Gay Travel in Southeast Asia
Gay travel is relatively new to the region, although Thailand has experienced for a longer period of time the flow of gay travel. Lolei Travel is not new to gay travel. We have an understanding of the preferences of gay couples and cater to every need in detail. We offer gay travelers the intimacy and exclusivity often missing on tour. In a region where public affection between straight couples is hardly accepted, to express affection between gay couples in public seems unthinkable. At Lolei Travel we understand that this could lead to frustration among gay couples and therefore we have designed programs that venture off the beaten path and allow gay couples to appreciate intimately the delights Southeast Asia has to offer.
Over the years we built up a relationship with our partners in the industry that are referred to as “gay friendly” and maintain that relationship carefully. Where some countries in Asia may still be conservative about the idea of gay travel, Thailand and Cambodia in particular enjoy a very open mind to it. Laos is a new destination and a place where many gay couples have opened up gay friendly businesses. In Vietnam, especially the southern part, the scene has busted right open. More and more gay orientated businesses are opening up in the North of Vietnam as well. Like anywhere else, it pays off to do extensive research on what is available and how the community in Asia receives gay couples traveling together.
There are a few pointers to think about when traveling to this region as a gay couple. Most of those pointers actually apply as much to any other traveler as to gay travel.
- Do not show public affection, like hugging or kissing in public. It is not common for even straight couples to do so
- Do not obviously out yourself as being gay. In both the west and in Asia people would react the same to your appearance.
- People’s direct speech in this region is a given, if people do comment in a funny way about your sexuality or you being together with a same sex partner, just laugh it off and joke back
- Study the local customs of each country you visit
- Ask your guide, Lolei Travel or your hotel about areas better to avoid at night
- Ask your guide or Lolei Travel for places recommended for you that are gay friendly
- Be aware of friendly invitations from strangers and turn it down politely if you do not trust it. Gay bars are a hotspot for scammers and con artists
- There are ladyboys who jump people late at night to make “fun”. Once they leave you alone, you will find out they took your belongings! Do not walk by yourself in any area late at night.
Keep in mind that general safety starts with your own preparation, as in any part of the world. Being gay is nothing new to this region and gay travel is safe as long as you omit to the basic rules of travel safety in general. Prepare yourself by reading in on customs and be a model traveler.
The facilities we have selected for you, accommodations, restaurants and bars cater perfectly to gay travel. They offer a no-hassle environment that makes you feel ultimately safe and appreciated. Combine it with the intellectual input of experts, the off the beaten trails and the intimate arrangements and you have a great holiday. Share and celebrate your travels with your partner in peace. Let us know your preferences and we will tailor a perfectly fitting tour for you.
Our picks for Gay Travel:
The Knai Bang Chatt in Kep is a perfect place for gay travel. The property has been designed beautifully and it is offering a lot of privacy to all of its guests. The property is gay managed and offers a very laid back atmosphere. The management welcomes all guests, who are all treated equally.
A favorite for many, gay travel or not, are the Rambutan Resort properties in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Designed well in an urban atmosphere with excellent service and privacy. The staff are the highlight and always ensures you feel comfortable. It also has two excellent restaurants. Next door, the Arthur & Paul hotel allows for a luxury boutique experience catered by an exclusive-male staff providing highest quality service to the greatest degrees of elegance and discretion.
Eating in Phnom Penh along the riverside is popular and people from all walks of life dine and drink in any restaurant on this stretch. Popular gay owned restaurants are Bougainvillier and Metro Cafe.
A favorite late night spot in Phnom Penh is Pontoon. Not necessarily a gay club, but popular with all sorts of people at any night. On Thursdays they have “Shameless”, which is a gay event. Other late night spots include the Blue Chili Bar and the Rainbow Bar.
Siem Reap’s scene is simpler, but not necessarily smaller. Good late night cocktail bars in town that offer gay friendly services are Miss Wong and The Station. Very popular paces to dine are Viroth’s and Chanrey Tree. These popular restaurants attract large crowds every night.
Cambodia does not have a particular gay scene in disco’s but the scene in any of the late night clubs in general is pretty big. Try Zone One or The Pyramid Club.
The Tarntawan Place is a hotel that never seems to bet out of style. The hotel’s location is in the Silom area. It has been a gay friendly hotel for year. Tucked away in a courtyard, the Tarntawan offers great privacy in a very happening district of Bangkok.
When venturing to the beach, Le Passe-Temps offers utter privacy in beautiful Krabi in one of the most beautiful bays in Asia. The location of the hotel is just above the beach. It gives you the feeling of having your own private secluded paradise.
When you seek a bit more adventure and head up north of Thailand, the 137 Pillars House revives the old world elegance of the Orient and invites guests to enjoy every modern luxury. Also Imagine caters well to the needs of gay travelers and is located in the “Green Zone”. The resort was designed as a place to escape from the crowds and pace of city life in order to unwind and reconnect with nature.
Nightlife and restaurants in Thailand is huge. The main areas for gay people to hang out at night are along Patpong in Silom district and Sukhumvit with its stylish bars and restaurants. Recommending just one of them would not do the experience justice, so we just urge you to head for Soi Twilight and get your groove on there. The choice of gay friendly restaurants is unlimited in Silom Soi 4!
Other parts of Thailand also offer a wide variety in the gay scene. In Krabi the only real gay bar is Fox Bar. It is a new place that offers a very relaxing atmosphere. Nearby Phuket Island however offers a wider variety for the gay traveler in terms of nightlife. Kiss and Zag clubs are both well respected and the long running Boat Bar in Phuket is a favorite for both locals and tourists.
