Rainbow flag in Bangkok, reminding you that this is the most gay-friendly city in Asia
Foreign visitors are often surprised to find a number of bars and clubs in Bangkok catering exclusively to the gay crowd, but the city is Asia’s most popular gay destination. Thai society remains conservative, but has a relaxed attitude to homosexuality. Public displays of affection are frowned upon (for both gay and straight couples), but on the streets off Silom Road, by the famous Patpong night market, gay tourists and locals mix openly by a number of open-air bars lining Soi 4, the city’s “pinkest” street, which is really a small alley. Don’t show up before 8pm, but any time after that just pick an available table at any of the bars and watch the gay world go by. It’s quite easy to get to, just a short walk from the Sala Daeng station of the BTS Skytrain.
Bangkok is also known as one of the world’s most transgender-friendly cities, with a visible trans population. Thailand is one of the leading countries for sex-reassignment surgery, and cabaret shows of trans women (which you’ll see referred to as “ladyboys”) are wildly popular.
Lesbians tend to be less visible, perhaps because they generally follow strict gender roles -- the more “masculine” lesbians tend to wear men’s clothing, have short hair, and may even bind their breasts, while femme lesbians refer to themselves as “dee” (from “lady”) and are indistinguishable from straight women.
Gay bars in the Silom district
Telephone Pub & Restaurant
A gay Bangkok classic, this is the oldest bar in town for the LGBT community. It’s been serving drinks, food and fun since 1987, and is often the first stop on a gay night out. The name comes from the time when it had a telephone on the tables, for customers to literally call each other. In an age of apps, the phones are no longer there, but it offers free wifi. It remains the place for drinks and people-watching at the tables outside, while upstairs is a karaoke lounge where customers can sing international and Thai tunes.
Facebook page: Telephone Pub and Restaurant
The Stranger Bar
Located next to Telephone Pub, this is the place for regular drag shows, happy hours in the evening, cocktails and signature shots. A DJ plays pop hits, dance, and disco sounds, for strangers to get together and become friends.
Facebook page: The Stranger Bar
Another popular bar on the “gay street,” it has indoor and outdoor seating for drinks and food (Thai and international cuisine). Doors open at 5:30pm, and there are often special events (like quizzes and cabaret shows) and happy hours. Upstairs is for nights of karaoke.
Local men and tourists connect at this bar on the “gay street.” It stands out for its large outdoor seating area and colorful bar inside. It plays upbeat sounds, and there are regular happy hours.
In business for over a decade, it’s located at the far end of the “gay street,” attracting those who prefer a quieter spot. It serves wine and cocktails in a laid-back atmosphere.
Facebook page: Bas Bar
This bar puts on shows to attract the fun-loving crowds that walk past it on the “gay street.” Those hour-long shows include male dancers stripped down almost to their birthday suits, so if you notice that the drinks are a little more expensive than at the competition, it’s because those boys gotta be paid… The experience is worth it if you’re looking for a more stimulating night of drinks and fun.
Facebook page: Jupiter 2018
Located between so many bars, this is a restaurant for when you want a fuller meal and not just drinks and snacks. It serves a curious mix of German and Thai food, that may be accompanied by a selection of German beers and international wines.
Facebook page: G's Bangkok
This laid-back spot on the “gay street” is a bar and restaurant, serving drinks and mostly international cuisine. Special events have included Chinese nights and retro parties.
Facebook page: SugarBowl-Bangkok
Not on the “gay street” but close enough, this is a stylishly-decorated bar with nightly shows featuring male dancers and models. The entertainment varies, ranging from fashion shows (meaning beefy men in speedos) to performances by local singers and TV reality competition shows. It opens at 8pm, and often offers drink specials.
Mixing gay and straight, but largely gay, this is a Japanese-style bar, hosting fun nights of karaoke. Sing the night away or watch others perform American, Japanese, Korean and Chinese hits. It also serves food, mostly from Japan and Thailand.
Facebook page: Respecton Vol.1
Just a couple of blocks from the famous Patpong night market, opposite the Tawana Bangkok Hotel , this is a popular go-go bar with nightly shows (usually at around 10:45pm). In business since the 1980s, it’s where men who like men have come to drool over muscular (mostly Asian) men performing on stage. In addition to the dance numbers that leave almost nothing to the imagination, there are drag performances and other shows.
The most popular gay clubs are just a short 5-minute walk from the bars on Soi 4:
The club where many gay men end their nights, this is a Bangkok institution, attracting as many locals as tourists. Packed throughout the week, but especially on weekends, it’s divided into three levels with bars. It also has an outdoor area, but it’s on the dance floor that everyone ends up at. Nights often start with drag shows at around 11pm, then come the topless men and the dancing queens moving to the latest beats until 3am.
