This blog post is going to cover three areas that I visited in Malaysia in November 2019 with STA Travel:
- Selangor: This is a state on the west coast of Malaysia known for a mix of urban and nature activities including shops, theme parks and forests and the famous Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque and Batu Caves.
- Malacca: Is a coastal state known for its blend of British, Dutch and Portuguese culture showcased through colourful graffiti buildings, night markets, street food, riverside bars, fashion and antique stores and significant temples and mosques.
- Negeri Sembilan: This area is located on the southwest coast (right next to Malacca) and is known for it’s beaches, nature parks and palaces.
Selangor is the most developed and populated state in Malaysia which kind of has a bit of everything from shopping malls, markets, theme parks, forests and heritage sights and places of worship.
Royal Klang Town Heritage Walk
The Royal Klang Town Heritage Walk is a must-do free guided 3 hourwalking tour that shows you around Klang, one of the oldest towns in Malaysia. We started our tour at Sultan Abdul Aziz Gallery (which is about a 5min walk from the train station) and went shopping for saris, silk and spices around the colourful Little India District.
As we walked around, our guide gave us insight into Malaysia’s history, traditions, folk tales and food and we also stopped by beautiful places of worship including the Masjid India Klang Mosque:
Right around the corner from Little India is a Chinese district and where we stopped by Restoran Seng Huat (Under the Bridge). Here they serve the famous Klang dish, bak kut teh which is a pork rib dish cooked in broth. Since I’m vegetarian I didn’t try the dish but if it sounds like it’s up your alley, that’s something to try while you’re exploring the Old Town.
Further down the street is Chong Kok Kopotiam, a restaurant that has been the go-to for locals for nearly 80 years for a cup of kopi (Malaysian black coffee made with condensed milk), soft-boiled eggs and toast (toasted over charcoal) and home made kaya and butter… now THAT is right up my alley!
Each of tried different dishes and drinks but the stand outs for me were definitely the Milo Kopi and the Kaya Toast.
The Batu Caves are three main caves and a number of smaller caves all within a limestone hill and is one of the most popular and most important religious Hindu landmarks in Malaysia.
In 2018, the stairs of the Batu Cave temple got a colourful rainbow makeover and since then, even more tourists as well as worshippers are flooding to the sight.
We didn’t actually have time during this trip to visit the Batu Caves but it has been so high on my list that I thought I should keep it in the blog post just in case you have the time to add it to yours!
Kampung Kuantan Fireflies Park
Another item on my bucket list is a boat tour around the Kampung Kuantan Fireflies Park in Selangor. What makes this place extra special is that there are only 2 places in the world that have these fireflies nests and one happens to be right here in Malaysia.
Many local guides recommend spending a full day here as a day trip from Kuala Lumpur (about 1.5 hours). For 40RM you can feed monkeys and eagles before taking a group boat ride through the magical lake of fireflies best viewed at night.
Malacca (also called Melaka)
Malacca is where the first colonial settlers started making contact with Malaysia, turning it into a vibrant state filled with influences from the British, Dutch and Portuguese.
Out of all the areas we visited in Malaysia, Malacca was the one that really stood out to me! There was something to see and experience in every corner and unsuspecting restaurants and bars open at night.
Jonker Street is the main street of Chinatown and is known as the heart and soul of Malacca!
If you’re planning to only have a few days in Malacca, the best time to come here is during the weekend as they have famous night markets on Friday and Saturday nights.
But on a regular day there’s also plenty to do around town. Jonker Street is filled with instagram worthy shop houses that sell vintage fashion, antiques and souvenirs. There are also soooo many amazing cafes and street food (the cendol here is incredible!) and if you get tired from walking around you can always take one of their decorated rickshaws back to your hotel.
Jalan Tokong Besi otherwise known as Temple Street or Harmony Street is where Malaysia’s oldest Buddhist temple (Cheng Hoon Teng), the Kampung Keling Mosque and the 18th-century Hindu Temple (Sri Poyatha Vinayagar Moorthi) are all lined up along one street. This is street truly symbolises Malacca’s progressive religious tolerance throughout the centuries.
Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple was open in 1781 making it one of the first Hindu temples built in the country. It’s a beautiful temple dedicated to the Hindu deity Ganesha designed with colourful carved stones and statues.
Then a short stroll up the road is Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, the oldest and most significant Chinese temple in Malaysia.
