Backpacking in Melaka - Things to Do in Malacca on a Budget Trip

Perched on the southern peninsular of Malaysia, the city of Malacca boasts an abundance of breathtaking and historical sites. Follow the guide below to get to know about the best time, food, culture, hotels, and transportation facilities available before backpacking to the historical city of Melaka:

Free Places to Visit in Malacca 

1. Christ Church

The orangish colossal facade of Melaka Christ Church
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Built during the Dutch colonial rule in the 18th century, this ochre-colored iconic church is the oldest Anglican Church in Melaka. Being the heart of the city, this oldest functioning church is at a walkable accessible from all major locations making it a top place to visit on a backpacking trip to Malacca. You can also take the trishaw rides from anywhere in the city at affordable rates. The church receives fewer visitors, and photography here is strictly prohibited.
Timings: 9 AM to 4:30 PM (Monday to Saturday), 8:30 AM to 1 PM (Sunday)
Entry Fee: Free

2. Stadthuys

The interior compound of Stadthuys in Melaka
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Situated just next door to Christ Church, this red-colored building is the most renowned and oldest Dutch building in the East. This is the most visited tourist spot in Melaka and one of the best photogenic places. It comprises the iconic clock tower at the forefront and this massive red building is hard to miss for any visitor. Once the administrative center of the Dutch governance, it has now been converted into a history museum.
Timings: 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM
Entry Fee: Adult - RM 5, Child - RM 2 (A combined entry fee for all the small museums within the complex, with free guided tours)

3. St. Paul’s Church

The St Francis Xavier statue in front of the white building of St Pauls' Church
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Built by Duarte Coelho, Portuguese Captain in 1521, this is one of the oldest and prominent churches in Melaka with a 5-century of history. The church houses St Francis Xavier’s marble statue at the threshold. Some of the remains of the ruins include its walls with engraved tombstones and decayed stone interiors. It is about a 2-minute walk from the A’Famosa Fort, with no restrictions on photography. Sitting atop St Paul’s Hill, it offers amazing views of the Malaccan city.
Best Time: 10 AM to 11 AM
Entry Fee: Free

4. Melaka Straits Mosque

The stunning Melaka Straits Mosque building which looks like it is floating in the water
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Also known as the Masjid Selat Melaka, this is the most renowned floating Mosque situated on the manmade island of Pulau Melaka. Built using the Middle-eastern and Malay techniques the mosque would look like it's floating when the sea level rises. Beside the mosque is the 30-meter minaret which is also a lighthouse. The mosque follows a strict dress code, and robes will be provided at the entrance, with no entry fee. This masterpiece looks marvelously beautiful during dusk and early morning. As it is a little away from the city, you can use the Grab taxi app which costs around RM 7 – RM 8 for a 10-minute ride.

Things to Do in Malacca on a Budget

1. Eat at Jonker Street Night Walk

The bustling Jonker Street Night Market in Chinatown Melaka
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Anyone coming to Malacca cannot miss its most buzzing street, namely the Jonker Street in Chinatown. Strolling down the architectural Jonker pathway is a popular tourist attraction that can get quite crowded during the weekends. One main thing Jonker is famous for is its food. Right from Nyonya Kuehs, Asam Laksas, crispy satays, home-made cakes, chicken rice balls, cendol, horse hoof biscuits to red bean ice-creams, every Malaccan food is available at the cheapest starting prices of RM 1 to RM 10. This street also houses many cafes and local bars at affordable rates.

2. Melaka River Cruise Tour

The Malacca River Cruise tour
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One of the major highlights of the city is the Melaka River Cruise. Take a cruise down the Malacca River at night for about 45 minutes that costs around RM 30 per ticket. If you do not wish to take a ride, you can always choose the walkways during the morning to wander around the river banks and stop and admire the heritage buildings, street arts, murals, and colorful graffiti.

3. Visit Menara Taming Sari Tower

The revolving Menara Tamang Sari Tower
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Located in Bandar Hilir district, and built-in 2008, this revolving gyro tower is a true man-made marvel that is over 110 meters high. The tickets are available in the adjacent building, and the entrance fee is RM 20 (Bottled water and snacks included) for a 7-minute ride. The tower gives you the most stunning 360° aerial view of the city, along with various Dutch and Colonial-style buildings. Other attractions include a 3D Mini Rider and Bumper Cars. The tower is about a 5-minute walk from the Stadthuys and is open every day from noon till late in the evening.

