When it comes to LGBT-friendly destinations in Asia, Thailand tends to top the list every time. We’ve spent a lot of time travelling through Thailand over the years. And we’ve always been grateful for their tolerant and open-minded attitude towards to the LGBTQ+ community. As not only can we feel free to be ourselves without fear of discrimination, but there’s a thriving gay scene both in Bangkok and other locations across the country. Combine that with sun, sea, sand, and adventure, gay and lesbian Thailand has a lot to offer.
Thailand’s fabulous gay scene aside, the ‘land of smiles’ is a stunning and diverse country. On the one hand, you have pristine beaches, sweeping jungles, and exciting cities. On the other, jaw-dropping temples, fascinating culture, and mouth-watering cuisine. Not to mention the beloved Thai people, who are always there to welcome you with a smile and a “sa-wa-dee-ka/krab”.
With something to offer everybody, Thailand is a dream destination that should be on everybody’s bucket list. And this guide aims to provide you with all the information you need to have an unforgettable time. I’ve listed all of the hottest gay bars and nightclubs; gay-friendly hotels and hostels; the best LGBT+ centred events; as well as all the top places to visit around the country. We will also touch on LGBT+ rights and social opinions in Thailand, so you come fully prepared.
So let’s get to it. Here’s our amazing and comprehensive guide to gay & lesbian Thailand.
If it’s your first time travelling or backpacking Thailand, I recommend checking out our Tips, Tricks & Advice for planning a trip to Thailand. It’s jam-packed with useful information that will help you prepare for a fantastic, and safe, trip of a lifetime.
Gay In: Thailand – A 2020 Travel Guide to Gay & Lesbian Thailand
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LGBT+ Rights in Thailand
Same-Sex Sexual Activity: Legal since 1956.
Same-Sex Marriage: Same-Sex Unions Legalised July 2020
Rights to Change Legal Gender: Not legally recognised.
Same-Sex Adoption: Currently under review.
LGBT Discrimination: Illegal since 2018.
If you are keen to learn more, Equaldex elaborates further on LGBT+ rights in Thailand.
Thailand has some of the most progressive LGBT laws in all of Asia. Same-sex relations got decriminalised in 1956, which is earlier than many countries in Europe even. It’s also one of the only Asian countries to have implemented anti-discrimination laws for the LGBTQ+ community. Meaning that it’s illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity, in employment, housing, and the military.
That said, it’s still uncertain if the 2019 bill to legalise same-sex marriage will be approved. There is a general consensus, however, that this will pass, making Thailand the second country in Asia (after Taiwan) to recognise same-sex marriage. If this turns out to be the case, there’s also plans to allow same-sex married couples the right to adopt.
*Thailand same-sex unions, July 2020 update – Ironically, just as we were about to publish this blog, it was announced that the bill to legalise same-sex unions was approved. While it does not call these unions “marriages”, as it would straight couples, this bill will finally allow same-sex couples to adopt children and merge finances. It’s a step in the right direction, and we should all celebrate the small wins when it comes to LGBT+ equality. Well done, Thailand!
In regards to trans rights in Thailand, it is a little more complicated than most people think. The infamous ladyboys and transgender people play a significant role in society. Yet, while sex reassignment operations have taken place in Thailand since 1975, trans people do not have the right to change one’s legal gender. And without legal support, the trans community still face discrimination in the workplace, healthcare, and other areas.
Social Opinions of LGBTQ+ in Thailand
While Thailand is a progressive country in regards to LGBTQ+ rights, there still seems to be an element of division within society. The common misconception that Thailand is an open and welcome space for all members of the LGBTQ+ community is not entirely accurate.
While Thailand seems to embrace LGBTQ+ travellers with open arms, for some locals, it’s a different story. Many still face discrimination in the workplace and other areas, as well as rejection from friends & family.
But the good news is that Thailand is moving forwards. And with anti-discrimination laws already passed, and same-sex unions legalised, it’s only a matter of time before social opinions catch up.
Is Thailand Safe for Gay & Lesbian Travellers
So what does this mean if you are travelling as an LGBTQ+ couple or person in Thailand?
