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Travel & Resources: PENANG

PENANG -- area code (60-4)

General Information

    Penang beachfront (c) 2007 by John C. Goss

    Penang Island, with its UNESCO World Heritage treasure trove of George Town, the gold sand beaches of Batu Ferringhi, and verdant mountain backdrop, has everything that gay and lesbian travelers love: exquisite food including Nyonya-Baba indigenous fusion cuisine; thousands of architectural treasures including the stupendous colonial mansions of Asia's formerly rich and famous tycoons; sun and fun on tropical beaches; shady hikes through botanical spice gardens and jungle forests; multi-ethnic neighborhoods that are safe and welcoming places to explore on foot, bike, or pedi-cab; fascinating shrines, temples and mosques built over generations by the port's prosperous merchants and fortune-seekers from as far away as Arabia and Armenia; shops, malls and museums filled with beautiful bargains; and more than a bit of gay scene and nightlife for holiday fun and frolic.

    Penang Shophouse (c) 2012 by John C. Goss

    All this, yet Penang is so quiet, so cheap, so uncrowded, so easy to access, so friendly, and so rich in cultural treasures that you'll wonder why its not on every tourist's map of must-see cities in Asia.

    The population of Penang is over 1.5 million (that's about 60,000 Utopians).

    Penang Nyonya Kuih Sweets (2015) by John C. Goss

    Navigating the local gay scene is easy with our interactive Utopia Map of Gay & Lesbian Penang:

click for our interactive map of Penang

Popular Spots


      Click here for Penang hotels and accommodations.

click here for SEVEN TERRACES

Bars & Clubs

Fitness and Gyms

Massage for Men

Meeting Places


    • The garden on the hill inside Taman Bukit Indah (beside St. Annes). A nice place to meet at night.
    • Taman Hwa Seng (just opposite Wonderful Mini Market beside Jln Rozhan, around the Alma, Bukit Mertajam area). There is a river beside a playground. You can find the Taman signboard beside the road. Go to the playground to look for the same species, mostly after 8pm. You may find young PLU sitting alone. If you click, just walk down to the quiet river bank.


    • Ampang Jajar Garden near Permatang Pauh, noon-5pm. Young Malay and Chinese guys.
    • Park in Butterworth between the old British Fortress and city hall. After 10pm. At your own risk. Beware hustlers and police decoys.
    • Swimming pool in Seberang Jaya, Butterworth. On Sat and Sun, you can see lots of PLUs (all races) hunting in the facilities.


    • Beaches:
      • Batu Feringhi beach area near the international hotels. The beach at the back of Ship restaurant is very cruisy after 4pm most days. Always good looking guys there. Lots of caucasians.
      • Tanjung Bunga beach UTOPIAN VERIFIED NOV 2014
          Between Paradise Hotel/International School and at the rocks at the end. Especially afternoons and early evenings. Walk down the beach past Flamingo Hotel and there are two more beaches. Action with the locals. Mix of young and older. Quite secluded, so ideal for a nice session. Most busy in the afternoon until early evening.

          Comments from Utopians:

          "The beach at Tanjung Bunga next to Infinity Condo, under the palm trees. Late afternoon/early evening." -- henrysz, Nov 6, 2014

      • Taluk Bahang Beach UTOPIAN VERIFIED APR 2014
          Penang Island, between the blue fence barriers and the rocks, is reasonably busy with local PLU in the afternoon 2-5pm. A mix of guys from young to middle-aged married guys. Most arrive on motorcycles and are not scared of showing off their goods.
    • G Hotel UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2013
        Utopia Map. Cruisy fitness center and swimming pool.
    • Penang Youth Park
        Facilities near the shop and area behind shops with tables to play checkers. Afternoons from 2-5pm.
    • Shopping Malls:
      • 1st Avenue Mall, Utopia Map. Less popular as phone apps dominate the cruising scene. UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2015
      • Gurney Plaza UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2014
      • Midlands Park shopping center (formerly called, and still known as, One-Stop). Sit outside at KFC to catch passersby. 1/F and 3/F facilities are packed with action, especially on Sat.
      • Prangin Shopping Mall facilities, Utopia Map. UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2014
      • Queensbay Shopping Mall UTOPIA VERIFIED AUG 2013
          G/F and 2/F and up.
      • Sunshine Farlim UTOPIAN VERIFIED APR 2010
    • The small trail off the road, just past the Moon Gate as you head towards the Botanical Gardens. Popular with joggers in the daytime. You'll need to walk thru the bushes to discover this place with lot of activity, especially weekends (early morning 6-7am to late night past 11pm) and weekdays (after 5pm till midnight). Lots of joggers and hikers. Beware of decoys. At your own risk (take along a local friend if you can). UTOPIAN VERIFIED AUG 2014
    • Swimming Pools:
      • Permata swimming pool at Farlim, Air Hitam. A nice place to meet others, 4pm onwards, especially on Wed and Thu evenings after 7:30pm. Some of the good looking and fit guys don't mind showing off in the shower room. UTOPIAN VERIFIED JUN 2012
      • Seberang Jaya swimming pool after working hours. There are a number of PLUs in the pool and facilities. Staff who are gay like to check out the scene, too.

