10 Best Gay Districts in Asia

    To chronicle LGBT travel as a scribe in the medium is a tricky enterprise, at best. On the one hand, one wonders if the term “gay travel” will ever dovetail with “travel”. On the other, it seems quite natural for every subculture in the strata of human society to bond together in very specific ways and, indeed, in very specific places.

    The abysmal record of LGBT enfranchisement in many parts of the world suggests, however, that the genesis of these “very specific places” is, too often, akin to a de facto ghettoization. Unlike pride-swollen ‘hoods like San Francisco’s Castro or Sydney’s Darlinghurst, in other words, antediluvian criminal codes in parts of Asia frequently beget illicit gay nightlife shtetls. To put it another way, the concept of a Big Gay Ice Cream truck is still anathema. All in good time, I suppose.

    But until a country like Indonesia, for example, adopts the Yogyakarta Principles (on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity), LGBT tourists can openly find solace and compatible company on the continent.

    Shinjuku Ni-chōme, Tokyo, Japan

    Photo credit

    In a first in conservative Japan, openly gay candidate Taiga Ishikawa recently won a seat in Tokyo’s Toshima Ward Assembly. In feverish Shinjuku Ni-chōme – the most prominent yaoi zone in the metropolis – the news barely reverberated above the disco din.

    Where to stay: Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku Tokyo

    Tokyo City Guide

    Doyama, Osaka, Japan

    The place where Osaka’s faceless, legion salarymen traditionally trudge to blow off workaday steam in an orgy of okonomiyaki and Kirin is now the city’s patent hub of gay culture.

    Where to stay: The Westin Osaka Hotel

    Osaka City Guide

    Itaewon, Seoul, South Korea

    Rigid, steely social mores in South Korea censor homosexuality from public life but pockets of resistance prevail in Seoul’s Shinchon and Jongno districts. Still, tourists and expats may find Itaewon’s “Homo Hill” more hospitable.

    Where to stay: PJ Hotel Seoul

    Seoul City Guide

    Si Lom, Bang Rak, Bangkok, Thailand

    Southeast Asia is brazenly paradoxical in matters of sexual identity and expression and nowhere is this more manifest than in Bangkok, where Si Lom’s Soi 2 and Soi 4 emerge as the city’s flamboyant, chaotic chieftains of gay nightlife.

    Where to stay: Banyan Tree Hotel Bangkok

    Bangkok City Guide

    Patong, Phuket, Thailand

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    Patong’s breezy acceptance of the most libertine vices is platitude by now but a fact nonetheless. With that, the Paradise Complex is strictly for the queers.

    Where to stay: Mercure Patong Phuket

    Phuket City Guide

    Dong Da, Hanoi, Vietnam

    Dong (yes, Dong) Da is the heart of the LGBT scene in Hanoi and area of choice for a massage and sauna fix.

    Where to stay: Hanoi Horison Hotel

    Hanoi City Guide

    Central, Hong Kong, China

    To classify Central as a gaybourhood per se is a little ambitious. Still, Hong Kong’s CBD has the gay boîte buzz, from Propaganda to Volume.

    Where to stay: Metropark Hotel Wanchai Hong Kong

    Hong Kong City Guide

    Ximending, Wanhua District, Taipei, Taiwan

    Taiwan Pride is big, by any measure, and proves that rainbow power is alive and well in Taipei every September/October. The rest of the year, the city’s 228 Peace Memorial Park and Ximending pedestrian zone have a discernible queer inflection.

    Where to stay: Taipei Garden Hotel

    Taipei City Guide

    Malate, Manila, Philippines

    The fetishisation of effete, pretty Pinoys borders on bloodsport, which makes the intersection of Maria Orosa and Julio Nakpil in Metro Manila a mecca of global gay subculture.

    Where to stay: The Heritage Hotel Manila

    Manila City Guide

    Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore

    Photo credit

    Singapore is far from a model of LGBT tolerance but improvement is on the horizon. For now, Tanjong Pagar in the CBD is the city-state’s salient LGBT enclave.

    Where to stay: Amara Hotel Singapore

    Singapore City Guide

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    2 comments on “10 Best Gay Districts in Asia”

    1. Alam Yeksha Buana says on May 19, 2011 at 11:43 pm:

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    2. Gay says on May 19, 2011 at 11:52 pm:

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