A gay man piggybacking his lover on a beach.

Gay Travel Thailand – top gaybourhoods to explore

A nation blessed with picture-perfect beaches, jungles, temple-dotted towns, and bustling modern cities that reach towards the sky, all bound together by a deep-rooted culture of open-mindedness and acceptance; it’s easy to see why so many travellers from across the globe flock to Thailand each and every year in search of something ‘more’. For LGBTQ+ travellers in particular, the Land of Smiles has long represented a place where they can let their guard down, a place to be their authentic selves in one of the most captivating and beautiful settings on earth. But where exactly do they congregate? While it can be said that the entire country as a whole is an LGBTQ+ hotspot (and we couldn’t agree more), there are some specific locales that command attention and belong on the itineraries of every visiting queer person. Here’s our rundown of Thailand’s best gaybourhoods:

Silom, Bangkok

It’s no surprise that Bangkok, known far and wide as the undisputed gay capital of Asia, should lead this list. This sprawling metropolis has without a doubt the most well-established, lively, and diverse gay scene in the entire country, with nightclubs, bars, saunas, and cabarets that seem to multiply faster than you can say ‘fabulous!’

Most of the queer offerings in the city are located in a neighbourhood called Silom, around two streets: Silom Soi 2 and Soi 4. These adjacent streets are the epicentre of gay nightlife in Bangkok. Soi 4 is known for its more laidback atmosphere with numerous joints like Circus and Balcony Pub, where you can enjoy a beer, watch a drag performance, or chat with locals and backpackers until the early hours. On the flip side, Soi 2 offers a more energetic scene with dance clubs like DJ Station, Bangkok’s biggest and most popular gay club.

But it’s not all about nightlife; the neighbourhood and surrounding area are bursting at the seams with gay-owned restaurants and cafés where you can socialise and meet like-minded people, along with a selection of superb LGBTQ+ welcoming hotels to suit all budgets and preferences.

Koh Samet

Fondly referred to as Thailand’s gayest island, Koh Samet is only a two-hour drive from Bangkok, making it an ideal weekend getaway for both residents of the city and global queer visitors who appreciate its natural beauty, quiet beaches, and the close-knit, friendly nature of its nightlife.

For those who love to party and enjoy water sports, Haad Sai Kaew and Ao Hin Khok are must-visit spots, meanwhile, Ao Wa, Ao Kiew Na Nok, and Ao Pakarang are better suited to those seeking something a little more intimate and romantic. The island is also home to one of the best unofficial gay beaches in Thailand, Ao Tubtim, and a stunning neighbouring beach called Ao Phai where you’ll find the popular Silver Sands Bar and open-air nightclub.

Patong, Phuket

You’d be hard-pressed to find a single gay traveller who doesn’t have Thailand’s largest and most popular island on their bucket list – that is, of course, if they haven’t already been there. A jewel of the Andaman Sea, Phuket is celebrated for its postcard-worthy landscapes and legendary party scene that attracts an international crowd. By day, explore hidden coves and eat your way through local street food markets or take it easy under swaying palms on one of the many gay-welcoming beaches filled with speedo-clad men. Then, as the sun sets, head over to Patong’s Paradise Complex, the beating heart of the island’s queer scene, where you’ll find a variety of gay venues.

Start your evening with a cocktail at the gay-owned bar and bistro, Sundowners, or My Way, known for its good-looking dancers and electrifying cabaret shows. If you’re craving a high-energy night afterwards, Zag Club’s pulsating dance floor certainly won’t disappoint.

Loi Kroh Road & Night Bazaar, Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is known as the cultural heart of the country, and for good reason; it’s home to over 300 temples (many of which are within the walls of its historic Old City) that invite you to pause and ponder life’s mysteries – or at least take a great selfie. But don’t be fooled into thinking that Chiang Mai is solely about feeding the soul; the city satiates stomachs with an equally impressive food and coffee scene: from traditional Thai food served in cosy, family-run establishments to trendy cafés brewing single-origin coffee and crafting homemade pastries, the city’s gastronomic offerings are as diverse as they are delicious.

Once you’ve had your fill, head over to the lively enclave of Loi Kroh Road and the Night Bazaar area to explore the city’s thriving queer scene, starting with an extravagant cabaret show at Ram Bar. If a more intimate setting is your preference, Connections Bar offers a cosy environment where you can enjoy a drink and chat with friends old and new. For a touch of history, venture further out to Adam’s Apple Club – this legendary go-go bar has been a staple of entertainment in Chiang Mai for over 30 years.

Koh Phangan

As far as party islands go, it really doesn’t get much better than Koh Phangan. The island is mostly known for hosting the world-famous Full Moon Parties, which attracts thousands to its shores every month. While these parties do not specifically target the LGBTQ+ community, they do attract a crowd of fun-loving queer individuals who appreciate the island’s young-at-heart, open-minded ambience, and natural beauty.

The majority of beaches on this island are LGBTQ+-welcoming, with Bottle Beach, Haad Yao Beach, and Salad Beach being the most notable and frequented by the community. Most gay bars, like the charming Alcove, are situated beachside and offer spellbinding Andaman Sea views, although more nightlife and gay-friendly offerings can be found in the main town of Thong Sala, along with regular hippie meet-ups and live music events.

Make the most of your time in Thailand’s best gaybourhoods by planning an itinerary that suits your interests. Our curated list of the best queer-friendly activities is a great place to start.