Well, despite the complex social and legal situation, travelling as transgender, gay, or lesbian in Thailand is perfectly safe and enjoyable. In the major cities and touristy areas, you will find it is extremely common to be out and proud. And there is very little chance of discrimination.
As I say, we’ve spent a lot of time in Thailand over the years, and I’d confidently say it’s one of the safest countries in Asia. Not just for LGBTQ+ people, but everyone. The Thai people are incredibly friendly and laidback. “Mai Pen Rai”, meaning “no worries”, is a motto the locals live by. And in our experience, they are always ready to lend a helping hand.
That said, Thai people are generally quite conservative, and it’s important to respect their culture. It’s worth noting that public displays of affection are frowned upon, even if you’re a same-sex couple. And in some rural areas, there may be a lower level of tolerance for the LGBTQ+ community. So it pays to act modestly to avoid any unwanted attention.
Best Places to Visit – Gay & Lesbian Thailand
There are so many wonderful places to visit in Thailand. Whether you want a cultural, spiritual, adventurous, party, nature, or beach getaway, there’s a little something for everybody. In my humble opinion, the best Thailand itinerary combines a little bit of all of those things and results in an unforgettable trip.
With this in mind, I’ve put together this list of unmissable destinations for gay and lesbian travellers in Thailand. Some of these places have a thriving gay scene and others I’m recommending for the sole reason that they’re amazing. Either way, you’re guaranteed to love each and every one of them.
Oh, Bangkok. Beautiful, busy, bombastic Bangkok. Every Thailand adventure starts and ends here. And while it might be tempting to skip the chaos of it altogether. You’d be making a mistake not to give the pulsating Thai capital a chance.
We’ve visited Bangkok over a dozen times. Despite being everything we usually hate about big cities, we’ve actually grown quite fond of her. You can find great food, nightlife, shopping, temples, and for the most part, everything is super cheap.
When it comes to gay and lesbian Thailand, Bangkok is its beating heart. There’s a diverse and vigorous gay scene prevalent throughout the city, which albeit quite seedy at times, provides a lot of fun for LGBTQ+ travellers.
Below is a brief overview of what to look out for in Bangkok, but check out our comprehensive guide to Gay & Lesbian Bangkok for more.
Bangkok Gay Scene
While the gay scene is evident throughout the city, the Silom district concentrates most of the gay and lesbian bars in Bangkok. Silom is the epicentre of gay culture, and there’s something to satisfy every desire. Tourists flock here in droves to experience some of the best gay nightlife in all of Asia. Check out Soi 4 Street for your choice of gay and lesbian bars, or Soi 2 Street for the clubs. DJ Station in Soi 2 is the biggest and most notorious gay & lesbian club in Bangkok and one we visit every time we are in the city.
Gay-Friendly Hotels & Hostels in Bangkok
While it is highly unlikely that you’ll experience any issues checking in to any hotel or hostel as an LGBT+ couple, I can understand the desire to be accepted. With this in mind, I’ve listed below some of the best-rated hotels & hostels amongst LGBT+ travellers. Or you can check for all Bangkok accommodation here.
- W Bangkok – Silom ($$$)
- Babylon – Sathorn ($$)
- Glitz Bangkok – Patpong ($$)
- Nap Park – Khao San Road ($)
- Once Again Hostel – Khao San Road ($)
Top Things to do in Bangkok
- Visit a beautiful temple or two, such as Wat Arun, Wat Phra Kaew, and Wat Pho.
- Do some urban exploring at the Aeroplane Graveyard or Sathorn Unique Tower.
- Party the night away on Khao San Road.
- Visit a floating market.
- Sample all of the delicious street food.
- Book a best-selling tour or activity.
- Go on one of the best gay tours in Bangkok.
Next up we are heading to North to Chiang Mai. Another bustling city oozing culture and charm, Chiang Mai is like Bangkok’s little brother. Only minus the traffic, pollution and funny smells. (OK, so you might still get the odd, strange smell, but this is Asia after all.)
