Historically known as “Malacca,” Melaka takes its name from the Malacca tree, known locally as the ‘Melaka’ tree. The state’s name is intrinsically linked to its historical significance as a major trading port and the epicenter of the Malacca Sultanate.
Melaka is located in the southern region of Peninsular Malaysia, bordered by the state of Negeri Sembilan to the north and the state of Johor to the south. Facing the Straits of Malacca to the west, it is situated approximately 150 kilometers southeast of Kuala Lumpur and 260 kilometers northwest of Singapore.
Melaka boasts a rich tapestry of history that dates back to its establishment in the 14th century by Parameswara, a Srivijayan prince. Under his leadership, Melaka rose to prominence as a vibrant trading port. The subsequent Malacca Sultanate played a pivotal role in the spread of Islam throughout the region. Its strategic location made it a prized possession, leading to successive colonizations by the Portuguese, Dutch, and British. In 2008, the historic center of Melaka, alongside George Town in Penang, was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its well-preserved architectural and cultural townscape.
Highlights of Things to Do
- Jonker Street: A bustling thoroughfare especially during weekends, it’s filled with antique shops, night markets, and delicious local fare.
- A Famosa and St. Paul’s Hill: Remnants of Portuguese fortifications combined with a panoramic view of the city from the summit.
- Melaka River Cruise: A scenic way to experience the city, especially enchanting during the evening with illuminated buildings along the riverbanks.
- Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum: Dive deep into the cultural fusion of the Chinese and Malay communities known as the Peranakan.
- Cheng Hoon Teng Temple: Malaysia’s oldest functioning Chinese temple, a testament to the state’s multicultural fabric.
How to Get In and Out
- By Road: Melaka is well-connected by expressways, with the North-South Expressway (NSE) linking it to major cities like Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru.
- By Bus: The Melaka Sentral bus terminal is the primary hub for intercity buses.
- By Air: Although Melaka has an airport, Melaka International Airport, its connections are limited. Most international travelers opt to fly into Kuala Lumpur or Singapore and then take a bus or car to Melaka.
Melaka is more than just a historic city; it’s a living testament to Malaysia’s diverse cultural heritage. With its harmonious blend of past and present, it offers travelers a unique experience, taking them on a journey through time, flavors, and traditions.