By now, you’ve probably seen loads of articles or videos on must-go places in Malacca. But before you decide on your own definitive list, you’re not going to want to miss our very special recommendations, specifically selected so drivers can get the most out of their trip.
Needless to say, having a car allows you to explore Malaysia a lot more freely. This can be said of any country that you are in – the freedom of driving around allows you to discover hidden gems in remote locations that the country has to offer.
Malacca is one such town. With its many home-based kueh shops and rice dumpling kitchens set in kampung villages, you’ll only be able to reach these special spots if you have a car. To make things a little easier for our readers, all our recommendations can be found on Google Maps or Waze. Lucky for us, we never had to worry about our phone battery running out while referring to these apps thanks to the convenient USB port that we used to charge our phones. Guess it does help to travel ŠKODA ŠMART!
Our ride for this trip was the fabulous Škoda Karoq 1.5 TSI, a mid-sized SUV that fit the four of us adults, plus our luggage and shopping with ease. With our full tank of petrol and our Touch ’n’ Go card in hand for toll fees (about RM100 would do for a return trip), we were all set for a two and a half hour drive to the bustling Malaysian town. Of course, we also stocked up on drinks to keep us hydrated throughout the drive – it helped that the Karoq had an air-conditioned glove compartment to keep our beverages cool too.
Though we’ve driven up to Malacca numerous times, we understand that the 2-3 hour long drive may be daunting to some who aren’t used to long drives. However, the Karoq made everything a breeze. It was immensely comfortable and spacious, with our back-seat passengers commending the vast amount of legroom. We also found the Karoq to be really fuel-efficient. Though we left Singapore with a full tank of petrol, we never had to top it up during the journey there. In fact, we still had a quarter of it to spare as we entered the eclectic city.
During our previous trips to Malacca, our choice of lodging has ranged from classic shophouse boutique hotels like Hotel Puri to business hotels like Hatten Hotel, each of them offering different benefits and experiences. This time round though, we decided to try something unique – a modern and hip boutique hotel called Nest House Malacca. Only a 10 minute drive away from the city centre, this lovely, well-maintained and quaint little hotel is a revamped terrace house with multiple rooms, private parking and a rooftop garden. The decor is modern and clean with many nice local touches. It even had a snack bar offering local delicacies like pineapple tarts and biscuits. You can even make your own soft-boiled eggs and toast – all for free.
Upon reaching the hotel, we settled in, stored our luggage and headed straight for a dinner at a Peranakan restaurant (what else?). Our recommended must-try Nonya dining joint has to be Restoran Nonya Makko. Almost everything on the menu is great, but the dishes to die for are the Ayam Buah Keluak, Rendang, Kang Kong Belacan and Kerabu Bendih (lady’s fingers) – but really, anything and everything is good there.
Although we’d normally skip the crowded and touristy Jonker Street night market on our regular trips to Malacca, we did swing by Bibik House (near the main stage) to indulge in one of our favourite chendols. At Bibik House, you can add your own gula melaka (brown coconut sugar) to your heart’s content.
But while we’re on the topic of chendol, it must be said that our ultimate favourite is still found at Aunty Koh’s. Served out a small hut just outside her home, her chendol sells out in less than an hour. Yes, you read that right. She opens at 11 am and is usually sold out by 12 pm, despite the Google operating hours indicating that she stays open till 1:30 pm. She’s also only open on Saturdays and Sundays. Be warned though, that her chendol does not come with red beans. Ice, green jelly, coconut milk and gula melaka are all you get – yet her recipe is magical.
So in order not to miss out, we made our way early to Aunty Koh’s the next day and spent some time driving around the beach area in Pantai Klebang. There, you’ll also find the famous coconut shake along the main road. Look for the Caltex station and just beside it, you’ll find a long queue of cars and people waiting to savour the creamy and refreshing thirst quenchers.
After having our fill of chendol, we crossed over to a kampung-styled house just two units down the road to get our favourite nonya chang (rice dumpling) from Michelle Soo. Her place requires some driving-in-to as it is not visible from the main road. You can choose from her various kinds of chang, but do order in advance if you want to buy in bulk. Another great option is East & West Rendezvous Cafe at Jonker, but we find Michelle’s Soo’s sweet and peppery nonya changs better.
As if we’ve not had enough tips on food, one more stop you can’t afford to miss is the kueh (cake) shop, or should I say ‘home’ of Kuih Nonya Kim at Batu Berendam. Her selection and recipes are far tastier and more authentic than Baba Charlie (another popular kueh shop). Everything is made from hand and heart – from the kaya kuih, rempah udang, ang koo kuih, apam and kuih lapis.
After all that eating and driving, all you want to do is rest and relax in a spa or get energised with massage session and there’s no place better that Scents and Senses. We’ve tried a few places and this chain of spas still rate highly for us in terms of service and overall experience.
Malacca is truly a Malaysian town full of modern offerings and old school charm. Though our trip was completed over a 3D2N period, you can easily complete our recommendations above in a shorter time. So go ahead, explore, have fun and go on an adventure!