Melaka with kids – an alluring Historical Adventure (2024)

If you’re travelling to Melaka with kids for a weekend getaway, you’ve come to the right travel blog. Just wandering the streets of the old town, shopping for trinkets and sampling the amazing food is a great way to relax!

Melaka, also spelt Malacca, is a historic city located in the southwestern coast of the Malay Peninsula. In your travel research, you will find that the spelling is commonly different. Malacca is the English spelling and Melaka is the Malay spelling. In 2017 the Melaka state declared the Malay spelling is the correct spelling.

We spent 28 nights in Malaysia with kids, have a look here for our other highlight destinations. If you’re interested in how to cross the land border from Singapore via the Woodlands crossing, check out guide here.

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What to do in Melaka with kids

We spent 3 nights in Melaka with kids and that was a good amount of time. Make sure you time your visit with the weekend so you can visit their famous Jonker Street Night Market. It is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday night starting from around 5pm. Earlier is better with young kids as it gets VERY busy. We have been to many night markets across the globe in our 1 year around the world trip. I’m please to say and the Jonker Street Night Market is quite possibly the best we’ve seen.

There are guides that offer free’ walking tours of the Old Town. These give a fascinating insight of the rich history and culture and really bring the city to life. These free guides survive on tips and are very good. It is often very hot and for us, our younger kids didn’t enjoy it – there was a lot of bribery. Our tour took around 2 hours.

Melaka has many museums which we skipped as the walking tour gave us such a good overview of the history. Our kids are dynamite when they get bored indoors; we struggled to keep them happy in the Louvre!.

This cat cafe in our local area was an unexpected surprise. It was a real highlight for the kids and a nice change of pace. A great combination of coffee and kid’s entertainment we all enjoyed! This was a perfect mid-day activity to provide a break from the intense heat.

Check out our Melaka with kids Reel on Instagram here.

Getting to Melaka

We were travelling from Johor after spending a day at Legoland. We use 12go Asia for their excellent bus services. They are clean and efficient and really easy to use. You could also bus directly from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur depending on which direction you are travelling from.

In Malaysia, we used Grab to get around – it is safe, cost effective and efficient. Hiring a car would also be a good option. It would be tricky in the Old Town to find parking, but the rest of the town would be fine.

Where to Stay in Melaka with Kids

We stayed at the Atlantis center of Melaka which was located just North of the Old Town. Atlantis is a huge apartment complex with a mixture of residential apartments and bookable holiday apartments. They have a massive pool complex and gated security, and parking – perfect option for a larger family on a budget. We also find high-rise apartments excellent for watching the frequent night-time thunderstorms roll past!

There are lots of hotels in the old town area, but they tend to be more expensive with few larger family rooms available. These would be perfect if you just want to walk. Grab was cheap from Atlantis, and they had a designated pick-up zone and drop off zone for Grab food delivery.

A Brief History of Melaka – a key to your visit

Having an understanding of Melaka’s rich and diverse history will really add so much meaning to your visit. The old town was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2008, along with Georgetown, Penang. We picked up a lot of this information on our walking tour; our guide’s parents were alive during the Japanese occupation and still refuse to talk about it to this day.

  1. Colonial Era: In 1511, Melaka was conquered by the Portuguese under the leadership of Afonso de Albuquerque. The Portuguese occupation lasted for over a century, during which they built forts and left a lasting influence on the city’s culture and architecture.
  2. Dutch Rule (17th century): The Dutch ousted the Portuguese in 1641 and ruled Melaka until the late 18th century. They further fortified the city and expanded its trading networks.
  3. British Rule (19th century): In 1824, Melaka, along with the rest of the Malay Peninsula, came under British control following the Anglo-Dutch Treaty. Under British rule, Melaka continued to develop as a trading center, and its economy diversified.
  4. Japanese Occupation (1942 – 1945): During World War II, Melaka, like the rest of Malaya, fell under Japanese occupation. The occupation brought significant hardship to the local population – a vibe you can feel to this day if you talk to the locals.
  5. Post-Independence (1957 – present): Malaysia gained independence from British rule in 1957. Melaka became part of the newly formed Federation of Malaya, later Malaysia. Today, Melaka is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, renowned for its well-preserved colonial architecture, vibrant culture, and historical significance.

The Food!

The cuisine of Melaka, like its history, is a vibrant blend of cultures, reflecting the influences of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Portuguese, Dutch, and Peranakan (Straits-born Chinese) culinary traditions. Here are our food highlights in Melaka with kids:

  • Nyonya Cuisine: This is a unique fusion of Malay and Chinese flavors. It features dishes like “Laksa Nyonya,” a spicy noodle soup with coconut milk, “Ayam Pongteh,” chicken cooked in fermented soybean paste, and “Otak-Otak,” a spicy fish cake grilled in banana leaves.
  • Satay Celup: This is a popular Melakan dish where skewered meat, seafood, and vegetables are cooked in a boiling pot of spicy peanut sauce. It’s similar to Malaysian satay but cooked in a communal hot pot.
  • Chicken Rice Ball: A signature dish of Melaka, Hainanese chicken rice is served uniquely in Melaka as rice balls instead of the usual plate of rice. Tender poached chicken is served with fragrant rice shaped into small balls, accompanied by chili sauce and ginger paste.
  • Baba-Nyonya Kuih: These colorful and sweet snacks are a hallmark of Nyonya cuisine. Kuih are bite-sized desserts made from ingredients like glutinous rice, coconut milk, palm sugar, and pandan leaves. Popular varieties include “Kuih Lapis,” “Kuih Angku,” and “Ondeh-Ondeh.”
  • Sambal Belacan: Sambal, a spicy chili paste, is a staple condiment in Malaysian cuisine. It is often served as a fiery accompaniment to dishes like grilled fish, vegetables, or rice.
  • Cendol: A refreshing dessert perfect for Melaka’s tropical climate, cendol consists of shaved ice topped with coconut milk, palm sugar syrup, and green rice-flour jelly strands. We ate quite a few of these!

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