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Gay Thailand – How to meet Gay guys
If you live in Bangkok you can meet gay Thais anywhere, this post is about everything related to gay Thailand. I live in a quiet area, far from the tourist scene with no gay Thai bars, nightclubs or saunas. Nevertheless, I have been propositioned in a local restaurant, in a local Starbucks in Bangkok, and on several occasions on the street. It depends how good your gaydar is. For the uninformed, gaydar is like radar for gays. My aunt Audrey (a very straight lady) had a great gaydar, she would often point out gays to me on the streets in Western Australia.
Gay Thai boy Saroj tells us about gay life in Thailand
Oh, we sure do! There are of course many places we’d go back to in a heartbeat, but if we had to pick just one – Thailand!
Thailand has it all, amazing beaches, a rich cultural fabric to discover, delicious Thai food, and most of all, it is very gay friendly! Bangkok, in particular, has a fantastic gay scene – in our opinion, one of the best in the world. Whilst Thailand has positioned itself to become one of Asia’s leading destinations for LGBTQ travelers, we wanted to learn more about what gay life is really like from a local’s perspective.
We met cutie photographer, Saroj, in Bangkok, who gave us his perspective of what gay life in Thailand is really like and what it was like growing up gay there. Read his story right here:
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Dating in Thailand
You will encounter a wide variety of options to meet new friends and potential significant others in this country as long as you maintain an open mind. Thais are renowned for their warmth and hospitality—which is the reason behind its moniker, the Land of Smiles. Their easygoing nature makes it all the easier to relate even to new acquaintances.
Relationships between Farang (Thai slang for foreigner) males and Thai ladies seem to be most common. Most of them have met while on holiday here, along the pristine shores of some of the best beaches in the world, or have connected previously via online dating websites and have decided to meet in person later on. These relationships end up in happy marriages for most, which has sparked more interest in looking for real love in Thailand.
However, there are also downsides to this, as this gives rise to new stereotypes shattering the dating scene. With the advent of new technology, online dating seems to be not only the most convenient way to meet new people out of your comfort zone, but it can also turn into a harrowing experience with the threat of scam artists ready to lure you in with the promise of real love. There have been a lot of cases wherein foreigners have been conned into sending money for their Thai sweethearts from overseas, only to find out that she has been juggling several boyfriends all at the same time!
As for ladies on the lookout for love, equally exciting options also await for those ready to meet foreigners as well as Thai men. Once again, a broad perspective remains the best approach, but at the same time a degree of restraint is expected. Thais are by nature conservative, and do not readily express their emotions as explicitly as people with Westernized orientations do. They are also very non-confrontational and not used to great outbursts of emotion, so it would be best to maintain a relaxed attitude concerning matters of the heart.
Professionals and expat executives need not worry about being too busy to pursue an active dating life, as a lot of options to meet new people are offered as well. The concept of lunch dates has been elevated to a new level by several reputable agencies who seek to find the perfect match for you. For the more adventurous, you can also mark your calendar and join speed dating events where you can meet potential partners who share the same interests with you.
Thailand is also very well known for its vibrant gay dating scene, embracing nationalities of all forms within its truly amazing bounds. There are a lot places for gay entertainment in Thailand, be it in man clubs, saunas, gay strips, and more. Meeting Thai men for the pursuit of pleasure can also eventually turn into something significant, but just like in boy-girl relationships, caution must be exercised while enjoying dating.
And speaking of caution, you are also advised to keep safe at all times when engaging in sexual activity of any sort, as Thailand claims to have one of the highest statistics of HIV-positive and AIDS cases in the past years. Always keep in mind that with pleasure comes great responsibility, so just make a constant mental note to use protection at all times, most especially if you don’t know your partner that well just yet.
With the promise of a multitude of exciting adventures, one can never be lovelorn in the Land of Smiles. But in the end, everything is still up for you to decide whether you are taking dating for the ride or you are looking forward to the bright future of a lasting union. For all of this, the best and simplest bit of advice remains—just be yourself!
10 most gay friendly countries in Asia
We love Asia. Whether it’s chilling in the oh so heavenly beaches of Thailand to gobbling up as much sushi as our tummies can handle in Tokyo, we always look for an excuse to return.
This is a continent that offers so much in terms of cultural experiences, food and landscapes, with some of the most humble people you’ll ever meet. We spent the first 2 years of our Nomadic Boys adventure travelling around Asia and have since returned several times for more. However, when it comes to LGBTQ rights, Asia is on the more conservative end of things.
Despite this, there are a number of gay friendly Asian countries that are paving the way forward in relation to LGBTQ rights. We honour them in this breakdown of our top 10 most gay friendly countries in Asia.
Gay Dating Apps – die 5 besten Apps im Vergleich
Es gibt allerhand Gay Dating Apps auf dem Markt. Jede davon bedient einen etwas anderen Nutzerwunsch. Hier finden Sie die fünf besten Dating-Apps für Schwule und Bisexuelle mit Ihrem jeweiligen Dating-Fokus.
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Thailand–A Place for Gay Old Men
Getting old and gray does not mean giving up romance. In southeast Asia, especially Thailand, many retirees find renewed comfort and pleasure among the country’s welcoming younger gay generation. Unlike western attitudes toward age-differential relationships mature men here are respected and appealing here. Beyond sex there is often genuine affection and love between these partners.
On the gay beach at Jomthien two miles south of Pattaya on the Gulf of Thailand under sunny skies with 83 degrees in November and gently swaying palms. It’s a bit like a UN gathering of gay old men here: on my right is a Brit; in front of him is a Norwegian; on my left a Russian; scattered around are Americans, Dutch and Germans. Among them all are younger male Thais: the beach crew renting out chaises, the fresh fruit vendor, a pirated DVD seller with current Hollywood blockbusters and B-grade porno, a masseur, waiters from the juice bar serving ice drinks, others selling trinkets and handicrafts.
Bobbing in the water are heads of different races and body sizes. Commonly, here at the gay beach called Dongtan Beach, in Jomthien, couples consist of one big-boy-gray-headed Anglo cuddling with or groping under water one-lean-dark-Thai escort half or a third his age. The international set, local and foreign, gather here on this beach daily for the camaraderie of like-minded other men looking for social and sensual comfort not available at home in Europe or America.
The gay scene is different here. Young Thai guys are willing to talk (with varying degrees of English), walk, massage, sleep, shop or kiss with gray overweight foreigners for a night, a week, a month or longer–sometimes for years, intermittently, if daddy comes for a month or two or three to avoid the cold north of Stockholm, New York, Ottawa, Moscow, Berlin or London.
A unique feature of gay southeast Asia is the accepting attitudes that many young guys express toward senior men. In the West aging is the curse of homosexual men; they become detritus at home in the West after fifty-plus years where sagging breasts and widening hips are not in fashion, not ogled, not photographed for fashion magazines. So retirees (gay and straight) end their professions and come to Thailand to renew carnal –and often emotional–lives in the arms of younger companions.
(Unlike the straight world where young women are lured or captured into the sex trade, gay guys are free agents ‘unowned’ by any pimp or mafia or agency. The only coercion is the need for money.)
