12 April 2023
Asia is a continent with great diversity, and that extends to its attitude towards LGBTQ travelers. While some countries remain hostile and closeted, others are opening their doors and welcoming the community with open arms. Here are our seven top picks for the best gay-friendly places in Asia.
1. Taipei, Taiwan
Taiwan is one of the top Asian travel destinations for the LGBTQ community. The country was the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriages, making it a wonderful location to exchange vows with your soulmate. Every October, Taiwan’s Pride event is held in Taipei, the country’s capital. Over 10,000 LGBTQ tourists come to the festival to celebrate equality in Asia. You can look forward to exciting parades, eccentric costumes, and an upbeat environment.
Taipei’s gay scene has a distinctly European flavor and is centered in the busy center of the city, the Zhongshan district. There are lively bars and clubs in and around Zhongxiao and Yandang that offer an excellent introduction to the gay scene in the city. The bars tend to be on the quiet side on weekdays and are only open from late afternoon to early evening. But on weekends they can be packed with many visitors from the expat community who are often seen at trendy bars clustered around Zhongxiao East Road.
2. Bangkok, Thailand
Long regarded as a bastion of conservative Thai culture, Bangkok is now one of Asia’s most progressive cities when it comes to LGBTQ rights. They have anti-discrimination rules that cover hate speech, so you can relax and enjoy Thailand without worrying. Several political parties declared their support for same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights prior to the 2019 general election, which reflects how the city’s laws are slowly changing for the better.
As the most populous city in the region, Thailand’s capital is also its most sophisticated. It’s the home of award-winning luxury hotels and spas, and the epicenter of the annual world-class gay and lesbian events, Bangkok Pride. There are more than a hundred bars and clubs catering to a wide range of tastes, from clubbing to karaoke, and a vibrant LGBTQ scene, particularly in the trendy San Kamphaeng area. Silom Soi 4 is also an ideal location to party and have fun. There are many LGBT-friendly clubs there that you might want to check out, including DJ Station, which is the biggest and most well-known gay bar in Bangkok.
3. Bali, Indonesia
Bali, Indonesia is another LGBT-welcoming nation in Asia that respects and welcomes people of all gender identities. Bali is well-known for its magnificent beaches and stunning natural scenery which make it famous as a surfing destination. Bali is synonymous with long, lazy, sun-kissed days and nights. The Balinese are also known to be friendly, hospitable, and welcoming people who make their island home feel like a home away from home for guests.
Bali gay clubs and nightly shows also flourish, thanks to their improved tolerance of the gay community. This has opened the door to attracting LGBTQ tourists and significantly boosted the local scene. A solid part of the local LGBTQ community is the beautiful and diverse set of gay and lesbian-owned bars and restaurants in the area. For some of the best bars in the area, check out the Fantasy Lounge or Paradiso Lounge. And if you’re looking for even more gay nightlife, consider checking out Gayrly in the old town of Ubud for a more upscale experience. Batu Belig and Double Six are the places to go if you want to relax and get a gorgeous tan. They are renowned for being among the nicest and have an incredible view every evening of the sun setting.
If you’re looking for a location to go with your significant other or find yourself a date, check out Seminyak’s well-known Mixwell and Bali Joe Bars, which both offer fantastic ambiance and beverages.
4. Saigon / Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam
Vietnam is a popular destination in Asia. Travelers can go out to enjoy the beach and enjoy the nightlife. Vietnamese people are very friendly and welcoming, so you won’t need to be nervous when touring the city, even though there isn’t yet an anti-discrimination law in place in Vietnam.
Saigon’s gay-friendly bars are the ideal place to meet fellow travelers in a friendly and relaxing atmosphere. Thi Bar and The Tipsy Unicorn are popular LGBTQ-friendly locations in Ho Chi Minh City. LGBTQ-owned The Fig Cafe is a great place to eat delectable Vietnamese cuisine. Gay travelers can also take advantage of and unwind at District 10 Nam Spa, which is a professional therapeutic relaxing spa for males.
While in Hanoi, there is only one gay-friendly pub, the GC Bar, which is close to Hoan Kiem Lake.
5. Hong Kong, China
Hong Kong has a reputation for being one of Asia’s most LGBTQ-friendly cities. The first Pride parade in Hong Kong was held in 2004 and has become an annual celebration that is attended by thousands of people. Hong Kong is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world and is a great place for a gay vacation. The city’s LGBTQ nightlife is growing fast and there are several gay bars and clubs. The bars, saunas, and massage parlors that cater to gay men are often more discreet than their heterosexual counterparts. There are also great and trendy bars for queer women to meet up, drink cocktails, socialize, and dance the night away.
There are plenty of bars and cafes where you can find the best of what Hong Kong’s LGBTQ community has to offer. Take a trip down Little Italy for an Italian-inspired meal at Cafe Love, a café-bar with performances by drag queens and dancers. Other popular LGBTQ venues include the Asian Cock Club, a gay bar that plays the best of Asian music. If you’re looking for a more modern vibe, head over to the Apple Store in the Prince Edward Building. It is home to a performance venue, a café bar, a restaurant, and a club with a dance floor, all within the same building. To learn more about Hong Kong’s LGBTQ community, check out the Hong Kong Tourism Board’s website.
6. Tokyo, Japan
Japan is known for its beautiful landscapes and culture and is one of the most popular cities in Asia. Given its high level of safety and warmth, it is one of our favorite LGBTQ-friendly countries in Asia. It is most famous for its Shibuya scene in Harajuku and Takeshita Street. The Tokyo metropolitan area is home to a large LGBTQ community and even has a gay-friendly neighborhood called Shinjuku-nishi. If you’re a gay traveler and you’re planning on visiting Tokyo, you should make sure to check out some of the gay bars in this area. In Shinjuku-nishi, there are many options, including the famous Shinjuku Prince which is a venue famous for its karaoke and monthly gay nights.
If you wish to enjoy a fantastic dining experience, there are more venues that are LGBTQ-friendly, such as the Toyosu Fish Market, 24 Kaikan Shinjuku bathhouse, and Colourful Station. Moreover, the LGBTQ community is welcome to attend the monthly parties at the Shangri-La Age Ga Club.
7. Siem Reap, Cambodia
Cambodia doesn’t have anti-gay laws, but in 2018 the Cambodian government introduced the “Declaration of Family Relationship,” a civil compact that allows couples to jointly manage their finances and raise a family. The best time to travel to this LGBT-friendly country is in May, so you can celebrate gay pride, which has been a staple event since 2003 to honor the LGBTQ community.
Cambodia’s gay scene is great for a night out and fun in the sun. There is a strong lesbian scene as well. You can enjoy touring Angkor Wat by day and party all night. Siem Reap is home to Cambodia’s best markets, the largest temple in the country, and is the country’s capital. In Phnom Penh, there are plenty of gay bars and clubs to check out including Cafe do Phlap, Paddy’s Pub, and Foxy Lady. Make sure you check out Pinky’s Bar and The Bar at the Republic Hotel. The capital has some great bars and clubs too. Some of them include Le Bar, and X Bar. One of the best gay scenes in Cambodia is in the beach town of Sihanoukville.
These are not just some of the most gay-friendly places in Asia, but also some of our favorite places to visit (what a coincidence!) So where are you heading on your next trip?