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|Lesbian Resources: THAILAND
Please help us keep these listings current. Special thanks to Rosgirl, goodvsbad, Penguin, SeoulDoubt, phuketgirl, trickychix, Andrea, Robyn, Amm, Linda, Isabelle, Daeng and Jom for updates!
Advisory: Thailand is a welcoming place lesbians. Homosexuality in Thailand is largely a non-issue. Gay and lesbian visitors are very welcome and homosexuals are surprisingly integrated and into the big Thai family. Thailand has three annual pride events in Bangkok, Pattaya, and Phuket.|
You must be 20 years of age to enter a night club. Recreational drug use is illegal and surprise drug testing may take place at popular night spots. Nudity, at beaches or in saunas, is against Thai custom.
We follow the lead of the Tourism Authority of Thailand to promote a positive image of Thailand for tourists who happen to be homosexual. We stand united against the exploitation of women and children.
Thai lesbians prefer to call themselves tom (for tomboy) or dee (for lady), as the term "lesbian", in Thailand, suggests pornographic videos produced for straight men. Tom and dee, by contrast, are reasonably accepted and integrated categories for Thai women, roughly corresponding to the western terms butch and femme.
The question we are most often asked is "where do the Thai women who like women go to socialize?" The answer, as frustrating as it may be for visitors, is -- anywhere they want to. Toms are quite obvious to dees in a crowd and so toms will go to whatever pubs and nightclubs are popular at the moment. You can see tables of tom-dee couples almost anywhere.
Other than the Anjaree Group, lesbian activities are loosely organized around groups of friends. Women tend to move and socialize in groups here. It may be awkward at first, but once you've introduced yourself to a group, they will tend to sweep you up into their activities. Foreign women may find that language and their own ambiguous gender style (not femme enough to attract toms, and not butch enough to attract dees) to be challenging hurdles.
- LeSLa Thailand lesbian portal in Thai and English
- Thailand Gay & Lesbian News
- Thailand Lesbian Scene Updates message board
- Travel in Thailand message board
- Women in Thailand message board
- Additional links for Thailand GLBT information.
- Anjaree Group
PO Box 322 Rachdamnern Post Office, BKK 10200, 086-677-9009, 02-668-2185 (recorded Thai message about up-coming Anjaree events. Leave messages after the beep or press 'START' to send a FAX. Due to the high cost of international calls, please do not expect a return call.), email. Thailand's lesbian group, formed in 1986, has often spoken up in public with courageous responses to lesbian, gay and women's issues in the Thai media. Their limited resources are aimed at Thai speakers, but they occasionally plan social, educational, or travel events that welcome visiting woman. They self-publish AN: Another Way magazine. Anjaree was the recipient of a Utopia Award in recognition its pioneering activities.
- Sexualities, Genders, and Rights in Asia: an International Conference of Asian Queer Studies
2005 Queer Studies Conference organized in Bangkok by The Office of Human Rights Studies and Social Development, Mahidol University, Bangkok and The AsiaPacifiQueer Network.
- Lesbian Adventures Thailand
171/60 Rattanakosin Island Condo, Pin Klao Rd, Bangkok Noi, 086-215-1629, 089-501-5306, email. A licensed tour operator focusing on tours for lesbians and women of any orientation visiting or living in Thailand. Tours include island hopping and snorkeling in Phuket as well as local gay pride events.
Click here for a lesbian-owned elephant camp accommodation.
BANGKOK -- area code (66-2)
Krung Thep is what the Thai call their capitol, a much-shortened nickname for what is the longest city name in the world (ask a Thai to recite the whole thing for you). In typical Thai fashion, Bangkok’s epic poetic title has been simplified for everyday use to its practical essence: City of Angels.
Most tourists experience Bangkok in similarly boiled down little sweet or sour bits: disarming charm, dazzling smiles, exotic temples, bustling markets, choking traffic, 5-alarm peppers, pestering touts. But poke past the polished tourist veneer and Bangkok rewards the explorer with magic moments amidst its free-for-all collision of old and new, rich and poor, the sacred and the profane.
“Paradise” is a word that is often applied to describe the abundance of what Bangkok has to offer. It’s a genuine paradise for shoppers, from the bargains at Chatuchak, the world’s largest outdoor market, to the refined silks and jewels of this royal kingdom. It is also a paradise for foodies, from the singular specialties of its sidewalk hawkers, to the finest cuisine from around the world served up here at stupefying low prices. It is certainly a paradise of 5-star accommodation, service, and even world-class health care (get your nose, eyes or dental work done here and your holiday will pay for itself).
