The historic and important city of Malacca or Melaka is attracting tourists from all over the world not for the usual beaches, dive sites, and mountains, but primarily for its historical and cultural treasures. It is Malaysia’s pride and joy, having been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. The city is littered with attractions such as the Melaka Sultanate Palace, Christ Church, and Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum. This is why getting around Malacca is quite a treat for international travelers. There are just so many eye-candies to see and so much culture to take in.
Getting around Malacca on land involves these rides: bus, taxi, car, “beca” or trishaw, bicycle or on foot. The bus is always the cheapest way to get around a city. The city of Malacca is not that big, and so it is easy going around on a bus. There are several short-trip bus lines and the buses are called Town Bus. Most Town Buses use a ticketing machine, so be prepared with coins since the machines don’t return the change.
Recently, the state government issued red double-decker and single-decker buses to attract more tourists and provide a breath of fresh air from seeing the old, worn out white-and-green striped Town Buses. The red buses are called Tourist Buses or Panorama Melaka. The fare is the same.
While the Tourist Bus is turning heads, it cannot compete with the famed “beca” or trishaw. The trishaw, or tricycle-rickshaw, is a regular bicycle with a side seat for two, hence it has three wheels. “Beca” is Malay for trishaw. Trishaw operators adorn this otherwise very humble mode of transport in order to attract tourists and reflect local culture. This is not really the most comfortable ride, but most western tourists will try it for the fun and experience. It is also a good way to tour around nearby attractions since the drivers know their location like the back of their hands. Trishaw drivers are the best tour guides, since they know back-roads and city “secrets”.
There are, however, two problems when taking a trishaw ride: one, the drivers don’t speak English and two, there is no fixed price. This is why it is important for English-speaking tourists to talk slowly with the drivers and negotiate the fare before taking a ride. Normally, the hourly rate is RM40. Trishaws are stationed at the Dutch Square and along the Mahkota Parade Shopping Centre, and may be asked to pick up a passenger from the hotel.
The fastest and most convenient way around Malacca is still the taxi; however, there are not many taxis around. Taxis supposedly charge by meter but some are willing to negotiate a fixed rate.
Finally, when visiting historical sites along the river, it is best getting around Malacca by boat. There is a 45-minute Melaka River Cruise that begins at Taman Rempah and passes by historic bridges, Chinatown, and a traditional Malay village. The rides begin at 9:00 AM all the way up to midnight. Tickets are RM5 for adults and RM2 for children. Getting around Malacca on board this cruise would make it clear to any passenger why Malacca is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.