Occupying a mere area of 700 square kilometres, one might complain about the lack of activities to do in Singapore due to its small size. Whenever Singaporeans find themselves getting bored of the busy, city life, we solve this particular ‘ailment’ by travelling to our neighbour countries in Southeast Asia, popularly, Thailand and Vietnam. However, travelling to these countries requires one to book a flight and much planning. If one wishes to travel on a short notice, a road trip to Malaysia, Singapore’s nearest neighbour, would be the best option.
The Johor-Singapore Causeway is a causeway that connects the city of Johor Bahru across the Straits of Johor to Woodlands, a town in Singapore. An average time of one hour is required to clear immigration on both sides. However, this ultimately depends on the amount of traffic congestion.
Day trips to Malaysia, which involve mostly shopping and eating, would be primarily based in Johor Bahru, since it is the nearest city to Singapore. Other cities like Malacca and Kuala Lumpur, would require one to spend at least two nights to properly soak in the city’s atmosphere.
One particular city I would like to recommend people to go to is Malacca. Not just because of its relatively near distance to Singapore (a mere three-hour drive), but because of its cultural and historical significance. Malacca is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008, with past colonial links to Portugal, Netherlands and Britain.
A must-visit place in Malacca would be Jonker Walk, also known as the Chinatown of Jonker Street.
Along Jonker Street, food can be found in almost every nook and cranny. Local and even international cuisines like Japanese cuisine, can be found. If I had to come up with a list of must-try food items, they would most definitely include the ubiquitous and popular chendol, durian puffss and the sambal stingray.
Jonker Street is not just about food stalls. There are stores that sell souvenirs, handicrafts and knick-knacks. Also if you are observant enough, you may find a store that catches your eye, such as this particular stall; A handicapped woman doing Chinese calligraphy.
If you walk towards the end of the street, you should be able to notice this huge stage where performances are usually held. People sing, do skits and host events on this stage.
Besides its main attraction of food, Malacca is rich in its history and culture. Having been colonized, you can see remnants of its colonial past. One of the significant historical landmarks would be A Famosa, a Portuguese fortress that has survived through the ravages of time.
Much of Malacca has changed since my last trip there about fifteen years ago. No longer are there familiar bullock carts giving rides to people on muddy fields. They are instead replaced by horse carriages and tiled pavements, a move that shows Malacca’s embracement of modernity.
If given a chance, I would definitely want to visit Malacca again in the future. I personally recommend at least staying two to three nights to fully experience what Malacca has to offer. If you ever have the chance to explore the cities in Malaysia, be sure not to give Malacca a miss!
By Sarah Chua, ASEAN Correspondent from Singapore