Of all the cities in Malaysia, it’s Melaka (Malacca) on the west coast that has my heart. It’s an on-foot, by-bike, by-boat kind of city – my kind of place, easy to see in a day or two – and makes a compelling stop en route to or from Singapore.
Conquered, occupied and colonised by the Portuguese, Dutch and British – it only became part of Malaya (later Malaysia) in 1946 – there’s a tangible European feel here, that some like and others dislike in equal measure.
Churches old and new, faded tilework, an atmospheric river, and those wonderful pastel colours lend it that timeworn colonial feel that you also once got in Macau (and still do in parts of Lisbon).
But the steaming heat, searing blue skies, night markets and street shrines are very much a part of Southeast Asia, and from the ethnic Chinese-Malay Baba-Nyonya population comes some of the best food in the region.
Mooch around the winding streets of the old town, slurp up a bowl of laksa, or catch a breeze on an afternoon river cruise, and let Melaka work its magic.