Malacca Halal Travel Guide
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Malacca City (Malay: Bandaraya Melaka, and officially Melaka City) is a city and the capital of the state of Malacca, Malaysia.
Modern-day Malacca is a vibrant old city with a unique historical and cultural background from being the capital of a powerful Malay kingdom before the colonial era, as well as subsequent Portuguese, Dutch and British rule. The city centre was listed by UNESCO as a UNESCO World Heritage List in July 2008, along with Georgetown, Penang.
History of Malacca
Before the arrival of the first Sultan, Malacca was a simple fishing village inhabited by local Malays. The Malacca Sultanate was founded by Parameswara, also called Iskandar Shah or Sri Majara, the last Raja of Singapura (the Malay name of Singapore) following a Majapahit attack in 1377. Parameswara found his way to Malacca in 1400 where he found a port, accessible in all seasons and on the strategically located narrowest point of the Malacca Strait. This later became Malacca.
There are some interesting legends surrounding the foundation and naming of Malacca. According to the 16th century Malay Annals, the city was founded by Parameswara. Some believe it more likely that he was a Hindu prince and political fugitive from nearby Java. The legend goes that Parameswara was out on a hunt in the region and had stopped to refresh himself near what is now the Malacca River. Standing near a melaka (Indian gooseberry) tree he was surprised to witness one of his hunting dogs so startled by a mouse deer that it fell into the river. Parameswara took this as a propitious sign of the weak overcoming the powerful and decided to build the capital of his new kingdom where he stood, naming it for the tree under which he had been resting. Another account says Malacca is derived from the Arabic word Malakat, meaning market. Malacca had a navigable harbor sheltered by nearby Sumatra across the narrow straits. The location was supplied with an ample quantity of fresh water, enjoyed a prime location relative to the shifting monsoon winds, and had a central location in regional trade patterns, all of which soon made it a prosperous trading town. Its fortunes increased with its official adoption of Islam in the 14th century. The Sultans of Malacca were soon attracting Arab traders from far afield. However, Malacca continued to trade with merchants of all races and religions.
After the visit of the Chinese Muslim Admiral Cheng Ho in the mid-15th century, contact between China and Malacca intensified. In exchange for protection against Siam, Malacca became a vassal state to Ming China. To ensure Malacca’s safety, a new and powerful kingdom was founded by the Sultan of Samudra-Pasai.
The power of the Malays began to rise through the 15th century. In the Malay Annals, Sultan Mansur Shah was mentioned as having six wives, and the fifth was stated to be a daughter of the Ming Emperor. However, in the Chinese chronicles, no such event was recorded.
Things started to change with the arrival of the Portuguese in 1509. They were at first welcomed, but Indian traders soon turned the sultan against the Portuguese and they had to flee. In 1511 the Portuguese returned, and at their second attempt seized the city. This marked the start of the formation of a large Eurasian community. The Portuguese turned the city into a massive walled fortress complete with a tower bristling with cannon. It was believed that such fortifications could withstand the encroachments of other European powers eager for a slice of the Asian luxury goods trade.
An alliance between the Dutch and the Sultan of Johor saw the loss much of Malacca’s power. In 1641 the Dutch navy put a blockade on Malacca and they seized the city after six months. During the siege much of the Portuguese city was destroyed.
Only after 150 years did the Dutch lose their hold on Malacca. In 1795 The Netherlands was conquered by the French, and the British were keen to take over the Dutch holdings in Malacca. By that time, Malacca had lost most of its former importance, although it remained an important part of Asian trade routes.
The A Famosa gate is all that remains of the old Portuguese and Dutch forts. As the Napoleonic Wars wound down the British knew Malacca would be returned to Dutch control. In order to make the city indefensible the city walls were blown down. A last minute intervention by a British officer, the young Sir Stamford Raffles (founder of British Singapore) saved the gate. Shortly after its return to Dutch rule, the Dutch and British governments swapped colonies – British Bencoolen in Sumatra for Dutch Malacca.
Malacca is a centre of Peranakan culture. When Chinese settlers originally came to Malacca as miners, traders and coolies, they took local brides (of Javanese, Batak, Achenese, etc. descent) and adopted many local customs. The result of this is an interesting fusion of local and Chinese cultures. The men are addressed as Babas and the women Nonyas by their servants meaning Master and Mistress.
