When my plane first touched down in Thailand after 31 hours of travel, it was midnight.
Our taxi drove from the Phuket airport to our resort shrouded in darkness. My traveling companion and I couldn’t see anything in this rural section of the country — only the shining lights of a few 7-11 convenience stores that dotted the way.
In the morning, I pulled back the curtains to an overwhelmingly animated landscape. From my vantage point, I could see turquoise water, green hills and violet flowers that overflowed from my balcony.
Thailand is a country long respected for the visibility of its LGBT community, and it continues to welcome us as visitors with a rainbow of colors. While a great distance away, a trip to this far-off destination is well worth the travel. Sure, getting there can be expensive, but once you’re there it’s affordable for even a boy on a tight budget.
Let’s explore the vibrant colors of magical gay Thailand, one fabulous hue at a time.
The red neon lights of Bangkok
Bangkok is a sweeping city filled with skyscrapers that touch the sky. No wonder its nickname is City of Angels. The vitality is felt best at night when the city comes alive and the red neon lights turn on, drawing passersby’s inside the clubs and bars with promises of drink specials and other temptations.
This especially is true of gay nightlife that brings people far and wide for its openness and debauchery. Visit Soi 2 to 4 in Patpong for the gay nightlife hot spot of Bangkok, where both locals and tourists flock to have a great time and mingle. Telephone Bar is a popular destination, where you can pick up the house phone (yes, the phones do work) and dial the extension of the nearest guy who has caught your eye and say, “Hello.” For the bears and their admirers, stop by Bearbie Karaoke Bar.
Just a short walk away is the So Sofitel Bangkok. Popular with LGBT visitors for its proximity to the gay bars, pick from four themes (water, wood, earth, and metal) — all with ostentatious and over the top designs by Christian Lacroix. There is also a rooftop lounge that offers not only a view of the beautiful Lumpini Park below, but also a view of eye candy sipping cocktails at the bar.
The pink sunrise from the Peninsula
Another destination to rest your head, try snagging a room at the Bangkok Peninsula, where stars like Madonna helicopter onto the roof. Don’t let that suggest it’s out of your price limit. Luxury comes at a much more affordable price in Thailand.
On the banks of the Chao Phraya River, the Peninsula offers magnificent views of the cityscape, especially at sunrise when the pink sun climbs from out of the abyss of tall buildings. Other highlights during your stay include sunset cocktail cruises down the river, a three-tiered outdoor pool, authentic Thai massages at their tranquil spa, and an afternoon tea service that the hotel is renowned for.
The gold plated walls of the Grand Palace
Thailand’s most visited attraction, the Grand Palace is a sight that your eyes must see for themselves. There is beauty absolutely everywhere you turn in the massive complex that once housed the country’s monarchy. From gold plated walls, sculptures, gardens, pavilions, and the famous Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Thailand’s color scheme is the boldest and brightest here. The Palace is revered as an important religious site, so don’t forget to wear long pants and a top that covers your shoulders.
The orange robes of the monks
An integral part of Thai culture is Buddhism. One of the ways to honor and celebrate is to visit some of the many beautiful temples that dot the landscape. There, you will find monks wearing brilliantly bright orange robes ready to bless you as you kneel at the altar of Buddha.
Some temples that are not to be missed for their unique characteristics are the Big Buddha in Phuket, the Chiang Rai White Temple, and The Temple of the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho in Bangkok.
The lush green landscape of the elephant sanctuary
The symbols of Thailand, elephants are everywhere. While many of the elephant tourism attractions do not have high standards of living for the magnificent creatures, there are some attractions that are trying to change that.
Anantara Resort and Elephant Camp is in the north of Thailand in the middle of the Golden Triangle, a region that borders Myanmar and Laos. The gorgeous resort is tucked on a ridge overlooking lush green jungles, rice fields, and an elephant camp. Established in 2003 as a traditional mahout village, the camp works alongside the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation to perform street rescues, provide employment and a comfortable lifestyle for elephants and their entire mahout families. There, you are able to spend lots of quality time with the grandiose Goliaths, participating in different activities throughout your stay.
The blue water beaches of Phuket
Thailand’s most popular beach destination, Phuket has spectacular scenery, stunning tropical sunsets and the warm blue Andaman Sea.
Just a short 45-minute journey from Phuket will transport you to the tropical paradise and famous islands of Koh Phi Phi, the ultimate tropical getaway in Thailand made infamous by the 2000 film The Beach. Amazing, white sandy beaches and breathtaking rock formations boldly rise from the turquoise waters surrounding the islands — making you feel like you are in the world’s quintessential paradise.
Energetic nightlife awaits you at Patong Beach, where the epicenter of gay life is concentrated in the Paradise Complex offering plenty of guesthouses, go-go bars, discos, gay saunas, restaurants and bars.
The indigo tea at the Anantara Chiang Mai
When you check into the Anantara Chiang Mai, the concierge greets you with a butterfly pea flower drink that magically turns from clear to indigo in front of your eyes. Bordering the Mae Ping River in this beautiful northern city, Anantara is a luxurious sanctuary of contemporary, Thai and colonial style. While there, visit Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar. This nocturnal marketplace is filled with stalls selling everything from souvenirs, textiles, food and plenty of other interesting items.