Malacca Tour From Singapore: My Review

Malacca river
Malacca river - one of the most scenic views on our tour

A few weeks ago my husband and I took a Malacca tour from Singapore through Viator (this is the exact one). Taking a Malacca one day tour was a great idea!  I completely recommend it.  It was not our first visit to Singapore, so I wanted to do something a bit different.  We’ve already seen the most popular tourist attractions in Singapore so I thought “why not sneak into Malaysia?”.

Well, there was no sneaking about it.  It’s easy to drive from Singapore to Malacca.  The border with Malaysia is only around an hour from Singapore city center.

We were picked up by our driver at 7am.  Usually it’s a group tour but we were super lucky and had the whole vehicle to ourselves.  It was a very fancy eight seater car with leather reclining seats and air-conditioning!

The drive was at least three hours in total but it didn’t bother us because we slept most of the time.  The roads are very smooth and our driver was cautious.

Actually, we switched driver and car after we crossed the border into Malaysia but the standard was the same.

Cheng Hoon Teng Chinese Temple, Malacca
Cheng Hoon Teng Chinese Temple

Before arriving in Malacca, I realized that we had no Malaysian money (ringgits).  Since we were the only ones on this day tour, our driver brought us to a bank to withdraw some.

We took out about $40 SGD in ringgit but in the end we only used half (lunch was cheap!).

Harmony Street, Chinatown

We met our guide and began our Malacca one day tour on foot at Chinatown.

The guide informed us that this street is known as “Harmony Street” (real name: Jalan Tokong Besi) because there are places of worship for at least three different religions on this one street!

Detail on the roof of Cheng Hoon Teng Chinese Temple, Malacca
Detail on the roof of Cheng Hoon Teng Chinese Temple

The first house of worship we went into was Cheng Hoon Teng Temple.  This alone has three different religions represented, although it looks like a typical Confucianist building to my uncultured eye.  Deities from Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism are represented here.

Entrance and fountain at Kampung Keling Mosque, Malacca
Entrance and fountain at Kampung Keling Mosque on “Harmony Street”

Only a few paces away was Kampung Keling Mosque.  I think this is the first mosque I’d seen up close?  I can’t be sure.  Of course I have seen many from a distance in Dubai but we never went into the grounds.

The decor was beautiful and the atmosphere very calm.

Our guide was very helpful, telling us what was okay to photograph while still remaining respectful.  The fountain is used to wash before entering the mosque.

We also passed by a Hindu temple on the same street but it was too busy to enter.

Red Square (Dutch Square)

A short walk away was the “Dutch” or “Red” square – the heart of the city.  Unfortunately it was packed with Chinese tour groups probably also on a day tour to Malacca, which gave it a rather frantic vibe.

Dutch style windmill and Queen Victoria's Fountain at Red Square, Malacca
Dutch style windmill and Queen Victoria’s Fountain at Red Square, Malacca

We sought refuge in Christ Church for a few minutes, mainly to get out of the heat.  It’s an Anglican church but reminded me of my Catholic roots.  I was amazed to see yet another religion represented within five minutes walking distance of the mosque, Chinese temple and Hindu Temple.  Being from Ireland, I am used to most areas being dominated by just one religion.

Slightly tacky "I heart Malacca" sculpture at Red Square
Slightly tacky “I heart Malacca” sculpture at Red Square

Red Square was overcome with tacky market stalls selling souvenirs and trishaw (rickshaw but with three wheels) drivers touting for business.  I wonder what it was like when it was originally built?  Even so, you get a strong sense of the past on this historical Malacca tour.

Time for Lunch

We foolishly skipped breakfast before taking the tour from Singapore to Malacca so we were absolutely starving by noon.  Our guide asked what type of food we would like to try, and being typical tourists, we said “traditional Malaysian”.  He brought us to a Peranakan style restaurant and we weren’t disappointed!

Some Peranakan food we tried during our tour
Some Peranakan food we tried during our tour

I had never tried Malaysian food before (except once or twice cooked by a friend from KL) and I was expecting it to be similar to Chinese…but what we had was very different!  Everything was strongly spiced, without being too hot on the chilli scale.  I really loved it!

The Straits of Malacca

Next it was off to the Malacca Straits.  Unfortunately I was only familiar with this body of water as poor MH370 disappeared somewhere after crossing over it.

Malacca Straits Mosque, front view
The beautiful Malacca Straits Mosque, front view

We stopped at our second mosque of the day – Malacca Straits Mosque.  Maybe it’s just because I haven’t seen many mosques before, but I found the design beautiful.  The white, blue and gold shone brightly in the sun.

Malacca Straits Mosque "floating" on water
You can see why Malaca Straits Mosque is often called a “floating mosque”

This mosque is built on foundations in the actual straits themselves.  Our guide told us that viewed from the water, it looks like the mosque is floating.

Sign for the Straits of Malacca
Sign for the Straits of Malacca, bombarded by tourists

Again, this area is full of tourists.  It seems like this can’t be avoided in most places nowadays.  However, I was one of the masses too so I can hardly complain.

Portuguese Square

Next on this historical Malacca tour was a trip to the Portuguese district.  To be honest, I know hardly anything about Asian history, never mind Malaysian history specifically.

View of the water at the restaurant area of the Portuguese Settlement, Malacca
View of the water at the restaurant area of the Portuguese Settlement

This historical Malacca tour was very educational for me!  Our guide was very knowledgeable.  It came as a surprise to me that there is a Portuguese population in Malacca even today.

The area was pretty dead during the day but apparently it comes alive at night with the many seafood restaurants filling up.

A Famosa Fortress

Our last stop was another historical Portuguese site – A Famosa fortress.  Unfortunately only a small portion was remaining but still, it was impressive!

A Famosa Portuguese historical fortress, Malacca
A Famosa Portuguese historical fortress

Our last stop was another historical Portuguese site – A Famosa fortress.  Unfortunately only a small portion was remaining but still, it was impressive!

This area felt very European, which was a surprise considering how far from it we were.

Me posing with a cannon at A Famosa Portuguese fortress, Malacca
Me posing with a cannon at A Famosa Portuguese fortress

The weather was extremely hot all day, at least 31 celcius and humid.  I was very uncomfortable in this outfit!

I do wish we had more time to explore this area, as there was another portion of the fortress grounds up a hill a short distance away.  However, this was my only regret from the trip.  I’m sure if I return to Malacca in the future, there will be plenty left to see – so that’s a good thing.

Final Thoughts on Malacca Tour From Singapore

Overall, this tour pleasantly surprised me.  It was ten hours in total, with six spent traveling by car, but it didn’t feel rushed at all.

We both got a good feeling for Malaysia (it was our first time in the country) and learned a lot of history.  It’s encouraged me to visit other cities in the future such as Kuala Lumpur and Georgetown.

Again, this is the tour we took.  Viator is one of my favourites to book day trips with as they do price match and always seem to work with high quality local tour companies.

There are also some multi-day tours that visit other cities, which I would have loved to do but unfortunately we didn’t have time on this trip. Maybe next time!

Here are some other awesome options for a Malacca tour from Singapore:

Have you been to Malacca or elsewhere in Malaysia?  Let me know your thoughts and recommendations!  Also if you have any questions about the tour I took from Malacca from Singapore, leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help.

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