26th. April 2002
Malacca River Boat Tour
by T.W. Kang

An interesting and unique tour which visitors must not miss while you are in Malacca, is the
Malacca River Boat Tour. Come and cruise up the historical Malacca River from the
Malacca River Boat Jetty located near the Dutch Square and you will be surprised by what you will see and smell along this unique river. In fact, this river boat ride was featured in the Hollywood movie ?Entrapment ?in 1998.

Due to the tidal tide conditions, the river boat will only operate when there is high tide. So visitors interested to take this cruise are recommended to check up first on the operating times. Also, the river cruise will only operate with a minimum 8 persons per voyage. The river boat will cruise up the shallow Malacca River from her river mouth to Kampong Morten where the boat makes her return trip. The distance is about 10 km from the jetty and takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour. A tour guide will highlight interesting things to you.

The River Cruise begins
The cruise takes visitors up the Malacca River. You will see “Harpers Cafe?/FONT> on your left before going under the Tan Boon Seng Bridge. It was mentioned in history that before the Portuguese managed to capture Melaka in 1511, they used a boat to capture a strategic bridge that crossed the Malacca River. Since the river flows across  Melaka, by capturing and controlling this bridge, they were able to divide Melaka into two and cut off their lines of communication. Their succes in capturing the bridge gave the Portuguese a vital bridgehead and from there, they finally managed to defeat the Malacca forces in 1511.

As you cruise further up the river, you will be able to see old shohouses that are built on her left and right banks. Some of these old shophouses used to have warehouses (godowns) built at the back of their premises. Trade & goods used to be loaded onto boats since Malacca was once a famous seaport. In fact, until the end of 2001, you can see boats loaded with timber from Indonesia being unloaded at the mouth of the Malacca River. From 2002 onwards, this barter trade activities have been shifted to other Malacca ports and the Malacca River will be exclusively used for tourism and the arrival/departures of visitors to Dumai, Indonesia and for sea-cruises.

The second bridge you will pass under is the Chan Boon Cheng Bridge built in 1908. It was a steel fabricated bridge which linked the old sector of Melaka Chinatown (Kampung Pantai) located on the western bank of the Malacca River to Jalan Bunga Raya, the road leading into the new sector of Melaka New Chinatown (east bank). Due to its age, the steel bridge was reconstructed in 1963 with a concrete bridge you see today. During the Japanese Occupation of Malacca from 1942 to 1945, it was reported that beheaded heads were placed at the foot of this bridge by the Japanese forces as a warning to the Malacca community against their occupation.

Just after this bridge, you can see the striking yellow painted “Discovery Cafe?/FONT> - a popular place for visitors to dine and drink into the night.

Another famous foot bridge that crosses the Malacca River just after the Chan Boon Cheng  bridge is the Ghostbridge of Malacca. This pedestrian bridge links Kampung Pantai with Kampung Jawa. How this bridge got her name remains a mystery.
View taken from Old Market Bridge

Further up, another pedestrian footbridge called the Old Market Bridge can be seen. This bridge links Kampung Hulu with the former Central Market and Jalan Kee Ann. Fishing boats are berthed here. From 1930’s until 1991, the Malacca Central Market was located on the right bank of the river. Fishing boats with their catches are unloaded here because of its proximity to the Central Market. Unfortunately, in early 1990’s, the unique Victorian designed Central Market was demolished and the Central Market was shifted further upstream of the river. Incidentally, visitors can still see the restaurant where a scene of the Hollywood movie “Entrapment?was filmed in 1998. This riverbank restaurant is located on the right bank just before the pedestrian footbridge and local Chinese cuisines are cooked on order.
 
View towards Jalan Hang Tuah Bridge

 
 

Just a distance from the former Central Market is the Jalan Hang Tuah Bridge that links Jalan Munshi Abdullah with Jalan Hang Tuah. Cathay Cinema used to be located right bank of the river but due to changing public viewing habits, it was closed down. On the left bank, you will see the Express Bus Terminal where express buses stop here. Visitors can take express buses from here to various places in Malaysia including  Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Prices are reasonable and the timetable to your desired destination is regular.
 
 

Just before your final sight, you can see the ruins and columns of the “Church of Rosario?/FONT> on the right hand side of the river bank. The ruins are very near to the St.Peter’s Church which was built in the 1710.


The final sight before heading back on your cruise is the famous “Kampung Morten?/FONT> located on the left bank. This is a typical Malay kampung or village where the Malay residents still reside in this kampung. The village folks are friendly and if you have the time, visitors can casually walk and enjoy the sights of a Malay kampung.

Soon after this village, the river boat will make a U-turn and head back to the jetty. The last bridge over Malacca River you will see is the Sungei Melaka Bridge which crosses the Malacca River mouth near the river boat Jetty. Built over a period of 2 years, the Sungei Melaka was officially opened in June 2001.

Information on Malacca River Boat Cruise :
                            Minimum of 8 persons before tour operates.
                            Operation Hours : Subject to Tide conditions

For on-line bookings :Please Click here.

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