The beach is a social leveler as guys strip down to baggy shorts or slinky Speedos. Fancy identifiers of affluence such as designer clothing, Seiko watches, expensive bling and 5-star hotel room keys are shed; nearly naked bodies and shapes become the lingua franca. Most of the western bodies are not shapely. They reveal the results of years of high caloric processed foods, smoking and drinking. The lean and toned western guys with fine curvature are a small minority here. Heads turn and eyes follow these specimens as they walk along the water’s edge and fade into the distance.
More common head-turners are the Thai ‘boys’ who are structurally lean, brown-hued with thick shocks of dark hair and silky smooth skin. Some on this beach are here with their older ‘johns’ who outweigh them by 30-70 pounds or more. Yet not all Thais are glam, of course. Most are ‘normal’ with a common appeal, which does not disqualify them from the market. Varying tastes apply to varying guys. I have seen fragile wrinkled men hobbling along with a plain-looking Thai youth on his arm. Usually the white guys are in their late forties to seventies while their trophies are invariable in their twenties, early thirties at most.
Watching the SceneOne afternoon, two chaises away from me such a youth with a typical lean shape in a yellow Speedo stood up and skipped down the sand to the water to bob up and down, not swimming, for a few minutes then ballet-like pranced back to his chaise to await, I imagined, the arrival of someone older, someone foreign.
Sure enough, after a short while, daddy arrived, portly in his fifties, accompanied by what appeared to be his long-term husband–also quite hefty. But this time they didn’t come to lounge and chat and sip coconut milk with Mr Pretty. A few minutes later I overheard him tell the youth to meet here tomorrow at two under the panoply of beach umbrellas that shade the beach. The little one nodded checking the time on his ‘Gucci’ wristwatch.
In a quick exchange of conversation with me on his way out, daddy Brit said he was originally from Wales then worked in Liverpool and now lives here. His actions suggested to me that he and hubby don’t want cutie around full time, just enough for brief chats, a lunch and perhaps a fuck, which is not unusual in Jomthien given the language barrier and huge difference in lifestyles. A common sight at cafes and restaurants is a brown and white couple sitting at a table with nothing to say to each other after the urge has calmed in private. Daddy reads the Times and boy checks his cell phone as they wait for their food to arrive. The enthusiasm of sex doesn’t translate well to restaurant conversation.
Meanwhile, as an aside, also bobbing in the water that day a few straight Russian visitors who seem oblivious to having parked their towels on a gay beach. None of them swim. They stand in the water, talk to each other in twos and threes jabbering away in Cyrillic syllables.
As part of the gay mating ritual there is a penchant for certain accoutrements, gifts from daddy, toted by young Thai partners such as expensive-looking leather handbags, sparkly faux-designer watches, glittery bangles and bracelets (bling), fashion sunglasses, fine clothing, sandals or gold necklace pendants. If the mating continues well for months daddy may offer boy a motor scooter, possibly but rarely a car. These tell-tale signs of being kept or at least temporarily maintained are readily visible on wrists and necks, displayed like pet license tags.
A moment after daddy Brit, above, went off with hubby Mr Cutie spoiled the moment by puckering his lips around a cigarette and lighting up with his silver lighter, which ended my admiring. How beauty has a way of sabotaging itself; smoking is an enormous addiction here, especially among Russians and Europeans. Thais much less.
It’s easy to observe that these youthful Thais couple up for the money that western wallets bring into their lives–an obvious truth, especially given the frequency and appearance of the escort-rent-money-boy industry, but there’s more to it; there is complexity.
Insider AdviceA recent article, referenced below, offered some insider ‘rules’ for farangs (foreigners) to consider when dating guys outside their native culture whether in Thailand or other SE Asian countries. These rules, said the writer, have been collected from men experienced in these matters, for better or worse; I’ve just expanded and edited them here.
In my travels, I have encountered long and short term relationships in southeast Asia, ranging from disastrous affairs that cost the farang thousands of dollars to deeply attached loving partnerships of tens of years.
The first of these ‘rules’ was offered by a long-term retired farang from the UK who warns newcomers in Thailand, “you can never ‘own’ a Thai, they are free spirits.” As much attention as a new Thai guy lover gives to a new boyfriend, he is not ‘attached at the hip’, as the expression goes. A Thai son’s life is rarely detached from his family; one of his core roles in life is to take care of them. “Never forget they are essentially more interested in the welfare their family than a foreign lover,” he cautioned.
In light of this, I met a charming young bar boy named Jet (all Thai guys seem to have a single-syllable western nicknames) at Two Faces bar in the commercial Jomthien Complex one evening. After ordering the requisite drink we talked about him and of course his family. He had had a previous relationship with a rich Dubai lover who, in a phase of enthrallment, bought Jet gifts including gold jewelry and a condo in Phuket (an extremely unusual gift even in a culture of gift giving and taking). There he was well kept in high style, but following a common pattern, they broke up after two years of periodic visits by Mr. Dubai.
Surprisingly he had purchased the condo in Jet’s name and as they parted ways he let Jet keep the condo. Then, not surprisingly, Jet turned around and sold it which netted him many thousands of dollars in his pocket. But, instead of going on a shopping spree he used much of it to pay for his mother’s medical bills, which after a year of treatment for cancer in and out of hospital, had mounted substantially. In Jet’s telling this tale, which I tended to believe, he did not express any regret toward using his bounty for his mother’s care.
As another observer has remarked about Thai guys, “his family demands will always have priority. These can be staggering, grossly unfair and a tremendous worry for the boy. Some family needs are more like a torrent than a dripping tap. They never let up and expect some tens of thousands of baht money every month.” Personally, I met a farang in Laos who lost his bank accounts and his restaurant ownership swindled by his Lao boyfriend and his controlling mother. But that was an extreme case; most bi-cultural couples just stop being together and go their separate ways, disappointed but not broken.
These are a few among many stories of available young men, whether they work days in a bank, in a restaurant, as a bell-hop in a hotel or clerking at McDonald’s. Certain guys are available after hours for play and for the (unspoken) sake of family. Even after parents die if there are any unmarried siblings the oldest boy watches over the them and supports them until they marry.
A second rule, if you the farang become seriously involved with your Thai guy be prepared that he may continue with one or more other men, at least until he measures the strength of your commitment. The support (money and gifts) from you may not be his only income when you meet since many farangs are notorious for promising undying love in the thrill of passion and then sudden dump little guy for a newer model. Many Thai gay guys have been deceived more than once and they get smarter and tougher as they age.
On the other hand, most western men are reluctant to provide a monthly income to a new someone they hardly know or trust, cute and sexy as he may be. So Mr. Thai is likely to keep other income streams open for the time being. Trust must be built both ways; it clearly can be. I have encountered numerous farang-Thai couples together for five, ten and more years.
Third, until that trust is built do not forget you are his ‘customer’ (simultaneously or serially) and he is giving you a good time, a renewed erotic romance at this seasoned time in your life. Until considerable time passes he is not your ‘boyfriend’ and you are not his primary ‘other’. At the beginning he is going out with you and spending time with you and enjoying your gifts and money and you are liking his touch. Not for love at first and not to get away from the bar, where many of them can be found. (Many of them like the bar scene and the social camaraderie it offers, much like a second family.)