A small group of Eurasians of Portuguese descent continue to speak their unique creole, known as Cristão or Kristang.
Batang Bus (yellow, cream and red) from Melaka Sentral will go past the airport. Buses will stop by the main road about 200m from the airport building. Tuahbas No. 65 (blue and white) to Taman Merdeka also goes from Melaka Sentral past the airport via Bachang.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport KLIA, () is the closest airport and is about 1.5-2 hr away by car. Transnasional bus company runs 4 direct buses daily at 09:15, 11:45, 16:15 & 20:15 (RM22/16 adult/child), travelling time 2 hours 30min, but if you miss them, you’ll have to detour via KL or take a taxi with travelling time about 1.5 hours (fixed “budget” fare RM159, 1 way, counter inside Domestic Arrivals, the guard will happily let you and your trolley of luggage back into this area from outside).
Malaysia Airlines does not fly to Malacca, but it maintains an office at Lot 1&2, Block A, Ground floor, Century Mahkota Hotel, J. Merdeka, Melaka. ☎+60 6 282 9597.
Many long-distance express buses connect Malacca with both Kuala Lumpur, Seremban, Johor Bahru, Singapore and other parts of Peninsular Malaysia. All long-distance and local buses now operate from the Melaka Sentral bus terminal, a good 4.5 km from the historic core of the city.
To reach the main historical district take bus number 17 which departs from the domestic bus terminal of Melaka Sentral at the bus bay ’17’. This bus goes to Chinatown and Taming Sari. The closest stop to Chinatown is Dutch Square, which you will easily identify from the brick red Christ Church and Stadthuys. Price is RM2/person (July 2017). Note that bus 17 is a loop line, so when you need to go back to Melaka Sentral you can take it at the same place where you got off, but using bus 17 back to Melaka Sentral does take much longer than the inbound journey ( about 40min). A much faster (and cheaper) way is to walk to the end of Jonker Walk until Jalan Kabu. You will see a Tamil Methodist Church on your right and a bus stop (Perhentian Jalan Kabu) across the street (named Jalan Kabu). From there, the bus costs 1.5RM (July 2017) and takes 15 min to reach Melaka Sentral. Buses 17 run about every 20-40 min depending on the traffic.
From Sentral, if you wish to take a taxi to the center instead then head towards the rear of the building. There’s an official taxi stand that will appoint a driver to you. These are typically dirty with rude and aggressive drivers out to cheat both locals and foreigners. They would refuse to use the meter and charge exorbitant prices for short distances (a ride from Melaka Sentral to the main tourist area at Jonker Street would be about RM 25 and above). Locals would typically refer to taxi drivers as “samseng” (Malay for gangsters) and recommend using ride-sharing/e-hailing options such as Uber or the local Malaysian company called Grab as cheaper and more professional alternatives. A ride to Jonker would be about RM 8 for a comfortable clean car and friendly local driver. If arriving by bus at Melaka Sentral, head to the main entrance to request a pick up. Do not go to the back entrance where the overpriced taxis wait. You would need to download the apps on your smart phone prior to arriving.
From Kuala Lumpur
Southbound buses now leave from new bus terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS), which is located just next to LRT station and KTM Komuter station Bandar Tasik Selatan. Easiest way to get there from Chinatown is walk to Kuala Lumpur old railway station (just opposite side of canal from LRT Pasar Seni station, use overpass) and take KTM Komuter train for RM1.10 or take LRT from Masjid Jamek station. Buses are leaving every half hour, price ticket to Melaka Sentral is between RM10 and RM15, and the ride takes 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Besides, there are also several daily buses from Kuala Lumpur Internation Airport (for details see couple of paragraphs above).
Many bus companies operate from Lavender St. bus terminal directly to Melaka Sentral. Bus schedules vary between companies but some operates have hourly buses. Best show up and buy tickets in advance if you want to travel on Saturday morning and return Sunday afternoon as many Singaporean tourists have the same idea. The fares can vary starting from around SGD14-50 one way depending on class of the bus.