Budget for Malacca Trip

Malacca is comparatively cheaper than other cities in Malaysia. For a backpacker, it will cost around RM 45 – 50 per day on a budgeted trip. 
  • The cost of a bus ride is RM 1.5
  • Meal per day per person would cost around RM 30 – RM 35
  • Local transportation per day would cost around RM 7
  • Bottled water per day would cost around RM 1 – RM 2
  • One hour Trishaw ride costs around RM 40 for two people
  • Dinner at the street markets is about RM 13 for two

Where to Eat in Melaka?

The local Malaysian cuisine
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Malacca, also known to be the food haven of Malaysia, offers umpteen number of varieties for backpackers and travelers. With a blend of Malay, Indonesian and Chinese cuisines, the Nyonya style dishes are the must-haves in Malacca. The specialty of Melaka is the famous Peranakan and Kristang cuisine which is often overlooked. Check out these yummy mouth-watering dishes available at street markets and local vendors:

Hainanese Chicken Rice - This succulently steamed chicken served on fragrant rice topped with light soy sauce and accompanied by a garlic chili paste, is a true Malaccan delight.  Try them at Kedai Kopi Chung Wah.
Dim Sums – Filled with pork, chicken, prawns, and veggies these tasty old-school dim sums are the best at the Low Yong Moh restaurant.
Nasi Lemak – This national Malay dish cannot be missed. It comprises rice mixed with peanuts, boiled eggs, spicy sambal curry, cucumber, and handmade chilly paste. Heng Huat Coffee Shop in Jonker Street serves Nasi Lemak at the cheapest price possible.
Ayam Pong Teh - This Nyonya stewed chicken is one of the signature dishes of Melaka, with the key element being gula Melaka (palm sugar).
Nyonya Cendol – Prepared with ice, coconut milk, palm sugar, and jelly beans, this is the tastiest dessert after a meal. Available at just RM 1 – RM 5, you can find them at Jonker 88 or Aunty Koh’s.
Satay Celup – Starting at just RM 1 per stick, you can find these famous Malaccan snacks at the Capitol Satay Celup in Bandar Hilir.
Ikan Cili Garam - Available at Aunty Restoran Lee and Nancy’s Kitchen, this deep-fried salted chili fish, topped with spicy chili paste has conquered many hearts in Melaka!

Best Time for Backpacking in Melaka

Melaka has a hot and humid tropical rainforest climate throughout the year. An ideal time to visit this historic city would be anytime between November and March when the temperature is usually around 33° C. This time period will be much more bearable than the dry April-May season. As they can clearly avoid the scorching sun during long walks around the city, this season is the most suitable for backpackers! An ideal time to spend would be about 2-3 days in this destination.

Where to Stay in Malacca?

There are plenty of dorms, hostels, and hotels available in Malacca for budget travelers. Many of them provide services like private dorms, free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, free laundry, and a guest kitchen. The price of hostel accommodations in Malacca ranges from RM 20 to RM 35. Look out for a compact dorm or a hostel that provides the above services along the famous streets of Jonker and Harmony.

How to Get Around Malacca

Colorful Trishaw Ride in Melaka
As Malacca is a small town capital city with attraction sites located around the Dutch Square at walkable distances, traveling around the city wouldn’t be much of a problem.
  • You can easily move around using the Melaka tourist maps or google maps.
  • If ever you get tired of walking, there are also bicycle rental services available in the city center, available at rent between RM 5 and RM 10 from most hotels and guesthouses.
  • Apart from these, the Trishaw or the Tricycle rides in Melaka are an easy alternative to get going at affordable rates of RM 40 per hour. Make sure you bargain and confirm the price before hopping in. These are colorful tricycles decorated with flowers and fancy items. The driver might also guide you about the city with some informative commentaries.
  • If you want to take a cab, use the GRAB taxi app to get around the city at cheaper and affordable prices.
  • For cheaper bus rides, there are panorama branded buses (Bus 17) with discounted fares. From the Melaka Sentral Bus Terminal, you can walk up to the local bus platform and hop onto the Panorama Bus 17 at just RM 2 RM 3 to reach the Dutch Square and Chinatown junction.

Tips for Backpacking in Malacca

  • Make sure you always carry a water bottle with you while getting around in Malacca.
  • As Melaka has a hot and oppressive climate at all times, it is best to carry sunscreen with you.
  • Never rely on credit cards and instead always carry some local currency (RM) while shopping in the local markets of Malacca.
  • Wear flats/sneakers or any sports shoes as you might have to walk around a lot!
  • While hopping onto the Trishaw rides, make sure you confirm the fare with the driver before starting your journey.
Hope the above information will help you on a happy and safe journey that fits right under your budget! Happy backpacking to an adventurous tour around Melaka!

This post was published by Gayathri Babu

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