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My first taste of Thailand as a gay adventure seeker

Late night grocery store in Chinatown, Bangkok

By no means been to Thailand? Put together your self for a nation full of magnificence, contradictions and contrasts. I made my first journey there just lately to take part within the nation’s first, official LGBT+ Journey Symposium, sponsored by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

Our first port of name was Bangkok. It’s commonplace for travellers to Thailand to move by means of its capital metropolis. It’s a gateway to the remaining of the nation and residential to over 8million inhabitants.

As you’d anticipate, given its density, Bangkok is a chaotic, noisy, typically scruffy, intoxicating place. There are automobiles all over the place, together with alluring shiny pink taxis that look a little like boiled sweets.

Late night grocery store in Chinatown, Bangkok

Late night time grocery retailer in Chinatown, Bangkok (Photograph: David Hudson)

Thailand temples 

I visited in late June and the warmth and humidity is stifling. The sooner you rise up, the higher. There’s much less visitors and it’s cooler. You possibly can go to many vacationer points of interest, such as the Bangkok flower market, from daybreak.

I handed the market on my strategy to the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. There are over 30,000 Buddhist temples in Thailand, and Buddhism runs all through Thai life. This specific one stays one of the town’s prime vacationer points of interest.

It opens at 8am and was blessedly quiet when my social gathering arrived shortly after. It’s an expansive complicated of buildings, temples, prayer rooms and monastic lodging.

Wat Pho temples

Wat Pho temples (Photograph: David Hudson)

The reclining buddha is notably spectacular: 46 metres lengthy and constructed from brick, concrete, plaster and gold leaf. Even its ft are extremely intricate, embedded with toe print decorations in mom of pearl.

The feet of the reclining Buddha

The ft of the reclining Buddha (Photograph: David Hudson)

Thai therapeutic massage

If visiting the temple, do additionally go to the Wat Pho therapeutic massage faculty, which is inside the compound partitions. Don’t be postpone by the truth that your masseur is a scholar. You’ll be able to take pleasure in a one-hour Thai therapeutic massage on a agency mattress in a cool, air conditioned communal area.

It’s a dry therapeutic massage, quite than oils, with the masseur making use of strain to all of your main muscle teams. You’ll undoubtedly really feel chilled out afterwards. And it’s unimaginable good worth at simply 430 baht (round $13/€11).

Take to the water

Bangkok is humid. Don’t plan on lengthy excursions that require tons of strolling until you’re ready. Higher to exit early within the day, return to your lodge when issues are steamiest within the afternoon and sit back by the pool, earlier than heading out once more for dinner or night enjoyable.

A shrine on the Chao Phraya River

A temple on the Chao Phraya River (Photograph: David Hudson)

For a extra relaxed day journey, take a sluggish river journey up the Chao Phraya River with the Ayutthaya River Expertise. We took a boat round eight.30am from the River Metropolis complicated, the place a quantity of chartered excursions are based mostly.

Our luxurious pleasure cruiser was splendidly quiet. Sit within the air-conditioned eating room and benefit from the view by way of the home windows or go above deck and sit on the roof to benefit from the warmth and humidity.

You’ll end up drifting previous lots of previous and new Thailand, together with dozens of temples, palaces and shrines.

Bang Pa In

A tower inside the grounds of Bang Pa In (Photograph: David Hudson)


Our cruise took us to Ayutthaya. We have been met by minibus to take us the 20-30 minute drive to Bang Pa-In.

This 19th century palace and grounds was constructed by King Rama V (son of the king dramatized in The King and I). It was the first palace to be constructed alongside European strains. The palatial grounds boast a mish-mash of types – Roman-inspired bridges, Slovakian palaces, Spanish pergolas – however stay a massively fashionable vacationer draw simply an hour’s drive outdoors Bangkok metropolis (should you don’t take a extra leisurely boat cruise).

Rooftop bar at So Sofitel Bangkok, overlooking Lumphini Park

Rooftop bar at So Sofitel Bangkok, overlooking Lumphini Park (Photograph: David Hudson)

One other massively in style tour are the Buddhist ruins at Wat Maha That, additionally in Ayutthaya and round half the space again to Bangkok.

