|Melaka was Malaysia's first city. It was built on the trading empires of spices and textiles, and has a history soaked in the blood of battles as rival colonial powers challenged each other to take hold of the port. In its glorious 15-century heyday, it was the most vital port in Southeast Asia, with as many as 2,000 ships docked there. Today, among the high-rise buildings, the colonial past remains in the architecture and monuments, and the city's Chinatown, especially along Jalan Hang Jebat, which is a haven for antiques buyers.|
|Beaches of Melaka|
|There are several quiet restful beaches along the coast from Malacca, at Tanjung Kling, Pantai Kundor and Tanjung Bidara. These have white sandy beaches with good bathing facilities and food stalls.|
|Islands close to Melaka|
|Pulau Besar - Pulau Besar is a popular weekend retreat situated about 13 nautical miles off the mainland and 10 miles from Malacca Port. The mail attractions are the clean water and the green hills. There are ample opportunities for swimming, fishing snorkelling, golfing and camping. There is also an 18-hole golf course.|
Pulau Upeh - Pulau Upeh is close to Malacca and is another weekend retreat where a swim and taking in the sun is the main recreation. The island abounds with legends and is a sanctuary for the Hawksbill Turtle.
|The Old Centre, Melaka|
|The main buildings of historical or cultural significance are all within easy walking distance of the old Centre, Dutch Square, down by the Melaka River. The square is situated just off Melaka Bridge, which was once the town's main strategic link between port and city, and the site of major battles against the European invaders. The most prominent building overlooking the square is the Dutch Stadthuys (Town Hall) dating from around 1650. It was originally the official residence of Dutch governors and their officers. Behind the red façade is a structure built of masonry hauled from the Portuguese citadel. Since 1980 the building has housed the Museum of Ethnography and History, tracing the town's colonial and Malay past. The Clock Tower (Jam Besar) was built in 1886 by the family of a Chinese merchant, Tan Koon Chang. In the middle of the square is the Queen Victoria Jubilee Fountain.|
|Christ Church, Melaka|
|This has an imposing red exterior and was built between 1741 and 1753, in commemoration of the centenary of the Dutch occupation. Additions to the church were made by the British in the 19th century. Each of the long ceiling beams of the interior is hewn from one tree, and equally impressive are the massive, hand-made wooden pews, which are an original feature.|
|St Paul's Church, Melaka|
|The archway and gate of the A Famosa fortress are all that remains of the 16-century Portuguese fort, which was saved from total destruction by Sir Stamford Raffles. The gate steps lead to the remains of St Paul's Church, built by a Portuguese captain as a chapel in 1521. Originally known as the Church of our Lady of the Annunciation, it was renamed by the Dutch, who captured Melaka in 1641. It fell into disuse when Christ Church was built. In front of the church tower is a statue of St Francis Xavier, the Spanish Jesuit missionary who visited Melaka several times form 1545 until his death in 1553.|
|The Tugu Pengistiharn Kemerdekaan, Melaka|
|The Proclamation of Independence Memorial occupies a villa built in 1912, which was once the Malacca Club for British colonials and local planters. It was on the club's padang (playing field) that future Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman announced in 1956 the success of his London negotiations. Today the memorial building shows films and displays documents tracing the campaign for independence. A sound and light show is held on Padang Pahlawan in the evenings.|
|Maritime Museum, Melaka|
|This is one of Melaka's more recent additions, housed in a huge replica of the Flor de la Mar, a Portuguese ship laden with gold bullion and other valuables that sunk off the coast of Melaka. Exhibits include models of ships that have called at the port over its long and glorious history, authentic maps and charts of the times, and old, incredibly heavy iron chests used for precious cargo.|
|The Istana Kesultanan Melayu Palace, Melaka|
|The Malay Sultanate Palace is a cultural museum standing amid elegant gardens north of the Porta de Santiago. Reconstructed from ancient prints, it is an approximate but noteworthy replica of Mansur Shah's grandiose hilltop residence, which is believed to have burned down in 1460.|
|The living history of Melaka is to be found among the Baba Nyonya community, the descendants of the original Chinese pioneers and entrepreneurs who married local Malay women in the old Straits Settlements - Melaka, Penang and Singapore. The narrow streets of Chinatown, just next to the river, resound with the past, especially the 19th century when entrepreneurs from this community helped lift the local economy. Their contribution now stands among the houses along Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, or 'Millionaires Row'. This is a paradise for the antiques-hunters, filled with new and old Oriental treasures - porcelain, statues, jewellery, silverware and heavy 19th-century furniture. Jalan Hang Jebat (formerly Jonker Street) provides more opportunities for browsing and bargains.|
|Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum, Melaka|
|This mansion is a combination of three houses belonging to one family. It was built in 1896 by Chan Cheng Siew, and offers a vivid introduction to the life and culture of the Straits Chinese, as the Babas are also known. In a style best described as Chinese Palladian, its neoclassical columns, and heavy hardwood doors, the furnishings and décor bear witness to the great prosperity of Baba entrepreneurs. A guided tour will reveal the silks, filigree, silver ornaments, gleaming blackwood furniture inlaid with ivory or mother-of-pearl, and a monumental gilded teak staircase leading to the upper floor.|
|Temples and Mosques in Melaka|
|Along Jalan Tokong and Jalan Tukang Emas are Chinese and Hindu temples and a Muslim mosque. The Cheng Hoon Teng Temple (Evergreen Cloud Temple) originally built in 1646 claims to be the oldest Chinese temple in Malaysia. Dedicated to Kuan Yin, it is flamboyantly decorated with multicoloured birds and flowers of glass and porcelain. The bronze statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, was brought back from India in the 19th century.|
The Kampung Kling Mosque, on Jalan Tokong (1748) has a multi-tiered roof with a watchtower-style minaret.
The Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple (1781) is dedicated to the elephant god Ganesh, or Vinayagar, and is also one of the oldest in the country.
The Mausoleum of Hang Jebat, a 16th century warrior killed in a duel of honour, can be found on Jalan Kampung Pantai.
Tranquerah Mosque is located in Tranquerah along the road towards Port Dickson. The 150-year old Mosque has a square multi-tiered roof of Sumatran design and is unique because a pagoda has been built in place of a minaret, and the main building is in the shape of a pyramid. Within the grounds is the tomb of Sultan Hussain of Jorore who signed the cession of Singapore to Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819.
|Portuguese Square, Melaka|
|Styled after a typical Portuguese market the Square was built in the late 1980s. Here the descendants of the Portuguese and Malay intermarriages 400 years ago retain their own culture and lifestyle. The square is located 3kms east of the city centre, and is noted for Portuguese food and cultural dances. Local cultural shows such as Portuguese, Malay, Chinese and Indian dances are performed here every Saturday evening. A typically Portuguese village or kampung surrounds the square.|
|There are daily riverboat tours of the Malacca River at the quay behind the tourist office, where bookings can be made. The 45-minute trip passes through the downtown area when can be seen old godowns and fish markets. It also takes in Kampung Morten, where can be seen a typical Malay Kampung House known as The Villa Sentosa. The return trip takes in the wharves down river. Boat trips can also be made to the offshore islands in the Straits of Malacca.|
|Air Keroh Recreational Park, Melaka|
|About 15km north of Malacca heading towards the North-South Expressway, the Air Keroh district is one huge recreational theme park with several attractions along the long stretch of road. It is popular with Malaysian and Singaporean visitors on weekends. There are various shuttle services from city hotels and a regular bus service to the area.|
This secondary jungle area, is partially landscaped and has paved trails, picnic areas, a forestry museum and an Orang Asli village. Here the visitor can enjoy activities such as trekking, camping and picnicking, with barbeque facilities and playgrounds.
|Malacca Zoo, Melaka|
|Malacca Zoo is one of the best to be found on the peninsula and has a good collection of wild and domestic animals in their natural surroundings and habitats. It is well landscaped and has managed to blend the artificial and the natural harmoniously. Visitors can ride on the elephants and donkeys and recreational facilities are available for families.|
|Malacca Reptile Park, Melaka|
|Malacca Reptile Park occupies about three hectares and accommodates more than 1000 snakes, including those that are poisonous and indigenous to Malaysia. There are also the rare yellow cobra and a white snake. Other attractions include a rabbit garden, a tortoise and Japanese carp pond and a mini snake pond.|
|Malacca Crocodile, Melaka|
|Malacca Crocodile Farm has about 100 crocodiles of different species displayed in tanks and enclosures. Attractions include albino and hunch-backed crocodiles. There is also an apiary, a ghost house and fairground rides.|
|Butterfly Farm, Melaka|
|The pleasantly landscaped Butterfly Farm is one of the biggest netted butterfly parks and houses about 200 species of butterflies. Of special interest are the famous Raja Brooke and Birdwing species. There is also a reptile enclosure with a variety of snakes, scorpions, lizards and spiders, and a museum in the grounds that displays over 400 insect specimens.|
|Gadek Hot Springs, Melaka|
|Gadek Hot Springs are located 25km outside the town on the road to Tampin. The sulphuric water found here is believed to be good for curing some skin diseases. There are handicraft shops and playgrounds in the area.|
|Hang Tuah's Well, Melaka|
