Melaka is 144km from Kuala Lumpur, 224km from Johor Bahru and just 94km from Port Dickson.
Recently upgraded Melaka International Airport is 20km north of Melaka in Batu Berendam. Firefly (www.fireflyz.com.my) offers flights between Melaka and Singapore (three weekly) and AirAsia is likely to follow suit with routes to Indonesia.
High-speed ferries make the trip from Melalca to Dumai in Sumatra daily at 10am (one way/ return RMl 19/1 70, 1% hours). Ferries also run to Pekan Baru (one way/return RMl 59/269, six hours) in Sumatra at Q into at the Tunas Rupat Follow Me Express (283 2505; Jin PM2) and other ticket offices near the wharf. Maxmarine (282 0883; 6-15 Jin PM 10) runs ferries four days a week to Bengkalis in Sumatra. At all ports in Sumatra, citizens of most countries will have to purchase a one-month visa on arrival (US$25).
Melaka Sentral, the huge, modern long-distance bus station, is inconveniently located opposite a huge branch of Tesco off Jin Tun Razak, in the north of town. A taxi into town should cost RM15, or you can take bus 17 (RMl) or the Panorama Melaka bus (RM2; see Getting Around, opposite). Frequent buses head to Singapore (RM22, 4'/2 hours), KL (RMl 2.40, two hours) and Johor Bahru (RM19, 3% hours). There are also less frequent departures for Jerantut (RM22.90, five hours via Temerloh), Mersing (RM22.80, 414 hours), Kota Bharu (RM51.20, 10 hours), Kuala Terengganu (RM42.90, eight hours) and Muar (RM4.70, one hour). Luggage deposit at Melaka Sentral is RM2 per bag. There is also an accommodation reservation counter for hotels in Melaka, a money changer and restaurants.
Bus Express (281 7669; 125 Jin SP1; www.a-bus .com.my) makes about seven trips per day to/ from KLIA International Airport (RM36, two hours). You can book tickets online or at the tourist offices.
Car-hire prices begin at around RM153 per day for a Proton Wira. If driving, Melaka's one-way traffic system requires patience. Try Hawk ( (s) 283 7878; 52 Jin Cempaka, Taman Seri Cempaka, PeringgitJaya), north of town.
Taxis leave from the long-distance bus station. Taxi rates: Port Dickson (RM120), Johor Bahru (RM250), Mersing (RM280), KL (RM160) and KL airport (RM140).
The nearest train station is 38km north of Melaka at Tampin on the main north-south line from KL to Singapore. Taxis from Melaka cost around RM50 or take the Tai Lye bus .
Melaka is small enough to walk around, but you can save time and sweat with Panorama Melaka, which offers two types of hop-on, hop-off bus services. A double-decker bus (red line; RMS; O 9am-8.30pm) makes a 13-stop run, while a single-decker bus (blue line; RM2; (3 7am-9.30pm) takes in 23 stops including Melaka Sentral. Both buses run every 30 to 45 minutes - buy your ticket (good all day) on the bus. The red line ticket price includes unlimited passage on the blue line, but not vice versa. Stops for both include the Hang Tua Mall, Jin Hang Jebat (Jonker Walk), the Stadthuys, Hotel Equatorial, Renaissance Melaka Hotel and Kampung Portugis. Route maps and more information about the service are available at the Tourism Malaysia office .
Another useful service is town bus 17, running every 15 minutes from Melaka Sentral to the centre of town, past the huge Mahkota Parade shopping complex, to Taman Melaka Raya and on to Medan Portugis.
Bicycles can be hired at some guesthouses and hotels for around RM10 a day. Taking to Melaka's streets by trishaw is a must (see the boxed text, above) - by the hour they should cost about RM40, or RMl5 for any one-way trip within the town, but you'll have to bargain.
Taxis should cost around RM10 for a trip
AROUND MELAKA CITY
Just across from the zoo is the Butterfly and Reptile Sanctuary, which has a collection of exotic creepy-crawlies, snakes and some sad crocodiles at the reptile park.
But the main attraction in Ayer Keroh is the Taman Mini Malaysia/Asean (adult/child RM4/2; 09am-6pm), a large theme park that has examples of traditional houses from all 13 Malaysian states, as well as neighbouring Asean countries. Also here is Hutan Rekreasi Air Keroh (Air Keroh Recreational Forest; admission free), part secondary jungle and part landscaped park with paved trails, a 250m canopy walk, picnic areas and a forestry museum.
Ayer Keroh can be reached on bus 19 from Melaka (RM1.40, 30 minutes), or a taxi will cost around RM35.
The small island of Pulau Besar, 5km off the coast southeast of Melaka, has some interesting graves and meditation caves that are popular pilgrimages for Indian Muslims, but the main reason to come here is for the white beaches and jungle walks. Unfortunately, in 2010 Besar will become the largest independent oil storage terminal in the country, which will surely make the already not-so-great water even more polluted.
The island's only hotel is the Chandek Kura person incl tent rental RM20) next to the resort; call before arrival to secure a site. A handful of basic kedai kopi can be found nearby.
Boats (return trip RM40, 30 minutes) depart from the jetty at Anjung Batu about every two hours from Sam (last boat returns at 10.30pm). The jetty is several kilometres past the old pier at Umbai, southeast of Melaka. Take an SKA bus from Melaka Sentral to Merlimau and ask to be let off at the jetty - it's about a 10-minute walk from the bus stop.
Just off the road to KL, 24km north of Melaka, is the countryside town of Alor Gajah. In the town centre is the peaceful and grassy Alor Gajah Square, which is bordered by an array of gaily painted shophouses. Most Melaka-KL buses stop in Alor Gajah so it's possible to stop here between the two cities if you're willing to change buses. A taxi to A'Famosa should cost around RM18.
Right in Alor Gajah Square is the Museum of Custom and Tradition, which exhibits a modest collection of Malay wedding customs, bridal gifts and ceremonial rites.
Half an hour from Melaka and an hour from KL, the 520-hectare A'Famosa Resort (www.afamosa.com) is an all-encompassing resort popular with Malay and Singaporean tour-ists. Even though the whole place is a little cheesy, you'd be hard pressed not to have fun at the 8-hectare Water World, which has two seven-storey-high speed slides, a tube ride and even a man-made beach with a wave pool. Animal World Safari (admission with all rides & shows adult/child RM60/50; 9am-6pm) spreads over another 60 hectares. The animal shows, with an array of critters dressed in human clothing and doing human activities, aren't something that animal lovers will enjoy. A special rate of adult/child RM75/61 gets you into both the Animal World Safari and Water World. Also within the resort is a 27-hole golf course that is rated in the country's top 10.
For a lovely escape, head to white-sand Tanjung Bidara, about 30km northwest of Melaka. It's well away from the main highway, requiring you to take back roads through rice paddies and farms to get to the shore. It's literally deserted midweek, except for maybe one or two fishermen casting from the beach, and only one valiant stall at the beachfront food court is open outside of Saturday and Sunday. The water lapping on the fine sand is brown with sediment and pollution so it's not the best place for swimming, but it's fun to sit against the jungle and watch the massive freighters head down the famous Strait of Melaka.
The main beach area is at Tanjung Bidara Beach Resort, a quiet, relaxing but musty resort with a small swimming pool and restaurant.
Further budget accommodation is strung out over several kilometres along the beach, broken only by a large military camp. There are several simple beachside chalet guesthouses in the friendly Malay village of Kampung Balik Batu.
Buses 42 and 47 from Melaka go to Masjid Tanah, from where a taxi to Tanjung Bidara Beach Resort or Kampung Balik Batu costs RM10.
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