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Lesbian Resources: MALAYSIA

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General Information

    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.

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KUALA LUMPUR -- area code (60-3)

General Information

    KL is a modest little city on steroids, with muscular architectural monuments and traffic jams that feel out of proportion to its winding, tree lined streets and village-like neighborhoods. Colorful and chaotic, it retains a vitality that neighboring Singapore nearly polished away in its own efforts to become Asia's Tomorrowland. But it's KL that feels like a themepark in progress. Here, you may ramble through a traditional Malay kampong in the shadow of the show-stopping twin towers; or ride the cute monorail that offers first-time visitors vistas of both construction sites and destruction sites. Half of Chinatown has been turned into a uglified pedestrian mall that feels like anywhere but Chinatown, while old and crumbling heritage shophouses nearby that were (thankfully) overlooked by civic planners still house traditional businesses that ooze with charm of days gone by. Modern, yet hand-me-down; confident, yet uptight; Asian tiger, yet conservatively colonial; butch, yet nelly: KL is the fascinating love child of visionary nation-maker Dr. Mahathir and his Mr. Hyde ego.

    Gay life in the capitol is widespread and surprisingly sophisticated, but still largely underground due to lingering antique British colonial law and Islamic disapproval. Mainstream businesses now openly cultivate gay and lesbian customers who loyally dispense pink ringgit at the growing number of mixed venues that welcome them. Gay or lesbian nights at straight clubs are common. And, of course, the Internet is the medium of choice for the discreet and closeted.

    The population of Kuala Lumpur is about 1.5 million people (that's 60,000 Utopians just in the city proper). The Klang Valley, incorporating KL, Petaling Jaya, Subang Jaya, Putrajaya and Cyberjaya has a combined population of over 4 million (for a grand total of more than 160,000. Utopians).

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

click for our interactive map of Kuala Lumpur


Popular Spots


Accommodations

      Click here for Kuala Lumpur hotels and accommodations.


Bars and Clubs

      BUKIT BINTANG / KL CITY CENTER

      Bukit Bintang is jammed with bustling shopping centers, restaurants and many of KL's popular hotels which are right in the center of the action. The neighborhood is easy to navigate using our Utopia maps:

click for our interactive map of Bukit Bintang


      CENTRAL MARKET / CHINATOWN / PUDURAYA

    • Doppel Art+Muzik Kafe+Shoppe
        Lot 2.04 Mezzanine Fl, Central Market Annexe, Jln Hang Kasturi (the old Liquid Bar). SOFA parties every Wed for women.


      PETALING JAYA

    • Charleston Pub
        Sunway Lagoon Club, 3 Jln Lagoon Timur, 5639-8600, 5639-8617, email. A friendly neighborhood pub, where the beers are cold and the people are warm. Local live bands. Sit back, relax and be mesmerized. Decorated with retro, classic and vintage art picture frames. Gay and lesbian-friendly. Utopia Member Discount


      OTHER AREAS

    • Words Chat UTOPIAN VERIFIED OCT 2011
        Jln Manis in Taan Segar, 142-956-117. Friendly LGBT place with female owner and staff. Go for a meal (food is okay, not great) or a drink. It's mixed, but majority women. Sometimes they have a special events night.


Discos

      CENTRAL MARKET / CHINATOWN / PUDURAYA

    • MarketPlace
        4A, Jln Yap Kwan Seng, 2166-0752. Popular gay dance club on Sat nights. Cool view of Petronas Towers. Hot house beats. Rooftop chill-out space.


Restaurants and Cafes

      BUKIT BINTANG / KL CITY CENTER

    • Palate Palette Restaurant & Bar (international)
        21 Jln Mesui (see map, off Jln Nagasari), 2142-2148, 012-226-1237, FAX 2143-2148, email. This funky and colorful two-storey restaurant and bar is secretly tucked away between Changkat Bukit Bintang and Jln Raja Chulan. The inventive menu is packed with playful delights like "chicken lollipops" and "deconstructed carrot cake." Dine, drink or snooze (their garden patio was voted one of KL's best places to take a nap!) surrounded by quirky furniture and artful murals. Gay and lesbian-friendly. Closed Mon. Utopia Member Discount

      CHERAS

    • BJBS Café
        G/F 115 Jl 3/93, Taman Miharja Cheras. This cafe is a meeting and cruising point for local PLUs. Nice, friendly environment.
    • PLU Café (Asian cuisine with local flavors)
        68-0-4, Block H, Cheras Business Centre, Jln 5/101C (off Jln Kaskas), Jln Cheras, 9133-4566, email. Nearest taxi landmark is the Hotel Caliber. Facing the hotel, PLU Café is to the right in the same block, a few shops past One Pandan Leaf House. Gay-owned, staffed and G&L patronized restaurant. Funky modern design. Lots of fun food and drinks (try the specialty PLU Ocean fruit smoothie). Patrons are mostly young groups of friends, and nearly half the customers are GLBT.