Bus rides often take any time between 3.5–5 hours depending on how long it takes to cross the Singapore-Malaysia borders, which during peak periods can cause massive delay. You will have to get your passport stamped at each end of the border and you must bring all your luggage with you when you are making an entrance into each country. Generally, the bus will wait for you at the border but sometimes they will expect you to catch the next bus if you take too long going through custom. Make sure you remember what you bus looks like (the number plate is quite a handy thing to remember). The buses will also have a 20-30min rest stop along the way where you can purchase food and use the toilet facilities (whose cleanliness can be questionable). The Singapore customs area has decent toilet facilities, if required.
Some of the companies operating to/from Malacca are:
- Transnasional, is the largest long-distance bus operator in Malaysia. It links the state with a host of destinations in Peninsular Malaysia like Kuala Lumpur, Seremban, Singapore and further afield. Transnasional buses depart from Malacca City (Melaka Sentral), Alor Gajah, A’Famosa Resort and Masjid Tanah.
- Malacca-Kuala Lumpur Express: Hourly buses between Malacca City and Kuala Lumpur from 05:30-19:00. Tickets cost RM12.50.
- Jebat Ekspres: Buses to Kuala Lumpur via Masjid Tanah and Alor Gajah.
- Malacca-Singapore Express: Hourly buses between Malacca City and Johor Bahru and Singapore 08:00-19:00. Tickets cost RM19.00 to/from Johor Baru, and RM22.00 to Singapore. The route from Singapore to Malacca is SGD20
- Delima Express: Buses from Singapore to Malacca/ Malacca to Singapore. Tickets cost $20.80/ RM22 (26RM in July 2017). The boarding location at Singapore is City Plaza @ Payar Lebar. Online bookings are available .
- Mayang Sari Express: Buses to/from Johor Baru. Tickets cost RM19.00.
- MCW Express: Frequent express services to Muar, Johor
- 707 Travel: Favourite bus company of Chinese-Singaporeans going to Malacca. Departs 4-5 times to/from Malacca (Melaka Sentral) and Singapore (Queen Street). Does not stop at Yong Peng, so the trip can be as short as 3.5 hours. SGD 25 from Singapore; RM25 from Malacca. In monsoon season around New Year’s prices are SGD 20 from Singapore. There are horror stories coming out of this company but don’t be put off. Their communication may be a bit poor but if you take too long to get through customs, you just need to show the next 707 bus your ticket and you will be on your way. However, it is not fun hanging out on the Malaysian border as there is no air conditioning.
Malacca Town is not served by any railway lines. The nearest railway station is at Pulau Sebang/Tampin, ☎+60 6 341 1034, in the Alor Gajah district about 30 km (18 mi) away. The station is on the main Kuala Lumpur-Johor Bahru line and served by all trains.
By bus:The “Tai Lye” bus goes from the Tampin townsite to Malacca. You’ll be looking for bus #26. When you get off the train, walk down the road to the right about 400m until you reach the main road. You now have two options. 1) Cross the road and wait until bus 26 comes toward you, wave madly at it, and it will stop to pick you up. 2) When you reach the main road, turn left and walk about 600m into town. You’ll come to an intersection that T’s the main road, with a road branching left up a hill. Walk up that road about 200m and the bus station is on your left. This is a less risk but more walk option. If you’ve got lots of luggage, you can also take a taxi from the train station to the bus station. If you get lost walking, just ask locals for the “bus station”. Few speak English here, but they’ll understand where you want to get to. The bus fare is RM4.30, and you’ll need actual Ringit currency to pay it with. The trip takes about an hour and a half.
“Salira” bus (light blue and yellow) also goes from Melaka Sentral to Tampin via Ayer Keroh and Durian Tunggal. Get off bus at same spot as Tai Lye.
By Taxi:There should be a taxi or two at the train station waiting for someone like you to come along. If there isn’t, walk into town with the above directions. You’ll see one soon enough. The cost will be somewhere around RM50, but you can try haggling a bit. Either way, get them to take you to your hotel, or if they can only take you to Malacca Sentral, get a cheaper fare (don’t wait to discuss this in the taxi!). Honestly, if you have the cash, and more than just a briefcase, this is the easier option. The cars are air conditioned (another bargaining chip if they aren’t), and have trunk space for your gear. Plus, you could share the cost with up to three other people. Or if you are alone, maybe there is a local who’s also trying to get to Malacca and would appreciate a free ride? Remember to be safe though. Don’t get into your taxi until the driver has, always pay at the destination, and watch your stuff! The trip by taxi takes about 40 minutes.
