Solo Travel in Malacca, Malaysia: My Favorite Experiences

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On my four-month world trip, I did very little solo travel. Which frankly was fine- after two months of traveling solo in Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia, I was burnt out on being alone.

So I felt torn when my travel buddy, Dylan, wanted to go to Singapore when I was dead-set on Malacca. I was concerned about both traveling alone and traveling alone as a woman in a Muslim country.

But despite my doubts I booked my bus trip to Malacca and vowed to meet up with Dylan in Hanoi.

Melaka

It turned out my worries were for nothing- traveling solo to Malacca worked out perfectly and I came to adore the historic and food-obsessed city. Malacca was ruled by the Portuguese, Dutch and British- how could I not find it interesting?

Here’s a little recap on the my favorite experiences while traveling solo in Malacca.

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Eating Everything the Jonker Walk Night Market

In typical backpacker style I spent my first day in Malacca combing the streets in search of a hostel with a thirty-pound backpack. Always a good time.

So by the time I’d found a room, I was ravenous- hence why I ate all of the following at the Malacca Night Market.

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The best thing I ate was this little barbecue pork bun. So tiny but so tasty.

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I’d highly recommend visiting the Malacca night market- I loved not only the food but also the bustling energy and ample photo opportunities.

Strolling the Magical Riverfront

The riverfront in Malacca was oh-so-romantic, dotted with old-fashioned street lamps and shuttered, red-roofed buildings.

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While romantic riverfronts are uh, less enticing when you’re on your own, I still enjoyed snapping photos at sunset and savoring the cool river breeze, always a welcome feeling in crazy-humid Malaysia.

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Meeting a Local Girl and All Her Friends

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As you guys may have noticed, what interests me most about travel is local culture, something that can be hard to experience in Southeast Asia. So I was thrilled when Grace, a Malacca-native, reached out to me via Instagram and offered to meet me for coffee.

At coffee we clicked instantly, and soon I met all of her sweet and welcoming friends. Why can’t that happen in every city that you visit solo?

Trying Satay Celup for the First Time

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On my second day in Malacca I told my host that I wanted to try satay celup, and suggested we go to Capitol Satay, a local satay joint I had read about.

“Uh no, that’s just for tourists. No one from Malacca goes there.”

So instead we headed to Ban Li Xiang, a restaurant on the outskirts of town. Ban Li Xiang, 万里香, which apparently translates to, “food so good you can smell it a thousand miles away.”

Here are the steps of eating satay celup, the perfect food for all of my fellow peanut sauce addicts:

1. Walk over to refrigerator filled with various foods on a stick: quail eggs, eggs, liver, prawns, beef, chicken, etc.

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2. Wait for the large vat of peanut sauce in the middle of your table to heat up.

3. Plop sticks into the peanut sauce, and wait for them to fully cook.

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4. Devour sticks, dripping in peanut sauce.

5. Have waiter come over and count the sticks, and pay based on how many sticks you ate.

Having Indian Brunch

One morning the girls insisted we go out for Indian brunch. While I had just spend six weeks in India and even the idea of dahl made me feel nauseated, I reluctantly agreed.

But I’m glad I did- this brunch was bomb.

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I loved the food- both the chai and roti prata were on point.

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Like the satay celup restaurant this brunch-place at Limonbongan cafeteria was on the outskirts of Malacca, as all the good food spots are. Hard-core foodies- definitely rent a car when in Malacca!

Worshipping a Buddhist Temple

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While I’m not religious, worshipping a Chinese Buddhist temple was fascinating. The girls taught me how to pray there step-by-step, something I never would’ve known on my own.

First you touch the balls inside the dragon’s mouth for good luck.

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Then you take a container filled with sticks and shake them a bit, and pull out the longest one. Each stick coordinates to a fortune which you then look up in a book.

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My fortune was the questionably translated fortune below:

Business just kept to what it is to be, not to go too far

Work harder for your merit and future undertaking

Be sincere in your household affairs

Marriage afraid of being cheated

Do not interfering other people’s affairs when you are out

Be cautious when you are driving

Illness, seek doctor treatment quickly

Health will be at risk during old age

And after you read your fortune, you burn it. I wasn’t entirely sure of the reason why, but I followed suit anyway. When in Malacca.

Melaka_Chinese_temple_Fortune_Burning

Despite my apprehensions I truly had an amazing experience in Malacca- I adored the architecture, food, and of course the people. Thanks to Grace and her group of friends for showing me around- it made my visit to Malacca that much better!

 

You may also enjoy:

The Perfect Two-week Itinerary for Malaysia

What to Eat in Malaysia: The Best Dishes I Tried (And The Worst!)

