I recently made a trip down to Melaka as it was a public holiday in KL. I was really surprised how easy and fast it is to get there by car. It doesn’t even call for a pit stop. Sadly, because I love the ambiance of Malaysian R&R’s!
I thought I would share with you my initial impressions of the destination as I am trying to make up my mind on Malaysia as a destination and its sub-destinations. To make it brief, Melaka’s got a few things right! The basics of a successful destination are definitely there.
Everyone I spoke to about going to Melaka for the day told me about its amazing food and which restaurant or stall I should go to for this or that amazing specialty. This won’t surprise anyone who’s lived in Asia for long like me! And sure enough, the first thing I saw after we parked our car next Jonker Street was the long queue of people outside the famous chicken rice ball coffee shop Chung Hwa.
My friend and I counted and we had 10 different dishes from 8 different places in one single day! Almost every tourist we cam across, whether Asia or not, was also walking around ticking the food boxes.
Being a tourist professional I am always curious to see what initiatives are worth benchmarking. What stroke me on Jonker Street – the tourist thoroughfare – is the number of shops carrying the Jonker Gallery brand. Obviously some smart tourism operator thought of consolidating retail on Jonker Street with a heritage-inspired brand applied to a large line of souvenirs. And it works! Shops are busy and tourists are happy. I thought I’d take a few snapshots for future reference.
3. Sense of place
Melaka is very charming and offers a great sense of place with a number of locations, view points, etc, which can immediately be recognizable and associated with the destination. From the heritage sites of St Paul’s Hill and Christ Church to the picturesque boat ride on the river, the over-the-top rickshaws, the trendy shop houses around Jonker Street or the beautiful night view from Taming Sari tower, there’s plenty of photo/selfie opportunity!
In January this year, Melaka added a night show – Melaka Alive – which should reinforce that sense of place providing a must-see historical show for tourists at night.
With the 3 main basics of food, shopping and sense of place being very well addressed, I am wondering what could make the destination even more attractive. And this is probably a question for developers who are interested in building new attractions. There’s a project under construction of Ferris wheel (Eye on Malaysia) together with a chocolate factory in Pulau Melaka. That might not add too much product extension to the existing offering (also, the previous Ferris wheel was a flop!). Instead I would probably suggest exploring 2 other paths: high-energy and iconic. Interested to brainstorm further, let me know!