|On the road to Muar at Kampong Duyong, about 4 km from Malacca town, is this sacred well. Hang Tuah was a famous Malay Warrior who lived during the reign of Sultan Mansor Shah and whose mausoleum is located in Tanjung Kling. His courage and exploits were legendary and locals believe that the well is the abode of Hang Tuah's soul that takes the form of a white crocodile. The water is believed to have medicinal value and gives luck to those who drink it.|
|Johor is the southernmost state of Peninsular Malaysia and made up of eight districts. It has a long coastline flanking the Straits of Malacca on its western seaboard and the South China Sea on the east. Its vast landscape is characterised by plantations of pineapple, rubber, coconut and oil palm on the fringes of which nestle tranquil kampungs and quaint fishing villages. Johor also contains some of the best golf courses in the country. The state has miles of golden sand beaches and beautiful offshore islands with clear waters, which are excellent for diving. Johor is also endowed with several forest reserves. The lush and virgin lowland dipterocarp forest is home to several rare and endangered species including the two-horned rhinoceros. The rocks and hills have been estimated to be nearly 250 million years old.|
|Also known as JB, this charming state capital is a thriving commercial centre and tourist destination with international class hotels, modern shopping complexes, numerous restaurants and entertainment outlets. This southern gateway to Malaysia is a popular shopping and entertainment paradise with a good exchange rate and cheaper shopping. JB's most interesting attractions are its historical buildings and their impressive architecture, most of which are within walking distance. However, there are other captivating tourist spots in the outlying districts. JB is a point of departure to the east coast beach resort of Desaru, and the jump-off point to Mersing and various island retreats. There are many places to visit:|
Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque - This magnificent white marble Mosque stands on top of a hill overlooking the Straits of Johor. It is one of the most beautiful old mosques in Malaysia, which took eight years to build and was completed in 1900.
Sultan Abu Bakar Museum - Formerly the Istana Besar or main palace, it was built by the Sultan in 1866, and faces the Straits of Johor. The building contains the historical artefacts of the Johor Royal Family, and the north wing contains the Throne Room and Museum. All Royal ceremonies, investitures, state banquets and receptions are held in this palace. Also contained in this building is an impressive collection of rare treasures, collected by the Sultan. Within walking distance is the Palace Gardens, a magnificent sprawling landscaped Japanese garden.
Dataran Bandaraya - The City Square is a large area with a minaret, a fountain, and a clock tower. It is surrounded by numerous hawker and craft stalls and is a popular place to watch the sunset or take a stroll on the nearby Tebrau Beach.
Johor Bahru Duty Free Zone - Located on Johor Bahru's eastern waterfront area, this is the largest duty-free complex in Malaysia. It has a hotel and convention centre, a floating restaurant with a popular nightclub and a five-level shopping mall. There are ferry links to Singapore and Indonesia located here and immigration and customs facilities.
Handicraft Centres - The Johor Area Rehabilitation Organisation (JARO) maintains a shop in its new building in Jalan Waterworks, where visitors can purchase baskets and soft toys made by the disabled. The Johor Sarasa Handicraft Centre along Jalan Skudai, has on display hand-drawn batik cloth, batik paintings, straw mats and other handmade crafts.
Aw Pottery - The Aw Pottery factory in Air Hitam attracts both local and foreign tourists. Its brick kiln, built to a Chinese design, is 48m long and can accommodate around 2000 pieces of pottery at each firing. The Minangkabau showroom displays a variety of pottery for sale, and visitors can wander through the studio behind the showroom to watch the potters at work.
