.
Day trips to Melaka from Kuala Lumpur
Taking a Bus From Kuala Kumpur to Melaka
The bus journey time from Kuala Lumpur to Melaka is around 2 and a half hours from Terminal Bersepadu Selatan bus station (this Kuala Lumpur to Melaka bus station is located a bit out of the city so take a Grab taxi there).
The Melaka bus fare from Kuala Lumpur fare usually costs between RM10 and RM20. The bus arrives at Melaka Sentral station which is 3 miles north of the city (so again you will need to take a GRAB / taxi to your accommodation for about RM15 to 20). Prices correct as of summer 2023.
You can also reach Melaka by bus from Singapore (it is a good stopping off point if you are travelling from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur or vice versa).
Buses also go to and from other Malaysian cities such as Genting Highlands, Ipoh, Penang, Kota Bahru, Johor Bahru, as well as Hatyai in Thailand.
Use 12Go Asia to find the best fares for your trip to Melaka:
You can also book a private car charter from Kuala Lumpur to Melaka for either 1, 2 or 3 days. Check out the package options on Klook >
Planning a trip to the Cameron Highlands after? Treat yourself to a chauffeur driver car from Melaka to Cameron Highlands >
Getting around Melaka
Melaka is fairly compact so getting around by foot is no problem (70% of the major Melaka things to do and attractions are within 1km radius). Alternatively, or you could pay to take a sightseeing ride around the old town in one of the famous cartoon character trishaws – more on this later.
Some Melaka hotels also offer bicycle rental for their guests.
To get to and from the Melaka bus station to your accommodation, and also to visit places a bit further out of town such as the floating mosque and the Melaka Skydeck you will most likely be needing a taxi.
Download the Grab taxi app – they are widely used by both tourists and locals in Melaka, and their fares are really cheap!
Things to do in Melaka / Malacca, Malaysia in 2023
1. Jonker Street Weekend Night Market
Our number one thing to do in Melaka! The Malacca Jonker Street weekend night market runs every Friday to Sunday (albeit in a slightly reduced form on Sunday) from the river to the far end of Jonker Street.
We highly recommend you try to coincide your stay in Melaka during a weekend as it is hands down one of the best night markets we visited in the whole of Asia.
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 the sublime street food stalls available at Jonker Street Night Market take some beating.
And the gifts and crafts available are not just your usual tourist tat (although yes, there is a bit of that too!)
The entertainment on offer during the Jonker Street night market is usually also very entertaining. For instance, we saw dozens of old ladies doing synchronised dancing and cartwheels in unison. So cute and super cool to see.
As of summer 2023, the Jonker Street Night Market opening hours are 6pm until late, Friday to Sunday. Note that the Sunday night market on Jonker Street is on a smaller scale than the market on Friday and Saturday.
2. Melaka Red Square / Stadthuys
Probably the first image you see when you do any form of search for Melaka online, this iconic red square (not Russia!) is home to the Stadthuys (the former town hall built by the Dutch in 1650).
Here at Melaka Red Square, you will also see Christ Church, an 18th century Anglican church that was actually painted red later in 1911 to match the rest of the distinctive square.
These days, it is also the meeting point for Melaka’s cartoon cyclos (see below) plus a ubiquitous ‘I love’ sign. As you’d expect, the sign says I LOVE MELAKA – these seem to have popped up in every major Asian city including Malaysia and Seoul.
A steady stream of gift-shop stalls can also be found in Melaka’s Red Square, in the shadow of the Melaka History and Ethnography Museum.
You might like – things to do in Langkawi, Malaysia
3. Melaka River Cruise
A Melaka River Cruise is a great and relaxing way to see many beautiful historical buildings and interesting sights in the old town. The round trip with commentary takes 45 minutes and the boat trips run daily from 9am to 11pm.
The Melaka River Cruise ticketing counter is located next to the tourist information centre opposite the Red Square buildings.
Prices for foreigners are 30 RM per overseas adult (12 years over) and 25 RM per foreign child (2 to 12 years). Melaka River Cruise prices correct as of July 2023.
4. Take a ride in a colourful and kitsch trishaw
We’ve all seen cyclos around Asia, but here in Melaka, they really make a special effort in terms of how they dress and design their cycling contraptions.
There are hundreds of cyclos whizzing around downtown Melaka city, all with a cartoon character themes; Hello Kitty, Doraemon, Pokemon and Marvel characters, particularly Spiderman, seemed to be the most popular.
