Day Trip Guide:
Day Trip to Malacca
We decided to take a day trip to Malacca from Singapore which ended up being quite a long day. But we figured since we were so close to another country, we may as well make the border hop for a day.
Looking back, we would really recommend staying at least a night in Malacca if you're traveling from Singapore. We ended up spending more time traveling than actually in the city.
Since we intended to only spent a day in Malaysia, we wanted to go somewhere with some character. We decided on Malacca since it's a UNESCO World Heritage site and seemed like a better option than Johor Bahru.
How to get to Malacca
For our day trip to Malacca we rode with two different bus companies; 707 Inc. on the way there and KKKL Travel on the way back. We found the bus tickets through 12GoAsia which ended up costing roughly $30 USD per person round trip. At the bottom of this section are rough price breakdowns for different bus companies. Pro Tip: look at the prices on each bus company website, they are generally less expensive than booking through a third party.
Both bus companies estimated the travel time to be roughly 3.5-4 hours each way. The buses do stop for a bathroom break about halfway too, but the border crossing stops also have restrooms to use. Nonetheless, with both border checkpoints, and toilet stop, the times vary vastly. Our ride to Malacca took about 4.5 hours, but our ride back to Singapore took nearly 6 hours.
With all the travel time, we would not recommend a day trip to Malacca from Singapore unless you're ready for a very long day. We ended up spending about 10.5 hours on the bus and only 6 hours in the city which was a mistake on our part. We left at about 6:30am from Singapore, which put is in Malacca around 11:00am. We then Malacca around 5:30pm and arrived back in Singapore by 11:30pm. The MRT ended up being closed by then so it took us over an hour by public bus to reach our accommodation.
- Prices: S$20+ (~$15 USD)
- Pickup Locations: Ban Ban Street, Boon Lay, Queen Street Bus Terminal, Woodlands
- Drop Off Locations: There are too many to list. Their main drop off point is their affiliate hotel: 707 Hotel Malacca.
- Departure Times: Hourly from 8:15AM-8:00PM
- Prices: S$13+ (~$9.75 USD)
- Pickup Locations: Same as Singapore Drop off locations, there are too many to name
- Drop Off Locations: Ban Ban Street, Boon Lay, Queen Street Bus Terminal, Woodlands
- Departure Times: Nearly every hour from 6:30AM-7:00PM
- Prices: S$23+ (~$17 USD)
- Pickup Locations: Kovan Hub, Bugis MRT Exit D Taxi Stand
- Drop Off Locations: Melaka Sentral Bus Terminal, Hatten Hotel Malacca, Casa Del Rio Hotel, The Pines Hotel Malacca.
- Departure Times: 7:30AM, 7:45AM
- Prices: S$29+ (~$21.50 USD)
- Pickup Locations: Melaka Sentral Bus Terminal, Hatten Hotel Malacca, Casa Del Rio Hotel, The Pines Hotel Malacca
- Drop Off Locations: Kovan Hub, Bugis MRT Exit D Taxi Stand
- Departure Times: 2:00PM, 3:30PM, 5:30PM
- Prices: S$15+ (~$11 USD)
- Pickup Locations: Boon Lay, City Plaza, Golden Mile Tower
- Drop Off Locations: Nearly every large hotel, including the central bus station. There are too many stops to name.
- Departure Times: Nearly every couple hours from 7:30AM-11:00PM
- Prices: S$25+ (~$19 USD)
- Pickup Locations: Melaka Sentral Bus Terminal
- Drop Off Locations: Golden Mile Tower
- Departure Times: Nearly every couple hours from 9:00AM-11:00PM
Doing a day trip to another country can be a bit of a hassle. So far we've done it four different times: Victoria (Canada), Tijuana (Mexico), Colonia (Uruguay), and Malacca (Malaysia). Each has been a different experience, but the most stressful was probably doing the day trip to Malacca.
This was for a couple reasons: 1) The travel time to our destination exceeded the time we actually spent there 2) Malaysia relies heavily on cash transactions, so exchanging currency for a day isn't ideal 3) The primary language of this country isn't one that we can speak, which can communication a bit more difficult.
To help with making things go a bit smoother we have put together a few travel tips to make your day trip to Malacca a bit easier.
If you're going to another country for a day, it's best to make sure you won't be required to have a visa during the border crossing. Fortunately/Unfortunately, the staff will usually not let you board your transportation if you don't have the required paperwork to enter the destination country. This is kind of a bummer if it's sprung on you, but it's definitely better than being stranded at a border crossing checkpoint.
There are a few ways to check visa requirements: 1) Check the website for your country's state department (or equivalent ministry) 2) Check your destination country's state department/ministry 3) Just google the information. We are from the US, so fortunately there is a website that contains all US Citizen's travel requirements. It's called US Passport Service Guide and it's been invaluable to us when traveling to nearly every country we have our eyes set on.
