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|Travel & Resources: TAIPEI
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TAIPEI -- area code (886-2)
Taipei has one of the most vibrant gay scenes going now in Asia. Tropical weather, great food, and plenty of shopping opportunities combine with some of the sexiest social experiences to be found in the region. There's a cruisy gay beach, two gay-popular hot springs, WILD parties, swinging saunas, and hot native Taiwanese guys whose dark, rugged and hirsute physiques appeal to many...there's even an S&M bar, a rarity in Asia outside of Japan. But it's the relaxed, easy-breezy lifestyle that makes Taipei the go-to destination for gays from neighboring countries. Here, they can be themselves without feeling like someone's looking over their shoulder. There's also huge number of very visible muscle bears proudly strutting their pumped up torsos and huggy panda chubs who have developed their own home-grown tea house hangouts.
Public rapid transit makes getting around the city easier than ever. Cabbing is convenient - have your hotel write down the address in Chinese, or show the cabby a business card you've picked up. Clusters of rainbow life are are expanding along the transit lines. Most notably, the Ximen area around the heritage Red House entertainment complex (a virtual gay shopping mall), the Zhongshan area just north of that, plus Zhongshan Dunhua and Taipei City Hall to the east.
Super popular with gays from neighboring Japan, Korea and China, Taipei is ready to be discovered by the rest of the world.
Metropolitan Taipei's population is nearing 7 million (that's close to 300,000 Utopians).
Comments from Utopians:
"All in all Taipei was a very cool place to take a break. Bars and clubs aside there was so much to see and do and the MRT was fantastic and super cheap (if we could navigate around it then anyone could)! The locals were amazingly open, friendly and helpful and the city itself was so clean. The food was good, too." -- Ray & Mark (Melbourne), Jul 5, 2014
Navigating the local gay scene is easy with our interactive Utopia Map of Gay & Lesbian Taipei:
Gisneyland UTOPIA VISITED JUN 2013
2/F Red House, No. 27, Lane 10, Chengdu Rd, Utopia Map, 2361-1069. LGBT drop-in center with reading library, Net station and instant HIV/Syph testing. Open Tue-Sun 6-11pm, Fri and Sat extended hours until 1am.
Eslite (Dunhua store) UTOPIAN VERIFIED MAY 2013
2/F, 245 Dunhua S. Rd, Section 1, (near Jen-Ai Circle), 2775-5977. Flagship store of this upmarket book chain is open 24 hours every day, with a fairly well-stocked gay and lesbian section. MRT Nan-kang line, Zhong-xiao Tun-hua station.敦化南路1段245號(仁愛圓環)
Eslite (Xin Yi store) UTOPIAN VERIFIED MAY 2013
No. 11 Song-Goa Rd, Xin Yi, 8789-3388. The biggest book store in Taiwan. Open daily 10am-2am. 誠品書局信義店
Eslite (NTU store) UTOPIAN VERIFIED MAY 2013
98 Xin-sheng South 3rd Rd, 2362-6312. MRT Hsintien line, KungKuan station. 新生南路3段98號
GinGin's UTOPIAN VERIFIED APR 2014
1/F No. 8, Alley 8, Lane 210, Roosevelt Rd, Section 3 (close to Taipower Subway Station and 10-minutes from National Taiwan University), Utopia Map, 2364-2006, email. Next to the gay Hours café and across from Love Boat lesbian shop. Gay and lesbian book shop with pride goods, DVDs, gifts, and gay magazines from the region. They welcome visitors from all over the world. Friendly staff, some English spoken. Open 1:30-9:30pm Wed-Mon and on bank holidays. 羅斯福路3段208巷8弄8號1樓
228 Park (formerly called New Park) UTOPIA VERIFIED JUN 2013, UTOPIA VISITED MAY 2012
Utopia Map. Evenings. Infamous setting of Taiwan's first gay novel, Crystal Boys, which was also made into the feature film, The Outsiders. Although the Net and Apps have largely replaced parks as a method for social contacts, cruising still takes place in the evening all around, especially near the facilities. The park is now open all night long. 公園/新公園
- Eslite Bookshop
Dunhua store (see under Bookshops). Quite cruisy with Asian tourists (Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore) after midnight.