Restaurants and Cafes

      Penang is one of Asia's culinary treasure troves. Chinese, Muslim, Indian, Malay, European, Thai, Indonesian, Burmese, Japanese, Armenian, and Filipino immigrants have all pitched their recipes and ingredients into Penang's melting pot. Nyonya Baba (the Straits Chinese) fused some of the city's earliest flavors into their own unique style that spread up and down peninsular Asia from Phuket to Singapore. Corner coffee shops are still a haven for community life and an oasis of fresh plate meals, herbal and fruit libations, and a rainbow of sweets. Street hawkers spread the wealth to hungry passersby. Below please find a sampling from the huge variety of sit-down eateries available, but be sure to graze your way across the city during your daytime explorations!


    • Penang Nyonya Delights (Peranakan cuisine)
        22 Jln Perai Jaya 2, Bandar Penas, Butterworth (behind Pacific Megamall, near Penang Bridge and not far from Unique 2 sauna), Utopia Map, 399-3668. Gay-owned.


Cecil Street Market, Penang (c) by John Goss

    • Cecil Street Market (lunchtime hawker stalls) UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2015
        Lebuh Cecil (also known as 7th Ave by locals) at Lebuh McNair, Utopia Map. This traditional open air wet market has, at its Lebuh McNair side, several dozen lunchtime hawker stalls selling traditional foods, drinks, baked goods and sweets. Cheap and easy to try a wide variety of Penang specialties.
    • Eastern and Oriental Hotel UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2013
        10 Farquhar St, Utopia Map. Enjoy a classic high tea on Sun afternoon at one of Asia's grandest colonial-era hotels. Perfect finger sandwiches (salmon, beef and cucumber), proper scones, and sweets. Losing some of it's shine: as of 2013, no more free flow of tea treats, no more fig jam, and the authentic clotted cream has been wrong-headedly replaced with plain, old whipped cream. Bring your guidebook to Penang (and your iPod stocked with songs by onetime guest Noel Coward) and spend an afternoon at leisure.
    • Kedai Makanan Song River (Song River Café) (hawker center) UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2014
        In the middle of Gurney Drive, Utopia Map. This humble seaside hawker center is crowded with diners in the evening - always a good sign. Here you will find a dozen kiosks under one roof, dishing up excellent local food including char koay teow, otak-otak, fried oysters and satay sticks.
    • Kheng Pin (local food and drinks) UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2015
        Jln Penang, on the corner opposite White House Hotel, one block away from Cititel Hotel, Utopia Map. Foodie Alert! This unpretentious open-air eatery serves up local specialties for breakfast and dinner, including perhaps the perfect version of Penang's most famous street food dish - char kuay teow (see pic below) - chewy rice noodles with seafood. Try also the won ton noodles, kuay teow th'ng, iced white coffee or a frosty lime juice.
char kway teow, Penang (c) by John Goss

    • kissA Koyotei (Japanese) UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2014
        148 Jln Hutton, Utopia Map, 226-6272. The aliens from Planet Japan have landed in Penang. Orange Christmas trees and "gothic-loli" (gothic Lolita) waitresses in OTT lacey French maid outfits. Now serving Penangites a Hello Kitti combo of "Japanese cuisine, espresso, liquor, and sweets." Yaranaika!
    • Little Kitchen at Birds Nests Heaven (Peranakan cuisine) UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2015
        179 Lebuh Noordin, Utopia Map, 261-6731. If you feel like you're dining in someone's front parlor it's because you are! Dad takes your order, Mom and two Grandmas prepare in the kitchen, and Grandpa serves and refills your drinks. Homemade Nyonya-Baba dishes. Small portions so you can try a lot of different things. Very reasonable prices. Colorful sweets and pickles come as starters. The walls are lined with examples of many varieties of bird nests (for knowledge, not eating). This is why we love Penang so much.

