Bars, clubs and a sauna: Bangkok’s essential gay venues
Bangkok’s nightlife, more than that of any other place in Asia, rivals that of Berlin and New York. The city has been a haven for beat lovers and dancing queens for decades, slowly but steadily growing a reputation as one of the world’s great party destinations. One of the reasons the music never stops here is the Thai capital’s strong LGBT+ community that started setting up gay bars as early as in the 1980s!
Queer venues have since proliferated and if it wasn’t for everything else there is to discover in Bangkok, you could easily spend your holiday just dancing away (not that we’d be pointing fingers!). Ready to get the party started? These are the places no gay traveller can afford to miss:
Located in Silom’s iconic Soi 4, Telephone sits smack-bang in the centre of Bangkok’s LGBT+ life. And it’s no surprise they managed to score the prime location: the funky bar more or less created the capital’s queer district when it became its first gay establishment in 1987! In case you were wondering – the name is not a reference to that Lady Gaga and Beyoncé tune… Instead, each table was equipped with an actual telephone in the early days, enabling guests to call one another (though rest assured, they do play the song as well!). Telephone is our favourite place to pre-drink and people watch. Arrive early for the best seats!
If there is one queer venue in the Thai capital that’s shrouded in legend, it’s got to be DJ Station – no gay traveller can escape its gravitational force! A true Bangkok institution, DJ Station is busy every night; though if you go on the weekend, be prepared for rave-like crowds. You might not want to wear too many layers, as the nightclub’s three floors start heating up the moment a nightly drag cabaret opens the dancing extravaganza (though in any case, shirts tend to come off rather quickly at DJ Station; we’re sure this has to do with people needing to cool down). Best of all, admission includes two complimentary drinks. What are you waiting for?
G Bangkok / G.O.D.
A mere five minutes walking from DJ Station, G Bangkok is a more recent addition to the city’s queer nightlife, but it’s quickly become a staple. The venue is also known as G.O.D., a shameless yet highly accurate acronym for ‘Guys On Display’. Bring your posse to the ‘G’ if you’re into house music and EDM, or if the general concept of live stage performances that pump up a mixed crowd of locals and tourists appeals to you – and who doesn’t that appeal to? In spite of the hard beats, this place has an outspokenly friendly atmosphere and it’s open till late, making it the perfect place for a fun-filled after party!
If you’ve taken the celebrations a little too far (or you want to keep them going), Chakran Sauna in Phaya Thai is the place to be for all things wellness and relaxation. Head here for the most upscale gay sauna experience in all of Bangkok, including Jacuzzis, massages, a swimming pool and even a men-only onsen. During the week, Chakran starts filling up from around 5 pm onwards, though there are so many rooms, you’ll always find a retreat to just kick back and chill. If however, you can’t get enough of Thailand’s queer nightlife, there are regular events, from DJ gigs to foam parties and more – if you can detox, why not retox?