Although it’s the capital of the third-smallest state in Malaysia, Malacca has been a regional destination of choice for foreign visitors since its founding in the 15th century. Intermittently bustling and sleepy, the city has a distinctive vibe that is all its own. Among the most popular tourist activities in the area are sightseeing strolls around the Porta de Santiago and up the steep steps to St. Paul’s Church, as well as evenings spent drinking and listening to live music at the aptly-named Honky Tonk Haven.
On weekend evenings, a noteworthy night market opens on Jonker Street in the city’s Chinatown (beginning around 6 p.m.). The main source of entertainment here is culinary, and there is a profusion of fantastic hawker stalls (a staple of any traveler with experience in the region) and stands selling goods and snacks. On Saturday evenings, there is also a local vegetable market. You’ll have no trouble filling your belly, stocking up on foodstuffs and procuring an affordable trinket or souvenir.
Also of interest at the Jonker night market are the street performers and barkers. The market features sword-swallowing and fire-eating acts, as well as self-styled doctors selling supposedly restorative oils and medicinal cures. If you’ve never had the experience of actually purchasing snake oil, this is your chance! You can also find martial arts masters inflicting damages on coconuts with their bare hands.
Crime in the city is low and violent crime is virtually nonexistent, but you’ll want to keep a close eye on your wallet and passport, as pickpockets occasionally target tourists in the more crowded areas.