Malacca, Penang and Singapore. These 3 places are the hotspots for anything Peranakan or Baba Nyonya, be it food, arts or buildings. Here are 7 heritage buildings that used to be the houses of the Peranakans and are now open to the public.
Located in Melaka which is a UNESCO World Heritage listing, this house is where 4 generations of the Chen family used to live. Opened to the public as a museum in March 1985, it is still owned and managed by the descendants of the Chen family. The family owns three such townhouses, side by side in a row. Two of them used to be the main homestay, and 1 of them was the servants’ quarters.
Treat your eyes to a string of antiques and other private collections, which have been passed down all the way to the 7th generation! Be awed by the Dutch, Portuguese, Malay and Colonial-influenced decors like the 5-meter high silk embroidery, stairs made of solid Cengal wood with elaborate gold-leaf carvings (please don't bite to confirm the authenticity of gold😬) adorning the back portion, blackwood furniture from China inlaid with mother of pearl and marble and many more.
Chinese and English tour guides are available, but a self-guided tour is also possible with the help of handbooks that are available in 4 languages which are Chinese, English, Japanese and French. On the other hand, group tours require advance booking for a more pleasant experience (cause we don’t want to end up like sardines packed in a can).
The Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum
Today, this privately owned museum is still used as an ancestral home where the descendants of the Chen family perform prayers during 🧨festive days.
P.s: This place was used as one of the filming locations for the famous Singaporean drama “The Little Nyonya”
📞Phone: +606-282 1273
📍Address: 48-50, Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, 75200 Melaka
Within a minute’s walk from the Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum, this hotel has 4 types of rooms and 3 types of suites which total up to 15 unique, stylish, and comfortable rooms with attractive rates. Get ready to be blown away by the intricate interior of a traditional Peranakan house with a touch of modern design.
There are rooms on the ground floor and upper floor, so it is convenient for those with mobility challenges to stay. Furnished with dark wood furniture, this hotel injects a rustic ambience into your stay.
As you walk further in, you will discover a lovely courtyard with 🌞natural sunlight shining from above. A sealed well that is traditionally used in a Baba Nyonya household can also be found in the courtyard.
📞Phone: +606-281 0088
📍Address: 91, Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Taman Kota Laksamana, 75200 Melaka
This place will transport you back in time to the golden era of the Peranakans. From the colourful tiles of Peranakan style flooring to the dim (oh so romantic💏) lights of the antique lamps, everything gives a truly authentic glimpse into the life of an old Peranakan household. There are only 10 rooms here, and each comes with either a river view, a courtyard view or a city view.
Relieve the life of a rich and "atas" Baba or Nyonya when you check in to this museum residence. Each room is beautifully embellished with ornate Peranakan furniture and antiques. All rooms are decorated in an Old World Peranakan theme with wooden furniture.
If you pick a room like the Ornate Pearl or The Grand Heeren Suite, you'll get to sleep on a wooden four-poster bed with intricate carvings and a canopy, just like how the Baba Nyonya used to sleep!
The antiques and furniture are all part of the owner's personal antique collection. You can also book all 10 rooms for you and your family members and friends. This is definitely a 💎hidden gem in the heart of Malacca. Don't forget to rent a pair of traditional Kebaya Nyonya and take lots of photos here.
P.s: This place is called 5 Heeren because of the residence's unit number. Plus, the street where it's located was known as Heeren Street before being formally renamed Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock.
📞Phone: +606-292 2225
📍Address: 5, Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Taman Kota Laksamana, 75200 Melaka
This house is located at a very strategic location and within walking distance of Jonker Street, so if you plan to stay the night in Malacca, this is a good choice of accommodation.
The Baba House was once the home of a Straits Chinese elite family. It looks small from the outside, but once you are in it, you will be surprised to see how long the building is.
Decked in the style of traditional Chinese Baroque and Chinese Palladian Style Houses, the Baba House has a collection of antique furniture. Staying at this hotel will give you the experience of living in a Peranakan house in the past.
