Our 3D2N Melaka Holiday! (What To Look Out For When Travelling To Malaysia)

We'd just came back from our holiday to Melaka and boy was it tough to travel with two young kids... We've been to Melaka many many times but it's still my 2nd boy's first holiday overseas. He was born in 2020 and as you can already know, borders had been closed due to covid. 

We wanted a simpler holiday just in case there is a learning curve to managing 2 kids on a holiday. So we picked Melaka which is a place we are familiar with and we assumed it will not require too much travelling time. That was not our only misstep.

Plan MORE travelling time please!

We set off to TUAS link at 7am after checking tires, drawing SGD and pumping petrol to 3/4 tank (don't forget).

The congestion on the causeway was surprisingly ok. From news, it seemed that woodlands check point had it far worst. The best is always to set off early and check the causeway cameras on ONEMOTORING

Everything was smooth until the N-S expressway. That was where you'd see slow traffic and multiple "dark red lines" on the GPS!

Melaka is usually a 3.5hr drive from SG but the trip up took 4.5h instead and the trip back was even worse at around 5hr. 

I'm not sure if it's because of the holidays but more time on the road is definitely needed. The "hentian" (rest stops) were much more crowded then usual. We usually pick Machap or Pagoh to rest.

With two easily bored kids, we prepared lots of bread, toys, songs, books and KOBO. All of which were needed to survive the arduous journey.

The famous food stalls are still around (phew...)

Most of the famous stores were still around. Nancy's Kitchen and Chung Wah chicken rice had LONG QUEUES! Portuguese settlement seem more crowded than before.

We went stall 88 after haggling but Portuguese baked fish from was so-so.

Below Bubble time =)

Pak Putra, Restoran Tong Seng, Hing Loong Taiwanese noodle were still around.

In the end, because of the "difficulty in bringing two out to eat", we ordered Jonker 88 Assam laksa and chendol via grab food. We ate downstairs at Zhong Tai Seafood restaurant whom we know is underrated and often without queue.

We also da bao chicken rice from this stall which was so-so because with young kids now, we can't really queue up at Chung Wah chicken rice anymore... (sad) PS: Do note that Ho Kee chicken rice seems to really have closed shop

However, that cannot be said of other businesses.

Melaka's malls are at a poor occupancy rate now. Many familiar mum and pop shops in Mahkota parade and in Melaka Raya have closed down, probably due to the evaporation of tourist during the pandemic. Melaka strives a lot on tourism. 

My wife's favourite hair saloon. Closed.

We continued our shopping and dining and soon we ran out of cash.

I understand there are overseas card these days like Youtrip. But some Malaysian eateries, Hentian food and petrol stations are just easier with cash.

And I'd also tried to avoid credit card usage overseas for safety issues. That's when the search for cash started to take an interesting turn.

Money changers have folded!

In previous years, the exchange rates were better in Malaysia than in Singapore. I guess that's due to spread needed to be earned to cover rental cost? Hence, I'd always brought SGD over to do currency exchange there. But it was a mistake! Do not make that now!

I know the locations of at least 3 money changers in the malls. ALL have clearly closed down! There may be still one left at L1 in Dataran Pahlawan Mall beside Watson but I can't be sure it is still in business. The sign board was there but the glass had a "out of service" kind-of sign.

Bottom line - Exchange your RM in Singapore first before heading over! I guess that wisdom will apply to travelling to other parts of Malaysia and other countries.

Hotels used to offer currency exchange right?

I remember hotels use to have a board with all the currency exchange. Correct?

I was so desperate for ringgit in cash that I was willing to let them charge me at a poor exchange rate. Well... maybe that was pre-pandemic. Tourism is still at a recovery phase. I checked a few hotels and this "service" is no longer offered. 

How to withdraw from ATM overseas!

Thank goodness I brought my wallet along. If you look carefully, there is a "PLUS" logo at the back of your OCBC/UOB/DBS card. It allows you to withdraw overseas.

I'd done that in Jarkarta many years back and on this day, I found an OCBC bank branch in Melaka and finally we laid hands on more Ringgit in cash (phew)!

There is no surcharge in my understanding and the exchange rate was at about 1:3.15, pretty decent. Main thing is these days, you've to activate the overseas withdrawal feature on your APP so do note.

End of a hard road trip

Needless to say, we pumped the petrol full before heading home. We even bought our groceries from AEON too. Bread and toilet paper is cheap in Malaysia haha.

Looking back at this trip, I think it's still a good time to travel now because Chinese tourist are not found yet. Once china relaxes on Covid, thats where you start seeing that horrifying bus load of Chinese tourist again.

I'd have fond memories of this trip. It was the first time my elder son played cards with me overseas. I used to do that with my dad too. Here's to 11 more years of playing cards at night in the hotel room k =)

Last updated on June 8th, 2022 at 09:05 pm

Josh Tan Jian Liang (CHFC) Principal Author

REVIEWS: https://theastuteparent.com/josh-tan Practising financial planner with Promiseland Independent Pte Ltd. TJL100057681 EXPERIENCE: More than 14years. Josh Tan is a young parent, speaker, author and founder of TheAstuteParent.

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