Previously one of Southeast Asia’s greatest trading ports, Melaka has slowly fallen off the global radar over the last 500 years.
An intriguing mix of colonial influences, Chinese + Indian traders and local Malay traditions – the world is just now waking up to the beautiful and ancient architecture of Melaka City which protected from development by it’s relevant obscurity over the year.
Since this sleepy backwater town was named a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2008 along with Penang, Melaka is once again booming as travellers make day trips from Kuala Lumpur – but sadly most miss the best parts of Melaka: the quiet streets lined with colonial buildings, boutique shops and cafes, world-famous Joker Street market and the mini street parties which take place late into the night.
Melaka is also becoming increasingly popular with gay and lesbian travellers but you will not find much of a gay scene here – and nothing as bizarre as in Kuala Lumpur, as crazy as Bangkok or as open as nearby Phuket. Malaysia is a Muslim majority country and in general has a low tolerance for homosexuality but in most tourist districts on Malaysia, it is more often the case of ‘gay is OK, just don’t use the word’. Better to visit for the delicious food, high quality spas, beautiful accommodation and sleepy-town-just-waking-up vibes.
Outright persecution of LGBT travellers in Melaka is very rare but discretion in public should defiantly be applied. Many Malaysians still hold conservative attitudes to any display of public affection – straight or gay – although people here are actually surprisingly open-minded, especially in more trendy, upscale areas.
As a general rule what gay people do in their own time in Malaysia is largely only an issue if you are a Malaysian politician or want to watch Beauty & The Beast. Sadly there is currently an increasing influence of conservative Islam on mainstream politics and culture in Malaysia – none of which should affect your average gay traveller,however.
Note: Malaysia retains a British colony era criminal ban on sodomy, poorly defined but includes both heterosexual and homosexual acts, with punishment ranging from fines to prison sentences of up to twenty years and even corporal punishment. Though this law is rarely if ever, applied to foreigners and should not discourage gay travelers from visiting Melaka it is worth reading up on LGBT rights in Malaysia.
Grindr, Scruff, and Tinder are the most popular hook-up app currently used by gay men in Melaka. Online censorship is a growing issue in Malaysia, and possession of any pornography is strictly banned in Malaysia. We strongly recommend you set up a high-quality VPN on your phone before you go to protect your privacy, to remain anonymous and to keep access to your favorite websites and apps.
Gay Melaka Guide: The Essential Guide To LGBT Travel In Melaka Malaysia
Because gay life in Melaka largely only occurs online, at night and/or behind closed doors many of the attractions in Melaka during the day gay travelers will want to see are the top attractions here anyway. All travelers in Melaka should take caution in less-developed areas with valuables and take taxi’s or ride share apps at night – and always listen to local advice when exploring.
Gay travelers in Melaka should take special care in terms of public displays of affection where many residents may be less exposed to LGBT culture and likely hold conservative attitudes…Although outright outrage is unlikely. Overall Melaka is very safe and a common-sense approach to travel will generally ensure you have no issues exploring this beautiful and diverse city.
One of the best tips we can give you for exploring Gay Melaka is to pre-order a travel SIM card for easy airport pickup and activation the moment you arrive so you will not pay a fortune in international roaming charges. Get restaurants recommendation and reservations on the fly, public transport instructions up to the minute, bar opening hours and if it is your thing – access to gay hook up apps to find out more about the local scene.
Mobile data is fast, cheap and available almost everywhere in Asia so it is no wonder most travelers chose to stay connected and to get off the beaten track (without ever worrying about getting lost). So why wait? Pre-order the best local SIM card now to have it waiting for you when you arrive.
Explore the UNESCO World Heritage landscape – There are too many historic buildings to list here but you can easily spend a day visiting them all. Not to be missed in the Christ Church the happening Stadthuys square outside and all the Banda Hill attractions.