It’s hard not to fall in love with Chiang Mai and we have the perfect Chiang Mai Itinerary just for you. It has all the perks of being in a city, such as great food, nightlife, markets, cafes, attractions, and shops. But in as little as an hour, you can be surrounded by nature. Head into the jungle for hiking adventures and elephant sanctuaries, or go cliff jumping and ziplining at a nearby canyon.
It’s this flawless combination that attracts digital nomads from all over the world. Throw into the mix a cheap cost of living, and Chiang Mai is one of the most liveable places in all of Asia.
In regards to the gay scene, there is a small circle of gay bars and clubs which you can read about in our comprehensive guide to gay Chiang Mai. In the meantime, here’s a brief overview of what to see and do.
Chiang Mai Gay Scene
When you compare to Bangkok, the gay scene in Chiang Mai is pretty tame. Saying that there’s a decent number of gay bars and clubs dotted around the city. 2 areas concentrate the best gay and lesbian bars in Chiang Mai. The first is the Night Bazaar area where you’ll find Ram Bar – popular for all night-parties and drag shows. Or Pandee Bar, for inexpensive cocktails and an overall great vibe. Otherwise, Santitham Road in the Changphuak district is home to several famous go-go bars such as the Adam’s Apple Club.
Gay-Friendly Hotels & Hostels in Chiang Mai
Below are some of the best-rated hotels & hostels amongst LGBT+ travellers. Or you can check for all Chiang Mai accommodation here.
- Le Meridien ($$$)
- Club One Seven Gay Men Hotel ($$)
- Yaang Come Village Hotel ($$
- Lotus Hotel ($)
- Purple Monkey Hostel ($)
Top Things to do in Chiang Mai
- Walk, shop, and eat at the daily night market.
- Go temple hopping – Don’t miss the mountaintop temple Doi Suthep.
- Celebrate Songkran – The world’s biggest water festival.
- Experience the stunning Yi Peng Lantern Festival.
- Enjoy an ethical elephant encounter at the Elephant Nature Park.
- Visit the Grand Canyon for some wet and wild fun.
- Book a best-selling tour or activity.
The next place I insist you include on your gay & lesbian Thailand itinerary is Pai. Set just 3 hours drive north of Chiang Mai, Pai is a hippie backpacker enclave that sucks you in and simply refuses to spit you out. Every person I meet that’s been to Pai says the same thing. You have the intention of visiting for a few days and end up staying for weeks or even months.
Boasting stunning mountain views, sweeping jungles, natural hot springs, hidden waterfalls, and a tranquil laidback vibe, it’s not too difficult to see why most people that come to Pai don’t want to leave. Being in Pai feels like a safe haven. As if you’re shut off from the rest of the world. And any worries you think you have, swiftly melt away.
There’s isn’t much of a gay scene in Pai, but LGBTQ+ travellers needn’t have any concerns. We spent close to a month there and always felt comfortable to be out and proud in public. You’ll certainly fit in at the numerous quirky bars in Pai, and keep an ear out for the sporadic jungle raves as well!
Where to Stay in Pai
Below are some of the best-rated hotels & hostels in Pai. Or you can check for all Pai accommodation here.
Top Things to do in Pai
- Watch the sunset at Pai Canyon.
- Eat street food at the local market.
- Relax in some natural hot springs.
- Climb to the White Buddha.
- Check out the ancient Tham Lod Cave.
Sukhothai or Ayutthaya
LGBT+ travellers visiting Thailand, who have even a slight interest in Thai history, will want to add Sukhothai or Ayutthaya to their itinerary. Both are ancient cities, both are Unesco Heritage Sites, and both once served as the capital of Thailand. So there’s really no need to visit both, although you can if you want. ‘Same same, but different’ as they say.
We stopped off in Sukhothai on our way back South from Pai. But if you don’t plan on venturing North of Bangkok, Ayutthaya is easily accessible from the capital. Both cities boast hundreds of fascinating ruins, providing a captivating insight into ancient Thai history. The influence of these 13th-century historical centres remains prevalent in Thai architecture and art today.
