Top 8 Hidden Bars & Speakeasies to Discover in Penang

Top 8 Hidden Bars & Speakeasies to Discover in Penang

Don’t blink or you might miss the entrance!

After a year and a half of various COVID-induced lockdowns, the nightlife scene in Malaysia is finally back to its vibrant best! That is especially the case in Penang, where bars and nightclubs have finally resumed operations with minimal fuss, re-adding that speck of excitement to the city’s nightlife. 

If you’re visiting Penang soon and would like to enjoy a fun night out in the Pearl of the Orient, we highly recommend visiting one of the many hidden bars in Penang! Speakeasies were all the rage in the city in 2019. While some of the original establishments have now closed, these eight speakeasies in Penang are still going strong and are guaranteed to offer you a memorable night out! 

Also read: 22 Fun Things to Do in Penang On Your First Trip

Eager to experience the chill vibes of Penang’s best hidden bars? Fly to Penang today and treat yourself to an exciting getaway in Malaysia’s food haven!

From now till 5 Jun 2022, AirAsia is offering FREE seats to Penang for travel between now and 31 October 2022.

What’s more, during your stay in Penang, you can enjoy a 10% discount on your favourite hotels when you book your stay with AirAsia using the code [PENANG10]!  So if you’re planning on embarking on an epic food tour, now’s the best time to do so!

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1. Magazine 63

When it comes to hidden bars in Penang, one establishment you can’t miss is Magazine 63. More popular for its Mandarin name – 天下第一客棧 (The World’s Number One Inn), Magazine 63 was one of the very first speakeasies in Penang. In fact, you could say that it was this very bar that sparked the hidden bar trend in the city.

Located on Jalan Magazine, Magazine 63 is a literal hidden gem that you have to uncover before you’re allowed entry. The bar is hidden amongst a row of ordinary-looking shophouses, with no signage to point you in the right direction. Our tip? Look for a large wooden door in the front, push, and hope it opens. 

Once you’re in, what welcomes you is the alluring ambience of a chill, laid-back hideout with the unmistakable elegance of a traditional Chinese inn — the type that you see in Chinese period dramas and movies. Despite the throwback aesthetics, the bar features a variety of modern cocktails and drinks on its menu. There are also live performances on the floating stage that overlooks the main bar area, so you know you’re in for fun vibes and an awesome time.

Address: 63, Jalan Magazine, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Opening hours: 7pm to 12am from Tuesdays to Sundays

2. Manchu Bar

Speaking of Chinese aesthetics and nostalgic decor, culture vultures will simply adore the majestic interior of Manchu Bar. This popular speakeasy in Penang is known for its Qing Dynasty motifs which make for an Instaworthy photo backdrop: Think small stone statues, Chinese writing, ornate arches, and more, punctuated by ambient mood lighting and live Chinese opera performances. 

Of course, before you can sip on delicious inventive cocktails, you’ll have to FIND the bar. Once you arrive at the address, look for a set of red curtains hiding a heavy timber door. Push it open, and prepare to be transported to what feels like a completely different era in time! Apart from colourful thirst-quenchers, there’s also an impressive array of snacks and pub food to choose from. 

Address: 38 & 40, Jalan Pintal Tali, 10100 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Opening hours: 4pm to 12am from Tuesdays to Sundays

3. Song Bar

To complete the trifecta of hidden bars in Penang featuring ancient Chinese motifs, we have Song Bar. Song in this case, refers to the Song dynasty in 1000 A.D. China. As you step into the bar, you’ll fall in love with its tasteful oriental decor and Chinese symbolism, dark wood furnishings, and warm, muted lighting.

The entrance is quite easy to find actually. In fact, it’s just opposite the famous KOMTAR building in the heart of George Town. You can enjoy a variety of cocktails and beers here but what really makes Song Bar stand out is the authentic Chinese cuisine that goes with your drink of choice. 

As the live band plays up their music in the background, you can lounge about with a cold beer in hand whilst digging into a mouthwatering serving of BBQ meat skewers. Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it?

Address: 268, Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong, 10100 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Opening hours: 5pm to 3am daily

4. Backdoor Bodega

Ask any true-blue Penangite and they’ll tell you that the Hin Bus Depot is where you can find the trendiest eateries in the city. Unsurprisingly, you’ll also find one of the coolest hidden bars in Penang here, maybe even completely by accident!

The entrance to the bar is clearly stated in the name. As you explore the area, you’ll stumble upon an unmarked door tucked away at the back of another speakeasy in Penang (we’ll get to that!). Step through the door, and you’ll find yourself sipping cocktails in one of the most unique “bars” in Penang. 