P:s: There are 🚗parking spaces behind this hotel (Malaysians' no.1 headache solved!).
📞Phone: +606-281 2168
📍Address: 91, Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Taman Kota Laksamana, 75200 Melaka
This mansion once served as the residence and office of the 19th-century Chinese tycoon and Kapitan Cina Chung Keng Quee (remember? we read about him in the Sejarah textbook🤓). He commissioned the construction of this impressive mansion in the 1890s, which means that this building is more than 100 years old🤯. Built in a Straits Eclectic style which incorporated both European and Chinese designs, it was originally painted white.
This building was eventually passed down to his descendants upon his passing. However, it soon became neglected until a property developer bought it in 1990. It was then painted green and turned into a museum that houses over 1000 Baba Nyonya antiques.
If you are wondering why this building looks so familiar, that is because it has been used as a filming location for a couple of movies and dramas including The Little Nyonya. Be awed by the impressive collections such as the main staircase’s handrail, which is made with balusters of cast iron from Scotland, European-styled teak furniture, Victorian glass epergnes, Peranakan ceramics, Kebaya Nyonya and many more.
A tour guide will be included in your ticket, and multiple entries per day are allowed! This Mansion and its grounds are also available for private gatherings, events and even wedding photoshoots! All you have to do is contact them in advance.
📞Phone: +604-264 2929
📍Address: 29, Church Street, 10200 Penang, Malaysia
This striking building painted in blue was once the ancestral home of a Peranakan Chinese family, the Wee family. In 2006, this property was acquired by the National University of Singapore (NUS) with funds donated by Ms Agnes Tan before being restored in 2007.
Formerly known as 157 Neil Road, it was then renamed NUS Baba House. It reopened to the public in September 2008 as a museum.
Here, visitors are able to catch a glimpse into the life of Peranakan families in the early 20th century. Collections from the Wee family, like furniture, portraits and household objects are displayed in their original context. Some of the interesting features of this house include hidden compartments in the bed for the women to hide their jewellery (oh these women😏), weird placement of mirrors to confuse evil spirits, and secret openings in the floor to spy? from the second floor, etc.
Visitors are allowed to take photos only on the outside of the museum. A guided tour is also available if you want to learn more about the domestic life of Baba Nyonya. The conservation team put in a great effort here in their job of conservation and restoration of the worn-down parts of the building.
Free entry for all visitors who are:
📞Phone: +65 6227 5731
📍Address: 57 Neil Road, Singapore 088883
Situated in Katong and edged between several other colourful Peranakan houses, this is a great place to experience how the Straits Chinese used to live. This antique house which acts as a museum was founded by a 4th generation Baba, the late Peter Wee. All the collections in this house are antiques handed down by his ancestors and other Baba Nyonya with some dating back to the 1800s.
Adorning the walls are the old portraits of the Baba and Nyonya in their traditional attire, as well as their traditional wedding photos. All over the house, you can see ornate chairs and cabinets which are packed with antiques. The staircase leading up to the 2nd floor is lined with brightly painted chamber pots (don't worry, they are empty ok!).
If you look up, you will notice the colourful trays with floral motifs hanging from the kitchen ceiling as well as a variety of tiffins (olden-day moms' Tupperware) placed high enough to touch the ceiling.
This place is currently managed by Eric Ang. He is Peter Wee’s former assistant and Angeline Kong, a good friend of Peter and a Nyonya herself.
$15 per person
📞Phone: +65 6345 8544
📧Email: [email protected]
📍Address: 208 E Coast Rd, Singapore 428907
Experience a day as a Baba or Nyonya in intricate attire by renting a Batik or Kebaya!
What makes these heritage buildings of the Peranakan (Baba Nyonya) so special is that they are unique and can only be found in Southeast Asia (especially Malaysia & Singapore). Their intricate and eclectic designs with Western, Malay and Chinese influences are a feast to the eyes. Don't forget to check them out when you visit Malacca, Penang and Singapore!