Malacca is the easiest city to visit from Singapore. It’s a good option for a short weekend. The interesting part of the city is not big so 2 days will be enough. There are a couple of interesting places and neighborhoods to explore like Chinatown and its nice shop-houses. You can also visit the Cheng Ho museum and check out the night market. Most people who live in Singapore go to Malacca one day or the other. Don’t expect too much of it (especially from the colonial architecture there) and you will be positively surprised by what you see there.
Connections from Malacca
Malacca is a nice stop-over if you decide to go to Kuala Lumpur by car or by bus. Pulau Tioman, Pulau Rawa and Pulau Sibu are on the east coast so it does not really make sense to add one of them to your itinerary if you come from Singapore. Penang and Langkawi are far away on the west coast and will anyway need a full weekend so it does not make sense to combine them either. If you are into jungle and trekking, head to Endau Rompin National park. But essentially, Malacca is a stand alone destination for a short weekend from Singapore.
Getting to Malacca from Singapore
You have 2 options to reach Malacca:
If you need to rent a car, check out Avis Singapore, you can rent it from the city centre (Havelock Road & Marina Square Mall), it will cost you from SGD 300 for a 2-day rental. The 240 km drive will take you around 3 hours. You’ll be driving on a highway (in good condition) most of the way. Check the traffic webcam at the border on the Onemotoring website. Going to Malacca, using the Tuas checkpoint can be a good option as there is usually less traffic and Malacca is on the West coast of Malaysia.
Several companies provide this service: Delima Express, StarMart Express, Singapore Malacca Express, 707 Express. Travel time is about 4hours. You can book tickets on www.busonlineticket.com. It will cost you from SGD 16 to 35 / pax depending on the company and the time. There are frequent departures from 7:30 AM to 7:15 PM to go to Malacca and from 8AM to 7:30 PM to come back to Singapore.
Note that getting through immigration and customs at the border can significantly delay your journey (especially on long weekends with public holidays). Take a look at the “About Malaysia” tab above.
Where to stay in Malacca?
The best is to stay in Chinatown in a Perenakan guesthouse or along the river. La Maison de l’Escargot (meaning the “Snail House” – see details in the To See & To do section below) is a really nice shophouse, B&B style, in the old town (RM500 for 2 persons/night, children under 12 are not allowed).
If you prefer a nice colonial hotel, check the Majestic. Otherwise you can book your accommodation via the box below selecting “Jonker Street” in the Hotel area.
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To see & to do in Malacca
All the interesting places in Malacca are located in the city center, at walking distance from each other. However if you don’t feel like walking you can enjoy a ride on a “typical” (and touristy) colorful trishaw.
You want to learn more about Malacca and would like to take a guide? The owner of La Maison de l’Escargot, is a former Travel Agency Guide, if you want to discover the Secret places and the history of Malacca contact Serge Jardin. He offers “a la carte” private tours in both English & French. Serge JARDIN – La Maison de l’Escargot: Mobile: 00 60 (0)1 22 83 02 60 @: email@example.com
The Chinatown district comprises 3 main streets on the West bank of the Malacca river: Heeren St, Jonker St and Blacksmith St.
Have a walk along those streets, feel the soul of Malacca and see its nice shop houses (crumbling or renovated). You can make a stop at the Cheng Hoon Teng Chinese temple (dates from 17th century) or at the colorful Hindu temple Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi. Jonker St gets very busy at night – pedestrians only, closed to traffic – a night market takes place on weekends, you can enjoy the crowd and try local delicacies for dinner.
Traditional Shophouse 8 Hereen Street
The house dates from 18th century and is an example of what the shop-houses in the historic part of Malacca originally looked like under the Dutch rule. The host will give you some explanation of the shop house lifestyle and will answer your question. The visit is short but interesting.
Visiting Hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 11AM to 4PM. Free entrance / donation
Cheng Ho Cultural Museum
You cannot miss this museum introducing to you the “Chinese Christopher Columbus”. Cheng Ho, an eunuch Admiral from the Ming Dynasty, is a famous Chinese mariner explorer who commanded 7 expeditions to South Asia, the Middle East & Esat Africa. The museum offers guided tours – worth following the guide as he is really interesting and fun.
Location: 51, Lorong Hang Jebat (opposite the Stagthuys accross Malacca river through Tan Kim Seng Bridge).
Visiting Hours: Daily from 9AM to 6PM. Entrance fees: RM 20 / adult & RM 15 / child.
The colonial district
On the Eastern bank of Malacca River, you will find examples of the Dutch, Portugese & English heritage. Start from the Dutch place or the “red place” with the Red Clock Tower, Christ Church (also red!) & Stadthuys. Then you can climb up to the St Paul’s Church ruins (nice view from there), go along the river to see the Malacca water wheel, the Middleburg Bastion, etc and simply walk around in the small streets.