This is his work, so a visitor should reward him for the time he spends with him at the bar, eating, beach-balling or in the bedroom. An electrician or lawyer gets paid for his time and so must he. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly innocent phrase ‘up to you’ when you discuss money. Agree ahead of time or you will wind up paying more than you want–and less than what he wants, which does not help build trust.
And don’t be fooled by a simple lie. More than once I have asked Mr Cutie if he is a money boy to which he replied ‘no’. Turns out that money was very much expected. Unlike the West there is rarely a free hook-up for sex in Thailand–or in all of southeast Asia between a farang and a native. A western guy is a wallet until the sex becomes something deeper. Discuss everything about money first, even though this may feel odd. You must talk about how long will he stay the night (or tomorrow), what you like to do in the bedroom, what he doesn’t do or like to do when naked, and importantly how much extra is a ‘happy ending’. Don’t ignore this or you are likely to see Mr Pretty Smiles become quite unhappy and sullen, although never violent.
A visitor should also understand the concept of giving gifts of money in Thailand; it is considered a ‘good feeling’ gesture and signifies you have a ‘good heart’. Whether it is a few extra baht for a motorcycle ride or 20,000 baht for the replacement of the buffalo you accidentally hit while driving or an afternoon of pleasure, always give money. Far better to be generous than pecuniary so he can do what is best for you and his family–and increasing the chances of seeing him again. Let him make the choice, not you, but you can also bargain. One of the most common sites in Buddhist temples are baht notes at the feet of revered statues (‘making merit’) in exchange for perceiving a blessing. Giving money is good.
Fourth, another piece of advice from one UK retiree is, do not appear to be single, too eager or readily available. You can always fall in love later but not being too eager is a way to see and test his sincerely. Tell him you have a boyfriend or wife whom you love and live with long term but on this holiday you are going to have some ‘happy hour’. This will give Mr Thai the freedom to continue his career without worrying about how you feel; you are free to look around at other Thai boys. Some Thai guys appear to like devoted ‘married’ men, gay or straight. They think they are less trouble, less demanding, less likely to carry disease and more likely provide more consistent support.
However, it’s possible to go too far with this laissez-faire attitude: if he asks why you are a ‘butterfly’ an appropriate answer might be that you like to go to the same restaurant every day, but you don’t eat chicken every day. You are on holiday.
Fifth, as for poking into a young friend’s business, don’t ask him about his other farang boyfriends. You don’t need to know and you will only get a less than accurate answer. Same goes about his Thai boy/girl friend. If you ask he will tell you that ‘Thai lady no good’ and ‘finish her long time’. This may be partially true, but in many cases he has a Thai boyfriend or girlfriend –or ‘ladyboy’–who helps him spend his earnings.
The reality of a ladyboy may be new to many foreigners. They are transgender people–with or without surgery. You need to understand that he may also get paid by a Thai ladyboy whom he screws in his time off, which partly explains why boys are abundant in karoke bars–Thai ladyboys go there. Consider that a money-boy has been at work trying to please some farang whom he doesn’t really care much for or doesn’t understand. After work, he can go and get a lady boy, have a laugh in his own language and manners, enjoy a few drinks and maybe a quick lay with no commitment or problem and get paid for it.
Finally, Thai boys can be endearing partners. But you the foreign visitor might be the problem, not them, in ‘making love’ in Thailand. Gay life in Thailand is not and will never be the same as back home. You are not in England, Australia or USA. You are a guest in a foreign land. If you cannot adapt to the issues about money, fidelity, family, sex and intimacy then don’t get involved. Ultimately, a Thai guy does not care if you stay or leave. He is tied into a personal world of family and friends, Buddhist rituals, making a wage and a having safe place to sleep. As far as he is concerned, life can be fun and profitable and pleasurable with you, but his life will not essentially change if you leave–and it may change for both of you if you stay.
Accept him as a ‘different’ person, not someone you think should change for the ‘better’. Accept all this or go back to the picket-fence in the suburbs or the condo in Chicago or the village in Australia–or just live a quiet bachelor life with your sweet memories of a pretty Thai stranger.
Ricky and Colin and Punya–as good as it all the uncertain and slippery relationships that form and dissolve, there are many others in sunny Thailand that are ‘success’ and Colin sold their fashionable London restaurant after 30 years and retired to this warm country to live out their remaining years in comfort and calm, not expecting anything challenging. But what they found was quite different. A renewed life awaited them when they accidentally met a native Thai businessman twenty years their junior. It was love at first sight when they met Punya in Jomthien Beach, south of Pattaya. The three of them became a devoted ‘item’ as they formed a new family and engaged in assisting Punya in building a gay hotel and sauna called Sansuk in Jomthien. Punya was well-off and did not need their money but he was much appreciative of their wisdom and of their advice as service industry professionals and of their love.
As the new boutique hotel and sauna rose from the ground it became a beautiful gay venue with stylish rooms, a pool, restaurant and one of southern Thailand’s best gay bathhouses. It was a success for all three. Ricky once told me that he and Colin had no idea their retirement could be so wonderful, adventurous and loving. It was the beginning of fifteen years of compassionate partnership for each of them. It was very different from the typical farang-Thai fantasy-filled hookup. They were among many other successful long term relationships in Thailand that deepened over years and decades. It was privileged to know these three men and see how they took care of one another until the end; in 2015 when Colin passed away and Ricky died quietly in his sleep in 2017. From my view, Thailand and for these men this was indeed the perfect place for gay old men.
EpilogueAging happens to us all as skin loosens and muscles sag–but usually not libido. It continues into our eighties and beyond if we have the energy. The attraction of youth, puer eternis, is both universal and personal. The ‘force’ courses in our minds long after erections droop, cum delays and romping diminishes.
Aging is a lifestyle of enforced choice imposed by time but it is not sudden and not persistent. Sex interrupts that aging. It is not unlike going to a gym, getting a facial, having cosmetic surgery, taking Viagra, vitamins and heart medications. It reinvigorates; it extends energy; it prolongs hope. It tickles imagination. It stimulates blood flow. Sexual sensation arouses more than organs; it enlivens a deeper and wider feeling of wellness as we add on years. (A recent 80-year old friend was given a ‘gift’ for his birthday–an afternoon romp with a handsome hired hand!)
Few if any of us want to face a diminished self. Witness the billions of dollars spend on anti-aging products. But in the end, at the end, our cells lose function and fluids. Few if any are willing to embrace the coming of dusk to settle into an existential discomfort zone of loss and letting go. Despite the promises of religions it’s not common in human culture to readily embrace death as a ‘next step’. Despite the myths of church and temple, many fear death as a dark end-stop with nothing beyond, although much of humanity indulges in the fantasy of some form of afterlife (with handsome angels!?), which gives slight solace as we close down into deep silence.
A reasonable number of Thai Buddhists are easier about this reality; they believe that all that we have, are, want and desire are temporary, illusory imaginings of the cognitive mind. Thought is another system of trying to make sense of sentient life that’s surrounded at both ends with non-being. For Buddhists being gay is not a disease, not a sin, not illegal here in this ‘land of smiles’. Many LGBT people come here to shelter from the homophobia of the world and live comfortable, free and easy lives without the irrational persecutions in repressed countries. They come here to have fun getting old.