Malacca can be accessed from the North South Expressway. When coming from the south, drive along E2 and leave the expressway at the Ayer Keroh exit. Alternatively, one can leave the highway at the Simpang Empat exit and proceed through normal road to Malacca. This route will pass through the town of Alor Gajah and now with the new highway (ring road) completed, the trip from Simpang Empat to Malacca will take approximately 20-30 min by car.
Malacca city is on the Coastal Trunk Road (Federal Route 5), and can be accessed from the Main Trunk Road (Federal Route 1) by turning off at Simpang Kendong or Tampin, Negeri Sembilan. Malacca is 150 km (93 mi) from Kuala Lumpur, 216 km (134 mi) from Johor Bahru, and 90 km (56 mi) from Port Dickson.
Rent a car
For those who want an easy and direct way out from either Kuala Lumpur’s LCCT or KLIA airport to Malacca, an easy way is to rent or hire a car or van. It will take you about 1-1.5 hr to get there. Prices range from RM150-RM400 depending upon the vehicle type and rental duration.
Chartered taxi services are available from the end of Jalan Kee Ann. They travel within Malacca state and outside Malacca such as to KLIA International Airport and Kuala Lumpur and carry up to 4 passengers at a time. Many taxis will use a set fare rather than a meter for such trips, so you should agree on a price before getting in. If you rather avoid the negotiations, most hotels are able to book these trips for you (although some may take a rather large commission, so check the fare), or you can book online through a range of companies. Typical fares to KLIA are around 150-200RM, depending also on the car model. Family-taxis are available from some companies.
Daily ferries run to and from Bengkalis, Dumai and Pekanbaru in Sumatra, Indonesia. All ferries arrive and depart from the Harbour Master’s jetty (Jeti Shahbandar) at Taman Melaka Raya near the Maritime Museum.
Getting there:: Malacca Town Bus No. 17 (Green) goes near the Harbour Master’s jetty which is just down the road from the Red Square.
- Tunas Rupat Follow Me Express (Malacca ticketing booth at Jln PM10 Melaka Raya. ☎+60 6 281 6766, office ☎+60 6 283 2506, +60 6 283 2516; Dumai agent: Jl. Jend. Sudirman 4. ☎+62 7 653 1398) operates two ferries daily. They depart Malacca for Dumai at 9AM and 3PM. Journey time is just under 2 hr. Tickets cost RM110/170 1-way/return.
- Tunas Rupat Follow Me Express (Malacca ticketing booth at Jln PM10 Melaka Raya. Tel: +60 6-2816766, office ☎ +60 6 2832506, +60 6 2832516; Pekanbaru agent: Jl. Tanjung Datuk No 153, Pekanbaru. ☎+62 761 858777) has ferries from Pekanbaru to Malacca on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 09:00. From Malacca to Pekanbaru, they depart on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 9:30AM. The journey takes about six and a half hours. Tickets cost RM120/210 1-way/return from Malacca to Pekanbaru.
- NNH Ferry Services Malacca ticketing booth G-15, Jln PM10, Plaza Mahkota Melaka Raya. ☎+60 6 288 1334 runs the Pelita Jaya ferry from Malacca to Pekanbaru on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 9AM.
- Laksamana Group (Malacca ticketing office stalls on Jln PM10, Plaza Mahkota Melaka Raya) has ferries from Malacca to Bengkalis in Riau Province, Sumatra, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays departing at 1100. Ferries connect to Selat Panjang where there are onward ferries to Batam and the other Riau Islands. From Bengkalis, ferries depart on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 9:30AM.
- Mulia Kencana (Malacca ticketing office Stall No. 5, Jln PM10, Plaza Mahkota Melaka Raya. Mobile ☎+60 13 373 3545, +60 16 682 6896, +60 12 339 8428) operates three ferries a week from Malacca to Bengkalis. Ferries connect to the town of Pakning. From Malacca, ferries depart on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 1PM. Tickets cost RM50/80 1-way/return. Tickets from Bengkalis to Pakning cost a further Rp 10,000.
Bengkalis are not listed as a visa-free or visa-on-arrival point of entry into Indonesia. However, those entitled to visa-free entry, or at least Malaysian passport holders, do not seem to face any problems.