Walk along the canal
You can either walk along the Malacca river (walk-sides on both sides) or go for a boat tour (jetty located near the Dutch Square). The boat tour takes about 40 min and costs approx RM 15 / pax.
More info to prepare your trip
What to pack for Malacca
Your main bag
That’s the one you leave at the hotel. Ideally you want to avoid checking in your luggage when flying. So check the weight and dimensions for hand carry luggage with your airlines (some airlines will allow only 7kg, some will allow up to 10kg). From head to toes.
- Short sleeves tops: your main outfit. Everybody will see them on all your pictures. You really want to take that old Mickey Mouse T-shirt? Be mindful that you will be in a different environment so it might be a good idea to adjust your wardrobe.
- Long sleeves tops: to protect yourself from the sun (if you’ve stayed for 5 hours on a motorbike with short sleeves you know what I mean) or to enter religious buildings or to protect yourself from mosquitoes in the evening.
- Pullover. Yes I know, you’re going to a country where the temperature never goes down below 25 degrees and you need to pack a pullover? You will thank us when you’re back. Remember that flight during which you were freezing? Or this museum where the aircon is set to the “polar bear” temperature?
- Short/skirt (you should be able to chose the appropriate one by yourself).
- Trousers for the same reasons you need to take long sleeves tops. Jeans are usually not a good option. They are heavy and keep you too warm.
- Underwear: well, you know. If you plan to walk or ride motorbikes for long hours, take something comfortable as the combination heat + friction can make you regret this sophisticated silk underwear. Cotton is good.
- Shoes: one pair of flip flap and one pair of confortable shoes. Remember that you are going to spend most of the time on your feet. Forget about high heels and leave your Westons at home.
- Swimsuit: even if you don’t plan to go to the beach, you never know. A nice river, a swimming pool, a heavy rain? Always have one with you.
- Raincoat and protection for your bag. Even if you are visiting the country during the “best season”, you never know what the sky will be like.
- Torch: take a pocket torch with you if you visit countries where the power is not reliable… Can come very handy when stuck in the dark in your room.
- Toilet bag: Shampoo, soap, toothbrush & toothpath, deodorant, sun screen, tiger balm. Ideally, all these in miniature formats.
- Sleeping bag liner (if you plan to stay in very cheap or dirty places, not required if you are staying in a 5-star hotel…)
- Your IT stuff: iPad, eBook, laptop, chargers, memory card, batteries, etc.
- Dryer sheets: they will help keep a fresh smell in your bag.
Your small bag
That’s the one you keep with you, all the time. Hence, a backpack is the best option.
- Your passport, cash, credit cards and other life saving items like your insurance card with emergency contact details. Not a bad idea to put them in a zip-lock bag in case it rains. It will keep your documents dry.
- Your driver’s licence if you plan to rent a car or a motorbike (some countries are quite particular about this so take it with you in case you are not sure, even for a motorbike rental).
- Your emergency medical kit: painkillers, mosquitoes repellent, dressing/plaster, disinfectant, anti diarrhea, eyewash
- Tissues and toilet paper (you will thank me later). Remember that in a lot of countries, you will not be provided napkins when having a meal.
- Water – plastic bottles are a good option as they are lighter than a gourd/flask.
- Biscuits (always buy some before you go when you are not sure what you will find. Always have “emergency” biscuit and water in case you cannot find food around and need to recharge batteries)
- Sunglasses: you’ll need them. Take them even if it’s raining. Weather can change very fast in the region.
- Scarf (krama, or any kind of fabric that you can use to put around your neck, put on your head to protect it from the sun, cover your shoulders in temples, dry your sweat, etc). Can come very handy in some situation. It will not stay clean for long so it’s wise to pick a dark color…
- Camera and its protection.
Wifi is available in bars and restaurants in the touristic area.
- Language: Bahasa Malaysia
- Time zone: Kuala Lumpur GMT +8 hours, no time difference between Malaysia and Singapore
- Currency: Malaysian Ringgit (MYR)
- Phone: + 60
- Electricity: 220V 50 Hz
Immigration and airport taxes on arrival
A lot of nationalities are exempt of visa to enter Malaysia. You can check on the Malaysia Immigration website. If you are arriving by:
- By air: On busy weekends, expect to wait for quite a while at the immigration counter
- By land: If you are driving from Singapore remember to have your fuel tank full to 3/4 when crossing the border. Buy a Touch & Go card (to pay for taxes, tolls and fees) and remember to take it with you when going to Malaysia. More details on the card on the Touch and Go website.