Khao Sok is a strong contender for our favourite place in Thailand. This relatively untouched region is a dream for nature lovers, where limestone karsts and dense jungle adorn the landscape. We’ve returned to Khao Sok on a few occasions, and every detail resembles that of a prehistoric world (queue Jurassic Park theme tune).
While there are no dinosaurs (that we know of), the ancient rainforest is a sanctuary to an amalgamation of wildlife including Gibbons, Malaysian Sun Bears, and Asian Elephants. There’s also over 300 species of birdlife in the Khao Sok Jungle, as well as a wide variety of flora & fauna.
Unsurprisingly, there isn’t much of a gay scene in Khao Sok. There isn’t much of any scene in Khao Sok for that matter. But if you enjoy untouched nature, hiking, wildlife spotting, and tranquillity, Khao Sok deserves a spot on your gay & lesbian Thailand itinerary.
Where to Stay in Khao Sok
Below are some of the best-rated hotels & hostels in Khao Sok. Or you can check for all Khao Sok accommodation here.
Top Things to do in Khao Sok
- Book an overnight stay on the stunning Cheow Lan Lake.
- Go Jungle Trekking in Khao Sok National Park.
- Take part in a traditional Thai cooking class.
- Visit the monkey temple.
- Go for a swim in the natural swimming hole.
OK, we’ve covered the mountains, jungles, cities and culture in Thailand. Now we are heading for some well-deserved beach time. The first coastal destination we recommend is Krabi. Home to the clearest of azure waters, pristine white sand, dramatic limestone cliffs, and endless green vegetation, Krabi is picture-perfect.
In fact, Krabi is so beautiful; it’s usually the region you see pictured in all the travel brochures and posters. Home to the iconic Koh Phi Phi islands (where the Leonardo Dicaprio movie ‘the beach’, was filmed) and other national treasures, Krabi is naturally a hotspot for tourists. Some might say it’s too touristic, however, particularly in the Ao Nang area and on the Phi Phi islands where the party backpacker crowd prevail.
Fortunately, Koh Lanta and Railay continue to provide a relatively idyllic beach getaway. There’s also a charming local vibe in Krabi town. Though a little far out from the beaches, there’s some great hikes, temples, and markets in the area. So regardless if you’re there to party or not, Krabi is still worth the visit.
Krabi Gay Scene
While Krabi provides a little something for everybody, the one thing it is missing is any specific gay scene. Of course, there’s still a high level of acceptance in Krabi, and LGBT+ travellers frequent the same bars and clubs as straight people. But if you’re on the hunt for a date, they might be slightly harder to find.
Where to Stay in Krabi
Below are some of the best-rated hotels & hostels in Krabi. Or you can check for all Krabi accommodation here.
- Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort ($$$)
- Ao Nang Princeville Villa Resort ($$)
- BlueSotel Krabi ($)
- Blanco Hostel Lanta ($)
Top Things to do in Krabi
- Hike the Hang Nak Trail for breathtaking views.
- Take a day trip to Railay Island.
- Party on the Phi Phi Islands or escape to Koh Lanta.
- Embark on an island-hopping adventure.
- Visit the historic Wat Tham Seua (Tiger Cave Temple)
- Book a best-selling tour or activity.
Phuket is the most popular holiday destination in all of Thailand. And with that comes some positives but also many negatives. On the one hand, there’s truly something for everybody, regardless of your budget or interests. On the other, it’s incredibly touristic, so if you’re seeking any hint of Thai culture, you’ll struggle to find it here.
When it comes to gay and lesbian Thailand, however, Phuket deserves to be mentioned. The gay scene and nightlife, in general, is vibrant, diverse, and sometimes downright outrageous. Phuket is practically a beachside version of Bangkok, so it’s no wonder it’s a firm favourite amongst LGBT+ holidaymakers.
In all honestly, Phuket is one of our least favourite destinations in Thailand. But that’s not to say we didn’t enjoy the great nightlife, endless markets, beautiful viewpoints, and gorgeous (though, busy) beaches, while we were there. Below is a brief overview of what to look out for in Phuket, but check out this comprehensive guide to Gay Phuket for more.
