Few destinations are as popular with the LGBT+ crowd as Thailand: an ever-friendly country flanked by aquamarine waters and blessed with endless hours of sun, former Siam attracts adventure enthusiasts and party people alike.
It’s no secret that the Southeast Asian gem offers good bang for your buck and lounging by a beachside pool with a Daiquiri in your hand probably won’t break the bank. When you pack your bags, remember to take your BFF – Thailand is best experienced in the company of a trusted soul (and anyway, who else are you going to dance with when the DJ plays a tropical remix of Madonna’s ‘Holiday’?) Read on for our essential Thai places to visit for queer pals.
Mariamman Temple, Bangkok
So you’ve landed in Bangkok and you’re ready to explore town, but where to go first? We’d suggest kicking off your rainbow trail with the city’s most colourful building. Built in 1879, Mariamman is Thailand’s oldest Hindu temple. Its fantastically ornate entrance tower is six metres high and covered in depictions of Hindu deities, making the complex impossible to miss! Before stepping inside, make sure to grab a flower garland from a nearby street stall – everyone is welcome to honour the Gods here. In fact, many Buddhist Thais visit the temple as they consider Hinduism a branch of their own religion. A place this colourful and inclusive of everyone, Mariamman is a must-visit!
BoyzTown has been around since 1980, introducing a designated gay scene to Pattaya at a time when the seaside city was an up-and-coming destination for international visitors. The region has suffered from a somewhat sleazy reputation in the past, but things are changing – though you’re still guaranteed a good dose of gay-ol’ fun here! For instance, why not check out a humorous cabaret drag show at Castro Bar that will have you and your BFF crying with laughter? The surrounding restaurants, massage parlours and bars are outspokenly gay-friendly so visitors will never be lost for things to do. Plus, supporting BoyzTown’s businesses counts as a good deed: their owners have been donating to LGBT+ charities for years!
Royal Palace ruins, Ayutthaya
Want to dive right into Thailand’s queer history? Start where it all began: literature from the Ayutthaya period (1350-1767) makes rather explicit mentions of lesbian lovemaking between palace concubines, some of whom are stated to have slept together, breasts exposed and embracing one another (scandalous, we know!). Intimacy between women was then called ‘len pheuan’, which translates to ‘playing with friends’ – it only makes sense exploring the ruins with a pal! Though not much survives of the former palace, wandering around the battered structure between Ayutthaya’s iconic Wat Phra Si Sanphet and the Lopburi River is a great way to connect with Thailand’s LGBT+ roots. Eager for more? Head to the nearby History Study Centre to learn all about the palace!
Samui International Muay Thai Stadium, Koh Samui
Chances are you’ve come to Koh Samui to experience the gay-friendly venues just off dreamy Chaweng beach. While Pride Bar and K-Club are fabulous for a night out, we’d argue a visit to the International Muay Thai Stadium is a must on the island! Known as the ‘art of eight limbs’, Muay Thai has fighters use all parts of their (oiled and sweaty) bodies in combat – needless to say, the whole spectacle is pretty physical and intense. Fights are staged twice a week and you might come back for a second round as cheering crowds and sassy live commentary typically resonate with LGBT+ travellers (we blame Drag Race). Also, Alpha Gay Resort is five minutes by tuk-tuk from here…