It's no secret that Singaporeans love to travel overseas to Malaysia for a cheap holiday abroad. While Asian cities like Johor Bahru may be closer to home, some may be looking for a getaway that's a little bit different. Well, be sure to add Malacca to your list then!
Malacca is a sleepy colonial town—a gem with vibrant lanes and heritage buildings found at every corner. With a tonne of things to do and loads of delicious food to enjoy (think Char Kway Teow and Assam Fish Head), it is no wonder Singaporeans flock there for sightseeing trips and cheap holidays abroad.
There’s just something exciting about a good ol’ adventure on the road, and we’ve gathered some of the best places to stop by and things to do for a 2D1N family vacation from Singapore to Malacca. Pack your bags for your road trip cause you’re in for a fun ride!
Day 1: The start of good food and heritage walks
Checkpoint #1: Kedai Kopi Chung Wah
To make the best of your road trip, a travel tip is to set off real early to beat the causeway jam. We’re talking as early as 6:00am to 7:00am. That way, you can arrive about 10:00am — right before the lunch hunger hits.
Make your first stop at Kedai Kopi Chung Wah, which specialises in their famous Chicken Rice Balls. It’s located right across the flower-filled bridge, at a corner facing Jonker Street (one of the most well-known streets for walking in Malacca).
The earlier you reach, the better too since it’s a famous spot that typically forms long queues. These glutinous Chicken Rice Balls come in a plate of five (RM1.50, S$0.50). The most popular choice: a half serving of Hainanese Chicken (RM18, S$6) paired with some chilli or black sauce for a burst of flavours.
Address: 20, Lorong Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Operating hours: Everyday except Wednesdays—9:00am to 2:00pm
Checkpoint #2: Dutch Square (Red Square)
After a hearty meal, why not take a short leisurely stroll at Dutch Square, one the the main tourist attractions in Malacca? Traces of different colonial forces, all which once ruled Malacca, have left imprints here. One of them is the notable Christ Church. This is one of the city’s defining structures – a historical building that has been around since the 18th century, back when the Dutch took possession of Malacca from the Portuguese.
Aside from the church, you’ll also spot other iconic structures like the Queen Victoria Fountain, which was built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee way back in 1901. Though old, the fountain still functions to this day. Besides its historical significance, Christ Church also makes for a popular and beautiful photo backdrop, especially among tourists. It’s time to whip out your cameras and prepare your Insta poses!
Address: Bandar Hilir, 75200 Malacca, Malaysia
Operating hours: 24 hours
Checkpoint #3: Malacca River
Located nearby Dutch Square is Malacca River, a tranquil river that was once known as the ‘Venice of the East’. Spanning a total distance of 10km, this was a notable entry port for both European and Asian traders during the 16th century.
If your feet are feeling a little sore from all that walking at this point, consider hopping on a 45-minute river cruise that will offer you sights of picturesque locations throughout the city. While on the cruise, keep a lookout for tourist attractions like the Cheng Ho Cultural Museum and Old Town Hall (The Stadthuys) that is adorned with a gorgeous terracotta colour. The ticket costs RM25 (S$7) for children younger than 12 years old, and RM30 (S$9) for adults.
Address: The Malacca River runs through the middle of Malacca City. It starts from the Negeri Sembilan and finishes within the Strait of Malacca.
Operating hours: Malacca River Cruise: 9:00am -11:00pm
Checkpoint #4: Nancy’s Kitchen Restaurant
What’s a road trip to Malacca without some authentic Peranakan and Nyonya food? Nancy’s Kitchen has been a hot favourite amongst both locals and tourists, and it’s definitely a place you should stop by during your family vacation.
Nancy— the original chef of this establishment, was born and raised in a Peranakan household of a small town named Batu Berendam. Through watching and helping her mother in the kitchen, she soon developed a keen interest in cooking. Today, these recipes of authentic dishes are passed down in the restaurant.
Nancy’s Kitchen not only sports a homely vibe, but you’ll also expect to find delicious must-try dishes including their Chicken Candlenut (RM12, S$3.70) and Nyonya Laksa (RM6, S$2). To beat the heat, end off with some satisfying desserts like the Nyonya Cendol (RM4.50, S$1.40) that’s made with rich gula melaka, green jelly, coconut milk and palm sugar syrup.
It’s about time to round off Day One after a hearty dinner. Malacca is home to several hotels for a good night’s stay, with some of the most highly-rated ones being Casa Del Rio Melaka, Holiday Inn Melaka and The Settlement Hotel.
Address: No 13, Jalan KL 3/8, Taman Kota Laksamana, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Operating hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday—11:00am to 5:00pm, Friday to Sunday—11:00am to 3:30pm, 5:00pm to 9:00pm
Day 2: Explore cafes, authentic cuisines and Malacca’s rich history
Checkpoint #5: The Daily Fix
Rise and shine! Start your day on a good note with a satisfying brunch at The Daily Fix, a café situated in a double-storey vintage shophouse. Authentic Nyonya cuisine fare this is not, but you’ll find classic café options, including affordable cuppas like latte and flat white coffee (RM11, S$3), as well as pasta and their signature pancakes.
