Stroll through beautiful, historical Malacca on this self-guided walking tour with map to visit all the famous sights. You can explore at a leisurely pace over two days or fit everything into a packed single day.
How to get to Malacca from Singapore
Malacca is on the western coast of Malaysia, a four- to five-hour bus ride from Singapore. We always book our tickets with 12GoAsia*, a handy website that shows you all the available buses. You can either book directly from Singapore* (most buses leave from SunCity), or you can get a much cheaper ticket by booking from Johor Bahru*. The buses go to Melaka Sentral Bus Terminal, though some continue to a stop by Mahkota Medical Centre, much closer to the centre of Malacca.
With a bus directly from Singapore to Malacca, the bus drops you at the border to complete border formalities and picks you up again on the other side. If you take a bus from Johor Bahru to Malacca, you have to travel yourself to Johor Bahru Larkin Sentral Bus Terminal. The 170 bus from Singapore goes directly from the Malaysian side of the border to Larkin Sentral, so this is a convenient option.
How to get to Malacca from Kuala Lumpur
There are many buses from Kuala Lumpur to Malacca. 12GoAsia* is a convenient way to see all the options and book the tickets. Most buses leave from Terminal Bersepadu Selatan on the south side of the city. With the light rail, it takes 15-30 minutes to get here from the centre of Kuala Lumpur. The trains take 15 minutes and leave every 15 minutes, arriving directly at Terminal Bersepadu Selatan. Getting a taxi here from the centre of Kuala Lumpur can take anywhere between 20 minutes and 1 hour, depending on traffic. The bus journey from Kuala Lumpur to Malacca itself takes about 2.5 hours.
If you’re coming from Kuala Lumpur, you can also go on a Guided Tour of Malacca*, picked up directly from your hotel in KL.
If you are visiting more places in Malaysia, it may be more convenient to hire a car for your holiday from Kuala Lumpur, check options on Rentalcars*.
Tips for Malacca Walking Tour
- We did this walk over two days, exploring first the eastern side of the river and then the western side of the river. You can fit everything into one day if needed.
- Use the cooler mornings and afternoons to walk, and spend the hottest time of the day in a museum.
- At night time explore Jonker Street Night Market and check out the river – either on a stroll or on a Melaka River Cruise.
- There’s lots of cheap and tasty food in Malacca, and plenty of snacks to take away with you.
- For other walks and hikes in Malaysia see our Malaysia page.
Attractions on the Malacca Walking Tour
On this walking trail you’ll see the main sites and attractions of Malacca. We took two days to complete this walking tour, the first exploring the east of the river (6km) and the second day exploring the west (4km). Two days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Malacca, but if pressed you can fit everything into one day.
- Red Square (Dutch Square)
- Christ Church
- Jalan Kota
- A’Famosa (Porta de Santiago)
- Sultanate Palace
- St Paul’s Church
- Bukit China
- Kampung Morten and Villa Sentosa
This is a self-guided walking tour. If you prefer to go on a guided tour, check out this fun Guided Tour of Malacca*.
Malacca Walking Tour Route
This walking trail starts from Red Square, also known as Dutch Square. It’s in the centre of town, just by the bridge across the Malacca River. We explored the east side of the river on our first day (6 km), and the west side on our second day (4 km). This walking tour returns to Red Square to cross the river in roughly the middle of the walk, so it’s an obvious place to split the walk in two.
1. Red Square (Dutch Square)
This square is the central focus point of Malacca, surrounded by famous buildings – mostly red and mostly built by the Dutch, from where the square gets its name. In the centre stands Tang Bang Swee Clocktower, with Christ Church, the Stadthuys and the main tourist information surrounding the square. There’s a cafe by the river where you can sample the famous local cendol. This is a cold, sweet dessert made of green rice flour jelly, palm sugar, coconut milk and red beans – a great pick-me-up.