And so it is that the erotic life happily informs the graying gay life in Jomthien, Pattaya, Bangkok, Phuket and a thousand places beyond as they drink wine, beer or milk and watch and embrace the youth who come their way. Thai youth re-evoke effervescent carnal energy in seniors; it’s another anti-aging product, another existential balm for the mind and for the flesh… whatever comforts us passing through this life, however long or short that may be.
(This story incorporates another earlier gay story of unknown origin, published perhaps in Thai Puan magazine, perhaps in 2011 in Bangkok. The author is unknown. If readers recognize any identifying information please contact GlobalGayz at )
Also see:Tears, Sex and Floods in ThailandThe Bridge Over the River Kwai
Thailand Gay dating sites
The most famous two are Thai Cupid and Thai Friendly. They cater for men wanting to find women, guys, and of course ladyboys. Both gay Thai dating sites allow members to search for men and ladyboys which makes it easier. Unlike the girls who are a bit more reserved, as you would expect from a lady, the men and ladyboys are not as coy and getting yourself a hot date, or a meet at your hotel room, is very very easy.
Other popular sites for Asian men is Utopia. Please be careful when using any other Gay Bangkok Dating Sites than Thai Cupid or Thai Friendly. Some of these sites disappear quite rapidly. Many fall badly out of date. Do not pay to join these sites, if they ask for fees it is probably a scam.I have joined many in the past which had a paid fee and they were rubbish. The only ones I stick to now are Thai Cupid and Thai Friendly,I have been a paid member on both on and off over the years, and I have never had a problem with either, in fact I have met several hot guys from there :).
MEETING GAY PEOPLE IN THAILAND MALLS
These were often the best cruising spots but tighter security is making them less popular. However, gays love shopping and a walk around some of the bigger malls can be very rewarding. In some of the higher class malls you are more likely to meet gay Bangkok money boys but if you have charm, charisma and a sprinkling of good looks you will find your gay Thai for free. (Guess I must have charisma).
Beware of the ‘lookers’ in public toilets, quite clearly they are dick hunting and that may not be what you really want. The eye contact made on escalators or just browsing as you pass shop windows will often reap golden rewards – and these Thai gays are definitely golden: beautiful, smooth skin that is only very slightly browned (mostly because many guys use skin whitening products).
GAY BANGKOK BARS
If you are into dancing then you should try DJ Station in Soi 2, Silom Road for a good gay Thailand experience. (Soi just means Street). In the same street you will find other drinking venues, some with live music. The whole Soi is dedicated to the gay Thailand nightlife.
In Silom Soi 4, in the same area, you will find very many bars. All dedicated to drinking, all dedicated to gay Bangkok nightlife, all dedicated to bringing two people (or more – if you like that kind of thing) together.
Everything is available and anything is possible. You can hire a guy for a short time, for a few days or even a couple of weeks. Rates vary from 1500 Baht ($50) for a short time to as little as 2500 Baht ($80) for a day. Weekly rates start as low as 10,000 Baht ($350) but sex might be considered as extras. Whatever you want you can bargain for and no one is going to be offended if you end up saying No. Do, however, be polite – all Thai people are. Say something like, “Sorry, I do not have that much to spare” rather than “You’re not worth it.” (Yes, I have heard the latter). Believe me, some of these guy Bangkok guys are so damned hot and sexy they could be worth 10,000 Baht for just a weekend – if you have that much to spend.
The idea on Silom Soi 4 is just to sit with a drink outside the bar and wait for that initial eye contact that will lead to conversation, that will lead to – who knows what? Just be like the Thais – smile. They do not call this the Land of Smiles for nothing. A warm smile will open many doors and many a pair of jeans. Remember, ‘sex’ in Bangkok is not a dirty word. Just one word of caution – do not try to guess the age of a gay Thailand man. Make sure they are of the age of consent, currently 18.
THAILAND GAY GO-GO CLUBS
The place to go for these would be Twilight Bar – the street known in Thai as Pratu Chai.
If you just want to peeve on absolutely gorgeous gay Bangkok men, this is the place for you. Drinks will cost you 300 Baht ($10) even if it just coke. You will be able to sit and watch a parade of handsome boys in skimpy underwear and, if you choose, select one to take away with you. You can stay a while and watch the Cabaret. Some good dancing, maybe a great lip=synch performance, certainly a huge cock display and in some places a real sex act. Well, it looks real but is just an act. My favorite would be the two boys in the shower, lots of soap, lots of massaging, both very well-endowed and lots of suggestive movement. Actually leaving the sex act itself to your imagination – a great idea as some of us have more vivid imaginations than others.
Sex in all of these places is definitely pay as you learn plan. What you will learn is that sex needs to be short and sweet so they can move on to another customer, sex is the act (any expressions of love are from a script), when the boy has finished with you he may very well rush off to take his girlfriend to supper, this guy you almost fell in love with will do the same thing tomorrow with a woman (many women go to gay bars to get turned on by these gay guys with huge dicks). Remember, you have paid for the use of his body not control of his life.
Sex is all around you in gay Thailand but it has a sense of decency about it. Which is why some people easily mistake it for love – it is not. But love is also found everywhere in Bangkok = all you have to do is look a little harder. First, take a closer look at yourself.
Are you openly gay?
Fast forward a few years when I got my confirmation letter accepting me into an Art School. I was so excited and proud of myself. But when I told my father, he said that he did not want me to go. His reaction when I questioned him about it was simply, “Are you a faggot or something!?” I said nothing, ignored him, looked away and packed up my bags to leave the house. He calmed down and asked me to stay and life continued as if nothing ever happened. Since that moment he never said anything about me being gay ever again.
At my father’s funeral, I invited a lot of gay friends. My mother turned round to me and for the first time made a reference about me being gay by simply asking: “So Saroj, which one of these beautiful guys is your boyfriend?” I blushed bright red, burst into laughter and told her “None of them mom – I’m single!”…Mom always knows eh?
Which are the best gay events in Thailand?
During the Songkran festival, (the Buddhist new year in mid-April), we have the gCircuit Festival, which includes a mix of pool parties, bear parties, and more. This is one of the biggest gay parties in Asia. It’s huge – thousands of gays come here from all around the world to party. The same company that runs gCircuit also organises the big Circuit parties in Pattaya in June as well as the White Party events in Bangkok between Christmas and New Year’s.
Bangkok’s Popular Gay Nightlife Spots
Bangkok’s gay nightlife is touted as a hub in Southeast Asia for good reason. The city has some of the best – be it bars, clubs, saunas, or inventive go-go boy shows – when it comes to catering to the LGBT crowd.
Bangkok’s gay scene is so active that you can party 7 nights a week and still find new places to discover. Our list of the best gay experiences in Bangkok is a great place to start, whether you want to dip a toe into the community or dive in headfirst. Prepare to be blown away by a variety of fun and decadent delights tailored to all the kings, queens, and everything in between in the Thai capital.
Tawan Bar is famed far and wide for its extensive selection of male hosts and dancers. Packed almost every night, this bar stages regular dance numbers and drag comedy onstage. Drink prices are steep but worth it considering there’s no admission fee. You can get to this gay bar by taking the BTS Skytrain to Sala Daeng Station – it’s less than 10 minutes away on foot.