Phuket Gay Scene
As I say, the Phuket gay scene is on par with Bangkok, so if you’re looking for a good time, you won’t have trouble finding it. For the best gay bars, clubs, restaurants and cafes, head for The Paradise Complex. Venues such as Boat Bar and James Dean attract a mixed clientele of LGBT+ locals and travellers. The biggest and most famous club is ZAG, which is for men only. Gay nightlife aside, you’ll find many gay travellers acquiring specific beaches such as Patong and Karon. And there are several gay-friendly hotels which I lead onto next.
Gay-Friendly Hotels in Phuket
Below are some of the best-rated hotels & hostels amongst LGBT+ travellers. Or you can check for all Phuket accommodation here.
- Amari Phuket ($$$)
- Keemala Treehouses ($$$)
- CC’s Hideaway Hotel ($$)
- Phuket Gay Homestay ($)
- Lub D Patong Hostel ($)
Top Things to do in Phuket
- Go beach-hopping in the Sirinat National Park.
- Discover the colonial buildings in Phuket’s Old Town.
- Check out one of the many night markets in Phuket.
- Spend the night camping at Samet Nangshe Viewpoint in Phang Nga.
- Go bar-hopping and street-food hunting on Bangla Road.
- Book a best-selling tour or activity.
Next up on our gay & lesbian Thailand itinerary is the magical island of Koh Phangan. You’re probably most familiar with this island thanks to its legendary Full Moon Parties. But the beauty of Koh Phangan is that it has multiple personalities. Sure, the all-night parties are a staple of Koh Phangan. However, there’s a lot more to it than neon paint, strong buckets, and swarms of drunk backpackers.
In fact, the vibe in the North of the island is a far cry from the bubbly atmosphere in the South. Here you swap parties for yoga, beaches for jungle, and vodka buckets for nutritious food. We’ve experienced both the party and hippie side to Koh Phangan. And, if you ask me, the best way to experience Koh Phangan is to party for a few days in the South, followed by a well-needed yoga retreat in the North.
For gay and lesbian travellers visiting Thailand, Koh Phangan is a popular choice. While the gay scene is still quite modest, there’s a healthy mix of gay/lesbian-owned bars, resorts and bungalows, as well as a small gay beach. Not only that, but with the general bohemian vibe of the island, it’s a welcoming place to all that visit.
Koh Phangan Gay Scene
The Koh Phangan gay scene might be small, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had for LGBT+ travellers. Gay-owned bars/restaurants include L’Aclcove – a lesbian-owned bar & bistro, who also have budget-friendly beach bungalows to rent. And For You – a gay-owned bar and guesthouse in the heart of Thong Sala town. But as I say, you won’t have any problems fitting in at any of the bars or parties on Koh Phangan. There’s also a small gay beach area, located south of Secret Beach in Haad Son which is a popular nudist and cruising spot.
Gay-Friendly Hotels in Koh Phangan
Below are some of the best-rated hotels & hostels amongst LGBT+ travellers. Or you can check for all Koh Phangan accommodation here.
Top Things to do on Koh Phangan
- Experience a Full Moon Party on Hat Rin Beach.
- Enjoy sunset drinks at Amsterdam Bar.
- Check out some of the best Koh Phangan Beaches.
- Explore the island by motorbike.
- Take part in a yoga and meditation retreat.
Slightly North of Koh Phangan you’ll find another much smaller island called Koh Tao. Many travellers visiting Thailand for an extended amount of time, will visit the trio of islands that includes Koh Samui (which is next on our list).
Koh Tao is probably most famous for its world-class diving opportunities. However, you don’t need to be a keen diver to appreciate all that Koh Tao has to offer. As well as captivating reef diving, Koh Tao boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand. You can also find some incredible viewpoints, delicious food, buzzing nightspots, and a chilled-out vibe.
Koh Tao attracts a large number of gay and lesbian travellers each year. That said, there’s not much of a gay scene, only an overall friendly and welcoming charm. In any case, after the wild parties of Koh Phangan, by the time you reach Koh Tao, you’ll be after a well-needed rest bite.
