Six LGBTQ+ Nightlife Hotspots in Asia
Traveling in Asia is always an adventure. A medley of diverse cultures, otherworldly locations, and good-natured locals await the LGBTQ+ traveler, wherever their feet might take them across the continent. Gay nightlife in Asia can be a thrilling part of these adventures for those looking to explore and experiment – or just fumble around in the dark. From Bangkok’s wonderfully messy mix of bars and clubs to the higher-brow rooftop parties of Hong Kong, the continent offers a diverse range of options for LGBTQ+ individuals just wanting to have a good time.
Despite progress in certain places, homophobia and discrimination still exist in many Asian countries and it’s crucial to research local laws and customs before choosing where you wish to venture – especially if you want to party. With proper caution and awareness, though, Asian gay nightlife can be an exciting journey of new experiences – I mean, if you haven’t been out in Bangkok have you lived? Let us do the hard work for you and point you toward a one-way trip to a hangover town while in the top six gay-friendly cities in Asia. Just don’t make any sightseeing plans for the next morning!
Check out our recommendations for LGBT Asian nightlife below:
Bangkok – Thailand
No guide to gay nightlife in Asia should start anywhere but in the wildly charismatic city of Bangkok. The capital of Thailand has rightly snatched the crown for being “The Gay Capital of Asia”. Not only is it safe for LGBTQ+ people, but it has a thriving gay scene to dive headfirst into. When you go out In Bangkok, you had better strap yourself in for the ride because boy does it have an unruly beast of a gay scene! No more so than in the (in)famous Silom district. Any night out tends to begin on Silom Soi 4, a street with an array of eateries to line your stomach and bars for pre-drinks, where tourists blend in with perfect harmony with the local LGBTQ+ community.
Come midnight the throng moves on to the chaotically beautiful Silom Soi 2 with numerous bars and pubs offering everything from go-go dancers to “ladyboy” shows to drag shows to karaoke. Then there are the clubs: the biggest and best of which is DJ Station with three floors hosting international DJs. Outside of Silom, there is the Fake Club Next Generation nightclub for those seeking a more relaxed vibe and it is known as being the hipster option popular for locals wanting to escape the mainstream dance party energy of the center.
The night never really has to end in Bangkok and there are options like the G Bangkok afterparty in Silom or one of Bangkok’s many gay saunas to wind down at – with rooftop pools providing panorama views of the city to be the backdrop to any other views you might be taking in.
Tapei City – Taiwan
Taiwan has the claim to fame for holding the biggest gay pride in Asia, with over 200,000 attending in October 2019. It´s an extremely gay-friendly country as a whole, no more so than within its capital, Tapei City. You´ll even find a rainbow crossing akin to the one found in San Francisco as a testament to this fact and men openly holding hands in public – a rare sight for Asia as a whole.
Often overlooked for nightlife in favor of bigger cities in Asia its gay area, Ximen, is a wilder night out than you´d expect. The iconic Red House is a historical building housing a variety of LGBTQ+ friendly bars, clubs, and saunas – ranging from bear venues to 80’s disco bars. The place to end the nights is either G Star, which plays a combo of international pop and K-pop, or for a more balls-to-the-wall vibe, it pays to time your visit for the Werk party on the 3rd Saturday of every month.
Hong Kong is a gay-friendly oasis in the middle of an otherwise conservative landscape. As such the island city has a unique nightlife where East meets West. Bear in mind that although homosexuality has been legal there since 1991 there is no legal recognition of same-sex marriage and limited protection against discrimination and the pollical situation with China is complicated there. However, it’s rare to have any problems due to the cosmopolitan nature of Hong Kong.
A highlight of its nightlife is the rooftop bars – the city has one the best skylines you´ll ever see which needs to be enjoyed with a cocktail in hand. Hong Kong can be a little on the pricey side so be sure to chase the happy hours at bars like FLM, Zoo, and Linq. There are no gay clubs per se but there are many bars that skirt the line between bar and club, such as the higher-end Circo bar found on the 22nd floor of the Bing Bing building.
What makes Hong Kong such a hot spot for the LGBTQ+ community however is its impressive list of yearly parties. Pride, Pink Dot, and Queerfest to name but three – make the city truly pop throughout the year.
Tokyo – Japan
Tokyo may be known for its hyper-modernity, but did you know it’s also home to one of the oldest queer communities in Asia. The city´s gay district, Shinjuku Ni-Chome is filled with bars and clubs, and even a museum dedicated to queer history in Japan – if you feel like injecting a bit of culture between your night-time excursions. Bar-wise you are spoiled for choice really with top picks being Dragon Bar (popular with expats) Campy Bar (often frequented by local celebrity Bourbonnes) and the Eagle Tokyo.
All the train lines close early until 5 am so before midnight you must decide if you´re in it for the long haul or not. Should you decide you are, then your options include either Arty Farty or The Annex to dance, drink, and cruise till the early hours. Alternatively, you could seek a steamy sauna encounter or take any “friends” you might make on your trip to one of Tokyo’s famous themed “love hotels”.
Phnom Penh – Cambodia
Being gay was never illegal in Cambodia, which itself speaks well of it. Consequently, perhaps, a lot of its bigger cities have surprisingly active gay scenes. The capital, Phnom Penh, has been nurturing its reputation as an open-minded cosmopolitan holiday destination and thus new gay venues pop up every year.
Blue Chiili, Pride of Phnom Penh, and Rainbow Bar are three of the most popular bars on the scene and all have raucous drag shows, friendly – not to mention hot – bar staff and cheap happy hour drinks. There’s even a gay bar that doubles as a puppy grooming salon, Space Hair Salon and Bar – I mean, puppies, come on! All paths at the weekend inevitably lead to Valentinos Nightclub, which is a great night out in a well-air-conditioned club with banging houses and impressive light shows. It is swiftly cementing a reputation for being one of the best clubs in all of Asia. Phnom Penh is seriously underrated for nightlife and deserves your thorough investigation.
Seminyak – Bali
Bali may seem like an odd addition to the list, but it is an extremely gay-friendly island – certainly most of the Indonesian islands. Despite Indonesia’s overall conservative views on LGBTQ+ rights, Bali has been known as a haven for the community, and – just like Cambodia – homosexuality has never been a sin there.
This tropical paradise has become a top destination for same-sex weddings and honeymoons with its glorious beaches and inclusive attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community. The island even has its own annual Gay Parade and the Seminyak area is especially known for its active nightlife. That’s not to say there are many gay bars – there are three – but quality over quantity prevails and it may not be Amsterdam or San Francisco, but this tropical paradise certainly knows how to party with the best of them. There is a real focus on extravagant drag shows, and the nightlife is a good excuse to stay in the luxurious – and also gay-friendly – W hotel alongside the action and finish the night with a moonlight stroll along the beach.
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