National Public Holidays in Malaysia
|Wednesday||January 01||New Years Day||All regions except Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis, Terengganu|
|Tuesday||January 14||Mawlid||Birthday of Prophet Muhammad|
|Tuesday||January 14||Birthday of The Sultan of Negeri Sembilan||Negeri Sembilan only. Always celebrated on 14 January|
|Friday||January 17||Thaipusam||Hindu festival. Kedah, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Perak, Penang, Selangor only|
|Sunday||January 19||Sultan of Kedahs Birthday||Kedah only. Always celebrated on 19 January|
|Friday||January 31||Chinese New Year||1st day of 1st lunar month|
|Saturday||February 01||Chinese New Year||2nd day of 1st lunar month|
|Monday||February 03||Federal Territory Day (observed)||Kuala Lumpur, Labuan, Putrajaya only. Anniversary of the formation of the Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory in 1974|
|Tuesday||March 04||Anniversary of Installation of the Sultan of Terengganu||Terengganu only. Always celebrated on 4 March|
|Tuesday||April 15||Declaration of Malacca as a Historical City||Malacca only. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 7 July 2008|
|Friday||April 18||Good Friday||Friday before Easter Sunday. Sabah, Sarawak only|
|Saturday||April 26||Birthday of the Sultan of Terengganu||Terengganu only. Always celebrated on 26 April|
|Thursday||May 01||Labour Day||International Workers Day|
|Wednesday||May 07||The Sultan of Pahang Hol||Pahang only. Marks the death of a state Sultan|
|Sunday||May 11||Mothers Day||2nd Sunday in May. Not a public holiday.|
|Tuesday||May 13||Wesak Day||Birth of Buddha. Observed on the day of the full moon in May|
|Saturday||May 17||Birthday of the Raja of Perlis||Perlis only. Always celebrated on 17 May|
|Tuesday||May 27||Isra and Miraj||Kedah, Perlis and Negeri Sembilan only|
|Thursday||May 29||Public Holiday||Perak only. Mark the passing of the Sultan of Perak|
|Friday||May 30||Harvest Festival||Sabah and Labuan only|
|Saturday||May 31||Harvest Festival||Sabah and Labuan only|
|Sunday||June 01||Harvest Festival||Sarawak only|
|Monday||June 02||Harvest Festival||Sarawak only|
|Saturday||June 07||Birthday of SPB Yang di Pertuan Agong||Kings Birthday. 1st Saturday in June|
|Sunday||June 29||Beginning of Ramadan||Johor, Kedah and Johor, Kedah, Malacca only|
|Monday||July 07||Georgetown Heritage Day||Penang only. Georgetown was given Unesco World Heritage Site status in 2009|
|Saturday||July 12||Birthday of the Governor of Penang||Penang only. 2nd Saturday in July|
|Tuesday||July 15||Nuzul Quran||All regions except Johor, Kedah, Malacca, Sabah, Sarawak|
|Monday||July 28||Hari Raya Aidilfitri||Eid Al-Fitr|
|Tuesday||July 29||Hari Raya Puasa Holiday||Second day of holiday for Eid Al-Fitr|
|Sunday||August 31||National Day||Independence Day|
|Saturday||September 13||Birthday of the Governor of Sarawak||Sarawak only|
|Tuesday||September 16||Malaysia Day||Became a Federal Holiday in 2010|
|Thursday||September 25||State Holiday||Kelantan only. Allow voting in by-election|
|Saturday||October 04||Birthday of the Governor of Sabah||Sabah only. 1st Saturday in October|
|Sunday||October 05||Hari Raya Haji||Festival of Sacrifice|
|Monday||October 06||Hari Raya Haji Holiday||Holiday in lieu. Second day of Festival of Sacrifice|
|Friday||October 10||Malacca Governors Birthday||Malacca only.|
|Wednesday||October 22||Diwali||The festival of lights. Except Labuan, Sarawak|
|Friday||October 24||Birthday of The Sultan of Pahang||Pahang only. Always celebrated on 24 October|
|Saturday||October 25||Awal Muharram||Islamic New Year|
|Sunday||October 26||Awal Muharram (in lieu)||Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu only.|
|Monday||November 03||Public Holiday||Pahang only. Marks football team winning the Malaysia Cup final|
|Tuesday||November 11||Birthday of the Sultan of Kelantan||Kelantan only. Always celebrated on 11 November|
|Wednesday||November 12||Birthday of the Sultan of Kelantan||Kelantan only. Always celebrated on 11 November|
|Saturday||November 22||Birthday of the Sultan of Johor||Johor only. Always celebrated on 22 November|
|Thursday||November 27||Birthday of the Sultan of Perak||Perak only. Always celebrated on 27 November|
|Saturday||November 29||The Sultan of Johor Hol||Johor only. Marks the death of a state Sultan|
|Thursday||December 11||Birthday of The Sultan of Selangor||Selangor only. Always celebrated on 11 December|
|Thursday||December 25||Christmas Holiday||Internationally observed Christian holiday|
* check the exact date as it varies from one year to another. When a public holidays falls on a Sunday, the following day will be Public Holiday. There might be some special public holidays in some states. Please refer to this website.