You also don’t need to worry about getting run over by the cartoon trishaws / rickshaws in Melaka, as they all have incredibly loud stereo speaker systems blaring out cartoon tunes.
One of our favourite activities and things to do in Melaka was to sit in the bars overlooking the main streets and watch the cartoon cyclos whizz past, watching tourists giggle with their selfie sticks.
Also make sure you return to the Stadthuys area at night to see the very same cyclos come alive with flashing lights, LED strip lighting and even glitter-balls; disco at its finest!
A note – the cost of cartoon rickshaws / trishaws in Melaka can vary but generally shouldn’t cost more than 30RM to 50RM. If a price isn’t displayed, make sure you agree it in advance.
If you like cute cartoon themed things, check out these cute themed 7-Elevens in Taiwan including Snoopy and Hello Kitty >
YOU MIGHT LIKE: Cameron Highlands attractions: the ultimate travel guide
5. Visit the Church of St.Paul in Malacca
High on a hill overlooking Melaka, the Church of St Paul was originally built in 1521 and is supposed to be the oldest church in Malaysia and indeed the whole of South East Asia.
Now partially ruined after being used as a military store by the British in the 19th century, the Malacca Church of St Paul sacred site offers fantastic 360 degree views overlooking Melaka (the stray cats also seem to love it there!)
One of the most visited attractions in Melaka, we preferred to visit later in the evening, to coincide with the sunset and the departure of all the Melaka cruise-ship masses (much quieter to visit in the evening).
YOU MIGHT LIKE: The perfect 2 week Malaysia itinerary and travel guide
6. Melaka’s Street Art Scene
Although not on par with say Georgetown for its street art, it is fun to stumble across Melaka murals in the most unusual of places.
The best way to explore the Melaka street art is to simply explore the streets with no fixed plan. Although if this isn’t to your liking, concentrate your search along the river and surrounding side-streets for the highest volume of street art.
You might like – the best street art spots in the world or a street art map of Shoreditch, London’s street art capital >
7. Melaka local snacks and dishes
There are many reasons to visit Malaysia, and sampling delicious Malaysian food is one of them. Melaka has some amazing local dishes known as Nyonya cuisine (a unique blend of Chinese, Malay and other Southeast Asian cultures).
Below are some of the local foods we ate during our short stay. Look out for them at the Malacca night markets or at any of the traditional Nyonya restaurants.
Chicken Rice Ball
This is a dish of Chinese origin and not really found anywhere in Malaysia except Melaka. Rice is boiled in a chicken soup, and once cooked is rolled into balls, then served with steamed or roasted chicken and a homemade sauce (a mix of red chillies, garlic, ginger and lime).
There are several restaurants in the old town serving Chicken Rice Balls but the best place to try this dish is at Chung Wah Chicken Rice Ball.
This spicy dish is 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 fish cake slices. We tried an amazing version of Nyonya Laksa at the Jonker Street night market.
This is a very delicious bitesize snack, made from flaky and buttery pastry and filled with a zingy pineapple jam.
You will find shops all over town selling these, and locals love to buy boxes of them as gifts for family and friends during the festive seasons, especially Chinese New Year.
YOU MIGHT LIKE: What to eat in Penang – the best foods in Penang guide >
8. Sip a delicious coconut shake
We’re (coco)nuts about this Melaka thing to do!
The coconut shakes were one of our favourite drinks during our Asia travels and are a refreshing concoction of coconut water and flesh, ice cubes and vanilla ice cream blended together.
In Melaka, there are a few stalls around town selling them but the best ones we tasted were from the stalls at the very start of the Jonker Street Night Market (the sellers were also very entertaining – juggling coconuts to entertain the crowds). One cup costs around 5RM and you will definitely want more than one!
9. Head to the Melaka Straits floating mosque
We’ve all seen floating markets before but how about a floating mosque? A little out of town (so getting a GRAB taxi is essential), a trip to the Malacca Straits ‘floating mosque’ is a rejuvenating experience.
While the main Melaka Straits floating mosque dome is Islamic in design, the four corner turrets are topped with typical Malaysian rooflines. Built on a man-made island in 2006, with glorious ocean views, you are free to visit the floating mosque inside (it doesn’t sway or anything!).
We’d say this is easily one of the best free things to do in Melaka; just remember it is a place of worship and to visit in accordance with their rules.
