Many people travelling to Asia usually take in China, Japan and Hong Kong but overlook the gem that is Taiwan.
The capital of Taiwan, Taipei, is probably Asia’s most liberal and gay friendly city.
And there’s no better time to party there than in a week’s time when on Saturday (27 October) it will host Asia’s largest LGBT Pride march. The city hopes to top the 30,000-plus attendees of 2011.
The organizers recently launched this year’s Taiwan Pride campaign video.
If you are in Taipei for Pride or any other time of the year, here are our top tourist tips and guide to the best of the gay nightlife.
- Taipei 101: Until fairly recently Taipei 101 was the world’s tallest building and is certainly worth a trip to the 89thfloor observation deck and, weather permitting, a visit to the outside platform on the 91stfloor.
- Chang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall: Dedicated to the founding father of Taiwan, this huge hall is set in peaceful gardens that also contain the impressive National Concert Hall and Theater.
- National Palace Museum: This vast museum could well take hours to see everything but most people admire the largest collection of Chinese antiquities anywhere in the world and try to get a glimpse of the ‘jade cabbage’!
- Gondola ride to Maokong: Go to Taipei Zoo station and take the gondola high in the hills. At the top, take a walk around to have some fresh tea whilst perched on the hillside overlooking Taipei.
- Hot springs: After a tiring day walking around streets and museums, take the train to XinBeitou and relax in one of the many natural hot springs there. One particularly gay friendly one is Kawayu – Chuan Tang Spa. It’s all male and all nude; you may want to avoid the steam room if claustrophobic! Particularly busy at weekends and evenings.
- Night markets: Taiwan is famous for its evening markets and Taipei has some of the biggest. The most famous and tourist friendly is the in Shilin where you can buy an array of clothes and goods but most people go to sample the delicious street food including, squid risotto, stinky tofu, oyster pancakes and sweet rice dumplings!
If clubbing is your scene, the weekend starts Friday night at Jump with Taiwan Pump. The parties continue Saturday night with Taiwan Pride at Att4Fun, then continues to Sunday morning with Taiwan Power at Luxy. All three parties feature international DJs and go-go boys. More information for all of the parties can be found here.
At the time of this article being written, no specific lesbian parties have been announced for Taiwan Pride.
Gay and lesbian nightlife
Most people start their evening in the area behind the Red Theatre in Ximen district which has numerous bars which get packed, especially on Friday and Saturdays and there is even a bear bar! One popular bar with foreigners is Café Dalida. For lesbian and bisexual women, Cosbys is a burger restaurant by day and a predominantly lesbian bar at night.
Afterwards there are plenty of clubbing options:
- Funky: Attracts a mostly younger local crowd with a mix of Asian music, karaoke, and Western pop. Happy hour from 12-1.
- G-Star: One of Taipei’s most happening clubs with a stage, dance floor and two levels of fun-loving people. Music is mostly K-pop, with a smattering of Lady Gaga
- Jump: Hugely popular club, often packed at weekends and on special nights playing house music for topless muscle boys.
- Park: A new, stylish cocktail bar serving sophisticated drinks and packed with trendy locals.
- Re-Fresh: Recently renovated, now on three floors including a lounge bar, dance area and shower podium! Attracts a mix of locals, expats and tourists.
- Taboo: An underground lesbian club with a packed dance floor after midnight.
- Twiice: Separate but equal , Twiice has one floor for boys and another for girls.
Our secret pleasures
Beyond the tourism and the gay scene, our trips to Taipei would not be complete without our two chances for self-indulgence.
- Wufenbo market: A huge area of alleyways predominantly offering cutting edge clothes, mostly inspired by the newest fashions from Korea and Japan. The only catch is that you mostly can’t try them on.
- Afternoon tea: Until recently, our favorite place for afternoon tea in Taipei was the Grand Hyatt. But we recently rediscovered the afternoon tea at the Shangri-La, which also has an amazing view.
Whether you enjoy the sights, the sounds, or the tastes of Taipei – your Pride weekend will surely be packed. See you at the parade.