Locatie: 2/1-2 Soi Than Tawan, Suriya Wong, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand
Openingstijden: Daily from 5 pm to 2 am (Sundays until 12 am)
The Babylon Bangkok
The Babylon Bangkok is a gay-friendly hotel in Sathorn that’s known for its fabulous spa facilities. There are 2 dry saunas, 2 steam rooms, and a communal Jacuzzi within the hotel. A firm favourite among locals and travellers, it also has plenty of facilities for a pleasant stay in Bangkok. You can find a well-equipped gym with professional trainers, swimming pool, and a souvenir shop.
Locatie: 43 Soi Atthakan Prasit, Thung Maha Mek, Sathon, Bangkok 10120, Thailand
Chakran Sauna combines a lounge, gym, sauna and a restaurant with a sophisticated Mediterranean mood. Located on Soi Ari 4, the sauna is quite an extreme but popular gay hangout in Bangkok. It’s within a 5-minute walk of the Ari BTS Skytrain Station.
Locatie: 32 Chakran Building, Ari Soi 4, Samsen Nai, Phaya Thai, Bangkok 10400, Thailand
Openingstijden: Monday–Thursday from 3 pm to 12 am, Friday–Sunday from 2 pm to 12 am
G Bangkok is an after-hours gay dance club on Silom Soi 2, about 450 metres west of the Silom MRT Station. It has a large dancefloor, sexy house beats, big crowds, and a lot of eye candy. Admission is free, and the best time to be at this gay-friendly nightclub is around midnight, when a drag show takes place.
Locatie: 59 Soi Si Lom 2/1, Suriya Wong, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand
Homosexuality in Asia
Homosexuality across most of Asia is still very taboo. In fact, there are still many places where being gay can not only get you arrested (like in Myanmar, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Singapore) but can also get you legally executed (such as Brunei and Afghanistan)!
Overall, we found that LGBT rights in Asia have a long way to go to catch up with Europe and America. For example, in quite a number of Asian countries where being gay is legal, it remains such a taboo in society, that most men end up just leading “closet” lives, marrying a girl, just to please their family – we saw this a lot in Russia, China and India. However, we also found the younger generation to be more tolerant and openminded – a sign of hope for the future.
Gay marriage in Asia
As much of Asia remains firmly in the closet, it’s unsurprising that very few nations on the continent have legalised gay marriage. To date, there is only one part in Asia that has legalised gay marriages, which has earnt it its place as our top #1 gay friendly place in Asia – Taiwan!
The “race for second place” is a fascinating one to watch. Currently, Thailand is on the brink of introducing civil unions (the step below gay marriage) with limitations. On a more regional level, some countries have started to recognise limited rights and benefits to gay couples such as Cambodia, certain cities in Japan and Hong Kong.
Our criteria for ranking the top gay Asian countries
We have taken it as a given that homosexuality is legal in the countries we’ve selected, which is why we haven’t included Singapore despite it having quite a vibrant gay scene and a famous LGBTQ PinkDot festival in June/July.
We have also included two “places” (Taiwan and Hong Kong) rather than “countries”, because although they’re not officially recognised “countries”, they can still be regarded as a “country” given they have their own flag, currency, national anthem, set of laws etc
1. Taiwan, the gayest country in Asia
Taiwan is the runaway pink trailblazer of Asia. In May 2019 it broke all records by becoming the first (and to date, only) place on the entire continent to pass equal marriage laws. Whilst the other countries in this list are still grappling with civil union legislation (if at all!), Taiwan has powered ahead and is the clear leader on our list.
Thailand is often cited as one of the most popular gay destinations in Asia and we totally agree. Thailand is our happy place in the world, especially the . We love the Thais and found them to be very welcoming and friendly. What sums it up is a recent Nida Poll, which showed a whopping 88.72% of Thais to be accepting of gays (although in the same survey, a less impressive 59.20% in favour of gay marriage laws).
In the “race for second place”, Cambodia is often touted as the next most gay friendly place in Asia after Taiwan. When we arrived in Phnom Penh, we found an unexpectedly large gay scene, which we loved. Throughout our travels in Cambodia as a gay couple, we found people to be very accepting towards us, particularly in the big cities like Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.
Didn’t you also fall in love with Antoni when he was making apple pie with sweet old Yoko in Queer Eye’s: We’re In Japan? For us pure magic – our favourite Netflix show in one of the place in Asia we love…it was everything! What was also interesting in this series was the second episode when the Fab Five were exploring the gay scene of Tokyo, which we highly recommend watching it. The LGBTQ community of Japan is, of course, not without its challenges. But as far as Asian standards go, we found Japan to be one of the more LGBT friendly countries in Asia.
5. The Philippines
As far as we’re concerned, the Filipinos are one of the friendliest people on the planet. The Filipino Hospitality is a thing and it is very important to them. Every time we hang out with Filipino friends anywhere in the world, whether in London, Toronto or Manila, we always leave feeling loved and happy. They have that power and we ADORE them for it.
The 2013 Pew Research Centre study about society’s attitudes to homosexuality around the world found that 73% of Filipinos felt that homosexuality should be accepted, which was one of the highest. However, the Philippines is still heavily influenced by the Catholic Church, with large parts of society retaining very backward, conservative and homophobic views; hence the comparatively low Spartacus rating of #95. Despite this, we strongly feel that the Philippines is one of the most LGBT-friendly countries in Asia.
6. Hong Kong
Whilst Hong Kong is generally regarded as part of China, we list it here independently because, like Taiwan, Hong Kong is a fabulous pink breath of fresh air in what is a very conservative region of the world. Being gay in China is tough, especially due to the strict freedom of expression laws. These laws ban any online display of “abnormal behaviours”, which includes homosexuality. In addition, there are no anti-discrimination laws in place in China and gay marriage is a looooong way away from becoming a reality.
In Hong Kong, things are more relaxed. Society in Hong Kong is still quite conservative but its reputation as an international financial hub and its independence from China has allowed it to thrive to become one of the most gay friendly places in Asia.
7. South Korea
South Korea is a bit of a paradox. On the face of it, it is renowned for having a persistent LGBTQ intolerance due to antipathy from influential evangelical conservative Christian groups, hence the low Spartacus rating at #122.
Yet the capital Seoul has not only one of the best (and biggest) gay scenes in Asia, it has the second largest gay festival and has also become a cultural hub for queer culture. Remember, this is where Kim Chi and Soju from RuPaul’s Drag Race come from. Also, one of our favourite gay icons originates from South Korea: comedian, Margaret Cho.
Vietnam is a gay friendly country with a relatively high Spartacus ranking of #68, mainly due to it having quite progressive LGBTQ laws. We certainly found the Vietnamese people to be accepting and welcoming to us as a gay couple.
But while we’ve included it in our list we’ve placed it towards the lower end, below South Korea. This is because despite the progressive laws, the country lacks a big gay scene, particularly when compared to more conservative countries like South Korea and Hong Kong.
India has the potential to become a big gay mecca in Asia. It has a huge LGBTQ community (this is, after all, a country of almost 1.4 billion people), which is growing more and more visible and confident by the day, particularly since the country revoked its anti-gay laws in a . This is why it scored quite high on the Spartacus list with a rating of #57.
