There’s something about old port towns that is intrinsically attractive. Their charm and the way they hold on to traditions is heart-warming to not only see but also experience. That is pretty much what this small port town of Malacca in Malaysia, Melaka, is all about. After having lost its status as the most important South Asian port town back in the 15th Century to Singapore, Melaka seems to have gained something that is now Malaysia’s tourist magnet — its ancient architecture and traditions. In 2008, after UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site, Melaka got a boost in tourism and won the global recognition it deserved as one of the most amazing places to visit not only in Malaysia but in all South East Asia. By Shubhanjana Das
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The 2008 declaration by UNESCO may have kickstarted the restoration projects along with new-age development in the form of malls, multi-storey buildings, and hotels to cater to the growing tourist crowd, but its centre holds together its myths, legends, folklore, and traditions as its crown jewel.
Colonial buildings, resplendent trishaws, an inimitable old-world charm, and its iconic Jonker Walk Night Market: a shopping, music, and street food extravaganza are some of the defining elements of Melaka, other than the Peranakan, Portuguese, Dutch and British influences that mark the town. Weekends are busy, courtesy the unmissable night market, and we aren’t surprised why.
From old Chinese churches to Portuguese forts, palaces to heritage museums, sanctuaries to cultural parks, Melaka is a potluck of everything that makes for a wholesome adventure of the traveller of every kind. Simply walking along the riverbank and lounging in one of Melaka’s many cafes makes for an itinerary that every laid-back and hedonist traveller would want to steal. The views of the town from the Menara Taming Shari or a river cruise after sundown, Melaka’s treasures await discovery.