Spoiler Alert: US Citizens are not required to have a visa to travel to Malaysia for 90 days or less.
If you're going to a country where its the norm to accept credit cards then you're in luck. However, cash only countries will require converting your currency or taking money out of an ATM. Unfortunately, both of these methods tend to have fees.
Malaysia is a pretty cash dominant country. Converting cash for a day trip is kind of a pain in the ass. Especially since you tend to lose a little bit of money with each conversion. We really didn't feel like dealing with ATM fees or cash conversion fees for spending 5-6 hours in a country. Thus, we kind of limited ourselves with food choices, but we ended up just eating at the Hatten Square Mall for lunch. Most restaurants in the mall are actually cash only, but we found that Jom Coffee had decent food and accepted cards.
We know, we didn't get to experience local foods, but after going to one currency exchange place that was closed we didn't feel like trying to search for another since we had such limited time. I guess in this case ignorance is bliss, but we didn't feel like we missed out on much.
If you're traveling to another country and you don't speak the language, it's probably best to take a few extra steps to make your travel smoother.
- Get Google Translate on your phone and download the language you'll need.
- In this case Malay is a language that's available for download - not all languages are.
- Search online to see if English (or your native language) is spoken there. If you're reading this then you can obviously understand English so that's a plus. Most countries use English as a secondary language because it's a lingua franca.
- Try to learn at least a few helpful phrases like "hello", "see you later", "thank you." If you plan on haggling - "how much is this" and "too expensive" will go a long way.
What to do in Malacca
Depending how much time you have in Malacca will determine what you can and can't do. For example, the Jonker Street Night Market was recommended to us but our bus left before the market even opened.
This is another reason why we wouldn't recommend a day trip to Malacca from Singapore. In order to have your pick at any experience, you'll want to stay at least one night.
Nonetheless, if you decide to just stay for the day, you'll want to get dropped off as close to the Windmill Dutch Square Melaka. This will put you in the heart of cultural center.
1. Jonker Walking Street
Jonker Street is Malacca's famous Night Market which is open from 6:00PM-12:00AM every Thursday-Sunday. Unfortunately, we didn't get to experience the night market because our bus left at 5:30PM. For that reason, we would recommend staying at least one night if you go during a weekend. Nonetheless, we still walked along Jonker Street and it had plenty of shops and a few street food vendors open during the day.
2. Take a ride in a Rickshaw
These Rickshaw guys are all over the main square of Malacca. Their rides are all decked out in different colored decorations and they're bumpin' some tunes.
You can tell them where you want to go, but the main route seemed to start on Jalan Kota street outside the People's Museum and ending at Windmill Dutch Square Melaka.
3. Visit Windmill Dutch Square
The main square of city, Windmill Dutch Square Melaka, features many maroon colored buildings with dutch style architecture. This square is also home to the Christ Church Melaka, which was constructed in 1753. The church shows the long standing European colonial influence especially since the country of Malaysia, and city of Malacca, are both majority Muslim.
4. Walk down the Malacca River
If you walk down the Malacca River you will see several beautiful murals like the Kiehl's Heritage. There are also many brightly colored houses, and you might even see a few monitor lizards. These lizards are sometimes confused with Komodo Dragons, which are are native to only a few select islands in Indonesia.
Nonetheless, monitor lizards are not deterred by human presence, so its best not to cause any disturbance to them. They were still a pretty cool sight to see since we had never encountered one before.
5. See the Kiehl's Heritage Mural
This mural is located just off Jonker Street and can be seen from while walking down the Malacca River. It's actually relatively new; completed in 2015 as a collaboration between the cosmetic brand Kiehls and artist @fritilldea. Kiehl's decided to create this mural as a celebration of Malaysia's multicultural roots and to bring awareness to Malacca as one of the five UNESCO World Heritage sites in Malaysia.
Where to stay in Melaka
From our experience, we like to use Hostel World to check out potential hostels, then check other booking websites like Booking.com to make our reservations. Sometimes we also message hostels directly to get a better price. We also like to use Airbnb to book accommodations if its a better deal than hostels. Clicking on either of the icons will give you a deal with either of the sites, but are affiliate links so we earn a small commission.
Dorms: $11.57+ USD
Amenities: Free Breakfast, Free Wifi, 24 Hr Security/Reception, Luggage Storage, Laundry Facilities, Fridge/Freezer, Microwave
Dorms: $3.62+ USD
Private Rooms: $8.44+ USD
Amenities: Free Wifi, Free Breakfast, 24 Hr Security/Reception, Cafe
Private Rooms: $11.81+ USD
Amenities: Free Wifi, Free Breakfast, Coffee/Tea, Self Catering Services