Knock-knock! Who’s there? It’s me! Me who? Meer-de-kuh! August is here and it is the Merdeka month. Hari Merdeka, also known as Malaysia’s Independence Day falls on 31st August 1957. Since then, Malaysians have been celebrating the event every year. It is a festive time for Malaysians and the celebration centers in Kuala Lumpur, mostly. On 31st August every year, Malaysians celebrate by conducting parades, shooting fireworks, waving their Jalur Gemilang (the Malaysian flag), and singing national anthems enthusiastically. The birth of this independent nation truly is something that we all should celebrate as the people of Malaysia to show loyalty, patriotism, love, and strength.
Putrajaya is extremely festive during Merdeka day – the Perdana Putra building, the office of the Prime Minister of Malaysia, as well as the Seri Wawasan Bridge, Seri Saujana bridge, and the Putrajaya Lake would light up in the Jalur Gemilang colors. The celebration would start from 7 pm till 12 pm. There would be a lot of stalls selling the Jalur Gemilang flags and merchandise – it truly is a place where you celebrate Merdeka with other Malaysians. Furthermore, there would be a light show and a count down so that Malaysians can count till midnight and then watch the firework amidst Merdeka together!
2) Merdeka Square / Dataran Merdeka
If you’re up for some nostalgia, this is the landmark that you must visit. Dataran Merdeka is located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, at Jalan Raja. This is the place where Malaysia’s independence was indirectly announced on 31st August 1957. The British Union Jack was lowered and the Jalur Gemilang was placed. Hence, due to its historical significance, it is a must-visit place in Kuala Lumpur during the Merdeka season. Presently, the tall flag post faces a large field; hence, you can imagine what went down on that day back then.
3) Sultan Abdul Samad Building
Just right in front of the Dataran Merdeka and the Royal Selangor Club lies the Sultan Abdul Samad Building. Named after Sultan Abdul Samad, the building witnessed Malaya gain independence on 31st August 1957. This building, too, witnessed the Jalur Gemilang being placed and the clock started chiming for the first time. Every year, thousands of Malaysians will spectate the colorful parade along the streets to celebrate Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day.
4) Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC)
The Kuala Lumpur City Centre is the place to be if you want to celebrate Merdeka with all the huzzah – the fireworks, crowds, celebrations, and many more. The KLCC will light up in the Jalur Gemilang’s color and truly show you the Malaysian experience during Merdeka. Take photos, and celebrate with your loved ones at the stroke of midnight!
5) Bandar Hilir, Melaka
Melaka is a historical city – it is under the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 7th July 2008. In fact, just walking by the streets gives you a sense of nostalgia. Ever present since Malaysia’s Independence Day, Melaka is one of the main attractions for everyone to visit. One of the historical places you must visit to truly appreciate Merdeka is the Kota A Famosa which has been standing strong since the Portuguese attack. Apart from the famous Kota A Famosa, The Stadhyus is an iconic landmark as well which is presently serving as a museum.
6) National Monument / Tugu Negara
Only 5-minutes away from Merdeka Square, the National Monument is placed to commemorate the soldiers that have contributed to the country it is today – independent. Carrying the Jalur Gemilang are 7 soldiers depicted and each of them represents envious qualities – leadership, command, wariness, suffering, sacrifice, and strength. The monument was built in 1966 and presently stands proudly near the Lake Gardens park in Kuala Lumpur. Something that not a lot of people know is that Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, Prime Minister, police, and military soldiers visit the National Monument every year as a sign of respect as well as to honor Malaysia’s fallen heroes.
7) Merdeka Stadium / Stadium Merdeka
“Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!” Can you hear it? This venue was the place where the First Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman proclaimed our independence on 31st August 1957. This historical landmark is recognized by the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards. Apart from the mentioned historical event, Stadium Merdeka had witnessed a lot of events – this includes the 1977 Southeast Asian Games, Pesta Bola Merdeka, and Muhammad Ali and Joe Bugner’s 1975 boxing match. Other than famous sports matches, musicians have even performed here as well: Michael Jackson (1996), and Linkin Park (2003), to name a couple of them.
8) National Museum / Muzium Negara
Opened on the 31st of August 1963, the National Museum is home to Malaysia’s rare artifacts. Such as the mace that was used in Dewan Rakyat (1957), an old newspaper which is a Merdeka edition called Akhbar Malaya, and a Merdeka postcard from 1957 and 1958. Additionally, the National Museum launched just a few days before Malaysia was born which falls on 16th September 1963! On that special day, Sarawak, Sabah, and Singapore joined Malaysia. The museum has four galleries that feature Malaysia before, during, and after independence. If you’re planning to visit, the National Museum is located in Jalan Damansara, Kuala Lumpur.
9) Royal Museum / Muzium Diraja
The Royal Museum was a real palace that was heavily ornamented with Malay customs and culture. You truly get the impression that you’ve entered a dream after passing through the spacious halls and entering rooms decorated with royal adornment! In fact, before it was converted into a museum, the Royal Museum was where the royalties reside. The Balairong Seri and the National Palace Gallery are two of the Royal Museum’s attractions. A bit of a fun fact – according to customs, the Balairong Seri is where the previous Agongs would take their oaths as the head of the nation. Meanwhile, the National Palace Gallery is the resident of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong along with the Raja Permaisuri Agong.
10) The Army Museum, Port Dickson
Cherishing Malaysian history gives you a sense of patriotism, and appreciating what our Malayan soldiers had done for us in the past is also a form of Merdeka celebration. The Army Museum in Port Dickson is locally known as Muzium Tentera Darat and it is located in Sirusa district. Apart from appreciating history, visitors are also able to look at the decommissioned military vehicles (tanks, planes, and artillery guns), and a memorial fountain to commemorate soldiers who had served Malaysia during the war.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Regarding Top 10 Best Places to Celebrate Merdeka
Apart from celebrating that it is a public holiday, it’s a day to commemorate Malaysia’s independence. It is a day we cherish what we have today, and what we have in the past. We, as Malaysians, have come a long way and we are celebrating it as a nation.
There are many ways to show your Merdeka spirit on 31st August! Some ways to truly feel and appreciate the Merdeka spirit are by filling your surroundings with Jalur Gemilang, participating in small Merdeka-themed events, and visiting Malaysia’s many historical sites such as the ones listed, watching the Merdeka parade celebration, and especially, celebrating the day with your loved ones.
Part of the ways to foster a sense of patriotism is by cherishing Malaysian history which you can learn and appreciate by visiting museums, as well as the historical sites, and witnessing amazing Malaysian events such as the parade. Apart from that, appreciating what Merdeka Day is all about helps us feel love for our country as well.
In 2022, various activities will be conducted. You can watch the parade this year at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur. There will also be fireworks which you can watch at the stroke of midnight on 31st August. Perhaps do some personal activities as well like plant a time capsule for yourself or loved ones, walk around historical sites as a pretend tourist and enjoy local delicacies like Nasi Kandar, Curry Laksa, and many more.
To avoid the hustle and bustle out there and still celebrate Merdeka, there are various activities you can do. This includes playing traditional games like congkak, gasing, and batu seremban. Furthermore, book a hotel room for a staycation at a nearby hotel in Kuala Lumpur to witness the fireworks at midnight. To really celebrate the multiple cultures in Malaysia, cook a local Malaysian feast like Nasi Lemak or any meals that are Merdeka-themed!