Gay-friendly countries in Asia exist even if there is still discrimination against gays in these areas. If you’re planning a memorable Asian travel for you and your gay partner, consider these countries for your next getaway.
While many Asian countries are still deeply conservative, there have been some major gains in LGBT rights in recent decades. Taiwan, for instance, has a long history of tolerance and recently became the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage. It’s also one of the most LGBTQ-friendly countries in Asia, along with Nepal and Thailand.
The capital city, Taipei, is famous for its hedonistic nightlife and has several gay bars. The unofficial gay district, Ximending, has an anything-goes atmosphere that is popular with hedonists and features world-class clubs and a sauna scene. It also hosts a Pride Parade each year that draws tens of thousands of people.
There are also a number of gay-friendly restaurants and cafés in the city. Some are even owned by LGBT businesspeople. If you’re looking for a more intimate experience, visit Al Reves, which has a restaurant and lounge with a sophisticated feel.
Whether you’re seeking to sample authentic nasi lemak in Singapore, eat takoyaki squid balls on neon-lit streets in Osaka, or delve into Eastern culture through guarded Korean palaces and ancient Khmer kingdoms, there is no shortage of things to do in Asia. If you’re a gay traveler, though, it can be a daunting prospect, especially with countries that criminalize homosexuality and deeply pious cultures. But, there’s no need to be afraid – here are some tips from a gay couple who has traveled extensively in Asia.
The lively Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, goes way deeper than the tired “Paris of South America” cliche. Sure, the city’s cafes spill onto sidewalks and there’s a wealth of Belle Epoque architecture. But Buenos Aires wouldn’t be what it is without its native Argentines and immigrant Portenos. Their passions – for politics, soccer (futbol), and tango – are what make it distinctly Buenos Aires.
In 2010 Argentina made history by enacting constitutional protection for homosexuals and transgender people. Today, the country’s undisputed LGBTQ capital boasts a bounty of bars and clubs in the Palermo neighborhood. And its Marcha del Orgullo, Buenos Aires’ Gay Pride, is a raucous annual frolic.
Whether you’re in it for the steaks, mate (a local infusion that’s also a social ritual), or tango, this is a city of many passions. But perhaps the most passionate of all is the people themselves. Portenos are a warm and friendly bunch. They greet you with a hug and kiss, engage in long conversations on any subject, and will be happy to introduce you to their friends.
The Museum of Latin American Art, MALBA, is a must-visit for art lovers. Its extensive collection includes works by iconic artists such as Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Antonio Berni. It also hosts regular film and lecture series. And don’t miss the chance to tour the historic Buenos Aires Central Railroad Terminal, designed by Italian architect Mario Palanti in the theme of Dante’s Inferno.
Despite not having gay marriage or rights, Thailand is considered one of the most gay-friendly Asian countries for its socially liberal attitudes and vibrant Bangkok and Phuket LGBT scenes. However, the same can’t be said for many smaller provincial towns and rural areas where homosexuality is not widely accepted.
Gays and lesbians are welcomed by the people in the capital Phnom Penh, where there’s a wild and crazy queer party scene, and Siem Reap, which is similarly open to LGBTQ travelers with multiple racy bars and clubs offering drag shows and entertainment. It’s worth noting, however, that there are also places where a simple hold of hands with a partner can be frowned upon.
In the cosmopolitan city of Singapore, there are numerous gay-friendly bars and restaurants and LGBT businesses, such as hotels, cafés, and wellness centers. It was even listed by CNN as one of the top 5 most gay-friendly Asian cities to visit in 2022.
As for the rest of Asia, its progress toward accepting gays and lesbians is slow. However, there are signs of progress with regard to the younger generation, particularly in Taiwan, South Korea, and the Philippines, where a recent study found that 78 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds believe same-sex couples should be treated equally. It’s also encouraging to see that more and more people are supporting LGBT rights through Pride marches and Non-Profit Organizations.
In Vietnam, same-sex relationships are legal, and gay pride events have been going on since 2012. Gay hotels are common, and the city of Ho Chi Minh is home to a lively scene with racy bars and clubs that host drag shows and other entertainment. It’s also a very affordable destination, and Spartacus ranks it at number 41 on its list of top gay travel destinations in Asia.
In Thailand, homosexuality is not criminalized and anti-discrimination laws are in place, but the country has a long way to go when it comes to addressing LGBT-related violence. It’s a popular tourist destination, so it should come as no surprise that there have been several cases of sexual assault and hate crimes against the LGBT community in recent years.
Despite the challenges, Asia is a vibrant, diverse continent with a lot to offer for LGBTQ travelers. From the swanky clubs of Taipei to the river tubing and backpacker party scene of Siem Reap, there are plenty of options for everyone.
It’s also a great place to try some of the world’s best food, from noodle soup in Singapore to takoyaki squid balls on neon-lit Osaka streets. And, of course, there’s always the opportunity to experience some truly unique Asian culture – from guarded Korean palaces to ancient Khmer kingdoms. Just be sure to take the necessary precautions and always remember to travel safely.