But if you did want to venture out, head to the Sairee Beach area for your pick of lively bars and clubs. The Queens Cabaret is a favourite amongst LGBT+ travellers with its nightly drag performances and cabarets.
Gay-Friendly Hotels in Koh Tao
Below are some of the best-rated hotels & hostels amongst LGBT+ travellers. Or you can check for all Koh Tao accommodation here.
Top Things to do in Koh Tao
- Secure your Padi license (it’s one of the cheapest places in the world).
- Take a boat taxi to Koh Nang Yuan Island.
- Watch an evening fire show on Sairee Beach.
- Hike to the John Suwan Viewpoint.
- Rent a scooter and go beach-hopping around the island.
Koh Samui is Thailand’s second-biggest island (after Phuket) and another firm favourite for holiday-makers and backpackers alike. The island has seen unprecedented growth in the past few decades, resulting in over-development and over-crowdedness (in some places). But there’s no denying that the island has a lot offer.
With its palm-fringed beaches, lush green nature, dazzling beach clubs, and abundant marine life, coupled with all the luxuries & comfort of a city, it’s not too difficult to see why Samui is the island of choice amongst travellers. Besides, it’s easy to escape the crowds at one of the many luxury resorts on the island, making it a desired honeymoon location.
What’s more, there is an up and coming gay scene in Koh Samui which is fast becoming the next Phuket. Dedicated gay-hotels, gay/lesbian bars & nightclubs, gay saunas, and gay tours are just a few of the reasons LGBT+ travellers return to Koh Samui year after year.
Koh Samui Gay Scene
The epicentre of all nightlife in Koh Samui is the Chaweng Beach strip. Lined with abundant bars, nightclubs, live shows, restaurants, and shops, this is the busiest area of the island, but also the most fun. Explicitly gay and lesbian venues include Pride Bar, K-Club Bar, and The Tailor Shop. However, all the big nightclubs such as Ark Bar and The Green Mango Club, also attract a sizeable LGBT+ clientele. In addition to the abundant gay nightlife and visitors, there are also annual LGBT+ events such as Samui Songkran Pride.
Gay-Friendly Hotels in Koh Samui
Below are some of the best-rated hotels & hostels amongst LGBT+ travellers. Or you can check for all Koh Samui accommodation here.
- W Koh Samui ($$$)
- Banana Fan Sea Resort ($$)
- Alpha Gay Resort & Spa ($)
- Lub D Hostel Chaweng Beach ($)
Top Things to do in Koh Samui
- Rent a scooter and go beach-hopping around the island.
- Enjoy sunset drinks with a view at Jungle Bar.
- Spend a luxurious day at Nikki Beach Pool Bar.
- Check out the breathtaking views from Namuang Waterfall.
- Visit the Fishermans Village Night Market.
Koh Phra Thong
For any LGBT+ travellers keen to escape the crowds and enjoy an untouched paradise island, I have just the place. We’d never even heard of Koh Phra Thong until a local friend of ours suggested we visit. To be honest, I had no idea that places like this still existed in Thailand.
Boasting nothing more than endless powdery-white sand, crystal-clear azure waters, and a handful of eco-friendly beach resorts, Koh Phra Thong provides an insight into what other Thai islands must have been like 40 or 50 years ago. To give you an idea of just how remote it is, you can’t find a 7/11 on the island or even an ATM.
So if your dream gay or lesbian Thailand holiday is one where you live entirely off the grid, Koh Phra Tong is the place for you. The wifi is weak, the drinks are strong, and the vibe is that laidback it’s almost horizontal. Koh Phra Thong is also unique, as it holds the title of a savannah island. Certain areas inland resemble landscapes you’d expect in Africa. It’s truly an extraordinary place.
Where to Stay on Koh Phra Tong
Things to do on Koh Phra Tong
- Snorkel amongst tropical marine life including sea turtles.
- Kayak through the mangroves and spot a variety of wildlife.
- Take part in a yoga class on the beach.
- Enjoy some of the freshest seafood in all of Thailand.
- Take a day tour to discover the savannah landscapes and local culture.