After a few drinks at the bars, it’s time to hit the clubs. This one is located about a 5-minute walk from DJ Station (see above), and has resident DJs throughout the week. Naturally, it’s busier on weekends, but on any night you’ll see muscled and shirtless men rubbing against each other on the dance floor. There’s a cover change, but it includes two drinks.
Facebook page: G Bangkok
This large club is rather mixed but is mostly for young gay (Asian) men to get together. Doors open to concerts of Thai and international pop hits, then male models put on a show, and it finally becomes a dance club.
Facebook page: Fake Club
Although there are gay saunas in different parts of the city, the biggest concentration is found in the Silom district, not far from the gay bars. This is where you can get a traditional Thai massage by male masseurs in the late hours of the night.
The closest sauna to the gay bars in Silom is split into five floors, and includes a small gym. It gets busy late in the afternoon, mostly attracting locals, but also foreigners on weekends, when it’s open until early morning. Everyone gets together at the rooftop terrace or in the dimly-lit interior.
To get there from the Sala Daeng station of the BTS Skytrain on Silom Road, head to Convent Road, then turn right on Soi Phiphat 2.
This rather upscale gay sauna connected to the Blu Cabin Gay Poshtel has a rooftop men-only onsen, attracting many Asians but also Westerners. It gets busy in the after-work hours on weekdays and on weekends, when it often hosts special events like naked nights and foam parties. In its multi-level interior is a gym, a Jacuzzi, a steam room, a dark room and private cabins. There’s also a swimming pool and male-to-male massage services.
Facebook page: Chakran Sauna
Bangkok’s most famous gay sauna is huge and has attracted gay men from all over the world throughout the years. It offers a large swimming pool, in addition to the dry sauna, Jacuzzi, steam room, extra-dark room, maze, private cabins, and even a restaurant. Male masseurs provide extra relaxation, and if you want to make friends, grab a drink at the bar and head to the chillout areas.
This modern gay sauna located close to the Phra Ram 9 station of the MRT subway, has six floors featuring a steam room, a dark room, a dry sauna, private cabins, gym, and rooftop terrace.
39 Underground Sauna
Men in underwear or completely naked walk around this gay sauna’s four floors. The first three have the steam room, the gym and the lockers, while at the very top are the cabins and cruising area. As it tends to mainly attract local men, it’s quite inexpensive.
There are different theme nights at this sauna found across the river. Some are underwear-only, others are nude-only, and others are dedicated to Japan. Younger clients often get reduced admission, and everyone is mostly local. It’s quite a large place, with a steam room, private cabins, gym, and bar.
Facebook page: Sauna MACHO
Located close to the gay street and the Sala Daeng station of the BTS Skytrain, this “men’s club” offers massage services by male masseurs. It’s open seven day a week, in the afternoon and at night, and has rooms with showers, which are available by the hour. At the bar, cocktails are served before or after the massages.
Set in a quiet townhouse, this massage parlor is a short walk from Silom and the Chong Nonsi station of the BTS Skytrain. The all-male staff offers Thai massages, body scrubs, aromatherapy and cream massages. Each treatment can last between 60 minutes and two hours.
Facebook page: Baantewa
Arena Massage & Spa
In the private rooms of this massage parlor in Silom Plaza, clients have showers for before and after a relaxing treatment by trained male therapists. Options range from body scrubs to aromatherapy, and whatever else may arise.
Facebook page: Arena Massage & Spa
S’Sense Massage Suan Plu
Although it has male and female masseurs, this spa has a largely gay clientele. It offers a range of services, from the traditional Thai massage to foot massages.
Facebook page: S’Sense Massage Suan Plu
Facials and signature treatments are available at this massage parlor for men. The professional male staff is also available to meet you at your hotel upon request. Services include aromatherapy and foam baths.
Transgender Cabaret Shows
The cabarets with all-transgender casts are quite popular in Bangkok. They’re known locally by the rather politically-incorrect (for Westerners, at least) “ladyboy shows.” In most cases, these “ladyboys” have taken hormones, had breast implant surgery and adopted a traditionally female appearance, but haven’t yet fully transitioned, as technically they’d lose their “ladyboy” status. They put on some fabulous shows, with extravagant costumes, and many people don’t leave Thailand without seeing one. If you’re curious, get your tickets: Ladyboy Cabaret Shows
Gay Hotels and Gay-Friendly Accommodation
Any hotel in Bangkok is gay-friendly, but if you’re looking for an all-gay, mostly-gay or just extra-gay-friendly environment, there are a few properties in the city for that. Here’s where you’ll want to get a room: Gay Hotels in Bangkok