However, we place India towards the lower end of our list because society remains very conservative. For many gay Indian men, they have to lead a very closeted life and marry a woman to please their family in order to avoid being ostracised by their local community. In addition, the gay scene is small quite small and underground compared to other places further up on this list.
Nonetheless, India is one place in Asia we are keeping an eye on. We think it’s very likely to become one of the next Taiwan-like pink trailblazers on the continent…they have an openly gay Prince after all (read about him below) as well as a camp-as-hell movie industry, which released an unapologetically gay Bollywood film called Saavdhan (Extra Careful of Marriage).
Nepal has the opposite paradox of South Korea. On the Spartacus listing it’s the joint highest placed Asian country at #41 (joint with Taiwan). This is mainly due to the extremely progressive constitution introduced in 2007, which brought with it a whole array of LGBTQ friendly laws. However, like India, Nepalese society remains conservative, with men expected to marry and have children, so many gay men lead closeted lives. In addition, much like Vietnam, there is a comparatively small gay scene given how how queer friendly the laws are.
Gay travel in asia: is it safe?
We found gay travel in Asia to be very safe. The people are so respectful and love welcoming foreigners. We never once experienced any problems anywhere. In the worst-case scenario, people thought we are brothers. However, we were always careful to respect local customs by avoiding PDAs in certain places. We also checked in advance that the hotels we stayed at were ok to host a gay couple.
We also discovered that regardless of the LGBTQ laws, most places have some form of “gay scene”. At the end of the day, whether you’re in Bangkok, Moscow or Seoul, there will always be an LGBTQ community living and working there.
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Unlike many of our rival sites, has the unique advantage of being based in Thailand. This means that we are here to provide the best dating service for Thai singles, , Thai romance and even Thai if you are looking for a truly professional service, for any type of Thai connections, then you are in the right site!
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Welcome to Cupid, a gay man dating site that will put a smile on your face. It could be the case that you had been hoping to meet single gay guys sometime, without finding the most appropriate outlet? Perhaps you have previously tried connecting in singles bars or by hanging around in nightclubs known to be popular with a gay clientele? If you’ve yet to meet Mr. Right, this will have nothing to do with anything you have done but is more likely the case it isn’t easy to forge genuine connections in those settings.
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If you are gay and are looking for a man for fun relationships in your neighborhood, you have come to the right place. It’s so easy to find gay romance once you complete the free registration and become a member of Cupid.
I love Cupid so much! I have tried other gay dating sites before now but have never felt to be at home in any of them. They either seem to be aimed at people seeking instant results, where are you are never be guaranteed of capturing someone’s attention for more than a few messages. Or they are focusing on people seeking a long-term partnership. If like myself, you occupy the middle of these extremes, it’s often difficult to find a suitable platform to rely on. But this outlet it has transformed my love life. I was able to connect with a cute guy almost immediately, the site’s algorithm ensuring we were matched according to compatibility from the outset.
If you have never been tempted to look for a gay partner in the virtual environment before now, I would strongly suggest that you sign up for Cupid. I found this site so easy to navigate. Unlike other sites I have tried before now, this one put me in touch with a tremendous cross-section of handsome bears who appeared to be on the same wavelength. Some were so hunky! By browsing through a selection of profiles I was immediately able to come across individuals sharing my passions. I’m particularly interested in foreign dating and was soon connecting with charming gay dudes from different cultural backgrounds. I always find it stimulating to be able to interact with people from far-flung locations.
One thing that has particularly drawn me to this website is the fact that there are no international barriers. Within about a month of joining I was getting to know gay men in Canada, Scotland, Scandinavia, India, and France. I have made a terrific cross-section of fantastic new friends, and the online environment offered by this site is the perfect place where you can feel relaxed enough to begin sharing intimate details. I am already planning a holiday next year in one of the aforementioned locations where I will have my very own travel guide! The other day I was chatting to a handsome Spaniard from Madrid, picking up a lot of tips about Hispanic flirting!
Enter These Gay Chat Rooms and Find Kindred Spirits
Do you enjoy gay men chat? If you do, then signing up to become a member of Cupid will be the best step you could take. It’s easy to chat with gay guys once you have become a member of our site, developing the confidence to introduce yourself in the chat rooms and get familiar with a diverse range of site users.
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Finding love on dating sites can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. We compare some of the best online gay dating websites and apps for finding the one online. From the top dating sites, to those that offer free matches, this is the place to start.
Saul is TheTop10Site’s gay dating editor, and one of our senior staff writers. In addition to writing content, Saul manages a party production company and is an avid surfer.
There are a lot of gay saunas in Bangkok. Bangkok is huge and saunas are very different. When one gay sauna is working mainly for tourists, another one gay sauna can work mainly for local people. While one gay sauna in Bangkok may has middle-class visitors as a…
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Gay tour of Thailand
Discover how Thailand earned its moniker ‘The Land of Smiles‘ on this awesome gay tour with Out Adventures. The boys over at OA run four annual departures through the country with stops in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi and Phuket. Their April departure even aligns with the country’s famous Songkran water festival. As the old circuit ditty goes, LET’S GET SOAKING WET!
Experience Bangkok’s gay nightlife
Exploring Bangkok’s gay scene can be a bit overwhelming for first-timers. You can, however, join a fun gay night-time tour with a local guide to introduce you to the best gay bars and clubs. You’ll not only get to make new friends but also learn about gay life in Thailand from a cute local!
STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL
Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, avoiding any nasty surprises when you check in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off your first booking.
Stefan is the co-founder, editor, and author of the gay travel blog As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about traveling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends, and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gaycation Magazine, Gaycities, Gay Times, Pink News, and Attitude Magazine. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay-specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practiced as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more .
I was simply browsing about gay life in Thailand because of my plan to get a teaching job in one of its universities. I was happy to bump into this article. Its good to learn that Thailand seems to be more progressive in terms of LGBTQ advocacies. I’m intrigued by your culture of non-violence and how it interacts with tolerance, diversity, and all the other issues that concern the gay community.
Everytime when I read your posts I have a good time 🙂 Thanks for every single post you shared!
Hello, Bonjour and Welcome to our travel blog. We are Stefan and Sebastien a French/Greek gay couple from London. Together, we have been travelling the world for over 10 years. Nomadic Boys is our gay travel blog showcasing all our travel adventures as a gay couple.
DJ Station is one of Bangkok’s busiest gay nightclubs. Located at the far end of Silom Soi 2, this 3-storey club kicks off each night with a series of lip-syncing divas before things get taken up a notch with shirtless male dancers taking to the stage. Indulge in cheap drinks and an excellent music selection to keep you dancing throughout the night.
Locatie: 11 Silom 2/1, Silom, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand
Silom Soi 4 has a small concentration of chic restaurants, bars, karaoke joints, and award-winning pubs. One of Bangkok’s long-established gay nightlife spots, the overall atmosphere here is jovial and friendly. If you enjoy dramatic diva impersonations or drag fashion shows, stick around for lip-syncing performances that often take place right in the middle of the street.
Locatie: Soi Silom 4, Suriya Wong, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand
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Asian countries that have legalised LGBT
Currently, the countries in Asia where being gay is legal are: India, Nepal, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Mongolia, South Korea, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Russia (but not in Chechnya which has gay concentration camps).
