Got a tinder date in Penang, Malaysia? Or anything romantic for that matter… Look no further. I fell in love with the charm of Penang and came to recognize that its date-worthiness is very underrated. With its pretty rainbow buildings dating back to the 19th century and endless archways, Penang is PERFECT for romantic walks and is full of date spots.
Not in Penang? Check out more Date Spots around the globe here.
Picking a place to go is hard work though There are endless reviews of hundreds of great restaurants and bars, but which ones are date spots? Don’t worry, I’ve prowled the pavements to compile the ultimate list of awesome date spots. Every single one is rated by me as above 4/5 on my personal romance meter. Now all you need to do is get your romance on ;).
*A note on prices: 1 USD = RM 4.3 at the time I’m writing this.
So you agree to meet at 8pm and you’re hungry. Forget walking round aimlessly and settling on the first place you get to – try one of these bad boys to set the mood.
Part 1 of the date: Best date spots to eat in
1. Beach Blanket Babylon
Vibe: Relaxing, tranquil and yeah, romantic. A seaside terrace set in a 1920’s Italian villa serves as a beach bar and restaurant. There’s lots of comfortable seating with white curtains blowing in the breeze or you could sit on metal chairs right by the harbour where people go fishing. Further in, there are also some fancy looking private dining rooms for ‘Thirty Two at the Mansion’ for more formal occasions – they have great looking but more pricey set menus.
Food: Asian-Western fusion, local favourites, nice set lunch, interesting looking snacks
Price: $$ – I got a Penang Char Koay Teow for RM 19.
Romance Meter: 4.3/5 – Let the sea breeze bring the romance…
Location: 32, Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, George Town, 10200 George Town, Penang
Vibe: Edgy, artsy and rebellious. 3 heritage buildings have been converted into a restaurant, complete with a bar, live music on weekends, an art gallery and a shop. Surrealist paintings, sculptures, mirrors, slogans, even upside-down chairs and hanging shirts (part of the exhibition at the time I visited) make up the eye candy, so there will be plenty to stare at and talk about.
Only downside is that it gets crazy busy in the evenings, because it’s the place everyone recommends, so waiters are rushed off their feet and there’s a waiting list of around 10 minutes (not too long). Service is good though and the hipster waiters are very efficient.
Food: Asian-Western fusion, a daily changing bento box, loads of cakes and yummy juices
Price: $$ – $$$ – Can get a Big Breakfast (if you’re hungry on that date…) for RM 32
Romance Meter: 4.1/5 – lots of art to talk about
Location: 153 & 155 Beach Street, 183B Victoria Street, 10300 George Town, Penang
3. Chulia Street
Vibe: Two words – Hawker food. Penang is full of street food stalls and food courts, but Chulia Street is the best place to get a bite of the action. Casual, adventurous, loads of action to see and people watching to do from the amazing shitty plastic chairs that are a staple of street food in Asia. And in my opinion, a date who can’t stomach street food rings major alarm bells…
Food: Loads –
Wan Tan Mee: Opaque, thin egg noodles in soup stock with wan tan (dumplings) and cha siu (barbecued pork). This stall has the longest queue and deservedly so – the noodles are delish. I also had spring rolls and my fave dessert ice kacang. There’s a huge variety of more yummy and cheap stuff to try.
Price: $ A plate of Wan Tan Mee set me back just RM 4.50. Got an ice kacang after for RM 2.
Romance Meter: 4.1/5 – for a fun, adventurous and laidback start
Location: Lebuh Chulia, between Lorong Love and Lorong Sechchuan, George Town, Penang
4. The Book Sandwich Café
Vibe: Romance in Paris. Little candles, gilded lamps lit softly, bookshelves, French music and a very selfie-worthy golden sofa – this place screams ‘DATE SPOT’ and I’m 95% sure your date will say something about how nice the atmosphere is here. It’s cozy enough not to be formal.
Food: Classy burgers, sandwiches, pasta, steak
Price: $$ – $$$ – Expect a decent meal to be between RM 20-30. I got a prawn pesto pasta for RM 25.80
Romance Meter: 4.3/5 – classic romance in the air
Location: 205, Lebuh Pantai, George Town, 10300 George Town, Penang
5. Il Bacaro
Vibe: *Italian accent* “You can’t go wrong with Italiano”. When you walk in, the Italian manager greets you and staff are friendly, setting a nice atmosphere. Inside, soft Italian music plays and the pictures and décor exude old-school Venetian charm.
Food: Really good quality Italian – no oily takeaways here. You can tell their ingredients are fresh. When I went there, I had already eaten (after a long day of dating myself to find the best date spots) so I simply ordered a bruschetta. What I got was two generous portions of toasted fresh bread piled high with creamy mozzarella, flavoursome olives and sweet diced tomatoes. If that’s their bruschetta, you know the pizza will be damn good.
Price: $$ – $$$ Pizzas range from RM 24 (Margarita) to RM 59 (Calzone Farcito – has duck bacon in it…)
Romance Meter: 4.1/5 – Take a break from street food with this great high-end Italian job.
