Thai people are very tolerant and welcoming of the gay crowd and offer a very relaxed and comfortable environment for the gay community and its visitors. Like most of Thailand, Bangkok is generally an extremely gay-friendly city. A wide range of hotels, guesthouses, bars and clubs in the city cater for gay and lesbian clientele from all over the world.
Gay and lesbian Bangkok can be fun, naughty, refined or private, depending on what you prefer. There are plenty of discreet gay massage places in Bangkok, as well as pockets of lively bars and go-go venues. Some visitors may prefer the tasteful restaurants and spas that are welcoming of a gay atmosphere in Bangkok. Wherever you go, Thais and foreigners alike are sure to make you feel welcome and comfortable.
Thailand has a larger than average gay community, which readily embraces people of all orientations. The feminine side of society is celebrated and many Thai boys find it much easier to ‘come out’ in this country, especially in Bangkok. Visiting gay men find it easy to find themselves a partner here, with many attractive young men who are openly gay, well presented and fun. Gay couples also find it a great place to enjoy a holiday.
Then there are the famous ladyboys, who add a fun character to the gay community. Most ladyboys are ‘she males’ who are equally at home with women and men. They often find themselves partners in both gay and straight men and are always ready for a party. These ladyboys can be quite assertive, but generally take good care of themselves.
The lesbian community in Bangkok is much smaller and more discreet, but definitely has a place here. There are several lesbian/mixed establishments on Sukhumvit Road that cater especially to foreigners, and the indifferent attitudes in Thailand makes this a popular place for Western lesbians to come and vacation, live, or meet lovers. An increasing number of women are turning bi’ or lesbian (they are often let down by Thai men), but they are far more discreet.
Anjaree Foundation: Thailand’s sole lesbian support/social group and, for more than 20 years, it has been publishing a newsletter, arranging regular meetings and special events, and engaging in political activism. Unlike the gay and straight scene in Thailand, there is virtually no lesbian go-go scene to speak of.
Bangkok is also home to the Bangkok Annual Pride Week, which takes place in mid-November and culminates with the vibrant Gay Parade. For a more extensive overview of the gay and lesbian scene in Bangkok, we recommend the following:
Utopia Asia: extensive Asian Gay & Lesbian Network with plenty about Bangkok
Drededned’s: a useful info resource and classifieds site, along with some events listings
Purple Dragon: arranges tours of the region for gay travellers and groups
Ask Darika: provides finger-on-the-pulse gossip about the gay scene in Thailand; Darika is a local gay celeb.
Gay hotels in Bangkok
Gay-friendly hotels and guesthouses tend to be centred around the Silom area of the city. The most popular budget hotels for gay visitors are the Pinacle Lumpini Park Hotel (17 Soi Ngam Duphli, Rama 4 Road), Malaysia Hotel (54 Soi Ngam Duplee, Rama 4 Road) plus the slightly downmarket Rose Hotel (118 Surawongse Road) and Suriwongse Hotel (31/1 Soi Thaniya 2, Suriwongse Road).
The hand down favourite place to stay among affluent homosexuals is the Sukhothai Hotel (13/3 South Sathorn Road), which is very, very gay. Glitz Hotel (135/18-19 Surawong Road) in Silom is a smartly designed contemporary hotel with all mod-cons, which is very gay-friendly and close to all the colourful nightlife. Tarntawan Place (119/5-10 Surawong Road) is another popular openly gay hotel that is well worth recommending.
Baan Num is a tiny guesthouse run by a delightful lesbian couple, which has only three rooms but bags of charm (430 Soi Somdej Prapinklao 7, Prapinklao Road, Tel: (085) 324 6482).
Gay restaurants in Bangkok
Some popular restaurants that are frequented by Bangkok’s gay and lesbian communities are Harmonique (22 Charoen Krung Road, Open: (Mon-Sat) 11:00-22:00, Tel: (02) 237 8175), Cabbages and Condoms (Sukhumvit 12, Klong Toei, Open: 11:00-23:00, Tel: (02) 229 4610) and the Old Dutch (Sukhumvit 4 Soi 2, Klong Toei, Tel: (02) 258 9234) visitors are sure to find great food and friendly company at any of these establishments. Eat Me (Soi Phiphat 2, off Convent Road, Silom, Open: 15:00-01:00, Tel: (02) 238 0931) offers a friendly atmosphere, industrial décor and art shows and is gay owned and operated.
After dark, Bangkok has plenty for a gay or lesbian visitor to see and do. Many gay and lesbian tourists are often shocked and thrilled by the openness and friendliness of Bangkok’s gay scene. The main concentration of gay venues is focused around Silom Road Soi 4, Soi 2 and Soi 2/1.
Gay bars in Bangkok
There are some great bars in Silom area include the Telephone Pub (114/11 Silom Soi 4) as well as the equally fun Balcony (86-88 Silom Road, Tel: (02) 235 5891). A popular after hours venue is G.O.D (60/18-21 Silom 2/1), formerly the Freeman Dance Arena, which hosts regular cabaret shows and DJ Station (212/2 Silom, Tel: (02) 266 4029) a large and rowdy nightclub popular with both Thais and foreigners.
Heaven Suana (4th floor, BIS Building, 119 Soi Mahesak, Tel: (02) 266 9092) is another popular venue near to the Silom Road area. It is a sauna with very nice rooftop garden and host of private rooms. Recently opened is the funky 9 Nightclub, also on Silom Soi 4, which has a nightly cabaret and regular events.
Gay saunas and massage in Bangkok
There are also Banana Men’s Fitness Club (41/9 Sukhumvit Soi 11, Klong Toey, Tel: (02) 651 0002) and the Beach Resort Sauna (316 Soi Preedee Panomyong 42, Tel: (02) 713 0007).
The Siam Ratchadamri is a far smaller area than either Silom or Sukhumvit, but it still houses some interesting gay-friendly entertainment. There are two notable saunas; the Chakran Sauna (32 Soi Ari 4, Phaholyothin 7, Tel: (02) 279 1359) and the V Club Massage (32 Chakran Building, Soi Ari 4, Tel: (02) 279 3322).Lesbian bars Bangkok
Being much smaller and private by nature, the lesbian scene tends to be more restricted to private groups and gatherings at individuals homes. The Bangkok lesbian crowd are generally welcomed at most gay venues, yet their options are limited to a number of mixed places. Sukhumvit Soi 4 is the trendiest gay area in Bangkok, but it is perhaps a bit too hectic for some people and is often crowded with ‘straight’ tourists.
Mambo Cabaret Show (59/28 Sathu-phararam 3 Road, Tel: (02) 294 7381-2), is a mixed cabaret place that can be fun for groups to visit. This is quite an upmarket establishment and reservations are recommended. The lively Thumb Up (166/2-3 Silom Road, Tel: (02) 635 8857) with its mostly lesbian clientele that is particularly popular on Fridays.