See the sights of Asia on a gay tour
From the chaotic streets of New Deli, India to the quiet zen of Hakone, Japan, Out Adventures‘ has a vast roster of gay Asian tours showcasing the continent’s incredible diversity. Hikers will love their industrious Everest Base Camp climb in Nepal while foodies will naturally be drawn to their signature Thailand tour. Looking to get off the beaten path, you say? Well in our opinion, there’s no better escape than Out Adventures‘ far-flung Mongolian adventure.
LGBTQ rights in Taiwan
A big part of what makes Taiwan the most progressive Asian counry is that after the 38 years of the restrictive Martial Law era ended in 1987, there was a huge push for democracy and change. Anti-discrimination laws were passed in education (2004), employment (2007) and other areas of business (2017). In addition, gays were allowed to openly serve in the military from 2002, the right to change legal gender introduced in 2008 and conversion therapy outlawed in 2018.
The gay scene of Taiwan
The biggest LGBTQ community of Taiwan can be found in the capital, Taipei, which also has one of the best gay scenes in Asia. Most of the gay bars of Taipei are based in and around the Ximen Red House Complex, such as Cafe Dalida, Secret Garden and the Commander D fetish bar. Other gay bars nearby include Hero, Hunt, Goldfish and Fairy. In terms of gay clubs in Taipei, Gstar and Cercle are the most popular. Other cities in Taiwan like Kaohsiung, Tainan and Taichung City also have a few gay hangouts.
Gay events in Taiwan
Taiwan is notorious for having the largest gay festival in Asia: Taipei Pride. It takes place on the last Saturday in October, attracting crowds of around 150,000. Some of the best gay parties in Taiwan happen around Taipei Pride, in particular the WOOW Pool Party and the Formusa Pride Party. The Mr Gay Taiwan pageant also takes place in late October, usually coinciding with Taipei Pride. The other big gay event in Taipei to look out for is the monthly queer party called Blush. Find out more in our interview with local boy Po-Hung about gay life in Taiwan.
Did you know? Taiwan has its own God for homosexual love called Tu’er Shan or the Rabbit God. Tu’er Shan has his own temple in New Taipei City, making it the only gay religious shrine in the world!
Gay tour of Thailand
Discover how Thailand earned its moniker ‘The Land of Smiles‘ on this awesome gay tour with Out Adventures. The boys over at OA run four annual departures through the country with stops in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi and Phuket. Their April departure even aligns with the country’s famous Songkran water festival. As the old circuit ditty goes, LET’S GET SOAKING WET!
LGBTQ rights in Thailand
Thailand legalised homosexuality in 1956. At the time, it was one of the first Asian countries that legalised LGBT. Since 2015, it has had an array of anti-discrimination laws in place in education, employment and elsewhere, including hate speech. In relation to the military, gays have been allowed to openly serve since 2005 and homosexuality was declassified as an illness in 2002.
With regards to gay marriage, unlike Taiwan, this is not on the cards sadly. However, Thailand is in the process of reviewing a Life Partnership Bill. When this becomes law, it would grant LGBTQ couples limited rights relating to property and inheritance, but not for public welfare, tax benefits, or adoption.
The gay scene of Thailand
The majority of the gay scene of Thailand is in the capital, Bangkok, particularly around Silom Soi 4 and 6. We love it because there is always an exciting atmosphere and we always have a great time. Some of the main gay bars to check out include Stranger, Telephone and Balcony. The best gay club in Bangkok is DJ Station. Other places in Thailand with a gay scene include Phuket and Pattaya, and to a lesser extent, Chiang Mai.
Gay events in Thailand
Whilst the country doesn’t have a formal Pride taking place each year, Bangkok’s Songkran Gay Circuit Party in April is one of the most exciting gay festivals in Asia. Around this time of year, there is also an equivalent gay party taking place in Phuket and Pattaya. Also in Pattaya is the annual Asia Circuit Festival in June.
Bangkok had its first gay film festival in 2015, which is now the BangkokThai International Film Festival (BANGIFF), open to all. Whilst it’s lost its gay title, it still retains a significant LGBTQ segment. The BANGIFF takes place in October.
Did you know? Thailand is one of the most trans and LGBT friendly Asian countries. Find out more about transgender life in Thailand in our who moved from the Philippines to live in Bangkok. Also of note is that in March 2019, transgender filmmaker Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, was elected to the Thai parliament, becoming the country’s first ever transgender MP.
Gay tour of Cambodia and Laos
Every November, our friends at Out Adventures organise a fabulous gay tour through Laos and Cambodia. Channel your inner Lara Croft as you sashay your way through the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, explore the vibrant nightlife of Phnom Penh with a group of fabulous like-minded men, immerse yourself in the serenity of Luang Prabang and try a few exotic culinary discoveries…barbecued spider anyone?
LGBTQ rights in Cambodia
Cambodia has no record of ever having any anti-gay laws in its history! The equal age of consent has always been 15 for everyone whether straight or gay. However, there are not yet any anti-discrimination laws in effect. Whilst gay marriage is not yet legal in Cambodia, in 2018 the government introduced a civil contract that gay couples can enter into called a “Declaration of Family Relationship” (DoFR), offering limited rights. The DoFR is a symbolic civil contract between two people who are willing to be together and share responsibility of taking care of family, children and to distribute joint assets.
The gay scene of Cambodia
The capital, Phnom Penh, is where you’ll find the best gay bars and clubs like Toolbox, Space and Blue Chilli. Siem Reap, the base to visit Angkor Wat, also has a fun gay scenewith gay bars like Miss Wong, Barcode and Heaven & DreamBoys.
Gay events in Cambodia
In May, there is an annual Pride in Phnom Penh going strong since 2003. More recently since 2018, Siem Reap also has an annual Pride taking place in May.
Did you know? Rumour has it that ! Nothing is official but this ballet-dancing-lifelong-bachelor remains a much-loved figure in Cambodia. Whether King Sihamoni is gay or not, one thing he has publicly come out for is for progressive LGBTQ rights, including gay marriage. Read more about gay Cambodia in our .
Experience Japan on a gay tour
Psst! Want in on a secret? Our friends at Out Adventures recently launched a super kawaii tour of Japan. On this all-gay foray, travelers will ride the Shinkansen bullet train between Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo. Highlights include a street food tour, samurai experience, a night in an authentic onsen, and an evening in Tokyo’s gay district, Shinjuku Ni-chōme.
We place Japan high on this list because from our perspective as foreigners, we feel it is one of the safest and most welcoming nations in Asia. And where else in the world are you going to find a city with over 300 gay bars?!
LGBTQ rights in Japan
Japan got rid of its anti-gay laws in 1880 and interestingly has one of the lowest ages of consent in the world – 13 (which is the same for everyone, straight or gay). Other progressive laws include the right to change your legal gender (introduced in 2003) and gays allowed to openly serve in the Japanese military.
With regards to anti-discrimination laws, there are none nationwide. However, Tokyo and Ibaraki each have their own anti-discrimination laws in place. In relation to gay marriage, it is not legal in Japan, although some parts of the country allows LGBTQ couples to register a “Partnership Certificate”, which gives limited rights to aid with hospital visits and renting apartments.
