Malacca, Malaysia

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Like Penang's charming capital, George Town, Malacca (often Melaka) earned UNESCO World Heritage Site status for its remarkable history as a meeting place of East and West. For more than four centuries, Malacca was ruled by a series of European powers—first the Portuguese, then the Dutch and finally the British—as well as by Japan, for a brief period of three years during World War II. Malacca has also been an important international trading port for hundreds of years—exactly why so many empires were keen to get their hands on it. The result of centuries of trade is a city that reflects a variety of European and Asian influences.

In just one day in Malacca, you can visit Malaysia's oldest church, St. Paul's, constructed by the Portuguese; the country's oldest Chinatown; and Stadthuys, the onetime city hall and the oldest Dutch building in Southeast Asia. When it's time to eat, opt for fusion cuisine nonpareil, nyonya—the food of Chinese settlers in Malaysia; a flawless English afternoon tea service; or spicy Indian fare.

Clichéd as it may sound, Malacca is literally a feast for the eyes and the mouth. To sightsee, eat and shop your way around this Malaysian city is to trace its rich, tumultuous history from the 15th century right up to the present day.