It is the harmonious centre for the Three Doctrinal Systems of Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism.
Along Harmony Street is also the Kampung Kling Mosque which is also one of Malaysia’s first ever mosques built in the 1700’s
Hang Tuah Centre
The Hang Tuah Centre is a carefully restored museum complex dedicated to the famous Malay warrior Laksamana (Admiral) Hang Tuah who lived in Malacca during the 15th century. He was considered the most powerful and highly regarded warriors in the Malay culture.
It’s made up of one main museum and auditorium as well as five traditional houses (pictured above). Each of the houses display unique Malay architecture including geometric tiled stairs and high timber walls with tall slanted rooftops made without any nails.
Inside the main museum we learnt about the history of Admiral Hang Tuah and the five brave warriors that excelled in Silat training and made big contributions to Malay culture and history.
The exhibit also featured native Malaysian clothing, table ware, jars and dozens of knives/weapons, including those used for combat and when we completed the exhibit we were greeted with a Silat training performance outside.
Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum
Peranakan people are the descendants of Chinese immigrants who came to the Malay archipelago between the 15th and 17th centuries. In Malaysia, Peranakan people are known as ‘Baba and Nyonya’ (‘Baba’ means man and ‘Nyonya’ means woman).
The Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum was previously home to four generations of the Chan family before it turned into a museum in 1985 and inside is an incredible showcase of how a wealthy Peranakan family lived in pre-World War II times.
The house is decorated with Chinese, Malayan, European and South East Asian influences including a reception hall, ancestral hall, kitchen, interior courtyard, dining room and an upstairs with bedrooms.
No photography is allowed inside the home but visitors are allowed to photograph the first room so here’s a little sneak peek of it above. Of all the Peranakan homes you’ll see in Malacca, this one by far will be the most opulent!
Peranakan Beaded Slippers
Since the 1930’s Peranakan women in Malacca wore beautiful embroidered dresses called Nyonya Kebaya paired with Nyonya beaded shoes. Along the same street as the Baba & Nyonya Museum is Wah Aik Shoemaker that still make these famous Nyonya beaded shoes,
This shop has been a family owned business for the past 3 generations. Every shoe made here is still hand crafted, beaded and sewn and can take months to make depending on the design.
Another item that caught my eye within the store were the tiny shoes on the display shelf (lotus shoes). These shoes were made for women that bounded their feet to as small as 6cm in length during the foot binding era in the 19th century.
Melaka River Cruise
The Melaka River Cruise is a 45min cruise to see the many historic buildings, riverside restaurants and bars and colourful graffiti buildings along the shore.
The river cruise is something you should do on your first day in Melaka to see an overview of what to expect around town.
The distinctive red painted buildings of the Dutch Square reflects the history of the Dutch administration.
Right in the centre of the square is the Stadthuys Christ Church (from the British colonisation) and the Tan Beng Swee Clock Tower (in honour of the Chinese tycoon) surrounded by the Portuguese fortress lining the banks of the square. Not only is it a harmonious blend of cultures coming together, the lively energy and atmosphere of the square continues to live on to this day.
We only visited two sights in Negeri Sembilan so unfortunately I didn’t have time to review beaches or nature parks that this area is known for. Instead, I experienced the royal and local traditions by visiting the Sri Menanti Royal Museum and Homestay Kampung Lonek.
Sri Menanti Royal Museum
Sri Menanti Royal Museum is the former palace built entirely using wooden pegs and no nails based on traditional Minangkabau architecture. The palace still stands tall today with 99 pillars representing the 99 warriors who served at the palace. The palace is now a royal museum and is open to the public.
Homestay Kampung Lonek
Kampung Lonek is a traditional Malay village homestay experience hosting guests since 2005. After spending a day here assisting with the cooking and tasting of their traditional dishes, music and games – the experience melted my heart to say the least!
We learned how to make Kuih by sifting rice and tapioca flours to make a bite-sized sweet dessert.
And then my inner child came out when we played traditional games including a race where a team member (in this instance it was me) sits on the beetlenut leaf and is dragged to the finish line by another team member.
It was a fun experience and let’s just say, Australia took it home for the team! Hahaha
Overall, I had a really great experience in all the areas we visited in Malaysia each with their unique heritage and history. You really can’t go wrong with the area you choose to stay so I hope the above information gave you a quick overview of what to expect in Selangor, Malacca and Negeri Sembilan.