Melaka (or Malacca) is Malaysia's most historic city. Its origins can be traced to the 14th century with the founding of a fishing kampung (village) by a fugitive prince from Sumatra. Thanks to its strategic location on the Strait that bears its name, Melaka was, from its earliest days, an intermediary centre of trade. Sheltered from the monsoons by the island of Sumatra, the settlement was perfectly located for merchants to take advantage of the trade winds. When Singapore was still a fishing village, Melaka had already achieved fame and, by the beginning of the 16th century, was the most important port in the region. Foreign merchants traded in Indian and Persian textiles, spices from the Moluccas, silk and porcelain from China, as well as gold, pepper, camphor, sandalwood, and tin.
The prosperity of Melaka attracted the Portuguese who ousted the Sultan and established themselves as the new lords under whose rule the city continued to thrive. In the mid-1600s, a Dutch blockade and a six-month siege of the city forced the surrender of the last Portuguese governor. Over the next hundred years, the Dutch carried out an extensive building program; some of the buildings still stand in Dutch Square. When the Dutch trade began to bother the English East India Company, England's objective for control of Melaka was satisfied in the Treaty of London. In 1826, the port became a part of the British Straits Settlement along with Penang and Singapore. In the 19th century, Melaka faded into obscurity until the first rubber estate in Malaysia was established with some seedlings from Singapore's Botanical Garden. The idea caught on among Chinese and European planters and Melaka soon became one of the country's leading rubber producers.
Exploration of Melaka includes temples, churches, old Dutch houses and, close to the waterfront, a village of traditional Melakan houses. An interesting trail, called the Jerak Warison Heritage Trail, features many of the historic sights. Jonkers Street is renowned for its antique shops.
The ship is scheduled to anchor off Melaka. Guests are taken ashore via tenders. The landing pier, Shah Bandar Jetty, is less than one mile (about one kilometre) from the town centre. Taxis are generally available, but be sure to agree on the fare before leaving the jetty.
Melaka is best known for its antique shops along Jonkers Street (Jln Hang Jebat). Other items of interest may include local handicrafts, batik and pewter, leather goods, electronics, watches and jewellery. Most shops are open from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The local currency is the ringgit.
With its multicultural background, Melaka has a wide range of ethnic food restaurants. You can find Malay, Indian, Thai and Portuguese cuisine, as well as international fare and seafood. You may even spot Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonalds.
Tang Beng Swee Clock Tower
Though Dutch in appearance, the clock tower was built by a wealthy Strait's Chinese family in 1886.
Melaka Cultural Museum
A replica of a 15th-century palace houses now a museum with exhibits focusing on Melakan culture, including clothes, games, weapons, musical instruments and a diorama of a 15th-century Sultan's court.
Proclamation of Independence Memorial
Dating from the early 1900s, this old, Dutch colonial building was formerly home to the Melaka Club. It was the social centre of British colonial Melaka and now contains a collection of photographs and exhibits depicting the events leading to Malaysian independence in 1957.
For those guests interested in touring at your leisure, we are pleased to offer full-day private arrangements by private car or van. Due to the distance required to bring vehicles and guides to Melaka, the minimum hourly charge is for eight hours. You may book this in advance at www.silversea.com or it may be purchased on board, subject to availability. Other private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Tour Office on board.