I have been exploring Malaysia this year. I have visited Johor Bahru, Penang, and the last one is Malacca. What I can conclude best from exploring the three cities is Malaysia is ideal for a budget holiday. But it won’t be an awesome one if you don’t know how to spend your budget well. Especially in Malacca City, it is actually tricky to know how to have a great holiday there. Even if you spend millions but you come at the wrong time with the wrong purpose, you might not have a good holiday at the end of the day. I purposefully write this post to share some tips that will ensure you a great budget holiday in Malacca City.
So, after I checked again our spending in Malacca, the great short 3 days 2 nights holiday in Malacca City did not burn our wallets at all: S$125/person, for all spending in the city and accommodation. Here is our spending breakdown:
- Accommodation: RM110 (+-S$35)/night
- Transportation: RM180 (+-S$60)/person (return trip from Singapore by bus)
- All other spendings: RM270 (+-S$90)/person
If you are considering Malacca City as your next holiday destination and you prefer something budget like we did, here is how to ensure your budget holiday turn out satisfying:
1. Go there over the weekend
It is a must to spend your time in Malacca over the weekend for e.g. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. It doesn’t have to be Friday-Sunday, but it can be Saturday-Monday kind of stay. Going to Malacca City on weekdays are going to be more budget, of course, but the highlights of the city are mostly happening on the weekends. So, you will miss a lot of things if you choose to go there over the weekdays.
Jonker Street night market is the highlight of Jonker Street (the chinatown side of the city), and it only opens on the weekend. And I recommend the night market to all budget foodies out there. There is so many exciting food to try at the night market: street dim sum, coconut ball, coconut shake, chicken fried dumpling, cola chicken, BBQ skewers, and much more. And we had the best BBQ skewers ever.
More importantly, there are no standardized opening hours for all the businesses in Malacca City, so every business might have different opening hours and that is a headache to remember which stall opens on which day and which hours. We had a hard time to schedule our visit to some of the most famous eating places there because the opening hours are limited. For example, some are not open on Monday (we were there from Saturday to Monday), some only open after 5PM, some places’ opening hour do not match the ones on Google. In fact, on Monday, the city is the emptiest (based on our experience). The good food places we had on the weekends are closed on Monday.
2. Hop onto the River Cruise
This experience is worth every single penny you are going to spend. Malacca City is a very hot place. Its location that is near the sea and equator means that the sun is scorching and penetrating your skin. It is not humid and hot, but it is dry and hot. So, I recommend riding this river cruise at night to see the night version of Malacca City. It is a very sweet ending to the day when you have walked and visited many other places in Malacca City: enjoying the wind, sight-seeing the part of the city that can only be covered by the cruise, and would be better with the right company and coconut drink.
Price for foreigners: RM 15.90 for adults and RM 7.50 for kids on weekdays and RM 21.20 for adults at weekends. If you have Malaysia’s identity card, your ticket price is much lower.
I love seeing how well taken care the city is. The murals make this small city look very alive, and the colorful lights really enhance every beauty. The cruise trip made me fall in love with the city even deeper. Totally worth the queue and ringgit that we spent.
3. Choose Budget Hotel by the River
To be honest, the average price of accommodation in Malacca is not that expensive compared to Singapore. There are three-stars or more hotels with price +-RM200/night on the weekend (about +-S$70) which is actually not bad. So, it would not really break the wallet if you want to stay at a better hotel, but I recommend the budget hotel because you might want to explore the city and not to spend too much time in the hotel itself. You can save your Ringgit to be spent on food and other things instead of the hotel room that you will only enjoy when you want to sleep.
But, don’t just ‘anyhow choose’ (choosing without thinking first) your hotel! Make sure that you take note of the reviews when you are browsing around. For our case, we avoid budget places which are dirty, have thin walls (it means the noise from outside or other rooms may get through the walls!), and far from the places we wanted to walk around.
Choosing a budget hotel in Malacca City that is located by the Malacca River is one of the best decision because the location is strategic, with a bonus of dawn-to-night great view from the balcony (if your hotel has one). The most famous two for-tourist areas are at the right and left sides of the river (the historical Malacca City and Jonker Street), and all are within walking distance. That is why if the hotel is located by the river, you can pass and stop by your hotel before crossing to the other side to rest. That’s what we did and experienced as we chose to stay at V’La Heritage Hotel (no, we are not sponsored). It was also very convenient when we wanted to have a midnight snack!
4. Be a Night Owl with a Big Belly
Malacca is more alive at night rather than the day, and this situation also happens on the weekends. During our short trip there, we found most of the great food we had only available at night time, either for dinner or supper. Therefore, it was pretty ‘tough’ when we kinda left not much room in our stomach for the night on our first day, because we could not stop eating and enjoy the night food scene in Malacca City! (Don’t worry, there are open eating places for lunchtime, but I just found the night experience is more intense and unforgettable. During the day, most of the great places which are open are dessert places somehow…)
So, to truly enjoy the alive-ness and food of the city, do not overeat during lunch or snack time. Prepare some space in your stomach for these food that are only open for dinner and supper time:
- Jonker Street night market food. There are a LOT of food there, just grab and try! But try the BBQ Skewer
- Pak Putra Tandoori & Naan Restaurant, I haven’t written a detailed review on this but to be honest, they have the best tandoori chicken I have ever eaten, and I can’t forget their friendliness when I took photos of their chicken!!
- Restoran Capitol Satay, read the review here
We have not tried the list below because our stomach was too full! But I have researched about these places, and they look awesome. So, lemme just share the list with you:
- Restoran Tong Sheng, serves seafood!!!
- Amy Heritage Nonya Cuisine, serves local-taste peranakan food.
- Bang Lee Siang Satay Celup
- Seafood place at the Portuguese Settlement.
5. But Wake up Early
Because the morning, empty version of Malacca City is unforgettable in a different way. The night time will satisfy your sense of taste and smell, while the morning time will satisfy your sense of sight and craving for tranquility.
We woke up at 7AM (no kidding) on the last day of our stay, and no regret at all. First, the sun was not scorching, so we walked up to the hill of St. Paul enjoying the morning air and rays, taking great photographs of the historical ruins of the city of Malacca without crowds around us. We explored the colorful corners of the city and took pictures like the city was our own. The best thing was the feeling of blending in with the locals as we had local-favourite breakfast at Lung Ann Refreshment, and watched them washing their vehicles or preparing themselves to go to work.
Not everyone can wake up early, especially when it is on a holiday, but being able to see the visited place in multiple facets will multiply the colors of the experience.
6. Watch the Latest Blockbuster
Probably this tip sounds weird, but it is a recommended thing to do from me because watching at a cinema in Malacca is truly half the price of the one in expensive cities like Singapore. It was RM18 (about S$7) for weekend price we were there, and we watched one of my favourite movies, the Kingsman 2! This is a simple leisure, but since the price is half the usual price I encounter, the pleasure doubles. Watching movie is also recommended when you are tired or lazy to go too far from the heart of the city, or the weather is raining hard or too scorching to walk outside.
Feel free to ask me for the details of our trip if you want to know more. The 3D2N is not enough for us to experience everything, but the city gave so much beautiful memory that two posts about our trip are still not enough. I want to go there again when there is a chance. I recommend this small city to anyone, yeah ;D
Click here for more pictures from our trip. Thank you for reading <3