Peranakan Food – While the food in Penang might be more famous, the food of Melaka is a unique blend of Chinese and Malay thanks to the 15th century Chinese immigrants who settled down and married local Malay ladies. You simply must try assam fish and otak-otak
Melaka Riverwalk – The Riverwalk in Melaka is one of the greatest parts of the city, and one of the most under-rated attractions. It’s quiet, passes through the heart of the city and is fronted by plenty of historic buildings and interesting cafes. The Melaka Riverwalk goes for miles so be sure to head out early or later in the day to avoid the worst of the sun during the day and to take in its serene vibes.
Jonker Street – The heart of Melaka city where everyone goes to experience great shopping, dining, and nightlife. It’s packed on Fridays and Saturdays thanks to its world-famous nightlife but we love hanging out at the Geographers Cafe any time, day or night, and watching the world go by.
The Huskitory – An adorable husky cafe which is worth the 15 minute trip from the city center. The best description is cuteness and chaos as 20 huskies run wild – and yes, they are always excited!
Kite Museum – Continuing the weird things to do in Malacca, this museum opened in 1995, displays all variety of kites on one floor of a beautiful 1960s building.
Masjid Selat – The famous floating mosque in Malaysia. This is the place to head for sunset with the Islamic prayers ring out behind you. Free to enter, please dress modesty – although they will happily give you extra garments to cover up.
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In Melaka you would be hard pressed to find an upscale hotel which had any issues with gay guests but discretion is advised still in this conservative society. Some Melaka hotels are more popular with queer travelers due to their location and inclusive environment or vibe, which are features here. Each hotel and area offer something very specific, so be sure to choose the right style and location to meet your needs.
Prices are cheap compared to North American and European hotels (thought quickly rising) and standards are high – so it’s a great place to splurge! Of course, there are also hundred’s more hotel and hostel options in Melaka if none of these suit your desired budget, facilities or area
DoubleTree by Hilton Melaka ☆☆☆☆☆ – An internationally renown chain that is actively seeking the Pink dollar, gay travellers in Malacca will be welcomed at the DoubleTree by Hilton Melaka. Beautifully appointed rooms and suites with views of the city or the Malacca Strait and a fabulous rooftop infinity pool and bar. Our favourite gay-friendly hotel in Melaka.
Casa del Rio Melaka ☆☆☆☆☆ – Who needs huge hotels when you can be relaxing riverside in the old town in this gorgeous boutique hotel. A delicious breakfast, beautiful rooms and a rooftop infinity pool with views to die for – and only a 1-minute walk from Jonker Street
Rosa Malacca ☆☆☆☆ – One of our reader’s favorite hotels in Melaka. A new contemporary-industrial hotel with good service, interesting design elements, and an Insta-worthy breakfast. The hotel is a 15 minute walk to the old town – but you might just end up handing in their too-cool-for-school lobby!
Swiss-Garden Hotel Melaka ☆☆☆☆ – A no-surprises hotel in a premium hotel. Two pools and views of Melaka from the in-house Sky Garden rooftop bar. The quality touches are lacking here, and they know it as its far cheaper than other hotels of this star rating.
Moty Hotel ☆☆☆☆ – While the lobby might be a bit over the top, and the exterior uninspired – the rooms are spacious and well designed, the price is perfect as are the thousands of the reviews.
Heritage City @ Malacca River 1 ☆☆☆☆ – Modern and clean apartments in a tall high-rise for those wanting a terrace and balcony/city views. Perfect for larger groups, families and those who want privacy.
Hotel Puri ☆☆☆ – A beautiful colonial heritage building lovingly restored and in a fabulous location in the Old Town. Extremely popular with gay Singaporeans heading up for the weekend.
Ringo’s Foyer Guest House ☆☆ – A retro-themed guesthouse and hostel just off Melaka’s Jonker Street. They have private and dormitory rooms and plenty of liberal travellers – so if you want travelling solo, on a budget or want to meet up with other travellers before heading out then this is the place to stay!
