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|Travel & Resources: MALAYSIA
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Advisory: Gay life in Malaysia, as in other Asian countries, is blossoming despite conservative religion-based discrimination and outdated colonial-era laws. Former Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, was famously removed from office by a trumped-up sodomy conviction that was reversed by Malaysia's high court in 2004. Muslims, both local and visitors, are also subject to religious law which may (though rarely does) punish gay or lesbian sexual activity with flogging and male transvestism with imprisonment. Even though religious law does not apply to non-Muslims, Islam is the state religion under Malaysia's constitution and thus homosexual citizens face official discrimination. Police may arrest any person (Muslim or not) for sex in a public place (i.e. cruise spots), so visitors are well-advised to respect Malaysian law and customs while they are guests in the country. Having said that, police generally have not detained foreigners during raids on local gay businesses, focusing instead on ethnic Malay customers, almost 100% of whom are considered Muslim at birth by law.
Malaysia Listings by City:
Other cities and provinces are listed below...
Malaysia will no doubt surprise you. This multi-cultural nation, largely populated by moderate Muslims and fiercely intolerant of being bullied by western powers, is filled with charm, nature, culture, and warm hospitality. Remarkably, it also has a thriving gay scene (perhaps Southeast Asia’s most exciting) which, while still mostly underground, is basically tolerated by the live-and-let-live attitude of its people.
Yes, the country was once lead by a cranky homophobe, Mahathir Mohamad, who infamously ousted his one-time protégé, Anwar Ibrahim, on trumped-up sodomy charges, despicably wielding antique colonial buggery laws to do so.
Times change. Homohaters and dictators are relegated to the dust bin these days. Anwar’s groundless conviction was overturned by Malaysia’s high court in 2004. Mahatir’s daughter, Marina, works tirelessly behind the scenes to support AIDS/HIV education, including championing efforts by Malaysian GLBT health worker heroes.
Malaysia is thriving under the fresh air of tolerance and democracy. Straight-owned venues openly cultivate custom from the gay community, while homosexual entrepreneurs launch trendy businesses and mini-utopias of their own.
Conversations with locals are delightfully candid. Educated and pragmatic, the younger generation takes a practical point of view towards the special challenges of their rainbow society. As one highly-placed official told us: as a gay Muslim he just takes the hurdles of life one day at a time
The country remains wonderfully undiscovered by a majority of travelers. That should really change. Beyond Kuala Lumpur, there is much to delight shoppers, history buffs, foodies and adventurers, especially in smaller cities like Melaka, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, and Penang.
Malaysia is divided into two parts geograpically, the Penisular (West Malaysia) and Borneo (East Malaysia). There are 11 states in West Malaysia (Perlis, Kedah, Pulau Pinang (Penang), Perak, Sekangor, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka (Malacca), Johor, Phang, Kelantan and Trengganu. East Malaysia is comprised of Sabah and Sarawak.
- Being Gay in Malaysia a special audio report by BBC World Service
- Lesbian listings
- Malaysia Gay & Lesbian News
- Malaysia Gay Scene Updates message forum
- Men in Malaysia message forum
- Travel in Malaysia message forum
- Additional Links and Resources
Malaysia AIDS/HIV organizations and information
LPG (Leadership Programme Graduates)
Email. A non-profit social group, operating for more than 4 years, based in Kuala Lumpur and comprised of graduates of a leadership program that is committed to improving the quality of life for Malaysian PLUs. Regular social events are open to all walks of life regardless of race, language, occupation background or sexual orientation. Monthly social activities are healthy and fun, positive and meaningful: local and overseas trips, jungle trekking, karaoke competitions, day trip outings, movie outings, sports activities, and community service.
P T Foundation|
7C-2, Jln Ipoh Kechil (off Jln Raja Laut), (60-3) 404-44611 FAX 404-44622, email. Confidential telephone counseling and information on HIV/AIDS and sexuality: (60-3) 4044-5455, 4044-5466 (19:30-21:30 Mon-Fri). A volunteer, non-profit, NGO involved in community-based work on sexuality and AIDS. Formed in 1987 by a group of concerned gay men in Kuala Lumpur, it provides counseling and support to individuals dealing with issues around homosexuality. Its also runs AIDS prevention and support programs for gay men and women, mak nyah (transgender), sex workers, drug users and People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). Pink Triangle Foundation was the winner of a 2001 Utopia Award.