Other Places to Visit in Gay & Lesbian Thailand
So that concludes our list of the best gay and lesbian-friendly destinations in Thailand. However, there are other locations that are popular amongst the LGBT+ community. Koh Samet is an island off the coast of Bangkok and is the getaway of choice for most gay locals who live in the capital. As such, there is a thriving gay scene and lots of opportunity for LGBT+ travellers.
Another renowned party destination for both gay and straight travellers is Pattaya. This area of Thailand showcases a darker and seedier side of the tourism industry, where you can pay for pretty much anything your heart desires. We’ve never visited and have no desire to, but each to their own and there are plenty of travellers who love it. Just keep in mind that exploitation is rife throughout the sex industry in Thailand, and it’s not uncommon for sex-workers to be underage.
Best LGBT Events & Festivals in Thailand
You may wish to coincide your trip with one of the many joyous festivals that occur throughout the calendar year. Here are some of the favourites:
Chiang Mai Pride (February) – Following a volatile history and clashes with homophobic protestors, Chiang Mai Pride has made a remarkable come back in the past couple of years. The celebrations include a fabulous parade and local parties which are widely supported by locals and tourists alike. If you can tie in your visit to Chiang Mai with this event, you’re in for a real treat.
Songkran Water Festival (April) – A significant festival in the Thai calendar is the extraordinary Songkran Festival. Held across three days every April, the event symbolises Thai New Year. The ritual of the ceremony involves water gun fights and throwing buckets of water over people. It’s not specifically an LGBT+ event, but everybody is welcome. And you’ll find many gay events during this period in Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya and Koh Samui.
Phuket Pride (April) – Running since 1999, Phuket Pride is the longest standing and most successful Pride event in all of Thailand. Every year, thousands of locals and tourists unite for the colourful celebrations, which includes a parade, competitions, art shows, charity auctions, street parties, open-air concerts, cabaret shows and firework displays. A real crowd-pleaser regardless if you’re LGBT+ or not.
Yi Peng Lantern Festival (October/November): Again, not an LGBT+ event, but certainly deserves a spot on everybody’s bucket list. Known as the ‘festival of lights’ Yi Peng Lantern Festival bears huge significance in Thai culture. Each year in the cultural city of Chiang Mai, thousands of tourists and locals alike, gather to release Chinese paper lanterns into the sky. This magical event symbolises letting go of misfortunes from the previous year.
Bangkok Pride Cruise: Finally, we have the unmissable Bangkok Pride Cruises – Sporadic LGBT+ boat parties held throughout the year in Thailands bustling capital. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for up and coming party dates.
Tips & Advice for Gay & Lesbian Thailand
Below are some general tips and advice that will ensure you have a stress-free time when travelling through Thailand.
The currency in Thailand is the Thai Baht denoted as THB. At the time of writing 40 Baht is equal to £1.00/1.26$.
Travelling in Thailand is suitable for all budgets. Below is a breakdown of what your daily Thailand budget might look like:
- Dorm Bed in a Hostel: $7-15
- Budget Private Room: $10-20
- Luxury Hotel Room: $100-300
- Local Restaurant Meal: $10-20
- Street Food: $2-5
- National Bus: $10-30
- Pint of Beer: $1-5
- Temple Admission: $2-10
- Elephant Sanctuary: $60-100
- Traditional Thai Massage: $8-20
The Best Time to Visit Thailand
Below is a brief idea of what conditions you can expect when visiting Thailand; however, we recommend this article for a month by month breakdown as the seasons vary in the North and South.
Cool/High Season: November – February – Perfect weather but the busiest and most expensive time to visit.
Hot Season: March-May – The build-up to monsoon can become extremely hot and unpleasant.
Monsoon Season: June – October – The wettest months of the year, but often it only rains in short bursts in the late afternoon.
In our opinion, the months of March and October are the best time to visit Thailand. You can avoid the high season, but at the same time, still enjoy the good weather.
Getting Around in Thailand
By Bus – After covering most of Thailand on a budget, we found the easiest way to travel from place to place was by tourist bus. The cheapest way to book is via 12Go Asia; however, you can also organise through the hundreds of tour operators located across the country.