Sha Lun Beach UTOPIA VERIFIED JUN 2013, UTOPIA VISITED MAY 2012
Tamshui, Utopia Map. Take the MRT Red Line to Tamshui Station. Then take a local bus to Fisherman's Wharf and get off at the stop called Observatory Deck (one stop before the gated entry into the wharf). If you miss the stop, it's just a short walk back and you can also enter the gay area from the pathway to the ocean near the gate. At the Observatory Deck you will see wooden stairs going up and over the wall alongside the road and a wooden gazebo on top (also, motor scooters parked alongside the road will give you a good indication of where the gays are cruising). Rather than heading straight for the ocean, turn left into the woods (or turn right if entering from the wharf gate path) to find the cruising area. A fabled gay beach in Taiwan and still popular in good weather, during the day and afternoons. Some nude sunbathing. 淡水沙崙海灘
Starbucks UTOPIA VISITED MAY 2012
Especially the Zhongxiao Dunhua branch near the World Gym, Utopia Map.
- Youth Park swimming pool UTOPIA VISITED MAY 2012
Shuiyuan Rd, Utopia Map. Very popular in summer. There are three pools here. Go to the outdoor pools (the indoor pool is for training athletes). This is where local guys like to hit the catwalk in their Speedos. Not as popular following the close of the sunbathing area, but still attracts many gays in the afternoon. Check out the shower room and facilities. Wear your sexy swimwear. Swimming cap and goggles required (they will sell to you if you don't have). Open May-Sept. Closed Mon. 青年公園游泳池
- Yuchen Park swimming pool
55 Zhongpo South Rd, Utopia Map, 2726-7381. Near Houshanpi Station. Open May-Sept. Cruisy, but not as popular as the pool above. 玉成游泳池
Alleycat's (pizza) UTOPIA VISITED JUL 2014
1/F Red House, No. 51, Lane 10, Chengdu Rd, Utopia Map. Delicious stone-oven baked pizzas, salads, snacks and full bar. Friendly and handsome gay staff.
O.S. (western and Thai flavors) UTOPIA VERIFIED JUL 2014, UTOPIA VISITED MAY 2013
172 Kungming St, Ximen, Utopia Map, 2371-0360. The name stands for Omelette and Spaghetti. This small, homey restaurant serves a local version of comfort food with western and Thai flavors thrown in. Dinners come with soup and rolls. Friendly and popular with gays, especially bears (perhaps attracted by the couple who run it). 西門昆明街172號
Taoyuan Street (dumplings and noodles) UTOPIA VISITED JUN 2014
Utopia Map. Two blocks directly east of the Exit 1 MRT Ximen Station. This one block stretch of side-by-side shophouses offers a huge variety of hand made dumplings and noodles. Particularly famous are the beef noodle bowls, but there are also plenty of vegetarian treats. 寶慶路桃源街
Trendy's Restaurant (shabu-shabu and sukiyaki) UTOPIA VISITED MAY 2013
2F No.114-4, Sec. 2, Wuchang St (above the 7-11), 2314-6969, Utopia Map. Gay-owned and staffed restaurant opened by the owners of So Young Men Spa, two floors above. Vibrant, contemporary Asian design and excellent service from the hunky waiters! Order whatever hot pot ingredients you'd like and mix your own dipping sauce from more than a dozen savory and spicy items on their sauce buffet. A fun place to head with a group of friends or to book for your next birthday or special event. Walkable from Red House or nearby MRT stations. 武昌街2段114-4號2樓 (7-11樓上) Utopia Member Discount
Tu Hsiao Yueh (southern Taiwan cuisine) UTOPIA VERIFIED JUN 2013, UTOPIA VISITED MAY 2012|
No. 12, Alley 8, Lane 216, Sec 4, Zhongsiao E. Rd, Utopia Map, 2773-1244. There is a rags-to-riches story behind the success of Tainan's oldest restaurant, of which this is the capitol city's main branch. Conjurers of tan tsai noodles, a fragrant pork stew ladled out of a wasp-nesty-encrusted cauldren that looks like its been in continuous use since Yu Tou started dispensing his dish to fellow fisherman in 1895. Combined with fresh noodles, shrimp and a stew-infused, hard-boiled duck egg, the taste is complex and surprisingly mild, once spooned into your mouth, given the aromatic 5-spice watusi going on in your nose. Side dishes include stir-fried Ping-tong Areca flower and betel nut heart stir-fry; plump, juicy fried oysters dipped in spiced salt; and crispy intestine. 忠孝東路4段216巷8弄12號
Dark Palace Taiwanese Gourmet (local specialties) UTOPIA VISITED MAY 2012
Utopia Map. Foodie Alert! If you are heading out for a day at Sha Lun Beach, drop by and fill up at this famous foodie hot spot. Famous for both their fresh pork preparations (freshly slaughtered each morning) and vegetarian deliciousness like springrolls and marinated tofu skin. Order from the counter on big plates of either steamed or fried rice. The pork chops are tender as can be. If you're more adventurous, try a side of thinly sliced pig's ear, or unctuous chunks of head, feet or snout.