Email. Gay-owned travel service offering customized holidays for GLBT travelers looking for an authentic Sabahan experience in Malaysian Borneo. They promote responsible tourism while providing opportunities to re-discover nature at its best along with the rich, native tradition and culture through their village-stay and home-stay programs. They are able to design a wide range of itineraries focusing on Sabah's fascinating landscapes, diverse wildlife and nature, plus fascinating indigenous communities to suite all interests and budgets. Utopia Member Discount
+60-1-7668-8436, email. Gay-owned personal tours, especially in KL, Melaka, Penang, Port Dickson and Kuantan. ONe-to-one travel guides or groups of not more than 10. Visit places that will bring you lasting memories. Welcome to Malaysia...Truly GayAsia. Utopia Member Discount
ALOR STAR (Kedah)
Alor Star is the capital of Kedah and one of the oldest towns in the region, founded in 1735. The population is over 200,000 (that's about 8,000 Utopians).
- Bidara Pool
Next to the KFC in Jln Stadium. PLUs mostly swim during the evening sessions (5:30-9pm), Mon, Tue and Thu. The changing room is very busy from 7:30pm to closing time.
- Hospital Alor Setar Car Park
A quite garden that doubles up as car park. From stadium/Merdeka garden, it is only 3 minutes walk, diagonally across the big roundabout. Very close to hospital car park area. Be discreet. Quite a busy place nightly after dark.
- Merdeka Garden
Just in front of the stadium. Nightly. PLUs gather by the roadside, near the benches. Cruise in the garden for more opportunities. Be discreet.
- Shopping Centers
- City Point(old wing) G/F.
- Sentosa, 1/F and 2/F facilities.
- Star Parade, G/F facility.
- Stadium Darul Aman
Nightly. PLUs gather near the entrance to the Maksak gym, facing Merdeka Garden. Beware of kaki paw. Be discreet.
The population of Bintulu is over 110,000 (that's about 5,000 Utopians).
- Parkcity Hotel Pub (mixed)
- City Point Shopping Center
Click here for Genting Highlands hotels and accommodations.
IPOH (Perak) -- area code (60-5)
Ipoh is the capital city of Perak, under two hours drive from Kuala Lumpur and almost halfway between KL and Penang. It is famous for its delicious traditional foods, fruit farms, limestone caves and good-looking people (with clear complexions they credit to the spring waters from the limestone hills). Uptown and Old Town are treasure troves of colonial era civic buildings, traditional Chinese shophouses, art deco buildings and mid-century influences. Surrounded by towering limestone karsts, similar to those in Pangnga Bay, Thailand and Halong Bay, Vietnam, Ipoh is a lush haven for nature lovers and bird-watchers.
With its small town ambience, local gays connect by Internet (Gay Romeo, etc.) rather than risk being outed in public, so while Ipoh is lacking an open gay scene, it is long on charm and simple pleasures.
Ipoh is the second largest city in Malaysia, with a population nearing 750,000 (that's about 30,000 Utopians). It is the second largest ethnic Chinese urban center of the nation.
- DMAN Male Massage
1/F 94-A Jln Raja Ekram, 012-517-7677, 016-203-5123, email. Located in a discreet shophouse in the town center, in the first row of shops in front of RegaLodge Hotel. The one and only gay-owned and managed business in Ipoh. Quiet ambience with 9 individual massage rooms and a selection of Malay and Chinese masseurs on hand from Ipoh and neighboring villages. Quality, full-body massage. Clean and well-kept. Very reasonable prices! Outcall also available. Utopia Member Discount
- Birch Memorial Clock Tower, Old Town and surrounding car park. Mostly late at night after the nearby food center closes. Stretches down to the double storey car park below.
- Garden in front of Ipoh Railway Station, around and near the fountain. Very cruisy after 8pm until morning, especially holidays.
- Ipoh Club Padang in front of St Michael School.
- JUSCO Ipoh
2 Jln Teh Lean Swee. Shopping center is cruisy on weekends and during public holidays.
- Kinta Riverside
A public pathway with trees and shrubs planted alongside the river. There are seats and benches where you can wait. Active at night and cruisy during weekends and eves of public holidays.
- The swimming pool at the Ipoh Stadium has gay cruisers.
Ipoh abounds in traditional edible specialties - chicken baked in chests of hot salt, fat bean sprouts plumped by cool mineral water from the hills, smooth-as-silk hor hee noodles, dark and chewy "white coffee" on ice, savory claypot rice - and everyone you ask will have there own favorite places to find them.
