Along the Straits of Melaka on the Southern coastline of Malaysia is the former colonial port town from which the straits gained its name, a stopping off point for many of the ships on their way around from Britain to colonial period India, along Malaysia, stopping off at Singapore before heading onwards to Hong Kong or Shanghai.
During our own travel along the coast earlier in 2013 we too made the decision to stop by in this combined British-Portuguese colonial town which now can consider itself a treasure of humanity on the UNESCO site list (paired with Georgetown, Penang)
We loved this city and spent more than two weeks there having a fantastic time feasting on great food and developing great friendships.
Below are five of our own recommendations for ways to enjoy yourself in this fantastic historical town.
Tip #1 – Experience Sikh Hospitality and Food at the Gurdwara Temple
Though our tips come in no order of preference or priority, we’d be lying if we said we hadn’t had some of our best times in Malacca at the Gurdwara Sahib Melaka.
The unbelievable welcome we received from the worshipers at the temple on the occasions we visited was heart-warming – and stomach filling.
For a small donation to the temple you are invited into the communal eating area where you can enjoy fantastic dishes that vary from day to day.
You can read all about it in detail in Our Guide To The Sikh Gurdwara.
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Tip #2 – Grab The Best Roti In Town
I suppose this should be paired up with the gurdwara as the best stop to make on your journey home, and even if you have a full stomach, sharing one of the freshly made banana roti’s at this small corner eatery is unmissable.
Unfortunately, the name of the place escapes us both at the moment, but it’s on the same street as the gurdwara and is the only place situated on the corner selling roti. One whole side of the shop is open. It’s difficult to miss.
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Tip #3 – Drop By The Orangutan House
Unmissable on the streets of Melaka is the Orangutan House. Being the only establishment in the very centre of the protected streets of Melaka to be painted completely down one side, most people tend to grab a photograph and continue their walk. Don’t.
Instead of walking on, step inside to look at the work of Charles Cham, a local artist who spent some time abroad in France to study his art at a time when the art culture of Malaysia was just available for a select few, Charles now operates a handful of buildings in the town trying to generate more interest in art not just for people passing through, but those who live in town.
He displays his art pieces inside this main building, but you’ll also find many tshirts on sale, all of which are fantastic and each one we would have bought (had we room in our backpacks, of course).
Tip #4 – Eat Like The Locals Do
One of the most popular activities for those visiting Melaka is the large tourist market that lines the main Jonker Street of Melaka where you can buy engraved pieces, keychains and the usual imported tourist market souvenirs.
After speaking of our disappointment with our hostel manager about the purely tourist driven scenes at the market he gave us details on where the real local market was and how to get there. It was incredible.
It’s a huge market full of nothing but food and pirated dvd’s on sale. Some fantastic food is to be eaten here such as hamburgers fried inside of fried eggs. Absolutely delicious (eaten before we were vegetarian).
The market moves each day to a different part of town so be sure to ask your host or hostel/hotel manager for the details of the where the market is on any given day.
Tip #5 – Eat Cheap. Eat Healthy
When we weren’t eating our fill at the gurdwara or snacking on roti treats or delicious bites from the real local food market, the only place you would find us was the Chin Hua Vegetarian Restaurant where on no occasion that we had lunch or dinner there did our two plates of fantastic fake meats and vegetables go above £2.50 / $4 / €3.
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Now, having just remembered all of those great places and fantastic food we wish we were back there already.