If you want disco balls and flashing lights on your travels through the Orient, an epic boogie in Asia is not a difficult task.
The Far East offers travellers stunning beaches for relaxing and unique cities for exploring, but of interest to the club-bound, the gay party scene in many Asian countries has long been a force to be reckoned with.
Freedom from sexual labeling makes many Asian countries an attractive destination for LGBTI travellers, who contribute to the growing visibility of local gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.
While LGBTI tourists’ demand for gay bars, gay clubs and gay nights may have catalyzed the gay scene as it’s known today in countries like Thailand, Taiwan and Singapore, each state has its own unique identity and flavor.
If gay pride parades are any indication of progress, many Asian countries like Taiwan, China and Japan have turned the political movement into a welcome annual institution.
Taipei Pride not only managed to draw tens of thousands of marchers to this year’s parade, but also received support from some of the world’s largest corporations including Google and Goldman Sachs.
In the same vein, Hong Kong Pride drew over 5,000 marchers and also the endorsement of global conglomerates.
Even for the youngest pride celebrations, like Tokyo Pride, companies Barclays, Goldman Sachs, Google, IBM, Phillips, and UBS are taking steps to demonstrate their commitment to diversity within their company and customers.
Anti-gay legislation continues to pose an interesting challenge for LGBTI travellers and locals. Despite gay sex is still illegal in Singapore, the local gay community is quite vibrant, continues to attract LGBTI travellers from around the world and is making progress fighting anti-gay laws.
The High Court heard earlier this year two cases challenging the constitutionality of the gay sex ban and earlier this year the country got its first online gay publication.
While the lines between gay-friendly anti-gay destinations become more and more blurred, opportunities for fun and community continue to shine in the forefront.
To keep up with the thumpa-thumpa of dance beats and the spinning lasers of disco balls, Gay Star Travel has compiled a list of Asia’s best dance floors and the hotel rooms to recuperate in, and be sure to check out each city’s guide for everything shopping, food and sight-seeing related.
DJ Station – One of the most popular gay nightclub in Bangkok, DJ Station is packed every night of the week. Tourists are given two free drinks with the entrance fee of 200 baht. The ground floor of the 20-and-over dance club tends to be more popular with locals while the second floor is for mixing with Westerners. While the club opens at 9pm, the party usually doesn’t get started until midnight.
G Bangkok – As DJ Station winds down, G Bangkok is typically the next stop. Otherwise known as G.O.D. (for guys on display), the club charges a 300 baht entry fee that comes along with two-drink tickets. The shirtless bodies start packing the place around 2am.
Glow Trinity – The newly rebuilt hotel is excellent value and ideal location: Right next to the BTS Station means one stop to the gay nightlife and three to some of the area’s most popular shops. The hotel focuses on a simple mission statement focusing on a good bed, shower, meal, internet and fitness facility.
The Ascott – Combines spacious apartment style accommodation with an amazing gym. Also close to the BTS station, The Ascott is one stop away from the gay bars and clubs in Silom.
Siam Kempinski – A stunning luxury hotel next to all the shopping malls. The rooms come equipped with the latest technology you could need, and some you’ve never thought of: You can even post your own photos on digital picture frames on the wall.
G5 – One of the biggest dance party venues in the region, G5 attracts world-class DJs and packed crowds every weekend. The circuit party-style venue has regularly scheduled events, the next of which is a huge holiday bash. Check out the G5 Facebook page for photos and info.
Inhouse Hotel –Close to the gay district of Ximen, the Inhouse is great value for a designer hotel. The Inhouse is located a 5-minute walk from Ximen MRT station, with surrounding night markets just outside the hotel door.
SWIIO Hotel – Newest to the selection of hotel is the gay area of Ximending, the SWIIO is a stylish and modern hotel with unusual amenities including self-serve laundry service. The hotel is only blocks away from gay bars in the Red House Quarter.
Hotel Eclat – A boutique luxury option with a design aesthetic all its own. Equipped with Mont Blanc stationary and Molton Brown toiletries, the hotel is an excellent location for parties, close to the shops and Taipei 101, Taiwan’s tallest skyscraper.
W Taipei – the W brand brings its eclectic visuals and supreme service to the streets of Taipei, conveniently located above a department store and blocks away from major sightseeing stops. Like all W hotels, this one comes equipped with the most grand of amenities, least of all famed Toto toilet with self-warming seats and bedet fittings. The W also great for making it to parties and has an excellent pool to come home to.
Taboo – One of the most popular gay dance clubs in the city. The 2-story, 5000 square foot venue comes equipped with a loft area for chilling out. There’s a special-themed ‘Hot’ party on the last Saturday of every month where an international DJ takes to the tables.
Porcelain – A budget hotel in the heart of Singapore’s Chinatown. The rooms are well designed and compact, and close to the gay scene.
Naumi Liora – Originally built in 1858, this mid-range boutique hotel was completely renovated in 2012. Also close to the gay scene, the Naumi Liora has a 24-hour fitness room and nibbles bar. Worth checking out are the Porch Rooms with a secret garden.
Marina Bay Sands – An iconic hotel and casino with one of the most stunning pools in the world. The stunning Skypark pool is an infinity pond nestled amongst skyscrapers. The sun terrace and pool are accessible to hotel guests only.
Zoo – The chic and stylish bar has become a staple in Hong Kong’s gay scene. The weekend DJ draws crowds so large over the weekend they spill out onto the street.
BEAT – Across the street from Zoo bar, BEAT has a resident DJ and live shows throughout the week. They also have a New Arrivals Night on Wednesdays to meet locals and enjoy free vodka drinks between 9 and 10:30pm.
Propaganda – A legend among clubs in Hong Kong. Propaganda is the biggest gay nightclub in the city, and since it’s one of the only venues open once the rest of the bars and clubs have shut, feel free to be fashionably late.
BOO – A karaoke bar for bears and their admirers. Kowloon has a local bar feel with good drinks, cute waiters and a decent happy hour.
The Mercer – Conveniently located next to ZOO and BEAT, this high-rise boutique hotel offers lush and stylish accomodations.
Ovolo Hotel 286 Queens Road – free minibar and breakfast come included with booking one of these stylish boutique rooms. Guests also have access to the 24-hour gym.
W Hong Kong – the classically cool W Hotel incorporates local art and design influences into its Hong Long stay. Near BOO bar, this hotel is in a league of its own with a glass-wall pool and sun terrance on the 72nd floor.
The Annex – Owned by the same people who organize Arty Farty, a gay party open to boys and girls, The Annex party bar & dance club boasts a lengthy bar and a late-night DJ.
Shangri-La at ageHa - One of Tokyo’s largest gay parties, Shangri La is a monthly party that takes over four floors, four bars and a pool. The next party White Ball is on 21 Dececember.
Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku – For comfort and convenience, this hotel is a top choice. It’s close to Ni-chome gay area and popular shops.
Park Hyatt Tokyo – One of the best views in town, the Park Hyatt is worth every penny. Of Lost in Translation film fame, the hotel takes up the top 14 floors in a 52-story building. For the best views, head to the gym and pool for floor-to-ceiling glass walls.