A change of clothing is provided at the entrance to Melaka Straits floating mosque in the outside changing rooms to ensure you totally cover your body. Just be careful not to step on the large prayer carpet / mat inside as you’ll be politely prompted not to by one of the helpful but assertive staff inside.
10. Visit Cheng Hoon Teng Temple
The oldest functioning temple in Melaka (founded in 1645), Cheng Hoon Teng Temple (also known as the ‘Temple of Green Cloud’), this temple was awarded a UNESCO award in the early 2000s for its outstanding architectural restoration over the years.
It is free to visit and pleasant to wander around, although a little underwhelming compared to other temples we’ve visited in Malaysia, like Kek Lok Si.
You might like – the best temples in Chiang Mai, Thailand >
Viewing Decks in Melaka, Malaysia – view Melaka from above
We love a good observation deck here at CK Travels and there are 3 different spots in the city to view Melaka from above:
11. Melaka Skydeck @ Hatten City (Gale’s) – temporarily closed
2023 update – Melaka Skydeck @ Hatten City is currently closed
The first viewing deck we visited was the Melaka Skydeck @ Hatten City. We weren’t particularly impressed by the set-up and we were the only visitors at the time. In fact, the entrance is in a nearby abandoned mall and it looks like this is another tourist attraction that has never quite taken off (we saw a lot of this across Malaysia).
The viewing deck itself is OK (the views in Melaka are quite ‘flat’) and the entrance fee includes a voucher towards drinks in the Aroma Cafe on level 43 (sadly the views were facing the wrong way, overlooking wasteland). As such, we’d only recommend a visit here if you have lots of time to kill.
12. Taming Sari Revolving Tower
The second viewing deck is the Taming Sari Revolving Tower which has awesome 360 degree views of the city.
The views here are much better than the Melaka Skydeck (currently closed) as it is located in the city centre, but the ride only lasts 7 minutes and costs a bit more at 25RM per person (however, you can get a discounted Taming Sari Revolving Tower ticket if you book in advance).
We would personally recommend visiting the Taming Sari Revolving Tower for the better views and the fact it is much easier to access from most hotels in Melaka.
BOOK IT: Menara Taming Sari Ticket >
13. Shore Sky Tower Melaka
With 43 floors, the Shore Sky Tower is now Melaka’s tallest building, with an observation deck on the top floor offering a bird’s eye view of the city and the sea.
Head up over 160 meters above street level and see panoramic views of Melaka. If you dare, walk across the glass floor skywalk (just don’t look down!)
Prices for the Shore Sky Tower start from 25 MYR per person (£4 approx) as at July 2023.
14. Take a stroll along the river to Kampung Morten / Melaka Morten Village
A relaxed stroll along the Melaka River (or tourist boat) brings you to the rustic setting of Kampung Morten village, one of the few remaining traditional villages in the area.
Set amidst various skyscrapers and hotels (e.g the huge Majestic hotel is just next door), Kampung Morten Village is a charming place to explore, as residents wave to you from their impeccable and lush gardens.
The vast majority of households at Kampung Morten Village (mainly descendants of the first Melaka settlers) have now tapped into the tourist market, turning their homes into traditional home-stays – there are also several houses that have small restaurants and cafes located in their front gardens.
15. Enjoy some dinner and drinks by Melaka River
Drinks along the Melaka River (once dubbed the ‘Venice of the East’) is a fun way to wind down in the evenings. There are several bars all next to each other along the river, with various competing happy hours.
Go early so you can grab an alfresco spot by the Melaka river and watch all the tourist boats glide by, brightly lit by various neon lights and LED strips (sunglasses optional – beer essential).
16. Relax at one of Melaka’s hipster cafes
There are several charming cafes in Melaka old town that are great for a quick coffee or smoothie pit stop including Locahouz, Calanthe Art Cafe and Mods Cafe.
One of the cutest Melaka cafes that we visited (and a pioneer of the Melaka coffee scene) is the The Daily Fix cafe located at the back of a souvenir shop on Jonker Street, which had a very trendy interior and served some really yummy lunches.
17. Get cultural at Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum
This is in fact a recreation of Sultan Mansur Shah’s 15th-century palace, built in 1985 using traditional construction techniques and materials.
The painstaking palace recreation contains over 1,300 artefacts, prints and photographs detailing the Malacca Malay Sultanate’s history (plus lots of rather creepy looking mannequin dummies, which we found rather off-putting!).
