Located on the west coast of Malaysia, Melaka (also spelled Malacca) is one of the most historically interesting places in Southeast Asia. Don’t let the city’s modest size fool you – it played a major role in the history and colonization of the region.
Its prime location overlooking the Straits of Melaka made it a coveted shipping port, and from the city’s beginnings in 1400 until the 1940s it was fought over by the Malaysians, Dutch, Portuguese, British and Japanese. You can read a fuller account of Melaka’s colorful past in the History & Politics section.
Melaka has embraced its past and preserved historic sites and buildings dating as far back as the 16th century. Melaka’s architecture is as diverse as its history with traditional Malay wooden houses, Portuguese fortresses, Chinese temples and Dutch governor’s mansions all coexisting in the same neighborhood. Meleka’s efforts to conserve the relics of its past were recognized by UNESCO in 2008 when it was designated a World Heritage Site.
Today, Melaka is a modern city with busy highways and big shopping malls, but its well-preserved historic sites, plentiful museums, unique shopping, and diverse cuisine make it a big hit with tourists from around the world. Melaka certainly has enough to offer to warrant a 2-3 day stay. Must-sees include the Maritime Museum, Old Dutch Square, and shopping along Jonker Street.