Paramount among the many foodgasms are coconut broth "curry noodles" and a sublime secret dipping sauce served in two locations (just ask anyone for directions), one by a brother and the other by his sister. If you are not seated at a table in the brother's shop by 8:30am, expect a long wait to be served or - worse - that they'll be out of one or the other of the fresh made dishes. Just ask anyone for directions.
Another local specialty are heong peng (fragrant pastries) - crispy layers of coconut-scented dough filled with a sweet and gooey malted filling. Although they are sold everywhere around town, try to visit one of the few remaining homes where these puffs are hand made in large ceramic kilns heated by burning coconut husks.
- Friends Café
Ipoh Garden East. Reportedly a hang-out.
Comments from Utopians:
"Burps & Giggles in Ipoh old town area was a pleasant surprise. The brainchild of Julie Soong (the peeps behind Indulgence), this restaurant serves big city quality in a very indie sort of vibe. On weekends - nice mixed crowd. Mostly Chinese - many from KL and Singapore." -- Monroe, Dec 25, 2012
El Fondo UTOPIA VERIFIED OCT 2013
11 Jln Lau Ek Ching, 226-3979, email. Gay and lesbian-friendly healthcare and relaxing place with sauna and spa facilities for both genders in separate sections. Clean, creative and artistic interior and sauna, cooling pool and showers. Gay-friendly hours are Tur-Thu 5-10pm and Fri-Sun 5-11pm. New to Ipoh city and need some local information? Just ask the staff in charge. Utopia Member Discount
JOHOR BAHRU -- area code (60-7)
KOTA KINABALU (Sabah) -- (60-88)
KUALA LUMPUR -- area code (60-3)
Kuantan, capital of Malaysia's largest state, has a population approaching 400,000 (that means there are about 16,000 Utopians here).
- Men in Kuantan message forum
I Yang Male Massage UTOPIA VERIFIED MAY 2013
016-686-2666, email. Gay-managed massage for men. More than 25 handsome male massseurs for you to choose from, aged 18-35yo. 24-hour outcall to home or hotel. Utopia Member Discount
OTISKU Massage UTOPIA VERIFIED MAR 2013
018-251-9427, email. Gay-friendly male outcall massage from a young, traditional masseur. Full body, head, shoulder and head massage. Incall and outcall massage. Utopia Member Discount
- Berjaya Mega Mall, 2/F facilities
- Kuantan Parade, 2/F facilities near the game center. UTOPIA VERIFIED MAR 2013
- Teluk Cempedak beach in the evenings and is a good place to relax and for locals and visitors to mix. Also, the washroom can be a little cruisy for eye candy. UTOPIA VERIFIED MAR 2013
Comments from Utopians:
"Sunday morning market at Taman Kerang sells many tools, such as pumps, and traditional pills. Also they offer foot reflexology, and all the stalls are gay friendly." -- Charlie, Mar 2, 2013
LANGKAWI / PULAU LANGKAWI (Kedah) -- area code (60-4)
MELAKA / MALACCA -- area code (60-6)
Melaka is one of Malaysia's national treasures, though it hardly looks as though the government cares much to preserve this historic and colorful heritage gem. Just two hours drive from Kuala Lumpur, gay tourists who love food, culture, history and shopping should add this city to their itineraries.
Birthplace of Maylaya, home to immigrants from India and China, origin of Peranakan culture, coveted trading post of Muslim traders, the Portuguese, the Dutch and British; this old port city is a living museum of all of these influences. From the Dutch Stadhaus civic center, now a museum; to the jam-packed streets of Nyonya and Baba shophouses; to the Hindu temple, mosque and Chinese temple that co-exist right next to each other -- Malaka is tropical, enchanting, and resilient.
The population of Melaka is over 600,000 (that's 24,000 Utopians).
- Men in Melaka / Malacca message forum
Located near Geographer Café. It is very crowded on Sat nights when gay people hang out here.
- Geographer Café (mixed)
83 Jln Hang Jebat (Jonker Walk, see map), 012-381-3683. Not particularly gay, but all of Melaka's visiting gays seem to pass through this popular night spot at one time or another during their stay.
- Libra (mixed)
15 Jln Hang Lekir, 281-8819, 281-8820. Restaurant and cocktail lounge especially popular with women. Tomboy staff and lesbian-friendly management.
- Pure Bar (mixed)
591-A Taman Melaka Raya. This former gay-friendly gusethouse has morphed into Melaka's funkiest nightclub! Still warmly welcoming local and visiting gays and lesbians.
The Orangutan House|
59 Lorong Hang Jebat (main gallery); 96 Heeren St; and 12 Jln Hang Jebat, 282-6872. Three branches (see map) of this artist's funky gallery and t-shirt shops are located in Old Town. Original paintings and witty slogans adorn the walls.
