Charlotte and Natalie at the Batu Caves

Posted: 11/7/2019 | November 7th, 2019

In this guest post, Charlotte Hockin delivers some insight into gay travel in Asia. She and her girlfriend, Natalie, have been traveling about the continent for the previous two years. Here’s what they’ve discovered from traveling as a lesbian couple in Asia.

Asia is a vibrant, diverse, and thrilling continent to check out. Nevertheless, for LGBT travelers, it can often appear like a daunting prospect. There are nations that criminalize homosexuality, deeply pious states and regions, and areas that have unfavorable social opinions of the LGBT neighborhood. It does not precisely sound like all entertaining and rainbows, does it?

When my girlfriend and I set off on our Asian adventures two years ago, we had no concept what to count on but admittedly have been rattled. Not only have been we backpacking for the 1st time but we have been traveling as a couple. Neither of us have been genuinely into social media at that point, so it nearly felt like we have been alone. The only lesbian couple to ever travel! Sounds silly, I know, but that is how it felt.

Speedy-forward two years, and we’ve spent the improved component of that time traveling about Asia. And do you know what? Gay travel there has been one particular hell of a ride! I imply, we’ve skilled it all: we’ve visited gay-friendly destinations, attended illegal drag shows, stayed with neighborhood households, and on the uncommon occasion, been the victim of discrimination and hostility.

With this in thoughts, we have place with each other this extensive guide for LGBT travelers in Asia (excluding the Middle-East &amp Russia). We want to share our experiences as a identical-sex couple in Asia, as effectively as lay out all the elements that you ought to take into consideration when preparing your trip.

We think that travel ought to be for everybody, and with our guidance, you can appear forward to an unbelievable and, most importantly, secure journey of a lifetime.

Tip 1: Analysis neighborhood laws

Charlotte and Natalie on a beach in Bali

When preparing your trip, it is essential to be conscious of neighborhood laws relating to the LGBT neighborhood in every nation you want to check out. At the identical time, I do not want you to make the popular error of obsessing about these laws. Or worse, letting the law protect against you from going to particular areas.

Frequently, the laws relating to acts of homosexuality are extremely complicated. Some only apply to gay males, other people imply the LGBT neighborhood are not protected from discrimination, and some nations implement sharia law. Governments do not count on vacationers to get their head about this for the sake of a two-week trip. As a outcome, these laws are commonly only enforced for locals, not vacationers.

Nonetheless, that is not to say you shouldn’t workout caution when in public areas. We recommend avoiding any public show of affection (PDA) or something you feel may perhaps draw unnecessary focus. Not just for the objective of the law, but for the sake of getting respectful. (I will touch additional on understanding neighborhood cultures and social opinions under.)

On the other hand, some LGBT travelers may perhaps not want to even check out nations exactly where these laws exist. And that is understandable. But Asia is a enormous continent.

To place points into point of view, out of the 72 nations that nevertheless criminalize homosexuality, just 10 are in Asia (outdoors the Middle East and Russia). That implies that even if you wanted to boycott the nations exactly where anti-gay laws are in spot, close to 80% of Asia is yours for the taking.

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Personally, we do not have an challenge going to nations exactly where homosexuality is illegal. We’ve spent a lot of time in the previous two years in Malaysia, for instance, exactly where Islamic law prevails, and we completely enjoyed it. (Pristine beaches, delectable cuisine, vibrant culture — what’s not to adore?)

In the bigger cities, such as Kuala Lumpur and Penang, we located a buzzing LGBT neighborhood. And we even illegally attended a spectacular drag show!

So I guess what I’m attempting to say is: you do not want to dismiss traveling in Asia for the sake of a couple of old-fashioned laws. Gay travel there is way also significantly entertaining for that!

Right here are a couple of sources to aid you investigation neighborhood laws:

  • The International Lesbian and Gay Association – Their globe map summarizes sexual orientation laws by nation.
  • Human Dignity Trust – This web page has truth sheets on nations that criminalize homosexuality.
  • State Sponsored Homophobia Report – Verify out their 2017 globe survey for a list of sexual orientation laws.

Tip two: Recognize the neighborhood culture

Charlotte and Natalie diving into a pool in front of a volcano in Bali

Understanding and respecting the neighborhood culture in every spot you check out is just as — if not much more — essential than the 1st tip. Why? Properly, feel about it: you are going to commit way much more time in the enterprise of residents than you are about law enforcement officers. Comprehending the social opinion of locals could save you a lot of awkwardness and funny appears in the extended run.

You see, what we found is that even in some nations exactly where homosexuality is legal, it remains taboo in the neighborhood. This could be due to religious beliefs, a lack of education about the topic, or, in some situations, plain bigotry.

Nevertheless, is not that so in most areas? Even in the most sophisticated nations, I feel we can safely say there is space for improvement.

At the identical time, understanding the neighborhood culture is also essential for each and every traveler. PDA, for instance, is frowned upon in most nations in Asia — even if you are a straight couple.

On the other hand, holding hands with somebody of the identical sex is very popular in India, no matter if it be your brother, sister, buddy, or otherwise.

This is why it is critical to educate your self in advance, so you know what to count on.

The common social scenarios we have located ourselves in have under no circumstances been a lead to for concern when traveling in Asia. Frequently men and women assume we are sisters or buddies. And even on the uncommon occasion that we’ve attempted to clarify our partnership, some locals do not fully grasp. We after stayed with a household in Indonesia for more than a week, and they under no circumstances could get their head about the truth that we have been a couple.