The gay scene of Japan
Tokyo has a whopping 300 or so small gay bars crammed together in the “Ni-Chōme” area of the Shinjuku district. Some of the main gay bars and clubs of Tokyo to check out include Arty Farty, Campy! and AiiRo. Check out our for more details. Other cities in Japan that have a few notable queer hangouts include Nagasaki, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima.
Gay travel to Japan
As gay travellers to Japan, we felt very welcome. When it comes to customer service the Japanese are ahead of everyone. They do everything with such precision and attention to detail, always with a smile. Whoever you are, you’ll feel this in Japan. For locals, however, the situation is more complex because Japanese society is quite conservative. Despite this, it’s changing and improving all the time; certainly by Asian standards.
Did you know? The original geisha of Japan were men not women! The taikomochi were male advisors, artists and gifted storytelling entertainers to their feudal lords dating back to the 1200s. The first female geisha didn’t actually appear in Japan until the 1700s, but quickly grew so popular that “geisha” became associated with women rather than men.
LGBTQ rights in The Philippines
Homosexuality has always been legal in the Philippines and the age of consent has always been the same for everyone throughout its history. Interestingly, the Philippines has one of the lowest ages of consent in the world: 12!
Anti-discrimination laws are in place across parts of the Philippines and will soon be applied nationwide. In relation to the military, gays have been allowed to openly serve in the Filipino army since 2009. With regards to gay marriage, although this is not yet legal in the Philippines, the Civil Partnership Bill was introduced in October 2017 and is likely to become law very soon.
The gay scene of The Phillipines
The main gay scene of the Philippines is in the capital, Manila, which has hangouts like O Bar, Adonis and Nectar. Other cities with notable LGBTQ hangouts include Davao City, Quezon City and Cebu.
Boracay Island used to be a massive gay party destination. Find out more in our . You can also read about what it’s like growing up gay in the Philippines in our .
Gay events in The Philippines
Manila Pride in late June is the largest gay event in the Philippines, attracting around 25,000 people. Quezon City also has a Pride in March. The annual QC International Pink Film Festival (QCIPFF) in Quezon City in November is famous for being one of the largest and best LGBTQ film festivals in Asia.
The Filipinos are very enthusiastic about beauty pageants, particularly the Mr Gay competitions. Every year the Philippines send their representative to the Mr Gay World competition, and have even won it twice: John Fernandez Raspado in 2017 and Janjep Carlos in 2019.
Did you know? The Phiippines has the only LGBTQ political party in the world! In 2003, the LGBTQ political party (meaning “out of the closet”) was established by writer Danton Remoto. Sadly, due to lack of political funding, their campaigning efforts were limited, so they only managed to get 0.38% of votes in the 2010 election, 0.37% in 2013 and were disqualified in the 2016 elections.
LGBTQ rights in Hong Kong
The anti-gay laws were revoked in 1991 with the age of consent equalised to 16 in 2006. There are anti-discrimination laws in place but only for government employees. In terms of gay marriage laws, there are none, but this is currently being challenged in the Hong Kong High Court. Foreign registered gay marriages are however recognised in Hong Kong.
The gay scene of Hong Kong
Despite its small size, there are a number of gay bars across Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, particularly in Central and Tsim Sha Tsui. Some of the best gay bars and clubs in Hong Kong include: FLM, T:ME Bar, Petticoat Lane and Bing Bing.
Gay events in Hong Kong
Hong Kong Pride in November is the largest gay festival, attracting around 10,000 people. In addition, on the 17th May, there is an annual procession for the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). The Hong Kong Lesbian & Gay Film Festival in September is regarded as the oldest LGBTQ film festival in Asia, dating back to 1989.
Did you know? Hong Kong is confirmed to host the Gay Games 2022. The Gay Games is like the LGBTQ equivalent of the Olympic Games, held every 4 years. It started in 1982 in San Francisco and has been hosted in a different city ever since, mainly in North America, Europe and Australia. This will be the first time it takes place in Asia, which is terrific news for the LGBTQ community of Hong Kong!
LGBTQ rights in South Korea
On the one hand, South Korea has never had any anti-gay laws ever in its history. The age of consent has always been equal at 13, and the right to change legal gender was introduced in 2006. But on the other hand, there are no gay marriage or civil union laws, no national anti-discrimination laws and there is an outright ban on LGBTQ people openly serving in the military.
The silver lining: whilst there are not yet any national anti-discrimination laws, many provinces are enacting them at a local level and in 2014, the government voted in favour of an anti-discrimination UN resolution against LGBTQ people. In addition, homosexuality was officially declassified as “harmful and obscene” in 2003. In relation to gay marriage, there is a strong push to change the constitution in favour of gay marriage, with important court cases taking place about it.
The gay scene of South Korea
Seoul has one of the largest gay scenes in Asia with queer hubs in Homo Hill in Itaewon, and also in Jongno. Homo Hill is where the majority of the popular gay bars of Seoul can be found like Lollipop, Queen, Q-Bar, Almaz, Always Homme, Bottoms Up and Why Not. Jongno is where the original Seoul village started out and is now more of a local scene with places like OWOO, Wallpaper Karaoke Bar and The Nine.
Seoul also has some of the best gay parties, like Trance and Shade @ CakeShop, Gray Club, SOHO, King, HIM by Pulse and the HOMPA by Le Queen. The Seoul gay scene also has a large drag show scene, which has given us the likes of Kim Chi and Soju on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Gay events in South Korea
What South Korea has in terms of conservative Christian intolerance, it sure as hell makes up for it in terms of a gay scene and queer events! Seoul Pride sums this up. Every year, usually in June/July, the capital hosts the second largest LGBTQ event in Asia (after Taipei Pride) called the , attracting crowds of around 120,000.
Sadly, as popular as this event is, conservative Christian groups always try to hinder it. They managed to get it cancelled in 2015 and in 2018, an managed to get almost 220,000 signatures! Thankfully, it still went ahead successfully, as have all subsequent Seoul Pride events since.
The Seoul Drag Parade started in May 2018, campaigning for awareness for the queer community. It was so successful that it become an annual event every May. In terms of film festivals, the Korea Queer Film Festival (KQFF) takes place in July. Finally, the circuit parties in August rival the Songkran Circuit parties of Thailand as some of the best in Asia.
Did you know? Seoul has become one of Asia’s top destinations for plastic surgery, particularly among men looking to achieve a “pretty boy” look and a macho physique; usually inspired by the strong K-Pop culture like boy band Shinee.
In the K-pop world itself, more and more celebrities are coming out. For example, in March 2016 the girl group Mercury debuted with Choi Han-bit – a transgender model; and in January 2018 the singer Holland famously came out, becoming the first openly gay K-pop idol in the country.
LGBTQ rights in Vietnam
Vietnam has never had any anti-gay laws, has always had an equal age of consent for intercourse (17), gays are allowed to openly serve in the military, the right to change your legal gender was introduced in 2017 and single gay people are allowed to adopt. There are no anti-discrimination laws yet, but in 2006, the Government passed an anti-discrimination law to protect people with HIV from discrimination, which included provisions for free health care.
Whilst there are no gay marriage laws yet in Vietnam, in 2015 the government passed the Law on Marriage and Family, which outlaws the ban on gay weddings. Whilst this doesn’t give any recognition to gay couples, it does allow gay marriage ceremonies to take place without fear of arrest.