Gay Hangouts and Gay Bars in Melaka
While gay life in Melaka may be subdued during the day, at night behind closed doors there is a small but thriving gay scene where locals and foreigners come together. Sadly there is no such thing as an openly gay bar in Malaysia – this could lead to serious problems for the bars owners including having licence being revoked. There is only one openly ‘gay friendly bar in Melaka’ but of course there are other places in Melaka that are well-known in the local LGBT community as ‘hangout’ spots.
Far more subtle than Kuala Lumpur (whose gay bars really push barriers) – but also without the police raids every few months or years – things can get crazy here and what better way could there be to get to know the locals than in Melaka gay bar! Head to Jokers Street to get a sense of all the bars where or try to make friends with a local on a gay hook-up app before hand to get information on whats happening on the night you are heading out – you never know what you might get invited too! Just don’t forget your common sense.
BarLacca Lounge -The first gay friendly bar in Malacca City. Well at least the first to public declare this. Small and cute on the edge of the old town, there is a nice open air area to relax with a nice view of the Malacca River or karaoke later in the evening.
Geographer Cafe – A cafe popular with tourists and locals in the heart of buzzing Jonker Street. Cheap drinks, great people watching and always a nice flow of people. Lots of cute guys tend to hang out here and tables are close together so just pop you head over and say hi!
Reggae on the River – A chilled spot by the river with cheap drinks and plenty of chatter. A good mix of people here, but like most places in Melaka you will have to get your gaydar out and maybe strike up a few conversations.
Alto Sky Lounge – For when you don’t want to slum it with the common folk! Housed on the 22nd level of Hatten Hotel Melaka, Alto Sky Lounge has a stunning panoramic views of Malacca city, delicious cocktails and live music. While it is gay popular, we think it’s better saved for a romantic evening with your loved one.
Mixx Club – The biggest and best nightclub in Malacca. Held in an industrial warehouse with neon lights and International DJ acts this is defiantly a hetero-zone, but we promise you that you can find other queers here and plenty of young, liberal partiers dancing the night away.
Gay Spas and Male Massage in Melaka
If you don’t care about the sites in Gay Melaka? You should try take advantage of some insanely cheap and high-quality spas here or why not get a man massage in Melaka. Here are just a few of the best options for you. Just remember in Malaysia you will never find the word ‘gay’ used, but most massage places are gay-friendly and if you ask in advance can organize a male masseur for you. Here are some of the top recommended ‘gay’ spas and male massages in Melaka options!
Spa Village @ The Majestic Malacca – The most luxurious and high quality spa experience possible in Malacca. This is the world’s only spa to base its therapies on the healing heritage of Peranakan culture – a unique combination of Chinese and Malay influences. Spread across the two levels at prestigious Majestic Hotel Malacca, the rich heritage is reflected not only through the therapies but also within the architecture, which provides an environment designed to capture the essence of the location.
Scents & Senses – The most popular massage option in Melaka with a clean, well-designed interior, high quality and skilled Thai massages.
Satkara Spa – From head to two focussed on you. Low prices and relatively new on the third floor. We loved their massage, facial and body packages, liberal use of cinnamon bark and their sea salt scrub!
Gay Saunas in Melaka
Saunas and bathhouses in Melaka don’t last long because they seem to get raided by police as soon as they open – and sadly there are no gay sauna in Melaka currently open (but plenty in nearby Kuala Lumpur). If you have any more information to add after you explore the limited Melaka gay scene please let us know and we will include here!
Gay life in Malaysia is forced into the shadows and gay hook-up apps are a popular way of meeting – although as a foreigner you will generally be expected to host so you might want to consider your own private apartment in Melaka.
We highly recommend staying with a gay local in Melaka who can help you navigate the often confusing gay Melaka scene and point you in the right direction! Cruising / public sex is illegal in Malaysia and often snuffed out by local police.