You see, the main item for sale at Backdoor Bodega isn’t a pint of beer or cocktail. Instead, you’re encouraged to buy a colourful clothing pin which you can then exchange for a drink! If you’re wondering why this owner-run bodega calls itself an “overpriced pin shop,” you have your answer! 

Fun fact: Did you know that Backdoor Bodega was recently listed as one of the top 100 bars in Asia? Clearly, you need to check them out when you’re in Penang! 

Address: 37, Jalan Gurdwara, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Opening hours: 8pm to 12 am from Thursdays to Mondays

5. Good Friends Club

At first glance, you might notice that Good Friends Club lies on the very same street as Backdoor Bodega. In fact, they’re actually neighbours, so to speak! That’s because the aforementioned secret door to Backdoor Bodega lies at the back of this hidden bar in Penang. 

But before hurrying past, you might want to stop for a few drinks here too. Consider it a bar crawl of speakeasies in Penang. After all, this classy hidden bar offers a cosy environment where you can sip on special cocktails inspired by local drinks. As the name suggests, Good Friends Club is all about taking a break from the present and reminiscing about the past with your friends. 

That’s why you’ll notice that the bar feels very much like a traditional Chinese coffee shop, complete with metal stools and tables. In fact, the entrance looks so much like one that many people mistake it for a place selling wanton noodles! 

Address: 39, Jalan Gurdwara, (Hin Bus Art Depot) Georgetown, Penang.
Opening hours: 7pm to 1am from Sundays to Thursdays; 7pm to 2am on Fridays and Saturdays

6. Beso Rosado by ChinChin

Originally known as Golden Shower, Beso Rosado by ChinChin is one of the most popular hidden bars in Penang. While there have been some changes over the past few years, this speakeasy remains one of the most Instaworthy nightlife spots in Penang. 

Originally, the entrance to the bar was found in a posh bathroom fitted with an elegant bathtub. Today, the storefront has been replaced by a graffiti-covered alleyway that takes you straight to the actual bar, which still retains its luxurious pink, white, and gold decorative motifs. 

The iconic oval-shaped bar in the middle still remains, and here, you can watch as skilled bartenders prepare you a variety of playful cocktails. As nightlife establishments in Penang juggled with new SOPs during the lockdown in Malaysia, Beso Rosado by ChinChin also reinvented itself as a dining hub, offering delectable Spanish cuisine with an open kitchen concept. Try it!  

Address: 86, Lebuh Bishop, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Opening hours:  6pm to 12am from Tuesdays to Fridays; 12pm to 12am on Saturdays & Sundays

7. Boudoir By Dad’s Woods 

Okay, Boudoir by Dad’s Woods isn’t really a hidden bar, at least not by the conventional definition. You don’t have to search hard to find a secret entrance at all. You just need to know WHEN to look. 

That’s because Boudoir is actually a cafe by day, serving delicious homemade pies and coffee. But once the sun sets, Boudoir transforms into a hip cocktail bar, providing the perfect nighttime oasis for both locals and tourists to chill with their loved ones. 

Regardless of whether it’s the cafe or bar you visit, you’ll be swept away by the homey feel of the interior. Made to look like a swoon-worthy furniture gallery, Boudoir makes you feel like you’re simply enjoying a drink with your friends in the comfort of your own home! 

Address: 9, Lorong Birch, George Town, 10250 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Opening hours: 4pm to 1am daily; Closed on Tuesdays

Bonus: Mish Mash 

Okay, we admit, Mish Mash isn’t really a hidden bar. But we felt we had to include it on this list of speakeasies in Penang simply because of our popular this cocktail bar is! The entrance is rather unassuming despite being obvious since the bar is housed in a traditional shophouse. 

Mish Mash features a full food menu (which we have to say looks absolutely heavenly) and happens to serve some of the best whiskey-centric cocktails in the city. Their drinks are just as pretty as the vibrant yellow walls of the interior, making Mish Mash another top Instaworthy bar in Penang to have a drink and chill with friends! 

Address: 24, Muntri St, Georgetown, 10200 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: 4:30pm to 12am, Tuesdays to Saturdays 

What are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Penang today! To start, how about some free flights from Singapore to the Pearl of the Orient from AirAsia?

Booking period: Now till 5 Jun 2022

Travel period: Now till 31 Oct 2022

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And there you have it: Eight of the best hidden bars in Penang for you to discover on your next trip to Malaysia’s food haven. I don’t know about you, but I’m already feeling thirsty! 

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About Author

Darren Yeoh
Darren Yeoh

Darren enjoys the finer things in life and loves exploring unfamiliar places on foot, guided with nothing but instinct and a good-old fashioned map. He enjoys cultural experiences and exciting adventures and is not a stranger to travelling alone. When he's not putting his travel experiences into words, he's probably sitting behind his laptop, planning his upcoming adventure.