2. Christ Church
On the east side of Dutch Square is a red church, Christ Church. This is a protestant church built by the Dutch on top of a Portuguese Catholic church around 1750. It’s now one of the most famous buildings in Malacca.
The red bricks used to build the church came all the way from the Netherlands – on their outward journeys Dutch trading ships needed extra weight, or ballast, to stabilize the ships in rough seas. Once in the East, they would get rid of the heavy bricks and load up on expensive trading goods such as spices, textiles, tea and coffee.
Key Information: Open daily from 9-5 (closed Mondays). RM10 per foreign adult, discounts for locals and children. Allow 1-2 hours.
The elegant Stadthuys (City Hall) now contains the History & Ethnography Museum (see reviews*). It’s one of the best museums in Malacca and has exhibits about the Malay Sultanate, the colonial periods (Portuguese, Dutch, English) and how Malacca has changed over the years, as well as detailing the traditional Malay customs and the importance of trade to the city. There are free guided tours at 10:30 am and 2:30 pm in English.
Before you leave Red Square (Dutch Square), pop over the roundabout to check out Bastion Middleburg. The Dutch built this bastion, or fortress tower, when expanding the former Portuguese fortress. Originally there were nine bastions dotted around the fortress, but today only Middleburg Bastion remains. It’s been restored and there are now several cannons, with a nice view of the river below.
Directions: From Bastion Middleburg, cross the road and continue on Jalan Kota, a road to the left of a lovely white building.
4. Jalan Kota
This street is lined by many historic buildings, now mainly museums. There’s also a children’s playground on the right, together with a shiny real-life plane and train. Towards the end of the street you’ll also find the remains of Santiago Bastion on the right. There is a walkway over the top of these ruins, large laterite blocks of a former tower in the Portuguese Fortress. In its heyday the Fortress was on the edge of the ocean, but recent land reclamation projects mean it’s now far back from the shore. Opposite Santiago Bastion you can see the Proclamation of Independence Memorial, a fancy building with many flags outside that contains a small museum.
Directions: Follow Jalan Kota as it bends around the hill and you will see Porta de Santiago on your left.
History of Malacca (Melaka)
Malacca has been variously owned by the Portuguese, Dutch, British and now rightly by Malaysia. The different cultures bring a fantastic blend of architecture, food and cultural sights.
When the Portuguese conquered the city in 1511, they build a large fortress to guard the town from attacks by Malays and also other colonial powers prowling the region. The Dutch arrived and after a long siege, defeated the Portuguese in 1641 before enlarging the fortress. When the British took over Malacca in 1807 they destroyed the fortress to prevent it from ever falling into enemy hands. Only one gate, Porta de Santiago, was saved from destruction.
In 1957 Malaysia gained independence from the British. Malacca still retains many traces of its past as a great shipping port, melting pot of cultures and strategic location overlooking the Malacca Straits. You can explore the history of Malacca on this walking tour.
5. A’Famosa (Porta de Santiago)
This is the most impressive remaining part of the famous Portuguese Fortress (known by the Portuguese as A’Famosa) and one of the top sights in Malacca. At Porto de Santiago you can see many cannons and the old stone entranceway to the fortress. What you see is actually mainly a Dutch reconstruction, but it is still very old.
Directions: Look to the right and you’ll see the entrance to the Sultanate Palace Museum.
6. Sultanate Palace Museum
Key Information: Open daily from 9-5 (closed Mondays). RM5 per foreign adult, discounts for locals and children. Allow 30 mins to 1 hr.
Explore the history of Malacca and the sultanate, and learn about Hang Tuah (a prominent figure in Malay culture) in this wonderfully built museum, a reconstruction of the original Sultanate’s Palace, where the sultan lived in 1450 (see reviews*). No nails were used to build this building! Don’t forget to explore the gardens which are rather lovely.
Directions: Head back and through Porta de Santiago, then up the steps behind to the church at the top of the hill.