|Desaru Beach, Johor|
|Also known as 'The Village of Casuarinas', Johor's most famous beach is about 102km by road from JB and has a 20km stretch of pristine beach in the southeast corner of the peninsula. Parts of it are good for windsurfing and sailing, and there are places for snorkelling and canoeing. Nearby are cascading falls, natural lakes and jungles where one can go jungle trekking. Desaru contains first-class hotels and is also known for the Desaru Golf and Country Club resort, which has a 36-hole international golf course.|
|Teluk Ramunia and Tanjung Balau Beaches, Johor|
|Some 10km south of Desaru is another excellent stretch of beach known as Teluk Ramunia. Some 8km north of Desaru is the fishermen's Museum, which displays fish traps and equipment used by the local fishermen and various artefacts of the trade.|
|Endau-Rompin National Park, Johor|
|Situated on the Johor-Pahang Border, this is home to several animal species such as wild boar, deer, elephants, leopards, tigers and the largest population of rare Sumatran rhinos in peninsula Malaysia. Other species to be found here include the bearcat and the white-handed gibbon, the only ape species in the region. The park occupies an area of 870sq km of jungles and rivers and is rich in flora and fauna. Close by are the waterfalls of Kuala Jasin and the towns of Upeh Guling and Buaya Sangkut. Short trips to view the mangrove swamps and mud flats, and the unspoilt beauty beyond the headwaters of the Endau River can be arranged.|
|Mersing is a busy fishing town on the east coast, about 137km north of JB, and 189km south of Kuantan. Close to Mersing there are some nice beaches at Sri Pantai and Sekakap. Further north there are the beaches of Ayer Papan and Penyabong. Mersing is the main departure point for the island destinations in the South China Sea, particularly to the famous Pulau Tioman, and Pulau Sibu, both of which are featured prominently on this website.|
|Pulau Aur Island|
|This island is located 65km east of Mersing on Johor's east coast. Along with Pulau Dayang, Pulau Lang and Pulau Pinang, Aur is rated among the best diving destinations within the Johor Marine Park area. The deeper waters around the area ensure good visibility and a wonderful variety of sea life. Diving trips can be booked at most dive shops. The journey from Mersing Jetty by fast boat takes about 2 hours.|
|Pulau Rawa Island|
|A beautiful island of golden beaches, coves and clear waters that are ideal for snorkelling, Rawa lies about 16km from Mersing, and is popular with local and foreign visitors.|
|Pulau Besar Island|
|Lying close to Pulau Rawa, and about 1 hour's boat ride from Mersing, the island resort of Pulau Besar offers plenty of activities for water-sport enthusiasts, or for those preferring to relax, with snorkelling and canoeing.|
|There are many other lesser known islands suitable for an island-hopping expedition, which include Pulau Tengah, Pulau Tinggi, Pulau Kukus, Pulau Lima and Pulau Sibu Tengah|
|Kota Tinggi Waterfalls|
|Another out of town attraction is the waterfalls in Kota Tinggi, 62km away from Johor Bahru. The water cascades from a height of 36m down a steep precipice into a pool deep enough for swimming. It is a good spot to take in the fresh mountain air. There are public changing rooms, camping grounds and a restaurant at the base of the fall.|
|A 1,038m causeway, completed in 1924, and carrying a road and railway system, connects Johor Bahru to Singapore. Immigration and Customs checkpoints are based at the entrance to the Causeway, where a nominal toll fee is charged for all vehicles that enter Malaysia from Singapore. A second bridge links Tanjung Kupang to Tuas in Singapore and serves as an alternative crossing.|
|Johor Lama, situated 27km from Kota Tinggi and about 2 hours drive from Johor Bahru, is a quiet village no the banks of the Johor River. Johor Lama was the royal seat of the Johor Sultanate until 1587. All that is left here are fragments of a fort built in 1540 during the raid on Johor Lama by the Portuguese. After the battle, the state capital moved to Johor Bahru.|
|About 40km east of Johor Bahru, Pasir Gudang is home to the Johor Racing Circuit. Built on undulating terrain with twelve challenging corners, the 3.86km circuit is host to the annual World Superbike, World Endurance and the Johor Race Series for cars and motorbikes.|
|Ulu Tiram Estate|
|This is a working plantation open to visitors and is situated about 26km northeast of Johor Bahru on the road to Mersing. Visitors can view the rubber trees and observe how latex is tapped and processed for export. They can also observe the workings of a palm oil factory and see how the oil is extracted and refined to form the base for products such as margarine, soap and cosmetics.|
|This is a well-known fishing village with most of its houses on stilts, and is located near the southwestern tip of the peninsula. It is famous for its fish farms and several restaurants which serve seafood dishes such as crab, fish and prawns.|
|This picturesque fishing port was of trading importance to the British in the 19th century, as can be seen in the graceful old neoclassical government offices. It was here that Australian troops made a heroic last stand against the Japanese advance on Singapore in January 1942. Muar is known for its stunning sunsets and fresh seafood, and is also the takeoff point to the 1,276m high Gunung Ledang (Mount Ophir), which is a popular hiking spot. The less energetic can enjoy waterfalls and streams at the base of the mountain, which offer a refreshing break. From Muar can be reached a hot spring area at Sungai Balang, on the way to Batu Pahat. Muar is reputed to be the home of Ghazal music, which is a style of traditional Malay music, and is also the place to witness the rare Kuda Kepang dance, a dance form that is quickly disappearing. Muar's other attractions include a small beachfront golf course.|