Getting there and away
The small but functional Melaka International Airport (formerly the Batu Berendam Airport) offers direct flights to Penang, Malaysia and Pekanbaru, Indonesia.
There are infinitely more options at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport which is about 2.5 hours away by public bus.
Firefly: Melaka to Penang, http://firefly.com.my/
Lion Air: Melaka to Pekanbaru, http://www.lionair.co.id
As much as we love the Malaysian railway system, the train is not the most practical way to reach Melaka. The nearest train station is about 40 kilometres away in the little town of Tampin and a taxi to Melaka city will cost 50 ringgit (which is probably more than the price of your train ticket). Alternatively, the meandering #26 bus will take you to Melaka Sentral for 4 ringgit, but this will add at least another hour to your journey.
Train tickets can be booked and paid for online at http://www.ktmb.com.my/
Odds are you'll arrive and depart from the massive Melaka Sentral bus terminal a few kilometres outside the city centre. It's teeming with services including a left luggage counter, internet cafe, money changers, a supermarket and loads of shops and restaurants.
The cheap way to travel to and from Melaka Sentral is Bus #17 (fare one ringgit). It departs from the "Domestic Departures" area of the bus terminal and stops outside Dutch Square then Mahkota Parade shopping centre. Otherwise a taxi will set you back 15-20 ringgit, depending on your bargaining skills.
Numerous bus companies ply the popular routes north to KL and south to Johor Bahru/Singapore, and there is a departure every 30 minutes during the day, otherwise every hour.
Sample fares include:
Genting Highlands Departs 10:00, costs 40 ringgit and takes 3 hours
Ipoh / Butterworth (Penang) Departs 09:00, 9:30, 10:00, 10:30, 14:00, 21:00, 22:00, costs 34 ringgit (Ipoh), 43 ringgit (Butterworth) and takes 4 hours (Ipoh) or 6 hours (Butterworth)
Johor Bahru Departs between 06:00-19:00 hourly or more, costs 19 ringgit and takes 3 hours
Kuala Lumpur Departing between 05:00-22:00, hourly or more, costing 12.30 ringgit and taking 2 hours
Kuala Lumpur Airport (KLIA or LCCT) Departs 05:00, 06:30, 08:00, 10:30, 12:30, 14:30, 18:00, 22:00, 00:15, costs 22 ringgit and takes 2.5 hours
Kota Bahru Departs at 20:00 (overnight bus), costs 52 ringgit and takes 10 hours
Mersing Departs 08:00, 12:45, 18:15, costs 22 ringgit and takes 5 hours
Singapore Departs 06:00 -19:00 hourly or more with an extra 19:30 trip on Sundays, costs 23 ringgit and takes 4 hours
The Straits of Melaka remain an important waterway and Melaka can be used as a transit point between Malaysia and Indonesia. Your best bet is Tunas Rupat, which operates a daily ferry service from Melaka to Dumai, Sumatra.
At the time of writing, the Tunas Rupat Follow Me Express departs daily at 10:00 (2 hours; 110 ringgit one-way/170 ringgit return). Tickets should be purchased in advance from the office at Plaza Mahkota or the Harbour Master's Jetty (Jeti Shahbandar) near the Marine Museum.
Tunas Rupat Express: G-29, Jalan PM10, Plaza Mahkota
T: (06) 283 2506 http://www.m-sia.com/indomal/
Melaka is manageable on foot, but there are some interesting alternatives for getting around this historic city.
Melaka recently acquired a secondhand fleet of buses from Kuala Lumpur. While comfy and cheap, they don't seem to follow a fixed schedule and are not practical for sightseeing, only for getting to/from Melaka Sentral bus depot. Buses have a sign in the front window stating their destination, but it's easier to tell the bus driver where you want to go and they'll point you in the right direction.
Note that the Panorama hop-on hop-off bus service has been discontinued.
Useful routes include:
#17: Melaka Sentral - Dutch Square - Mahkota Parade Shopping Centre - Portuguese Settlement
#50: Melaka Sentral - Mahkota Parade Shopping Centre
#19 : Melaka Sentral - Melaka Zoo
#26: Melaka Sentral - Tampin (nearest railway station)
Bus bay #15 - buses to Anjung Batu jetty (for Pulau Besar)
These pulled carts are an omnipresent sight around Melaka, usually blinged out with fake flowers, flashing lights and Malaysian flags. On average, the drivers are very knowledgeable of the city's history and will take you on a loop of the main sights at a fixed rate of 40 ringgit/hour. If you're looking for a ride the drivers tend to congregate around Dutch Square, but odds are they'll find you first.
Bicycles are a good option for visiting the historical sites on the outskirts of Melaka, but you'll need to be an experienced urban cyclist to tackle the traffic downtown. Many guesthouses and hotels offer bicycle rentals, otherwise you can rent one from the ticket counter at Taming Sari Revolving Tower which charges a 3 ringgit per hour plus a 50 ringgit deposit.
Bike rentals at Taming Sari Revolving Tower, open daily 10:00-22:00.
For a change of scenery and a little exercise, sign up for the Melaka Eco Bike Tour. It's a three-hour off-road bike ride past the villages, farms and beaches of Melaka's countryside. A half-day ride costs 100 ringgit including a bike, helmet, drinking water and guide. Full day trips and even cycling/camping excursions can also be arranged. Mr Alias has been offering bike tours since 1999 and is highly recommended.
Melaka Eco Bike Tour: T: (06) 267 1539;(019) 652 5029 http://www.melakaonbike.com
Malacca Mudskipper Best Tours can organise affordable outings to attractions in greater Melaka including villages, beaches, mountain trekking and camping on Pulau Besar Island. Prices for a half-day tour start at 70 ringgit for two people including a private car and English-speaking guide. Additional discounts are offered for students.
Malacca Mudskipper Best Tours: 6 Laksamana Road, T: (011) 1925 1520 email@example.com
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