7. St Paul’s Church
This partially ruined church at the top of the hill has great views over the city. St Paul’s Church was built in 1521 and is one of the oldest buildings in the country. You can go inside the stone walls and marvel at the old gravestones pilled up along the walls. It’s also a nice place to watch sunset.
Directions: Return a little way down the steps and take the first right along a small path. You’ll see the Dutch Graveyard on your right. At the road, turn right past the graveyard entrance and take the next left. Continue slightly left and straight on at the next junction all the way to Jalan Temenggong, where you turn right. Walk along this slightly busy road and you’ll soon reach a roundabout in front of Bukit China.
8. Bukit China
Slightly left from the roundabout is a memorial for Chinese killed in the Second World War by the Japanese, and next door on the left is a famous well. This well is called Perigi Hang Li Poh. You can go inside the whitewashed walls to see this old well from 1459. The Portuguese used it as their main drinking water for the city.
Next to the well on the left is Poh San Teng Temple. This is a small, historic Chinese temple set among some nice vegetation. Just to the left of the temple some red steps lead up into the main section of Bukit China. Bukit China is the largest Chinese cemetery outside of mainland China. From the top there are panoramic views over the city, and the earliest graves are from the 17th century.
After walking up the steps, head left at the path junction. Continue straight on and around to the viewpoint at the top of the hill where there’s one special grave and the trees have been cleared so you have views over the surroundings. After admiring the views, head down and back into the city.
Directions: Once back near Poh San Teng Temple, cross over the main road and onto the quiet street Jalan Bukit China. Bend left around the corner and then right on Jalan Temenggong. Take the next right on Jalan Bendahara.
Jalan Bendahara is also known as Little India. You’ll see that a lot of the shops sell Indian goods and there are some Indian decorations.
Directions: Continue walking up Jalan Bendahara.
After a while you’ll see St Peter’s Church on your right. This is the oldest Roman Catholic Church in Malaysia, from 1710.
Directions: At St Peter’s Church turn left towards the river, and cross the bridge you see a short distance to the right.
9. Kampung Morten and Villa Sentosa
On the inside bend of the meander in the river is Kampung Morten, a more traditional Malay-style village and a living museum. From the bridge you’ll see Villa Sentosa on the left, next to the river. This house, which is sometimes open to the public, is from the 1920s and you can go on guided tours to see the inside, see reviews*. As you walk left along the riverbank, you’ll see many other traditional buildings in Kampung Morten, including a nice mosque.
Directions: Continue walking along the riverbank, out of the Kampung.
On your left, on the opposite side of the river, you’ll see the Shore Sky Tower, the tallest building in Malacca. If you want to visit the rooftop* for panoramic views over the rest of the city, cross over the bridge, else continue walking on the same side.
Directions: At the Old Bus Station Bridge, an elegant covered bridge over the river, take the bridge across the river. Then continue walking down the by the river.
As you approach the centre of town, you’ll see a church near the banks of the river. This is the Church of St Francis Xavier, from 1849, and based on Montpellier cathedral in southern France.
Directions: Continue walking past the church and you’ll soon be back at Red Square (Dutch Square) in the centre of Malacca.
We ended our first day here, saving the next points of interest in Chinatown, on the west bank of the river, for the following day.
Directions: To reach point 10 from Red Square, cross over the bridge, turn left then take the first right.
10. Heeren Street Malacca
Heeren Street (Gentleman Street in Dutch) used to be known as Millionaire’s Row. Wealthy Chinese Peranakan traders built their large mansions here in the last century. Many in the community traded in rubber, tin or shipping industries. Many of the houses on this street are quite ornate. The Chee Ancestral Mansion further up Heeren street is the most striking example of an old Peranakan house from a very wealthy clan. Almost opposite this mansion is the Eng Choon Association Clan House, with a very ornate doorway.
Directions: Walk up Heeren Street.
11. Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum
Key Information: Open Fri, Sat, Sun 10-12:30 and 2-5. RM16 per adult. Allow 30 mins to 1 hr.
The Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum (see Tripadvisor reviews*) is a traditional Peranakan townhouse complete with the original furnishings and has an exhibit about Peranakan Culture in Malacca. There are some lovely antiques inside and you get given a brochure explaining the different items and rooms.
A short distance further up Jonker Street is Malaqa House (open 10am-6pm, see reviews*). This is similar to the Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum, but cheaper to enter and lots of the items inside are for sale.
Directions: 500 metres after the start of Heeren Street, turn right on Jalan Kubu at a triangular intersection. Take the first right after 100 metres, opposite the nice green and white Malay-style building.
12. Jonker Street Malacca
You’ll see a large sign across the road saying Jonker Street. This is perhaps the most famous street in Malacca, the perfect place to buy souvenirs and food. Speciality food you can find in Malacca includes gulu melaka (a type of palm sugar), pineapple tarts, and dodols ( a palm-sugar toffee-like treat). Many of the buildings lining the street are original shophouses, many of which are grand and brightly painted.
Jonker Walk Night Market
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings there’s a night market on Jonker Street, starting around 6pm and going on until late. The road is closed to traffic and there are many street stalls, many selling food, some selling souvenirs and handicrafts. It’s very popular and makes for a great evening activity.
Directions: Walk all the way down Jonker Street until just before the bridge. Turn left and first left again onto Temple Street.
13. Temple Street
As its name suggests, there are many temples on Temple Street. Malacca, being a trading port, naturally attracted people from different parts of the globe, and they brought with them their different religions.
As you walk up Temple Street you’ll pass San Duo Temple on your left, followed by Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple (one of the oldest Hindu Temples in Malaysia, people worshipped here since the 1780s), then Kampung Kling Mosque. This mosque is a blend of architecture – Chinese, Malay, Hindu and European. You can see that the mosque’s minaret is fairly similar to a Chinese Pagoda.
From Temple Street you can make a short detour to Hang Jebat Mausoleum, a collection of Malay graves and the potential resting point of Hang Jebat, the legendary Malay hero. To see these graves, turn right off Temple street just after San Duo Temple. You’ll also see quite a bit of street art around here.
14. Cheng Hoon Teng Chinese Temple
Towards the end of Temple Street on the left, is Cheng Hoon Teng Chinese Temple. This temple is the oldest Chinese Temple in Malaysia, dating from the 17th century. It’s one of the most famous sights of Malacca and is often busy with worshippers. You can visit generally within daylight hours.
Opposite Cheng Hoon Teng Chinese Temple you’ll see another interesting temple, Xiang Lin Si Temple, and Munshi Abdullah House, a traditional wooden Malay kampung (village) house.
Directions: Head back down Temple Street a short way and turn left just before the mosque. Continue slightly left at the junction and you’ll see Kampung Hulu Mosque on your left.
15. Kampung Hulu Mosque
This mosque is the oldest in Malacca. It was built around 1728, when the Dutch ruled Malacca, and was located in Hulu fishing village, on the edge of the river. It was designed and financed by a Chinese Muslim man, with elements of architecture from all over the region.
Directions: Once past the mosque take the first right to the riverside and head right along the banks of the river. Continue all the way to the bridge in the centre of town. Cross the bridge and return to the riverbank, now on the opposite side.
While walking along the river, you’ll soon come to the Melaka River Cruise Boarding Point. Here you can book a 45-minute cruise along the river, see reviews on Tripadvisor*. There are also cruises at nighttime when you can check out the city lights.
Directions: Continue along the river and you’ll see the large wooden boat, the Flor de la Mar, on your right. The ticket office is on the lefthand side by the road.
17. Flor de la Mar Maritime Museum
Key Information: Open daily from 9-5 (closed Mondays). RM12 per foreign adult, discounts for locals and children. Allow 1 – 2 hours if you visit all the museums (the Flor de la Mar ship, the Royal Malaysian Navy Museum and the Samudera Museum). See reviews*.