Chiang Mai has a wide variety of gay owned and gay friendly places to dance away the night, although not 100% gay focused. Barocco and Relax are two karaoke clubs that are gay owned and managed and the See Man Pub has recently been opened as well.
The Radchada Café and Anchan Restaurant are two selections in different areas where you can enjoy food in a relaxing environment and catch up on the latest information that keeps the gay scene moving in the north of Thailand.
In the heart of district 1, where all the action takes place for tourists, the Pink Tulip hotel offers friendly Gay orientated service. A standard hotel for the price, great location and service in return! Right next to the Ben Thanh, the more deluxe Liberty Central Hotel offers great views over the park and is conveniently located a short walk from all downtown action.
The gay scene in Vietnam is a bit more conservative as the other surrounding countries. Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City as it is referred to these days, still has a pumping scene that goes on until the early hours. The Apocalypse Now is a disco where locals and foreigners find themselves mixed up dancing on all kind of tunes. Not necessarily gay focused, it does attract a pretty big local gay crowd. The QBar is a stylish café style entity where the more sophisticated mingle. Great restaurants to eat at are Eden Lounge and The Fig Café.
The deluxe Fusion Maia in Danang offers a great escape from the bustling city life around Vietnam. It is an all villa resort with very friendly staff and regular entertainment catering to the younger crowds with private DJ parties and performances. In Danang, the Cafe Indochine of the Furama Resort is a popular and stylish dining place. The Furama Resort also has a club called the Tourane. The gay crowds of Danang and neighboring cities love to come over in the weekends and get their groove on.
The very stylish Hotel De L’Opera MGallery Collection in Hanoi recreates an experience of an evening at the Opera. The facilities are as one may expect and exceed expectations in quality and comfort. The hotel is in an area with an array of restaurants to select from in the neighborhood. And while you are eating, try the Tangerine Restaurant with a very laidback atmosphere! Hanoi’s nightlife was long very conservative but as the world evolves, so did Hanoi. The GC (Golden Cock) is Hanoi’s oldest and best knows Gay bar. New bars have arrived on the scene such as Aqua Club and Solace Bar.
The place to be in Laos is usually Luang Prabang and also here the gay scene is opening up bit by bit. New gay-owned properties such as Hotel Laos and The Apsara Rive Droit have opened up. The Belgian owned The House in Luang Prabang offers a great Belgian Beer selection and good food. Also the Tangore Restaurant caters to a Gay Friendly atmosphere. A nice place to get together is the Hive Bar in Luang Prabang.
The Riverside Boutique Hotel in Vang Vieng is a gay friendly property that won the prestigious award of “Asia’s Best Design Hotel”. Located beautifully and surrounded by the limestone karst formations of Vang Vieng, the property offers peace and harmony to any traveler.
In the south, the River Resort Laos is a gay friendly property that offers great quality and service. Also not a 100% gay orientated business, the villa’s and view are unbeatable. The attached restaurant serves amazing food as well and staff, as always is very friendly and helpful.
Nightlife in Laos in general is pretty much non-existent, which makes for a quiet holiday. An activity that we recommend is to visit the Ock Pop Tock workshop in Luang Prabang. Although not fully gay orientated, it is a great and peaceful outing to spend an afternoon learning about the local culture and productions of silk.
Myanmar has not developed itself yet as a gay friendly destination. As the country opens up to the world, many changes will rapidly make their entry including gay friendly services. From the Three Seasons Guesthouse to the ultra-luxury Belmond Governor’s Residence in Yangon, there are options available.
In Yangon, the J-One Bar is a popular hangout spot for the local gay crowd, expats and travelers alike. Especially in the weekends it can get busy here with local patrons. An interesting monthly event is fab. This event has no particular venue and rotates throughout the city monthly. It attracts virtually the entire LGBT crowd of the city. Check their Facebook page to remain updated where their next event will be. If you like to crank it up a notch or two, then we recommended the 9th floor disco. Be ready to mingle with the real hip crowd of Yangon.
A very relaxing atmosphere awaits at the Spa D’Lax. Ko Ko’s is a nice and relaxing place to unwind after a day in the city. The Silver Oak is a very popular spot, especially from 8PM onward. A quiet wine and dine can be enjoyed at the 50th street Café, or Lavender where the local gay couples like to come as well.
The second city of Myanmar, Mandalay, also offers to a certain extend facilities to gay travelers. The Lime and Paradise Spa’s both offer gay friendly services when you are looking to relax after a full day tour. If you love nature, try a bite at the Ava Restaurant. A car, a boat and an oxcart will eventually land you at this restaurant where the service and atmosphere are really relaxed.
The Inle Lake, more precisely Nyaungschwe town, have a few gay friendly options. For having a nice meal or drink around the Inle Lake we recommend The One Owl Grill and the Pub Asiatico are. Both gay owned and gay friendly places.
Other towns around Myanmar have very limited facilities that cater solely to gay travelers. An interesting option for gay travelers in Myanmar is to attend a Nat Festival. Different festivals are being held around the country throughout the year. It is not necessarily a gay festival or has any direct links to the gay community. However, most of the participants and Shaman’s are in fact gay. The most important festival of them all, and possibly the answer from Myanmar to Gay Pride Festivals, is the Taungbyone Festival just north of Mandalay. Yearly the festival attracts pretty much the entire gay population of Myanmar. It is a great place to get to know more about the local gay culture and perhaps get a few tips for on the road!