There are many reasons why Bangkok is beloved as Asia’s unofficial LGBTQ capital. In addition to an amazing blend of traditional and modern, smiling natives and great food, Bangkok also boasts a plethora of LGBTQ entertainment venues, open attitude, and VERY friendly locals.
With global tourism campaigns targeting pink dollars, the Thai government embraces openly LGBTQ visitors. On top of that, the country has also brought COVID-19 under complete control. So when the country opens again for tourism, you will be able to enjoy a worry-free travel experience no longer found in most counties.
Most of Bangkok’s fun concentrates at the heart of the city around Silom Road. easily accessed by the expanding network of mass public transport – the Skytrain (BTS) and the subway (MRT). Ride booking apps such as Grab makes outlying areas more accessible and trouble-free.
Bangkok is relatively hot and humid all year round, so casual wear is the way to go, although some venues may require long trousers and proper footwear.
March-April is the unbearably hot season but also come with the perks of Songkran water festival with the annual gCircuit parties, and abundant mango and sticky rice – a must for any visitor.
May-October is rainier, but it usually pours for only a few hours and isn’t likely to stop your parade.
November-February is the “cool” season, most popular among tourists but prices are slightly higher.
Bangkok is a very safe city, especially in the city center where there are always people about. Foreigners should avoid riding tuk-tuks (motorized tricycle) especially around touristy areas, as they are notorious for rip-offs and scams.
Gay couples holding hands in public may raise a few eyebrows – only because PDAs even for heterosexuals are outside the norm. Homophobic attacks, however, are unheard of. If you’re interested to see a sex show, check with locals which one to go to. Many are known to become threatening when giving you a bill with a hefty cover charge, even after having told you there is none. For gay sex shows, Hot Male is a safe one.
Endless choices are available at all budget ranges. Most receptionists do not bat an eyelid if a same-sex couple requests to share bed. Visitors usually have no problems, although they may be asked to show an ID and/or pay for extra occupancy. AirBnB also offers accommodation but is actually illegal.
While most other entertainment venue heavily suffer from the pandemic, Bangkok’s gay venues continue to serve the massive local populations. (Still, better to call ahead to check the hours.)
Clubs and bars on Silom Soi 4 (BTS stop Saladaeng or MRT stop Silom) cater to mostly LGBTQ+ clientele but are frequented by curious straights. On nearby Silom Soi 2 with the legendary DJ Station, it’s virtually all gay boys – and many many… many of them heaving against each other on the weekends. Walking through Silom Soi 6 to Surawong Road, you will find Tawan Bar and several go-go boyz bars with welcoming male hosts. There are other gay bars outside of this neighborhood, but they mostly cater to Thais. For sauna lovers, Babylon on Sathon Soi 1 (MRT Lumpini) is an internationally famous institution, while Chakran on Ari Soi 4 (BTS Ari) is more popular for “sticky-rice” actions.
As the few lesbian bars seem to have closed, queer women may find comfort at Thai-style “Tom-Dee” bars, where resident “toms” and transmen offer to entertain you in any ways your heart desires. These tend to be located away from the city center and not easy to find. Check or go with locals. Lesla and Go Grrrls organized regular parties before COVID.
Transgender cabaret shows can be enjoyed at The Stranger on Silom Soi 4, Maggie Choo’s further down on Silom (Sundays only), Calypso @ Asiatique shopping mall, and the latest addition House of Heals near Victory Monument.
Bangkok has several world-class healthcare facilities and is an ideal destination for those seeking gender confirmation surgery. Tangerine Clinic for transgender health is a pioneering effort of the Thai Red Cross located not far from Silom.
In addition, Thailand also offers its own generic versions of PrEP at a fraction of the price, but you will need a blood test and a doctor’s prescription. Check out PULSE Clinic if you need more information.