One of the benefits of colonialism is that you get towns with plenty of character, and in the case of Melaka & George Town that’ll get you world heritage status too. Well either that, or someone at UNESCO has taken a bung from the Malaysian tourist board.
Melaka is the older of the two (by a couple of hundred years) and had three colonial masters to George Town’s one. So you’d expect it to have the upper hand in terms of touristic appeal. However, for me the reverse is true, Melaka is too touristy – they arrive by the bus load, with souvenir shops where the art galleries used to be, ready to sell them tourist tat.
Having said that, Melaka was still well worth a visit. The art galleries are still there, they’re just on quieter streets where the rents are cheaper. I enjoyed visiting them and chatting to the artists.
My favourite haunt was the Baboon House. You can enjoy a coffee or beer and take a gander at some interesting photography & artwork to a background of well-picked tunes… And, it was also the only place I found that’ll do you a decent full English, i.e. you get proper bacon (none of this frankfurter nonsense you get elsewhere).
Comparisons between Melaka and George Town are inevitable; they’re both historic colonial arty towns on Malaysia’s west coast – and pavements are an invention neither have heard of. So keep your minces peeled, I nearly got mowed down a couple of times.
George Town has a trendier cooler atmosphere and a bit more life. But if you want the airbrushed version with quieter streets perfect for an evening stroll it’s Melaka. Me, I prefer to keep it real so it’s GT for me all day long.