The Flor de la Mar (flower of the sea) was a 16th-century Portuguese carrack (a large trading ship), wrecked by a large storm in 1511. The ship sank off Sumatra full of incredible amounts of treasure, and the search for her continues to this day.
The replica ship in Malacca now contains a small museum, with many much smaller replica ships and some history of trading in the region. The other museums you can enter with the same ticket are not as interesting: the Samudera Museum is extremely dated, and the Malaysian Navy Museum mainly just has detailed information about the Navy.
Directions: If you head around the corner past the Malaysian Navy Museum, you’ll see the tall narrow tower of Taming Sari Revolving Tower and the ticket office just next to the road.
The Taming Sari Revolving Tower* has great views from the top, at 110 metres high. You stand in a revolving capsule, which rises to the top and then rotates before descending and the whole experience lasts 7 minutes.
This is the last stop on the Malacca walking tour. There are some other worthwhile sights in Malacca, detailed below, though these are further away and you need to take a Grab taxi to see them.
Other attractions in Malacca
This slightly niche but interesting museum details the history of the prison system in Malaysia, see reviews*. It’s about 2.5 km east of the centre of town, a 5-10 minutes taxi ride.
Floating Mosque of Malacca
The Floating Mosque of Malacca, or Melaka Straits Mosque, is 3.5 km south of the centre of town and a 10-minute taxi ride. It’s a lovely location for the mosque, which seems to be floating on the water, and it’s especially photogenic at sunrise or nighttime when it’s lit up.
St Johns Fort
Near the Prison Museum, St Johns Fort is a small Portuguese Fort on top of low hill, built in the 18th century. There’s a good view from here, several cannons, and the fort walls are still fairly intact.
Bear Hill (Bukit Beruang)
For a short hike and amazing views over the town, hike up Bear Hill. The walk starts 7 km north of the town centre, so take a Grab. It takes about 15 minutes to walk to the peak, and there are several other longer jungle trekking trails available here too. It’s a great place from which to watch the sunset over the ocean.
What to eat in Malacca?
Chicken rice balls are a speciality of Malacca and there are many restaurants selling them. There’s also a lot of Peranakan, or Nyonya food, which has both Malay and Chinese influences. Fish-head curry is a famous, though perhaps not overly appealing, example.
Cendol is a tasty and interesting dish to try – a cold dessert that contains rice jelly, coconut milk, red beans and palm sugar. I’m a big fan. Popiah, or spring rolls, are great to try here, as is sugar cane juice, or a goat soup called sup kambing. Roti kok is a local hard bread (or roti), and rice wine flavoured cocktails are another interesting flavour to try.
Where to Stay in Malacca?
There are many budget to luxury accommodation options in Malacca*. We stayed in a budget hotel roughly 750 metres from Red Square. We stayed in OYO Good2Stay hotel*. It was fairly cheap, plus close to the centre of town and also close to the bus station to Singapore.
If you want to explore other Malaysian Cities near Singapore, check out Johor Bahru Walking Trail – more than just cheap shopping!
FAQS – Malacca Walking Trail
Malacca is known for its rich culture and historic colonial buildings. It’s one of the top tourist destinations of Malaysia.
Melaka is now the official name of this city. Malacca is the older, anglicized spelling, and is still very commonly used. Melaka, or Malacca, is a type of tree, and the city was named after this tree, which used to grow at this location.
Two days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Malacca, but if pressed you can fit everything into one day.
To get to Malacca from Singapore, either drive or take a bus. You can find buses either directly from Singapore or from Johor Bahru on the bus comparison website, 12GoAsia*.
The best things to do are explore Dutch Square (also known as Red Square), which includes historic Christ Church and the Stadthuys Museum. Nearby on the hill is St Peter’s Church, with Porto Santiago (the remaining part of A’Famosa Fortress) on the other side. Chinatown on the west of the river, especially Jonker Street, is also a must-see in Malacca.