Lying between the states of Negeri Sembilan and Johore on the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, the historical city of Melaka was an important trading post in Malaysia's early history and attracted Asian, Chinese and Indian traders from the region.
Founded by a refugee prince named Parameswara, Melaka rose to become a powerful nerve centre of trade between East and West. Its trade of spice, gold, silk, tea, opium, tobacco and perfumes attracted the attention of colonial powers from the West and Melaka was later governed at various times by three colonial rulers the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English. Some parts of the city still retain an old-world charm in the legacy of buildings and architecture left by Melaka's past rulers.
The local population reflects an engaging inter-cultural heritage of customs, cultural practices, festivals and variety of cuisine.
Particular attractions include the Portuguese Settlement, the Dutch Stadhuys government buildings, Porta de Santiago and the Baba-Nyonya ancestral homes in the heart of the city.
The city of Melaka is divided into the new and old sections. The older part of the city is fairly compact and has many historical attractions tucked into the nooks and crannies of its narrow streets. Much of the remnants of Melaka's glorified past lie within the Town Square and waterfront area near the river which are an easy walk.
Just above the Town Square is St. Paul's Hill (Bukit St. Paul) which is the site of the original Portuguese fort of A' Famosa and St.Paul's Church.
There is a sign-posted heritage trail which one can follow to visit all the historical places in the older sections of town.
The new section of Melaka lies across the Melaka River, and is mostly built on land reclaimed from the sea. It contains modern shopping centres like the Makhota Parade and is a food and entertainment district.
Outside Melaka town, there are a few beaches, offshore islands and the Air Keroh district close to the NorthSouth Expressway which has many recreational theme parks.