But that was OK with us. What’s essential is that they treated us like household, and honestly, it is one particular of our most memorable travel experiences.

On the other hand, there have been instances exactly where we have been allocated a twin space regardless of booking a double, been catcalled for getting lesbians, and had religious jargon thrown at us.

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But once more, does not this come about everywhere?

We undoubtedly didn’t enable these minor incidents to ruin our travel expertise. On the grand scale of points, these are couple of and far among amid all the breathtaking experiences we had.

The United Nations Improvement Programme has a series of nation reports about Getting LGBT in Asia, like in-depth sections devoted to cultural and social attitudes.

Tip three: Be ready to adapt

Charlotte and Natalie at the Anapurna Basecamp

When you take into consideration almost everything we’ve talked about, getting ready to adapt is component and parcel of gay travel in Asia. Despite the fact that, when you feel about it, does not this apply to all travelers?

What I’m attempting to say is that any spot you travel to is bound to need an element of adaptation, no matter if it be the meals you consume, the clothing you put on, or the way in which you address the locals. It is about recognizing what’s socially acceptable and behaving in a way that is each respectful and suitable.

That stated, it is a controversial topic no matter if LGBT couples ought to travel to destinations exactly where they cannot be completely themselves. We get challenged on this a lot, and our point is basically this: There are a lot of components to some religions, cultures, and the like, that I’m confident a lot of of us do not agree with. Nevertheless, does that imply we ought to boycott these nations? I feel it would leave a pretty restricted pool to decide on from if that have been the case.

At the identical time, we can empathize with these who may perhaps not really feel comfy traveling to areas exactly where they cannot be themselves. Or probably really feel anxious as a solo LGBT traveler or an LGBT couple. If this is the case, there are lots of gay-friendly travel destinations each in Asia and elsewhere in the globe. Either way, so extended as you do your investigation and take all the vital precautions, you have no explanation to be afraid.

Tip four: Appear up the neighborhood gay scene

Charlotte and Natalie sleeping in a jungle in Thailand

When traveling to a new spot, one particular of the 1st points we do is appear up if there’s a neighborhood gay scene. Let’s face it: everyone knows that gay bars are the most entertaining! But on a severe note, it is comforting understanding there is a secure spot you can go to — a space exactly where you can be your self with no judgment and let your hair down.

Fortunately, most Asian nations boast an active gay scene of some type. Specifically in the significant cities, you can count on to come across gay bars, nightclubs, saunas, gay-friendly hotels, and drag shows in abundance! We’ve had some of the wildest nights of our travels exploring the neighborhood gay scene. Regardless of whether it is bar-hopping in Bangkok or attending illegal drag shows in Kuala Lumpur, you are assured a evening to keep in mind!

Whilst a rapid Google search will inform you exactly where all the queer entertaining is at, Travel Gay Asia is an outstanding web page for getting LGBT-friendly spots in any city.

Tip five: Connect with other LGBT travelers or locals

Charlotte and Natalie in front of a starry sky in Asia

Once again, socializing with men and women who fully grasp you and will not judge you is a reassuring way to adapt to a new spot or culture. Of course, locating the neighborhood gay scene is a terrific begin nonetheless, not everyone has the guts to stroll into a bar or nightclub on their personal and try to make buddies.

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Fortunately, there are a lot easier strategies of meeting men and women in this day and age. Yes, the excellent old internet has inundated us with possibilities to connect with like-minded men and women.

We recommend working with social media to find other LGBT travelers or locals in your location. Facebook is a excellent platform for this, exactly where a basic search will yield final results for any LGBT groups in your location. Similarly, navigating particular hashtags on Instagram such as #gaybangkok or #LGBTAsia can aid you find all points LGBT close to you.

Some helpful platforms for meeting men and women are:

  • Tinder
  • A lot of Fish
  • Couchsurfing
  • Purple Roofs (for getting LGBT-friendly accommodation)

You do not want to use the above dating apps in any sort of romantic way either — they are just terrific sources for connecting with LGBT locals and travelers. If you are fortunate, you may perhaps come across your self connecting with a neighborhood who can show you all the ideal spots in their location.


Whilst Gay Travel in Asia could possibly appear daunting, it is far much less scary than it sounds on paper. As a entire, we can honestly say we had absolutely nothing but a good expertise and created memories that will final us a lifetime. Asia is an extraordinary continent, oozing adventure, beauty, and culture. By following the assistance in our report, and taking benefit of all the helpful sources we’ve offered, we are confident Asia will steal your heart. Just as she has stolen ours.

Charlotte and Natalie are the explorers and adventurers behind Our Taste For Life. You will generally come across them wandering off the beaten path, immersed in nature, or enjoying genuine cultural experiences. The rest of the time, you will come across them consuming. Adhere to their journey on their weblog or Instagram.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Ideas and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Locate a inexpensive flight by working with Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favourite search engines mainly because they search web-sites and airlines about the globe so you constantly know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory. If you want to keep someplace other than a hostel, use as they regularly return the least expensive prices for guesthouses and inexpensive hotels. I use them all the time.

Do not Overlook Travel Insurance coverage
Travel insurance coverage will guard you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It is extensive protection in case something goes incorrect. I under no circumstances go on a trip with no it as I’ve had to use it a lot of instances in the previous. I’ve been working with Planet Nomads for ten years. My favourite businesses that supply the ideal service and worth are:

  • Planet Nomads (for everybody under 70)
  • Insure My Trip (for these more than 70)

Seeking for the ideal businesses to save revenue with?
Verify out my resource web page for the ideal businesses to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save revenue when I travel – and that will save you time and revenue also!


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