Penang is for Street Art and Hawker Centre Lovers

 

Essential travel info:

As a solo female traveler, I felt very safe in Malacca. Although Malaysia is a Muslim country, I didn’t feel pressured to cover up and wore tank tops and shorts every day.

It’s very easy to travel by bus in Malaysia. Malacca is about two hours away from Kuala Lumpur and four hours from Penang.

I didn’t like my guesthouse in Malacca but you can see hotels in Malacca here. Airbnb is also available – this will give you a $40 Airbnb coupon code for your next stay.

Make sure to purchase travel insurance before your trip to Malaysia. I’ve used World Nomads for years and highly recommend it.

Have you visited Malacca, Malaysia?

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

40 thoughts on “Solo Travel in Malacca, Malaysia: My Favorite Experiences”

  1. I don’t always love travelling alone, but its crazy the experiences you can have when you’re open to just joining other people. I love Chinese Buddhist temples, they’re the most peaceful places I know

  2. Ah that’s so cool that you got led around the city by locals. That’s always the best – especially for the food advice! Learning the protocol at the temple looks so interesting… even if your fortune sounds a little suspect. Way to go, Instagram.

  3. Your time in Melaka sounds a lot like my visit to Singapore! Tons of great food and similar architecture. It’s awesome how the internet can make getting in touch with locals so much easier, I really need to take more advantage of it on my travels!

  4. I love that you were able to connect with a local through Instagram. What a cool experience. It’s great that you had the opportunity to be led around to all the best food spots by someone who was in the know. That’s always the best! I wish I would have added Melaka onto my Malaysia itinerary. I’ve only heard great things. I will hit it up next time, for sure!

  5. Malaysia sounds like such an amazing culinary destination-and that pork bun looks divine. And how utterly cool that you got a local’s look at both Melaka and aspects of the Malaysian culture! I got to meet up with my Peruvian friend when I was in Lima last year and it was so special, something I’ll always remember :)

  6. I’ve only become adventurous with my food in the past few years. I still need to get a little more out of my shell but all the food looks delicious!

  7. I understand your concerns about traveling solo in a muslim country and it’s cool that you chose to do it anyway. Personally, I love to interact with locals on my travels because they’re really the best ‘guides’ to local food and culture.

  8. Nice article about Melaka! I really liked the food market and ate the best sushi ever! And next to this, we could find amazing Turkish yoghurt in a big supermarket. Really liked the city, with nice restaurants, indeed beautiful architecture and a rich history!

  9. OMG so yum and look at those pictures! Oh yeah! :)
    I’ve never been to Melaka or Malaysia but I sure want to LOL.
    I’m glad that you found some people to hang out with. I actually don’t mind travelling alone and once or twice a year, my husband does a “boys only” weekend with our son, and I get to jet off to wherever I want. I usually just spend a weekend and it’s rather nice going to as many museums as I want and speeding through things. This year I went to Holland solo and I will be going to a historical town in Germany later in the summer.

  10. Ashley, so comforting to read your blog. Am going to Melakka alone this weekend and was apprehensive until I cam across your blog.

    I wish your gal friends could help me too though :-)

  11. Hey Ashley, such a wonderful write-up and photos. I am planning to go solo to Malaysia and Melaka is one of the places I’ll be visiting. This is my first time travelling outside India, so fingers crossed! :D

  12. Wow those food make me drooling :) I’m glad that you have had a wonderful time in Malaysia . Don’t be hesitate to come to Sabah next time when you come back to Malaysia and contact me if you need someone to show you around cuz I’m more than happy to do that :)

  13. if you want to experience at the village environment u can get in touch with me. I will treat you as a guest and a friend.u can have a great time with my family also.i’m stay in PUTRAJAYA and my family at JOHOR. u can search in google :)

  14. Hi Ashley
    Your review is interesting.
    I am planning to visit Melaka alone in this December.
    I am quite confident now that it would be safe.

  15. hi ashley … nice review there :) ,,, im malaysian …. we are really active in social media like twitter,facebook,instagram and whatsapp ,,,, its common thing for us to connect with friend through social media :) … if you wanna come to malaysia again,,,just email me,,,i can assist you with the road,transport,and all the best places here,,, :) have fun travelling

  16. hi ashley, its good you came to malacca the historic place, and from history we know malay language became lingua franca.. you just meet chinese native.. malay native is first discover malacca and more have place that you dont know about malacca such as big island, princess beach, warrior tomb hang tuah and so on, if you came in malaysia can email me.. i government servant tourist

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