- Massa Sutra, The Art of Massage
20 Jln Kubu, 286-0020, email. Gay-friendly massage academy and boutique spa offering massage treatments as well as 3/5 day intensive massage courses. Located in the World Heritage area of Chinatown Melaka. Utopia Member Discount
- Samudra Massage
Taman Limbongan Indah, 016-211-9559, email. Gay-owned service provides man-to-man full body massage, body scrub and body mask by mature therapists.
- Melaka Central Bus Station facilities.
- Swimming pool. If you are on Jonkers St, cross the river and turn right. Then walk along the foot of the hill for around 200m, and the police station will be on your right. Keep walking, and next will be a swimming pool.
- Bert's Garden (Malaysian and seafood)
2078-C Jln Kg. Pinang, Tanjung Kling, 315-2213 (after 3pm), 013-683-6633. Excellent local specialties and fresh seafood at this seaside garden restaurant, just north of town on the stretch of classic and deco seaside mansions of Melaka's old money millionaires. Try the otat-otat, tiny fish soufflés steamed in folded palm leaves. Open daily from 5pm-12:30am.
- Best Café (Nyonya Baba cuisine)
13 Lorong Hang Jebat (see map), 282-7682. Authentic local specialties in this unpresuming streetside café. The friendly owners out you right at ease. Locals recommend the Devil's Curry, a hearty stew of chicken, potatoes and vegetables. How about a plate of aromatic, marinated saté sticks?
- Dutch Harbour Café
39 Jln Laksamana, Riverside, Utopia Map, 283-7606, email. Gay and lesbian-friendly restaurant serving a mixture of western and Southeast Asian foods. Specialties include pizza, coffees and fresh fruit drinks. Three areas to dine in: an historic main room, a garden courtyard or tables by the riverside. Young and talented waiters speak excellent English and are happy to serve. Utopia Member Discount
An intentionally under-the-radar sauna exists with no sign in front and zero online or offline advertising. Two floors, steam, dark room, TV room, Net, rest area, outdoor deck area. Fairly busy on the weekends. Mixed ages. Check with local PLU to obtain directions to this low-key, non-advertized sauna. UTOPIAN VERIFIED JUL 2012
The population of Miri is 180,000 (that's over 7,000 Utopians).
- Cherries Berries (mixed)
Pelita Commercial Center (near the Grand Palace Hotel).
- Bintang Plaza
- Imperial Mall
G/F facilities. Beware of pickpockets.
PENANG -- area code (60-4)
PETALING JAYA (Selangor) -- area code (60-3)
The population of Petaling Jaya is approaching half a million (that's 20,000 Utopians).
- Men in Petaling Jaya
Click here for Petaling Jaya listings (combined with Kuala Lumpur and Klang Valley).
The population of Sandakan is 300,000 (that's 12,000 Utopians).
- Sabah Hotel
Gym and poolside get very Cruisy after work (5-8pm). Favorite meeting place for locals and foreigners. Check out the sauna and steam room!
- 7 Heaven (dessert parlour)
Bandar Indah, Mile 4 (behind Parkwell supermarket). Gay friendly staff and lots of PLUs and gorgeous people hanging out, especially at night.
Selangor City (Selangor)
- The sauna at Thai Spa (opposite RH Hotel) is cruisy. Be discreet as it has a mixed crowd. UTOPIAN VERIFIED JAN 2012
SUBANG JAYA (Selangor) -- area code (60-3)
The population of Subang Jaya is approaching half a million (that's 20,000 Utopians).
Click here for Subang Jaya listings (combined with Kuala Lumpur and Klang Valley).
SUNGAI PETANI (Kedah)
The population of Sungai Petani is over 150,000 (that's more than 6,000 Utopians).
- This is a university town: UUM,UiTM,PTPL, etc. The schools are where PLU's get their source of hot jocks and cute guys.
- Central Square, the most popular mall, has some (not lots) of action on each facility of its 5 floors. Lots of cruising around the top floors since most of the stud dudes are either bowling, watching movies, doing their karaoke, chatting or just roaming popular bookstores.
- The park just near the town's public library is a meeting place for PLU's, however it's not advisable to go alone at night.
The population of Tawau is about a quarter million (that's 10,000 Utopians).
Fajar complex. Friendly staff in this local bar that welcomes gays and lesbians and flies the rainbow colors.
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Party animals at the Shanghai Pride 2013 Closing Party.