Guangzhou Street night food market UTOPIA VISITED MAY 2012
One block northwest of Longshan Temple Station, Utopia Map Bustling night food street with a huge variety of fresh, local specialties and drinks.
Hours UTOPIA VERIFIED MAY 2012
Right next door to GinGin's gay shop and across from Love Boat, Utopia Map, 2364-2742. This very popular gay café is run by a young gay couple. They also have a selection of music and books. Open 2pm-11pm daily except Tue.
Shenkeng UTOPIA VERIFIED MAY 2012
Nicknamed "stinky tofu village" (for their most popular and spicy specialty), this street market 20 minutes outside Taipei (drive with a friend) is jammed with utterly unique local food specialties as well as traditional crafts and useful items for everyday life (the widest variety of backscratchers we've ever seen, for example). You'll be able to try free samples of at least a dozen types of foods and sweets that you may never have encountered: almond and walnut milk, black sesame butter, semi-liquid lollipops, do-it-yourself cotton candy, tofu ice cream, fresh cherry juice and much, much more. A photographer's dream. 新北市深坑區深坑老街
XIMEN -- Red House
BAD.TW UTOPIA VISITED MAY 2013
1/F Red House, Lane 10, Chengdu Rd, Utopia Map. Gay undergear, clothes, toys, and gifts. Open daily 1pm-midnight.
Body Formula UTOPIA VISITED MAY 2013
1/F Red House, Lane 10, Chengdu Rd, Utopia Map. Between Evan's Fashion Design and Sol bar. Undergear shop.
Evan's Fashion Design UTOPIA VISITED MAY 2013
1/F Red House, Lane 10, Chengdu Rd, 2312-3851, Utopia Map. Next to Body Forumula. Fashion and gift shop.
Guy-Shop Men's BoutiqueUTOPIA VISITED JUL 2014
5/F No. 67 Chengdu Rd, Utopia Map, 2361-2221. Discreet location. Need a liter of lube to go with your Tenga collection? This is the place. Sex toys, lube, c-rings, fetish gear (pony tails!), gifts.
Monkey Bear UTOPIA VISITED MAY 2013
1/F Red House, Lane 10, Chengdu Rd, Utopia Map, 097-366-1122. Gay undergear, clothes, toys, and gifts.
OTOKO Manboutique UTOPIA VISITED MAY 2013
2/F Red House, Lane 10, Chengdu Rd, Utopia Map, 091-590-6573. Upstairs, between PUSH Homme and Commander bar. Men's fashion.
papabubble UTOPIA VISITED MAY 2013
Just west of the entrance to The Third Floor and So Young Men Spa, Utopia Map. Caramel and candy artisans. Handmade cock suckers (really).
PUSH Homme UTOPIA VISITED MAY 2013
2/F Red House, Lane 10, Chengdu Rd, Utopia Map, 095-668-6881. Next to OTOKO Manboutique. Men's fashion.
Tough Factory UTOPIA VISITED JUN 2013
B/F 2 Xining S. Rd, Lane 82 (in the alley at 7-Eleven on the west side of Red House, under iCafe), Utopia Map, 2375-8785. Ring the bell to enter or go through iCafe if it is open. Original sport and casual clothing for bears and bear lovers, from Taiwanese designers Tattoo Bear, Mike Bear, Best Bear and Eagle Bear. Hunky muscle bear staff on hand to pose for you (hehe). Open daily 1-11pm. Utopia Member Discount
Body Formula UTOPIA VISITED MAY 2012
Utopia Map. Take the MRT Xhong Xiao Dunhua Station Exit 2 and turn left at the corner. The shop is two blocks on the left side of the street. Close to the World Gym. Undergear shop.
Sun Studio UTOPIA VERIFIED MAY 2012
Well known gay-friendly tanning salon, established in 1992. Six convenient locations (see their website). Try their 7-minute stand-up tan booths. Handsome, polite staff and professional service.
Taiwan Gay and Lesbian Resource Listings by City:
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Seeing the world through rose colored glasses at Pink Dot Singapore 2014.