We arrived in Melaka, Malaysia in the dead of night. It was only around 9 in the evening but the city looked like it had already gone past its bedtime. The shady city blocks drastically turned to a new light come morning.

Visiting Melaka was more of my idea. Given my liking for old cities, it was a place I’d totally prioritize if I were traveling solo.

We only allotted an hour (two hours tops) for an early morning walking tour of Melaka. It was too short, I know, but we wanted to leave early so we could spend as much time as possible in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, for our first time experience in Malaysia.

Early morning at the Melaka River in Melaka, Malaysia

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Starting at Discovery Cafe, we followed the Melaka River downstream. Melaka, together with Georgetown in Penang, is included in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites under the category “Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca.” As early as 500 years ago, both cities functioned as major trading ports linking the east and the west. Melaka and Georgetown are living testimony to the multi-cultural heritage and tradition of Asia, and European colonial influences.

Both cities showcase unique architectures that reflect different stages of Malaysia’s colonial past. While Georgetown embodies the British-colonial era starting from the end of the 18th century, Melaka features architectures and development originating in the 15th-century Malay sultanate and the Portuguese and Dutch periods.

The city is also commonly known as Malacca in English.

St Francis Xavier’s Church

Facade of the St Francis Xavier’s Church

Melaka River

Starting our walking tour

Old shop houses and residential blocks

Must not leave without a souvenir photo. Took this photo at a foot bridge, which had a nice view of the riverside structures. 

Love the charming riverside promenade and the brick texture of the shop house row

Melaka River Cruise

Melaka Tourist Police

Malaysia Youth Museum

Melaka Art Gallery

Dutch Square

Major structures in / surrounding the Dutch Sqaure include Christ Church Melaka, Studhuys, and the Tang Beng Swee Clock Tower.

Dutch Square

Christ Church and the Tang Beng Swee Clock Tower

Christ Church Melaka.  Bricks were shipped from Zeeland in the Netherlands. On the floor of the church you will find Dutch tombstones. It is the oldest protestant church in Malaysia. On the altar you will see sacramental silverware, still bearing the Dutch coat of arms. 

 Tang Beng Swee Clock Tower, it looks Dutch, but it is not. It was built in 1886.

The Clock Tower and Stadhuys, the red colored building behind. The Stadhuys literally means town hall in Dutch. It was built in 1650 as the office of the Dutch Governor and Deputy Governor.

Queen Victoria’s fountain

Melaka Tourism Information Office

Kota Melaka (Malacca Fort)

It was my first time to visit a former Dutch colony and was really ecstatic to have seen a Dutch-style windmill and a huge water wheel. Both were probably just replicas but I was unfazed. It was as close I could get to see structural icons closely associated with the Netherlands.

Windmill Replica

Huge Water wheel. 

Loading station for the Melaka River Cruise

Portugese Galleon in Melaka

Obviously also a replica. Pretty cool nonetheless. Next time, I’ll make sure to bring a Jack Sparrow costume.

Colorful trishaws across the street.

Jonker Street

This is the residential heart of Old Malacca just west of the Malacca River. It supposed to have narrow winding streets, beautifully decorated houses, tiny shops, temples and mosques. I didn’t get to see them since we were running out of time :(

Urban Backwater

It was a very uncomfortable experience being led through the dark alleyway at night (en route to Discover Guest House). After seeing it in the light of day, I loved its backwater urban feel. I was drawn to the different textures … couldn’t resist the photo-op.