Location: 106 Campbell Street, George Town, Penang
So you’ve eaten, the conversation is flowing and the atmosphere of the date spot you’ve chosen has worked a charm (you’re welcome) – so now it’s time to grab a drink. Where? Aha! let me work my date magic once more…
Part 2 of the date: Best date spots to drink in
6. Three Sixty Revolving Restaurant Skybar
Vibe: Chic and sophisticated – A nice selection of cocktails and probably the best view of Penang in an outdoor bar at the top of the Bayview hotel; an great way to wind down after dinner with a gentle breeze. There’s also a revolving restaurant serving Malaysian cuisine inside that moves 360° per hour from 7pm-10pm –that’s just made for watching a romantic sunset, right? Restaurant may be a teeny bit formal for a first date though (I #travelate and so usually take a rucksack rather than a handbag to dates…. Yeah, yeah I know).
Drinks: About 20 interesting looking cocktails, wine, mocktails, spirits. The Papaya mojito was refreshing.
Price: $$ – $$$ – cocktails ranged from RM 36-45
Romance Meter: 4.2/5 – classic cosmopolitan sophistication and a beautiful view of the city.
Location: Bayview Hotel Georgetown, 25A Farquhar Street, George Town, Penang
7. Georgetown Wines
Vibe: You’ve dined, now be wined… An elegant building that used to be a stable is nestled picturesquely in a mews off Lebuh Leith. Downstairs is a classy dining area with soft lighting – where you get food that goes with wine; steak, tapas, cheeses and much more. Upstairs there are lots of comfy couches in the spacious loft area – the perfect ambience for a glass of wine and a conversation.
Drinks: Wine (surprise surprise) and lots of it. You can drink by the glass, bottle or to go. I’m no wine connoisseur but there’s a long list to choose from and the staff are experienced at helping you choose. I had a simple white wine and that was nice and fresh.
Price: $$ – $$$ – Main dishes MYR 30-40 (excluding steaks). Wines vary in price, mine was RM 16 for a glass.
Romance Meter: 4.4/5 – Fine dining and wine – You don’t get more romantic than this. One to pull out the stops for.
Location: 19-19A, Leith St, Georgetown, 10200 George Town, Penang
8. Mish Mash
Vibe: Buzzing, exciting and chic. A small, intimate speakeasy bar in a heritage building with classy décor and friendly staff that does great drinks. The atmosphere with its comfortable seating and sexy lighting and the drinks ensure that conversation flows endlessly here. This is where I went on my first date with #The Pirate Box Of Chocolates (coming soon) and it was a definite win.
Drinks: Very well-made cocktails – and I love cocktails. I had 3 whisky sours, because one wasn’t enough (obviously) – whisky sours are shitty when done wrong and awesome when perfect and Mish Mash hit the spot.
Price: $$ – $$$ Cocktails between RM 30-40 – but these are something special to fork out a little for.
Romance Meter: 4.3/5 – Can’t go wrong with style and sophistication
Location: 24 Muntri Street, Georgetown, Penang
9. Edelweiss Café
Vibe: Old-school Swiss charm. Nestled in the beautiful Armenian Street, the antique clock, dark wood, signed pictures of actors from the Sound of Music (win) and quirky antique selection make you feel a little like you’re in a classy joint in an old-school Hollywood movie in the fifties. It felt really relaxing just to sit and have a drink at the bar and it wasn’t too crowded.
Drinks: It’s actually a restaurant with a pub bar – I would prefer it as a drinks place after dinner though with the atmosphere and dim light.
Price: $$ – Food between RM 20-30 (can get a rosti for RM 22) and drinks are not too pricey (Mojito – RM 24)
Romance Meter: 4.3/5 – take in the slow romantic charm
Location: 38, Lebuh Armenian, Georgetown, Penang
10. Bora Bora by Sunset
Vibe: Chilled and tropical sexy beach vibes. Bora Bora is set out nicely with a big outdoor deck in the sand, beach huts and umbrellas and Battu Ferringhi beach is very pretty and clean – so this is the perfect setup for a romantic walk along the beach at sunset or sitting with the sea breeze.
Drinks: Normal cocktails and drinks
Price: $$ – Can get cocktails from MYR 20-30
Romance Meter: 4.3/5 – You can’t go wrong with sun, sea and sand
Location: Lot 415, Jalan Batu Ferringhi, 11100 Batu Ferringhi, Penang
Yay! Hopefully that date went spectacularly (thanks to all the amazing date spots in Penang here…) But anyway, remember that the chemistry and attraction is 95% of what makes a good date. Hell, if I was with someone I really got on with and fancied the pants off, then it wouldn’t matter where we were. But, ambiance is the cherry on the cake and makes special times more special and average/awkward dates way more bearable and interesting.
You may have noticed that apart from Bora Bora, all these date spots are in Georgetown. I did in fact scour Batu Ferringhi and Gurney, but you’d be kidding yourself if you said that Georgetown isn’t where the dating scene is at in Penang. There are plenty of cheap eats in Batu Ferringhi – but none of them set the scene apart from Bora Bora and the beach itself. Otherwise you’d have to fork out major dough at the Shangri La and other unnecessarily expensive places in that area. There are also loads of great places in Gurney Plaza, but sitting inside a huge shopping mall just wouldn’t do it for me. So this is an extremely exclusive list specifically designed for optimum dating scene-setting. Please enjoy responsibly – here’s a handy article on dating safety.
Let me know if you’ve been to any of these date spots or have more ideas for Penang in the comments :).