Gay Travel In Thailand Series: Bangkok
Bangkok is hot right now, and not just literally. Thailand’s bustling metropolis capital, fresh out of its monsoon season, has made itself one of the most welcoming and attractive destinations to the LGBT community in all of Asia. Bangkok will be the first of three regions highlighted in Instinct’s new series on gay travel in Thailand, which focuses on five of my favorite personally tested spots in a few select regions of the gorgeous, welcoming country.
What better way to start your visit to Bangkok – and, likely, Thailand in general – than with a day trip (or half day trip) to nearby Ayutthaya, a bustling city that served as the country’s capital prior to Bangkok. Countless tour companies offer excursions from Bangkok to Ayutthaya (roughly an hour and a half) to tour some of the most incredible Buddhist temple ruins in Southeast Asia, but Ayutthaya Ruins is highly recommended. After a central pick up in Bangkok, guests are transported by road to Ayutthaya, a journey that allows guides to provide context and backstory to the destination as well as a brief glimpse of Thailand’s history. Once in the former capital, the tour stops at three of the most impressive sites in the massive splay of ruins, where guests are allowed to explore, mouths probably agape the entire time. A river boat is hired for the return to Bangkok, where we enjoyed an incredible traditional Thai lunch while marveling at the colorful diversity of architecture, temples, mansions, government facilities and more along the Chao Phraya River. (Photo: Jonathan Higbee)
With the historical sites of Ayutthaya out of the way and some of Bangkok’s biggest tourist attractions under our belt, we wanted to see a different side of the mega-city. Bangkok Vanguards gave us just what we wanted: an experience of Bangkok similar to that of a local’s. Everywhere our knowledgeable tour guide Sunny took us was absolutely gay friendly (like every other place we experienced in Thailand), and we never felt uncomfortable together, even while showing each other affection. This is as good a place to mention as any that the unyielding hospitality of Thais mixed with the Buddhist nature of the country made for one of the most welcoming and comfortable trips my husband and I have ever taken together. (Photo: Jonathan Higbee)
3. Lumphini Park
As a New Yorker, I’m skeptical when other cities make a claim to a Central Park clone, but Bangkok’s Lumphini Park is just that. Any visitor to the city should make at least one effort to see the massive green space, where you can brush up against the locals and some of Southeast Asia’s most incredible wildlife all in one stroll. From the outdoor gym, to the spirit houses, public art, people watching and amateur chess tournaments, Lumphini Park, just like Central Park, is the ideal way to escape from the mind-boggling bustle of the big city. (Photo: Jonathan Higbee)
International gay couples abound at Sofitel So Bangkok – and not just as overnight guests. The impeccable rooms (all based on the five elements) are some of the nicest in the world, but the Sofitel So’s delectable restaurants, spa services and, especially, infamous pool parties attract demanding and fashionable guests from all over the world for just the day, too. It’ll be hard to leave and explore Bangkok (you must!) while staying here or even just visiting for the day, this Sofitel location is that impressive of a micro-destination on its own. (Photo: Huw_Meats/Trip Advisor)
Shopping abounds in Bangkok, but what better way to spend your shopping time and money than at one of the most stylish Asian night markets in the region? Asiatique is brimming with good finds, good deals, and – just as important – great photo ops. It’s a little tough to get to (just like anywhere in the congested mega-city), but worth the extra effort it takes. Just be sure to buy an extra suitcase while there. You’ll need it. (Photo: Asiatique)