There are options nearby if you've seen enough of what Melaka City has to offer. Just north of the city is the smaller town of Ayer Keroh, which is ideal for day trips and has several attractions in a compact area, including the Mini ASEAN (Taman Mini Malaysia) display of traditional houses and an excellent zoo.
Also nearby is the huge Chinese cemetery, Bukit China, and the Gunung Ledang Recreational Forest, farther afield into Johor. This vast forest is a very notable excursion from Malacca and boasts the best hiking in the immediate vicinity.
A charming countryside town, Alor Gajah is situated close to the main road leading to Kuala Lumpur and stands at just under 25 km (16 mi) to the north of Melaka City. Alor Gajah provides a good place to escape the city and is well connected by buses. The Alor Gajah Square plays a central part of local life and is surrounded by various places of interest, including a selection of brightly painted shops.
Ayer Keroh is a tourist town and serves as a popular place to visit as an addition to Melaka City. The town is to be found around 12 km (8 mi) to the northeast, before the Kuala Lumpur highway, and has several worthy attractions and landmarks. They include the Mini ASEAN Park and Zoo Melaka, along with a recreational forest. Near to the zoo is the Butterfly and Reptile Sanctuary, which is open on a daily basis, between the hours of 9 am and 6 pm.
This huge Chinese cemetery resides on a hill outside Melaka City and is purported to be the largest cemetery of its type outside China. Some of the graves are hundreds of years old, dating right back to the Ming dynasty. The site is just a few kilometres to the northeast of the city centre, and even if you are not particularly into this sort of thing, it offers some nice walking and good views. Many locals come here for an early morning jog, enjoying the tranquillity provided by the scenic setting.
Mini ASEAN resides in Ayer Keroh, on the main road, where it features reconstructions of traditional Malay houses. These houses come in all shapes and sizes and represent all 13 Malay states, as well as members of the rest of ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations). The cultural shows here are worth a look and take place each morning and afternoon. The Taman Mini Malaysia is the town's main draw card and also comprises the Hutan Rekreasi Ayer Keroh (Ayer Keroh Recreational Forest), which is part jungle and comes with a 250-m (820-ft) treetop canopy walk.
Established in the early 1960s in Ayer Keroh, Melaka Zoo is near the Mini ASEAN attraction and is widely considered to be one of the best zoos in the country, being called home by more than 1,200 animals and in excess of 200 different species. Exhibits reside in a forest setting that closely replicates the natural habitats of the animals. Amongst the main animals are African lions, Asian elephants, black panthers, Grant's zebras, Malayan tigers, spider monkeys, Timor deer, white rhinos, orangutans and reptiles. Also onsite is a lake, the Crocodile Farm, the World Bees Museum, pony and elephant rides, trams and a pet's corner. The zoo also has a nocturnal option (the Night Zoo), which runs on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Pulau Besar is a small and inviting island located roughly 5 km (3 mi) from Melaka City, lying to the southeast and coming with a number of intriguing attractions. These include some meditation caves and old grave sites, although it is without question the sandy beaches and the jungle trails that are why most day trippers choose to come here. Regular boat trips arrive here each day from the Anjung Batu jetty, with this journey taking around 30 minutes.
If you are looking for dreamy white sandy beaches and prepared to travel, then a trip to Tanjung Bidara should be penciled in. Tanjung Bidara is located around 30 km (19 mi) to the northwest and is often overlooked by tourists, remaining virtually deserted Monday to Friday. The weekends see more visitors arrive, when the beachfront starts to fill up with sunbathers and families. The jungle backdrop is a nice touch, although the waters are known for being polluted and therefore swimming here is not recommended.