This former monastery and assortment of temples dates again predominantly to the 1300s, though some relics are believed thus far again 500 years sooner than that. Now, the decaying ruins solely trace at their former glories, however they have been made a UNESCO World Heritage Website in 1991 and are one other vacationer magnet.

Wat Maha That, outside Bangkok

Wat Maha That, outdoors Bangkok (Photograph: David Hudson)


Bangkok is a food-lover’s paradise, providing Indian, Chinese language, and – of course, tons of Thai choices. Take a look at the fairly romantic The Deck Restaurant, reverse the Temple of the Daybreak, or the PH1 at [email protected]. That lodge additionally presents a nice rooftop bar.

Learning to cook traditional Pad Thai noodles

Studying to prepare dinner conventional Pad Thai noodles (Photograph: David Hudson)

Different lodge bars value visiting are the Moon Bar on the Banyan Tree Lodge and the Sky Bar on the Lebua State Tower. Close to the gay scene, we dined at Supanniga Consuming Room by Khunyai. It’s a trendy, modern Thai eating expertise run by famous restranteur Thanaruek Laoraowirodge.

Skytrain and river taxi

Different Bangkok experiences embrace a journey on the Skytrain, which is a reasonable and straightforward option to see the town from an elevated perspective. It’s additionally the quickest option to get round, given how congested the visitors might be on the roads. The identical could be stated of the Metro/subway system. Alternatively, take a journey on a river taxi by means of the central river system.

Trying to store? You may simply spend a few hours shopping the massive MBK Middle. It’s full of small shops, masking style, know-how, hair and nails, and meals retailers. On a Saturday, enterprise out to Chatuchak.

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Chatuchak Weekend Market (Photograph: Lisheng Chang | Unsplash)

Distributors promote each potential trinket, decoration, homeware and materials you might probably want. With one thing within the area of eight,000 stalls unfold over 35 acres, you possibly can actually discover virtually the whole lot right here.

Gay scene

In fact, Bangkok can also be recognized for its energetic gay scene. For newcomers, head to the cluster of bars and golf equipment round Silom four. Protected bets are Phone Bar, which will get busy from early night onwards. This darkish, high-ceiling bar has two island bars, with a lot of seating lining the home windows, making it good for individuals watching.

Subsequent door is Stranger Bar, which has drag leisure most nights of the week and sometimes will get packed.

Nevertheless, my private favourite was Hugs Bar – the native bears membership and karaoke bar, instantly reverse Stranger. On the Saturday night time I visited it was packed out with younger Asian bear cubs dancing to camp pop remixes and regardless of being within the center of Silom four, is one of the venues much less frequented by vacationers.

Street art, Bangkok

Road artwork, Bangkok (Photograph: David Hudson)


Should you solely go to Bangkok, you’ll get a very one-dimensional view of Thailand. Most individuals go to the seashore resorts within the south of the nation, or the northern area of Chiang Mai within the foothills of the Himalayas.

After having fun with Bangkok, we headed south. It’s simply an hour-long aircraft experience to Phuket. From there, we headed out to Yacht Haven Marina and caught a small boat out to at least one of the islands. Locations such as Koh Samui are beautiful, however vacationer heavy.

The view from Koh Yao Noi

The view from Koh Yao Noi (Photograph: David Hudson)

Fortunately, Thailand provides no finish of options and lesser-known gems. One of these is Koh Yao Noi, a secluded island hideaway close to Phuket-Krabi.

This lovely vacation spot now provides two trip resorts. The first, Seashore Paradise Koh Yao consists of 70 vacation chalets dotted across the hillside overlooking the tropical bay. In case you’re looking for a quiet, jungle getaway subsequent to crystal clear waters, this could tick all the best packing containers.

A bedroom at Beach Paradise Koh Yao

A bed room at Seashore Paradise Koh Yao (Photograph: Provided)

It’s unimaginable to not really feel your thoughts recalibrate itself as you take in the humid heat and Thai friendliness. Laze by the pool or take pleasure in your personal personal balcony (some with outside plunge swimming pools or jacuzzis), or guide your self a spa remedy, native trek or bike experience.