The pandan pancake is a hot favourite, but if you’re feeling more adventurous, opt for their espresso (RM15, S$5) or durian pancake (RM17.90, S$6) instead. For a more filling option, get the Smoked Duck Sandwich (RM17.50, S$5.50)— a hearty but nutritious option with cucumber, green apple and salad on the side.
Address: 55, Jalan Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Operating hours: Monday to Friday—9:45am to 5:30pm
Checkpoint #6: Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum
Your next stop of your Malacca road trip has got to be Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum— one of Malaysia’s UNESCO World Heritage site. The Baba Nyonya—or Peranakan Chinese—are known as descendants of Chinese traders who migrated to the British Strait Settlements of Melaka. Built in 1896, this museum was once the home of four generations of the Baba Chan family.
After its transformation to a museum in 1985, the place displays artefacts belonging to 19th and early 20th century Malaya. Think hand-painted tiles, chandeliers, gold-leaf fixtures and jewellery designs of the era—particularly gold, silver and precious stones that were crafted to add charm to the Nyonya Baju Panjang (long dress that was widely worn by Peranakan women). The place remains well-preserved to this day and is open for visitors as a way to honour the Peranakan spirit, identity and culture.
Address: 48-50, Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Operating hours: Friday to Sunday—10:00am to 12:30pm, 2:00pm to 5:00pm
Checkpoint #7: Jonker Walk
Jonker Street runs through the heart of Malacca, but it is the weekend when it truly comes alive. It’s best to plan a trip that coincides with the night market that runs every Friday to Sunday.
Since this would be one of your final stops in Malaysia before heading back to Singapore, here’s where you can spend your leftover cash on a range of things—souvenirs, clothing, toys, jewellery, temporary tattoos and more. If you’re not a huge shopper, that’s fine too. You’ll also find a satisfying selection of snacks: quail eggs, putu piring (traditional steamed rice flour sweet snack filled with palm sugar), grilled oysters, coconut ice cream and durian cendol, just to name a few. Prices range from RM3 to RM10 (S$0.90 to S$3).
Address: Jalan Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Operating hours: Friday to Sunday—6:00pm to 12:00am
Checkpoint #8: Nyonya Makko Restaurant
Loved by both locals and tourists on holiday, Nyonya Makko is where you should head to for dinner. Cheap, good food aside, it’s one of those OG restaurants that’s been around for decades since 1984. Some locals even remember visiting the place when they were only children.
The restaurant is also decorated just like an elegant and authentic Nyonya house, both inside and out. Expect to find items like Peranakan kitchenware, even wood carvings and framed photos. Dishes here are priced between RM12 to RM50 (S$4 to S$15) with each offering a perfect mixture of sweet and spicy.
One of their signature dishes is Ayam Pongteh, a chicken stew of potatoes flavoured with gula melaka and soybean sauce. Prefer seafood? Get the Lemak Nenas Udang— a dish where big prawns are fried and slathered with cream derived from a mixture of ingredients like coconut milk and pineapple.
Address: 123, Jln Merdeka, Taman Melaka Raya, 75000 Melaka, Malaysia
Operating hours: Everyday except Tuesdays—11:30am to 2:25pm, 6:00pm to 8:45pm
Get yourselves ready for the best getaway from Singapore to Malaysia
There you have it—a wholesome 2D1N itinerary for casual road trippers, packed with sightseeing activities and scrumptious food. The next time you feel like you’ve explored most of Johor Bahru, and can’t get enough of Malaysia, you can consider heading to Malacca instead - a cheap holiday destination! We hope that this has helped you in narrowing down places abroad to check out on your journey.
Trip planner: Things to take note when travelling to Malacca
Travellers who are short-term visitors must purchase insurance with a minimum coverage of USD20,000 for COVID-19-related medical treatment and hospitalisation costs. Travellers to Malaysia must carry with them an electronic or physical copy of their insurance policy to facilitate their entry into Malaysia.
All visitors will be required to upload their vaccine certificates through the MySafeTravel portal.
Currently, masks are mandatory indoors and optional outdoors. Everyone is encouraged to abide safe distancing in mask-off settings.
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Best time to travel
Since Malaysia is located in the Tropics, it is hard to escape the heat and humidity. However, for slightly cooler and drier weather, the best time to visit Malacca is between January and February. Rainy seasons typically fall between August to December as well as April to May.
The official currency of Malaysia is the Malaysian Ringgit (RM).
Melaka Sentral is the state bus station.You can travel around Malacca via the Panorama Buses (public buses). You pay per ride, and the fares are reasonable.
If you prefer private transportation, consider Malacca’s taxi services. It is recommended to travel only on metred taxis, where haggling is prohibited.
The trishaw system is a good travel experience for tourists around the historical attractions in Malacca. While it is the most expensive option, you can negotiate the prices.
Located about 251km-away from Singapore, it’ll take approximately 2 hours 30 minutes by car or bus to get to Malacca with normal traffic. The fastest route is via Tuas or Woodlands checkpoint. Book your tickets via KKKL Travel & Tours’ or EasyBook’s website.