      Mews Kafe (local specialties and international) UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2015
        77 Muntri St, Utopia Map, 263-5125, email. Gay and lesbian-friendly Mews Kafe is generally busy with in-the-know locals who appreciate the freshly homemade faire, including daily specials (when we visited they had a Nyonya Baba bento box with exquisite Peranakan specialties and spiced Sri Lankan soft shell crab on linguini). A smile-inducing selection of Asian inspired desserts, such as the famous sago gula melaka (tapioca pearls, coconut cream and palm sugar sauce) or a woven basket from which a variety of fresh nyonya kuih (chewy rice and coconut puddings in a rainbow of textures and colors) may be sampled. Their cappucino, served in a broad, Chinese blue and white porcelain bowl, is the best we've EVER had. Specialty teas include icy tropical fruit infusions or pots of steeping lemongrass or ginger. Friendly staff are LGBT.

    • Ming Xiang Tai (bakery) UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2014
        133 Jln Burma, Utopia Map, 227-9880. Delicious local baked specialties like egg custard tarts, coconut puffs, pork-less barbecue crispy buns, and traditional local baked treats and drinks.
    • Nyonya Baba Cuisine (Peranakan cuisine) UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2014
        44 Nagore Rd, Utopia Map, 227-8035. Foodie alert! Famous locally for its authentic nyonya baba ethnic dishes. The owner cooks with the freshest ingredients at hand and her Auntie helps with service to the four big round tables in the front room of this classic old Penang home. They'll be happy to recommend favorites from the menu, but be sure to try the "Capitan chicken curry" with its surprising crunchy texture from fried shallots and otak-otak banana-leaf steamed savory seafood soufflé.
    • Perut Rumah (Peranakan cuisine) UTOPIAN VERIFIED AUG 2014
        17 Jln Kelawei, Utopia Map, 227-9917. Foodie Alert! Gay-owned and specializing in nyonya baba specialties, all prepared the old fashioned way and served in a restored, 100-year-old Art Deco-styled mansion. Items do run out as nothing is made in mass quatitities. Some dishes are begun the night before while others take several days to complete. 70 dishes to select from including Kari Kapitan (chicken curry), otak-otak (seafood soufflé), perut ikan (fish maw stewed in tamarind juice), roti baba (fried pork sandwich) and bee koh moy (black glutinous rice with coconut milk). Open 11am-10:30pm.
    • Roasted duck kopitiam (duck, pork, and chicken on rice) UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2013
        Corner of Lebuh Carnarvon and Jln Cheong Fatt Tse, Utopia Map. Foodie alert! Lunch time only. Go around 1:30pm, after lunch rush, or you may have to wait up to an hour at this famous food stall in an old fashioned open air kopitiam (coffee shop). The Uncle who carves the roasted duck, pork or chicken works non-stop for 3 hours with his giant cleaver, creating heaping plates of succulent meat that you dip in sweet or spicy sauce and eat with rice. Incredibly, for Asia, everything on the plate is edible (hardly a single bone) and nothing goes to waste - the bottom of the plate is filled with even the tiniest morsels of unctuousness. Enjoy with an icey cold mug of their wonderful herbal iced drink, almond susu (milk), or nutmeg juice.
    • Suffolk House UTOPIAN VERIFIED AUG 2014
        250 Jln Air Itam, Utopia Map, 228-1109. Tea, lunch or dinner at this restored, historic colonial mansion is a must. Great for a lazy afternoon of conversation. Waiters are gay-friendly.
    • That Little Wine Bar (mixed) UTOPIAN VERIFIED AUG 2014, UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2013

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