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Malacca, Malacca


Maritime Museum

Jalan Quayside
Malaysia 75000
Tel: 60 6 283 0926

Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum

48–50 Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock
Malaysia 75200
Tel: 60 6 283 1273

Heeren Beaded Attire Shop

84 Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock
Malaysia 75200
Tel: 60 6 283 0957's insider take:

Kuala Lumpur and Penang may be better known, but this small port city, about 100 miles southwest of the capital, is a fascinating stopover. Malacca was once the world's most famous spice emporium. In the early 15th century, seafaring Chinese from Fujian Province established a trading post in a small sultanate and intermarried with local Malay, giving rise to the distinctive Peranakan culture. The rich spice trade and a strategic location beside one of the world's busiest shipping lanes made Malacca irresistible to a succession of European superpowers. The Portuguese, who conquered the town in 1511, were chased by the Dutch, who gave up the port to the British. The result is a multicultural society, some of the best fusion food in Southeast Asia, and a charming blend of architectural styles, from the Portuguese Baroque A Famosa gate and stout Dutch colonial Christ Church to the neoclassical Victoria Fountain and Straits Chinese homes. Some of the older locals still speak Baba Malay, a patois of Malay, Hokkien Chinese, and the odd Portuguese word that can be overheard at Peranakan restaurants such as Ole Sayang and Baba Low's. The old town can easily be toured on foot in a day. Be sure to visit the Maritime Museum, housed in a life-size replica of a Portuguese galleon, which offers a quick overview of Malaccan history; as well as the Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum, which occupies an opulent private family town house built in 1896, and is filled with sumptuous inlaid furniture and Victorian-era bric-a-brac, such as gramophones, pith helmets, and ivory mah-jongg sets. Walk a block farther west to Heeren Beaded Attire Shop, where master cobbler Lim Chiang Huat produces Malacca's most famous contemporary Peranakan export: handmade beaded shoes. Prices range from about $30 to nearly $500, the cost of a pair of ruby-red slippers glittering with thousands of pip-size Matsuno glass beads and bits of diamond.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.