For the latest Coronavirus Covid-19 Update on airports please visit our Website Malacca is by no means a small city, but most of the main sites are within easy walking distance from each other and are best explored on foot. Be mindful not to hold up traffic while taking pictures of buildings. The locals have generally good driving sense and adhere to traffic laws.
A 1.6-km monorail system was opened in October 2010. It connects Taman Rempah Station to Hang Tuah Station. A monorail track exists along the river but as of December 2018 is out of business.
Streets in the older/historical part of the city are very narrow, so they quickly become clogged during peak hours. This is especially so during the weekends, when cars from other parts of Malaysia and from Singapore flood to the city. Finding a car park lot is also extremely difficult during weekends. Most of the roads are also one-way, so plan your route properly.
Avoid taxis if possible and use e-hailing Uber or Grab rides. Taxis are known to be rude and aggressive, and refuse to use meters and overcharge passengers. Chartered taxis would cost about RM20 to go anywhere in the city whereas an e-hailing ride may be lower than half the price for a much safer and cleaner car and driver.
- Malacca Town Bus No 17: Melaka Sentral Terminal to the historic core, Mahkota Parade, Melaka Raya and the Portuguese Settlement. The fare from Melaka Sentral to Makhota Parade is RM1.50 to 2.00 (August 2018). The last bus from Melaka Sentral leaves at 8:30PM, after which you would have to take a taxi which costs RM 25 to Mahkota Parade, or Uber/Grab for RM 8. To find bus No 17 at Melaka Sentral, either look for a blue sign saying “Domestic Buses” or ask someone where it is. The domestic bus area is located to the rear of the Sentral Terminal. The domestic terminal section is a semi-circle arrangement, with parking bays for buses numbered 1 to 18. For the No 17 buses to the historic core, you need to go the No 17 bus bay. Also just inside the doors where the public buses depart, is a small desk for information. Note that on the way back from Makhota Parade, bus 17 goes along the main road (Jalan Syed Abdul Aziz or Lebuhraya Coastal) to the south of the Makhota Parade shopping centre, across the big bridge over the harbour and then its turns north on the road with the same name and right again to Jalan Kubu before stopping next to the Tamil Church next to Jonkers Walk. From this stop, it takes just 10-15m back to the bus station rather than 1 hour if you take it going the other way. To get to Melaka Sentral from Jonker Street, walk to the north end of Jonkier St, to a bus-stop opposite the Tamil Methodist Church (Perhentian Julan Kubu) or outside the Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTM) City Campus on Jalan Hang Tuah and take Bus No 17 (RM1, 10 minutes).
- Malacca Town Bus No 8: Melaka Sentral to Town Square for RM1.
- Malacca Town Bus No 18: Melaka Sentral Terminal to Tengkera and onwards to Pokok Mangga
- Malacca Town Bus No 19: Melaka Sentral Terminal to Ayer Keroh (Melaka Zoo and Taman Asean/Malaysia). The fare from Melaka Sentral to Ayer Keroh (Melaka Zoo and Taman Asean/Malaysia) is around RM 3
- Malacca Town Bus No. 50: Melaka Sentral Terminal to the Mahkota Parade shopping centre and nearby seafood restaurants
- Kenderaan Aziz (red and white): Buses from Melaka Sentral to Muar via Padang Temu also go past the historic core, Mahkota Parade and Melaka Raya
Generally the bus system in Malacca is worse than chaotic: there doesn’t seem to be a schedule (one can wait for more than an hour for a bus on the coast just north of Malacca), and information about where and what buses to catch at Sentral is non-existent (you may get lucky looking at the printed paper displays near the front of the busses).
- Trishaws, complete with blaring pop music and fake flowers are available as well for short trips between tourist spots or circular tours. The drivers are very cheerful and friendly. The going rate is RM 40 per hour, but settle any price in advance.
- Bicycle, hire a bicycle or join a cycling tour group, see the Do section for cycling hire and groups. Some of the hostels, homestays and hotels either provide loan or rental bicycles to their guests for local sightseeing. Major local attractions have an extensive internal road or track system often have bicycles available.
- River boat : Melaka River Cruise offers a ‘hop-on hop-off’ service (RM 30/day), but during busy times (esp. weekend evenings) don’t expect to get a seat anywhere other than near the ticket office landing.