Asia is a huge continent with deeply conservative cultures. Nevertheless, LGBT travelers are finding it increasingly easy to enjoy their holiday in countries that don’t criminalize homosexuality and where social opinions are more open.
Some of the most gay-friendly travel destinations in Asia are highlighted below. However, it is recommended to keep a healthy dose of skepticism when visiting any country.
The Philippines is a tropical paradise with gorgeous gay-friendly beaches and welcoming bars. The cosmopolitan capital, Manila, welcomes LGBT visitors and offers a range of hotels that cater to the gay scene. You can stay in a luxury hotel with a rooftop bar or find a low-key boutique hotel with beautiful views. The islands offer stunning natural beauty, exotic sea life, and great hikes. Palawan is a must-visit, offering deep blue lagoons and dramatic wrecks.
The island of Boracay is a hotspot for partygoers, but it has more to offer than just that. It’s also one of the most LGBT-friendly travel destinations in Asia, and you can enjoy a relaxed beach holiday with lots of clubs and bars.
While there is still some homophobia in the Philippines, the country has made progress in recent years. In fact, it ranks in the top 15 of the most LGBT-friendly countries in the world. The quaint, picturesque city of Baguio in northern Luzon is another popular tourist destination that’s welcoming to LGBT travelers.
However, the southern part of the country is not safe for LGBT tourists due to the presence of terrorist groups. Travelers are advised to avoid areas in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago. They may be subject to kidnapping, and some travelers have been murdered in the past.
One of the most popular gay-friendly travel destinations in Asia, Thailand is renowned for its tropical beaches and vibrant nightlife. The capital Bangkok is a great place to start, with a thriving gay scene and luxury hotels such as the So Sofitel, which boasts a spectacular rooftop bar offering sweeping views of the city skyline.
Pattaya is another gay-friendly destination, with several hotspots for travelers including Jomtien Complex and Boyztown. There is a more relaxed atmosphere here than in Bangkok, with cozy bars and less raucous entertainment. It is also a popular place for gay sex workers.
The Land of Smiles is a highly tolerant country and visitors will find it unlikely to encounter homophobia, but public displays of affection are frowned upon, so it’s advisable to stay discreet in crowded areas. It’s also worth noting that homosexual couples are not granted the same legal rights as heterosexual ones and gay marriage is not yet legally recognised.
If you want to party you can head to Silom, the main gay area in Thailand, where you can party at New York-styled Stranger bars and old-school establishments that used to have telephones on the tables so you could call anyone who caught your eye! Alternatively, head to Koh Lipe where you can enjoy a more secluded gay resort with a choice of beach cottages made from bamboo wood.
The infamous island paradise of Bali has long been a haven for gay travelers, thanks to a culture of tolerance and a recent influx of luxury hotels and bars catering to the community. However, the largely Muslim nation of Indonesia is still a conservative society, and harassment of LGBTQ people does occur.
In the capital Jakarta, it is especially important to exercise caution as homophobia and anti-gay sentiments are rising. But for the rest of the country, gay-friendly travel is relatively safe, and in cities like Hong Kong and Tokyo, you can enjoy swanky clubs, designer hotels, and delicious dining that cater to the LGBTQIA+ community.
Located on the second-smallest of the Gili Islands, this resort is ideal for those who prefer to avoid the madness of Gili T and are looking for a quieter escape. This gay-friendly resort features 55 cozy capsules that take inspiration from modern and minimalist living, a pool, and high-speed WiFi access.
Featuring a languid river, this secluded property is perfect for those who want to soak up some sun on the beach without being too far from the action. This gay-owned and operated resort offers beautiful villas with private pools and plenty of on-site facilities for guests to enjoy.
To explore all of Vietnam’s azure beaches and jungle-clad islands would take more than a year and even then, it wouldn’t be enough. But the country’s hedonistic Phuket and Krabi resorts do a good job of catering to gay and lesbian travelers.
Unlike many Asian destinations, Vietnam has never had anti-LGBT laws and is openly welcoming to LGBT visitors. A burgeoning LGBTQ scene is emerging here too, including several bars and restaurants in Phnom Penh, a city of ancient temples and modern-day shopping malls.
In the beachside cities of Danang and heritage hot spot Hoi An, there are a few gay-friendly hotels. In the capital of Hanoi, there are also plenty of gay-friendly hotels. One of the best is Forever Young, which offers a laid-back escape and is located just south of the city center.
Whether you want to visit Angkor Wat or savor the vivacious nightlife of Phuket, Vietnam is a top gay-friendly travel destination in Asia. It is a country with an exotic landscape and a rich history that will make you feel right at home. But be aware of its traditional and conservative attitudes towards homosexuality – displays of affection will likely attract disapproving looks. That said, as long as LGBTQIA+ travelers display discretion and respect local culture, they should have no problems in Vietnam.