Also make sure you check out the Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum gardens before you leave as these were equally as impressive.
18. Eat like a local at Jonker Street Hawker Centre
A few minutes walk from the main lodgings in Melaka, we’d recommend you visit Jonker Street Hawker Centre during the week when the Jonker Street night market isn’t on, to get your fill of cheap street food.
There are around 10 to 15 street hawker / food stalls located at Jonker Street Hawker Centre, across two ground floor rooms, with lots of outdoor seating.
Wander round the stalls, choose and order your food from the respective stalls (make sure you have a table number) and then pay them when they bring it over.
The food here was inexpensive and delicious – there was lots of choice but we eventually opted for some yummy char kway teow and some seafood noodles.
Jonker Street Hawker Centre is open daily until midnight. Note when we last visited, Jonker Street Hawker Centre was closed on Thursdays but Google says different so check ahead!
You might like – fine dining at Pampas panoramic steakhouse in Melaka >
19. Visit the Melaka Bodybuilding Statues – Datuk Wira Dr. Gan Boon Leong
Malaysia’s most successful bodybuilder and Melaka’s answer to Arnold Schwarzenegger, there are four enormous statues dedicated to Datuk Wira Dr. Gan Boon Leong (who sadly died in 2022 at the ripe old age of 84).
Born in 1937 and known as the ‘Father of Bodybuilding in Malaysia’, Datuk Wira Dr. Gan Boon Leong got involved in local politics and owned a gym in later life. The several statues of him dotted around Melaka were erected in his honour and have now become a curious tourist attraction and lasting tribute.
Thanks for checking out our blog!
We are currently digital nomading / travelling for the next few months around London and Asia (Thailand, Malaysia and Taiwan). Check out our travel diaries on Instagram @.c.k.travels, Tik Tok @cktravels and on Facebook.
20. Go on a free walking tour of Melaka
2023 – the free walking tours seem to be suspended but visit the Melaka Tourist Information Office downtown to make sure.
We didn’t have time to do this but there is a free 2 and a half hour walking tour which starts at 9.30am every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday* from the tourist information office near Dutch Square. Aim to arrive at 9.15am to sign up for it and guarantee a place. *Times and days are correct as of January 2019.
21. Abandoned Melaka
Fans of URBEX and random abandoned buildings may also found several things to enjoy in Melaka, Malaysia including:
Abandoned Melaka Monorail
Look up whilst walking along the Melaka River and you’ll see the remains of a now mothballed monorail system that really never took off after its launch.
Several mechanical problems coupled with a comparatively expensive fare (too much for locals) meant this looks like a huge white elephant. There is often talk of relaunching it, but nothing has happened since we visited in January 2019.
Abandoned theme parks and ‘ghost’ shopping centres
We also noticed several abandoned small-scale theme parks whilst in Melaka including a pirate inspired park next to the river, plus several shopping centres that seemed to be nigh on vacant. This seems to be a thing in Malaysia, as also experienced at the Sky Deck at Hatten City.
You might like – Lagenda Langkawi, an abandoned theme park in Malaysia >
22. The People’s Museum / Muzium Rakyat
We first heard about the People’s Museum from an article on the Atlas Obscura website. In essence, it is a museum that charts the people’s history of Melaka as seen through their eyes (located in the Kite Museum).
All in all, we found the People’s Museum a bit of an oddity, with dated exhibitions on subjects like kite-flying that rarely seem to get changed. Cheap as chips though as it less than $1 entry so maybe treat this an alternative rainy day activity?
23. Melaka Theme Parks and Water Parks
Melaka is a very family friendly destination and fun for kids of all ages. There are many theme parks to enjoy in Melaka including:
Our final thing to do in Melaka, Malaysia
24. Other Traditional cultural Activities in Melaka
From dessert making classes to Malaysian pewter making workshops, there are several ways you can create your very own unique souvenir to bring home:
ATMS in Melaka
It was hard to find ATMs in Melaka – however we did find one inside the 7/11 on Jalan Laksamana 4 street, and also some in Dataran Pahlawan Melaka Megamall.
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:
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
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
- Top things to do in Georgetown, Penang – travel guide
- The perfect 2 week Malaysia itinerary and travel guide
- Cameron Highlands attractions: the ultimate travel guide
- 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 Melaka / Malacca blog post? Let us know in the comments or by sharing it on social media.