The Hornet Guide to Gay Bangkok
Bangkok is famous for its tropical beaches, opulent palaces and exuberant nightlife. No wonder gay Bangkok has been a top travel choice. As one of the most gay-friendly Asian countries, Thailand legalized same-sex activities in 1956. However, Thai law currently does not recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships. Thailand only passed a bill in 2015 to criminalize discrimination against LGBTs.
Useful tips before your next trip to gay Bangkok
When visiting Bangkok, keep in mind that sex work is not entirely illegal in Thailand. While laws prohibit public solicitation, visitors may occasionally encounter sex workers at bars or massage parlors. To avoid this situation, we have enclosed our Thai Phrasebook, which includes some essential phrases.
Must-Visit Temples in Bangkok
Bangkok is famous for its beautiful Buddhist temples all around the city. Wat Arun, the most visited landmark in Thailand, is famous for its magnificent architecture with colorful porcelain adorning the central tower.
Wat Phra Kaew, commonly known in English as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is the most sacred Buddhist temple in Bangkok. The Emerald Buddha, the stunning dark green statue carved from a single jade stone, is, of course, the main featurehere. Wat Phra Kaew has over 100 buildings, and has existed for over 200 years.
Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is right behind the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Not only is it one of the largest temple complexes in Bangkok, it’s also one of the leading massage schools in Thailand. Visitors can receive traditional Thai massages.
Golden Buddha is, well, a gold Buddha statue that weighs about 5 tons. You can find it in the temple of Wat Traimit. Wat Saket, Temple of the Golden Mount, is another must-visit temple with a rich history dating back to the Ayutthaya Period.
It’s worth mentioning that there are specific codes of conduct for each shrine. Be sure to show the proper amount of respect — after all, these are places of worship with deep cultural meaning. Don’t be a fool.
Experience floating markets around Bangkok
One of the most interesting authentic Thai experiences is riding on a small boat, floating through canals around the local markets. The Damnoen Saduak is the best-known floating market in Bangkok, full of boats selling fruit and other food.
Amphawa, the second-most popular market in Thailand, is in the southwest of Bangkok. This floating market lined with little wooden houses. Amphawa offers souvenirs, local snacks and sweets. Even though this market is far away from the center of Bangkok, you can beat the crowds by coming in the late morning.
On the other hand, Taling Chan, is not too far from downtown Bangkok. It’s open all day — and in addition to plenty of market boats, it’s surrounded by a giant local market on land. And if you’re all shopped out, relax with a a small longtail boat cruise around the nearby canals and take in the beautiful sights.
If you’re looking for experiences beyond the standard tourist attractions, there are plenty of options. May we recommend the phallic shrine in downtown Bangkok? You can see hundreds of wooden penises scattered around an outdoor garden.
If you’re a soccer fan, you’ll want to go worship at the gold David Beckham statue at Wat Pariwat. The Giant Dragon Tower is another temple just outside of Bangkok worth exploring. The tower’s name is particularly apt —there’s a giant dragon coiled around the red 17-storey tower. And that’s not the only one — the grounds are decorated with even more dragons.
If you love a good ghost story, you don’t want to miss Wat Mahabut and the tragic tale about a legendary Thai bride who died. Pay respect and learn about what happened to her after she died.
Expect the unexpected at Bangkok’s many surprising museums. At the Counterfeit Goods Museum, you can see all the counterfeit goods acquired during police raids. You’ll also find out how to tell real from fake.
The Bangkok Forensic Museum is not for the squeamish. It’s located inside of an actual hospital, and you’ll learn a lot about pathology and anatomic forensics. But be warned — there are plenty of real bodies of accident victims and people who have been murdered. So if you don’t want to see actual dead people, you may give this one a pass.
Holy Temples, Batman! There is a museum dedicated to the Caped Crusader and his superheroic friends just outside of Bangkok. Explore magazines, toys, costumes and anything you can dream of, as long as it’s related to the Superfriends here.
The House of Museums is a place to reminisce about the past. This private collection has thousands of random everyday objects dating back to the 1960’s. See what normal life was like for Thai people in the relatively recent past.
Gay Bangkok nightlife
There’s no shortage of bars and clubs in gay Bangkok nightlife. The Stranger Bar, located on Silom 4, the main gayborhood in Bangkok, is a must-visit place known for its legendary drag shows. Miss M Stranger Fox, voted as one of the best drag queens in Thailand, is the main attraction at this favorite bar.
DJ Station, another popular gay Bangkok bar, is the best place to meet with friends for drinks, dancing and fun. There is a cover charge of about $10, but you do get two complimentary drinks, so it’s quite a deal. Like the Stranger Bar, DJ Station is also home to a number of entertaining drag shows.
If you want to check out an all-male performance venue, Tawan Bar offers muscular bears fighting for your attention. But if you’d prefer to hang out with your friends, Connection is a fun spot to dance the night away.
Best gay Bangkok saunas
Hanging out at saunas is an excellent way to meet locals and experience the gay scene — we recommend these top Thai saunas. Babylon, features wet and dry saunas in a massive complex. Babylon also has a dark maze and a well-equipped gym. There’s something for everyone; no wonder it’s a favorite of locals and tourists alike.
Chakran Sauna is famous for its exquisite Mediterranean décor. There’s a lounge, gym, sauna and even a restaurant in this facility.
The Prince’s main attraction is its handsome masseuses. Aside from the hot staff, this facility is also known for its sleek interior, modern equipment and peaceful ambiance.
39 Underground has “Naked Night” every Sunday as well as other theme nights. But it’s not just great during the theme nights; go to this two-level facility to unwind anytime.
It’s not hard to find Sauna Mania on the busy Soi Pipat 2. Like the other establishments on our list, this place offers gym equipment and a standard sauna. But what truly sets Sauna Mania apart is the cruising space on the second floor!
Finally, R3, the newest sauna in Bangkok, is the first 24-hour facility in the city. This luxurious place has a jacuzzi and steam room. Patrons can also play in fantasy spaces and the dark maze. We recommend coming in the early evening — around 7 p.m. is the best time to visit.