LANGKAWI ISLAND, KEDAH -- area code (60-4)

General Information

    Langkawi is part of a group of one hundred islands, a little bit of paradise that is waiting to be discovered. The population is about 60,000 (that's about 2,500 Utopians). As one local Utopian reports, "Although it is very hard to locate us here at Langkawi, we are the PLU of Langkawi and we are very careful due to we are on an island and our parents and friends is here...so pandai pandai, lah."


Popular Spots

Accommodations

      Click here for Langkawi hotels and accommodations.


Discos

    • Enigma (mixed)
        Aseana Hotel
    • Ground Zero (mixed)
        Awana Porto Malai.


Meeting Places

    • Pantai Cenang
        A famous beach here, all types walk along the beach, including lesbians, especially after midnight. 10 minute walk from the Coco Jam Club.



MELAKA / MALACCA -- area code (60-6)

General Information

    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).


Popular Spots

    Melaka's Old Town heritage neighborhood is easy to navigate using our Utopia map:


Accommodations

Bars and Clubs

    • 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.



PENANG -- area code (60-4)

General Information

    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.

    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).

    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

Accommodations

Discos

    • China House (mixed) UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2014
        153 & 155 Lebuh Pantai (Beach St), Utopia Map, 263-7299. Second entrance at 183B Victoria St. This funky and modern entertainment and dining complex was created out of two traditional Chinese shophouses joined at their tail ends by a central, open-air garden. A thin space that runs a whole city block in length, it has become Penang's LGBT and hipster hangout. At the Lebuh Pantai entrance you have a coffee shop and adjacent restaurant. Don't miss the sensational home-made cakes! Keep walking and you'll arrive in the outdoor garden with bar seating and beyond that is a large bar with stage that gets packed with gays on weekends. Anchoring the crowd is soulful Malay trans-diva, Roz and her live jazzpop band. Don't miss a chance to catch one of her charismatic sets on Fri or Sat night if she's in town (she also performs in KL these days). Women take note: very handsome tomboy wait staff here!



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!

      BUTTERWORTH

    • 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.

      HISTORIC GEORGE TOWN / PENANG ISLAND

    • Cecil Street Market (lunchtime hawker stalls) UTOPIA VISITED JUN 2012
        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 JUN 2012
        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 with clotted cream and fig jam, cakes and tarts. Would you care for more, sir? No skimping here. Bring your guidebook to Penang (and your iPod stocked with songs by onetime guest Noel Coward) and spend an afternoon at leisure.
    • Mews Kafe (local specialties and international) UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2014
        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.
    • Kedai Makanan Song River (Song River Café)
        In the middle of Gurney Drive. This 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 2014
        Jln Penang, on the corner opposite White House Hotel, one block away from Cititel Hotel. 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 (chewy rice noodles with seafood). Try also the won ton noodles, kuay teow th'ng, iced white coffee or a frosty lime juice.
    • kissA Koyotei UTOPIAN 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?
    • 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.
    • Nyonya Kitchen at Birds Nests Heaven (Peranakan cuisine) UTOPIA VISITED JUN 2012
        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.
    • Perut Rumah (Peranakan cuisine) UTOPIAN VERIFIED JUN 2012
        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 2014
        Corner of Lebuh Carnarvon and Jln Cheong Fatt Tse, Utopia Map. Foodie alert! Lunch time only. Go around 11am or after 1pm or you may have to wait up to an hour during the lunchtime rush 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 sauce and eat with rice. Incredibly, for Asia, everything on the plate is edible (not 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 almond milk or nutmeg juice.
    • Sri Malaya Heritage Restaurant (western and Asian) UTOPIAN VERIFIED JUN 2012
        1 Jln Pintai Tali (off Chulia St), Utopia Map, 261-3763. Gay-owned restaurant in a beautifully restored shophouse. Closed Tue.
    • Suffolk House UTOPIA VERIFIED JUN 2012
        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.



TAWAU (Sabah)

General Information

    The population of Tawau is about a quarter million (that's 10,000 Utopians).


Popular Spots

Bars and Clubs

    • Code1069
        Fajar complex. Friendly staff in this local bar that welcomes gays and lesbians and flies the rainbow colors.




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