If you want a quick escape from Singapore whisk yourself to the old Dutch trading port of Melaka.
Cute doesn’t cover this little gem which was given its UNESCO stamp of approval when the remains of a Portuguese fortress were discovered in 2004. Away from the fabulously graffitied riverside walk (take the boat for $4 if tired), the streets are squished with arts and craft shops (we love Joe’s Design on Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock for its copper wire jewellery), reflexology parlours, restaurants (over 200!) and clothes stores.
The main drag—Jonker Street—is full of bars and food stalls which spread onto the road as night falls. Coffee shops rule—Calanthe Art Cafe, with its vintage TV, creatively designed Carnation cans, fishtanks and flora, is a firm Cosmo favourite. Kick back on the verandah as the friendly staff serve up satay and Malaysia 13 States’ Coffees (11 Jalan Hang Kasturi). Caffeine fuelled, you’ll be buzzing to visit some of the 40—yes, 40—museums Melaka is home to. Before you start yawning, many are seriously quirky, like the Beauty Museum which showcases worldwide beauty through the ages proving that yes, it is pain!
So, a bomb is dropped in the front of your shophouse in the 1940s. What gives? Christie and Joe, owners of Calanthe Artisan Loft, turned negativity into originality by painting amongst the damage. They’ve decked out this two-floor property with retro furniture and paintings, mixing in some modern with a TV screening room, cool beanbags and an actual garden in the kitchen! With two huge double beds and an enormous front entrance hidden behind gates, a stay here is like stepping back in time. Sleeping four per room, it’s ideal for a girly weekend or family trip. Just switch off your phone and live the simple life.
- Eyes in the back of your head: Melaka may be gentle but the traffic can be hardcore. Wear flats and keep your eyes peeled as you walk in single file along many of the streets.
- An umbrella: You won’t want to stay in as there’s much to explore, so be prepared for rain or shine.
- Plasters: With history comes a lack of smooth pavements. You’ll stub your toe, fall off a curb and trip over bricks.
- An extra bag: With endless affordable artisan treats on offer, you’ll need help hauling it home.
- Daily buses travel between Singapore and Melaka from $40 return. Book online.
- A stay at Calanthe Artisan Loft on Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock for 4 people starts at $166 a night. Contact: email@example.com. Tel: +06 281 2960.
By Jo Upcraft, Cosmopolitan, October 2015