Thai food is our favourite cuisine in all of Asia. Not only is it delicious and diverse, but it’s generally super cheap too. You can’t go wrong with the street food in Thailand. But it pays to learn a little of the local lingo, especially if you have allergies or dietary requirements. Our favourite dishes are Massaman and Penang Curries, Som Tam salad, and of course, Pad Thai.
By Train – There is also a cross country rail network, although the prices tend to be more expensive and we have no personal experience using it.
By Air – If you are on a tight schedule and money isn’t too much of an issue, you can also travel via domestic flight to most areas of the country. We always use Skyscanner to ensure we are getting the best deals on flights.
Is Thailand Safe?
All things considered, Thailand is a safe country to visit. It is one of the most visited countries in Asia. And a solid tourist infrastructure is in place to help you feel secure.
Of course, that is not to say that backpacking in Thailand poses no risks at all. Petty theft offences such as pickpocketing, purse snatching, and scams are not uncommon. And it pays to adopt extra care and vigilance when you are out enjoying the country.
Furthermore, you should consider risks such as rabies among stray dogs, weather extremities, and local laws. We recommend reading this article for more information on staying safe in Thailand.
If you’re planning to engage in any sexual activity, it’s wise to pack condoms or protection from home. When travelling abroad, it can be difficult to tell if a product is FDA approved, so it’s best to prepare in advance.
With that, don’t even think about going to Thailand without travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. If the unlikely event that something goes wrong, you’ll want the best cover money can buy.
For this reason, we always recommend World Nomads for travel insurance. They are affordable, offer a variety of packages and add ons, and allow you to make amendments to your policy while travelling.
If you need further convincing, read our article on why you need travel insurance. Or get an on-the-spot quote from World Nomads using the form below.
Meeting Other LGBT+ people in Thailand
With a thriving gay scene in many places in Thailand, it’s not too difficult to meet other members of the LGBT+ community. That said, we understand that it isn’t always easy to stroll into a gay bar or event and attempt to make friends.
That is why the internet is such an excellent tool for connecting with like-minded individuals. We suggest using social media to locate other LGBT+ travellers or locals in Thailand. You can use Facebook, for example, to yield dedicated LGBT groups in the area. Similarly, navigating specific hashtags on Instagram such as #gaythailand or #gaybangkok, can help you locate all things LGBT near you.
Some other great platforms for connecting with people are:
- Local Dating Apps such as Grindr & Tinder
- Purple Roofs (for finding LGBT+ friendly accommodation)
You don’t need to use dating apps in any sort of romantic way either. Some are great for connecting with LGBT+ locals and travellers as friends. If you’re lucky, you may find yourself connecting with a local who can show you all the best spots in their area.
We always suggest using a secure VPN when surfing the web internationally. We use Surfshark VPN to keep us safe and secure. Register here and use promo code: ourtasteforlife for 85% off and 3 extra months free!
Staying Connected in Thailand
If, like us, you rely on the internet when you travel (let’s face it, who doesn’t anymore), we have the perfect solution. TravelWifi’s portable pocket wifi allows us to quickly and securely connect when we need it the most. Click the link for more information on coverage, packages, and the latest offers.
Or order a prepaid sim card for Thailand and collect at the airport upon arrival.
Oh, and don’t forget a VPN. Using a VPN is very important these days to make sure that all your data is safe and secure. Also, it helps while travelling not only for safety reasons but also it unlocks geo-restricted content such as Netflix and helps to avoid demographic price discrimination while looking for a flight or a hotel.
More on Thailand
Did you enjoy our Guide to Gay & Lesbian Thailand?
Let us know! That concludes Gay In: Thailand – A 2020 Travel Guide to Gay & Lesbian Thailand. We hope you enjoy your time in this exciting and gay-friendly country. If you have any questions or feel we have missed anything, please reach out to us in the comment section below, through our contact us page. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram here, where we share further travel advice & inspiration.
Stay adventurous and Happy travels.
Charlotte & Natalie x
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