From hipster to luxurious

For those who choose to be someplace extra inhabited, with extra to do, head for the various resorts and motels in Phuket.

The area has a fame for being a seashore celebration vacation spot or backpackers hangout. There’s additionally the seedier parts in Patong (the place to go for these notorious ‘ping pong’ cabaret exhibits). However there are different sides to Phuket, whether or not you’re on the lookout for a luxurious escape or one thing quirky and hipster.

Phuket Old Town

Phuket Previous City (Photograph: David Hudson)

Take a look at the previous city part of Phuket, which dates again to the area’s tin mining days. A mess of small memento outlets – some promoting higher than common native produce – draw most of at the moment’s guests. Small cafes lend a hip vibe to the neighborhood – fairly in contrast to the trashy picture some may need of Phuket.

A figurine at a roadside shrine, Phuket

A figurine at a roadside shrine, Phuket (Photograph: David Hudson)

For extra conventional Thai delicacies, I like to recommend Raya. It’s housed inside an early 20th century Sino-Thai mansion, with easy tiled flooring and yellow partitions decked out with classic pictures of the Thai Royal household. My celebration and I loved a big meal that labored out lower than $13/€11 a head.

Take pleasure in espresso at Macchiato Home or Cakebox, pop within the Phuket Thaihua Museum or Phuket Vacationer Info Middle, or pose for selfies in entrance of the various wall murals.

Sukko Spa

Need some extra pampering? Head for Sukko Spa Resort. This spa complicated has taken the attraction of Thai therapeutic massage and wholesome dwelling to a entire new degree. All the, sizeable resort is devoted to wellness. A go to begins with a welcome cleaning of your arms, earlier than you’re escorted away to at least one of the handfuls of totally different remedy rooms in your chosen therapeutic massage or physique scrub.

Superb meals, massages and balmy humidity…. It’s unimaginable to not depart Thailand feeling invigorated and wrapped in its warming, golden glow.

Locations to remain

A bedroom at Siam@Siam

A bed room at [email protected] (Photograph: Provided)

[email protected], Bangkok

Opened 11 years in the past, [email protected] used to advertise itself as the first ‘design hotel’ within the metropolis. It has over 200 rooms, every with inside thrives. There’s floor flooring restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus a extra unique bar and breakfast space for these with room reservations above the 21st flooring. Highlights for me included a fantastic infinity pool and larger-than-average fitness center on the 11th flooring.

An 'Earth' room at So Sofitel Bangkok

An ‘Earth’ room at So Sofitel Bangkok (Photograph: Provided)

So Sofitel Bangkok

This totally beautiful lodge overlooks Lumphini Park, the town equal of NYC’s Central Park. Opened in 2013, the rooms are themed alongside the weather. An arresting blue hue ran all through my beautiful ‘earth’ room on the 21st flooring.

That is a really luxurious lodge and really LGBTI pleasant – it performed host to the nation’s first LGBT+ Journey Symposium, throughout my go to. Whereas its famed concierge, Paul Boonrungreung, is just completely happy to assist with ideas on locations to go and issues to do.

Enjoying the So Sofitel Bangkok pool party

Having fun with the So Sofitel Bangkok pool get together (Photograph: David Hudson)

Even should you don’t keep there, you’ll be able to go to and pay entry for the So Sofitel Pool Get together on the final Saturday of the month. It’s an unmissable probability to swim with one of the perfect views over the town.

The Slate, Phuket 

A very luxurious report simply a ten-minute drive from Phuket airport. This industrial themed, 170+ room resort is unfold over 35 acres on the coast (golf buggies may be ordered to select you and up and return you to your room). It presents a vary of every day actions and excursions, three swimming pools and a number of other eating places and bars. Take a look at a full assessment right here.

One of the swimming pools at The Slate Phuket

One of the swimming swimming pools at The Slate Phuket (Photograph: Provided)

Getting there

David Hudson travelled to Thailand courtesy of Thai Airways.

See additionally

Meet the person who introduced Drag Race to Thailand

American gay husbands might face lengthy Thai jail sentence for bare temple photograph

September in Thailand: 11 +1 Fancy Lodges to Keep in 2018


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