Many have also described Bangkok as a paradise for gay life. It certainly may seem that way to visitors, for its sheer abundance, high visibility, and “anything goes” reputation. In fact, GLBT life here is just as complex and contradictory as anywhere else in the world. And while Bangkok’s queer scene seems amazingly diverse, it’s just the tiny tip of an iceberg: most of the Thai gay world is invisible and inaccessible to tourists.
The key to enjoying your time in Bangkok is to relax, take it easy. When you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by culture shock, go sit in a quiet temple courtyard. When you’re wound up by all the sensory overload, pamper yourself with an afternoon in a spa or sauna. When your emotional dam threatens to burst, go light some incense at a phallic shrine. Take a deep breath. What’s that smell?
Don’t go with touts who want to take you anywhere or taxi drivers that don’t turn on their meters, and use your common sense. Do look both ways when crossing the streets. No one will assault you here, just don’t tempt anybody to enjoy their “good luck” by leaving your valuables unattended. Relax and remain receptive for one of those unforgettable magic moments that Bangkok inevitably supplies when you least expect it.
The population of Bangkok is nearing 10 million people, That’s getting close to half a million Utopians.
- The Lesbian Guide to Bangkok has local scene info and maps in English.
- Travel in Bangkok message board
- Women in Bangkok message board
Navigating the local lesbian scene is easy with our interactive Utopia Map of Gay & Lesbian Bangkok:
- E Fun
21/135-136 Royal City Ave (RCA), 081-777-8018. Close to Zeta (a couple blocks left as you exit Zeta, on the opposite side of the street). Three-story bar popular with more mature lesbians. Pool table. Live music. Outdoor patio. Special events such as a "Lesbian Car Rally"!
- Hemlock (mixed)
Phra Athit Rd. Very lesbian-friendly and you can expect to see women on the weekend.
- Indy (mixed)
Phra Athit Rd. Very lesbian-friendly and you can expect to women on the weekend.
- AZ Pub & Disco
Opposite Central Wongsawang Department Store. Local tomboys and ladies. The owner is a tomboy.
- Shelter (mixed)
Along the Ramindra Express Way. Another favorite hangout bar for lesbians. The crowd may not be as big as before when the famous Tom Band played there regularly.
CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT -- Silom, Suriwong, Sathorn, Lumphini, Chinatown
- Marble House (traditional Thai massage)
37/18-19 Soi Suriwongse Plaza, (small Soi between Thaniya and Patpong), 02-235-2148. Ask for a masseuse (their blind masseurs are also excellent!). Fantastic traditional Thai massage (2 hours).
- Ruen Orchid Spa
101/11 Soi Langsuan, 02-652-2577, email. A small, quiet day spa and massage venue in central Bangkok. Escape and get away from it all to relax and rejuvenate in style, without it costing the earth. Gay and lesbian-friendly. Utopia Member Discount
- At the Time (mixed)
81 Soi Aree (Paholyothin Soi 7, opp. Yosawadee Bld), 02-617-1133. Tom-Dee friendly restaurant.
- China Journal (mixed)
Gaysorn Plaza, 999 Ploenchit Rd. Chinese tea house with antiques and books. Friendly for women.
Eat Me Restaurant (modern international and regional)|
20m off Convent Rd (in Soi Pipat 2), Utopia Map, business card, reservations: 02-238-0931, email. Romantic, modern interior complimented by fine art exhibitions. Inventive, superb cuisine, plus friendly service from owner Darren and staff. Menu changes monthly, with daily specials and choice deserts and cocktails. Handsome waiters and patrons (lots of stars and trendsetters). Rich music selection and occasional live jazz performances. Utopia Member Discount
- The Lobby
Soi Aree (Paholyothin Soi 7). Lesbian-owned.
- Zup Zip (Thai and Chinese)
674 Soi 101, Lad Prao Rd, 081-734-2759. Mature Tom-Dee crowd.
A restaurant/fun hangout place which caters to older toms & dees. Friendly owner and customers.
- Hair on Film
4/F Siam Paragon. Lesbian-owned (same owner as China Journal) and very popular with women.
CHA-AM and HUA HIN -- area code (66-32)
The seaside resorts of Cha-Am and Hua Hin are popular get-aways for Bangkok residents who want a very quiet, Thai-style weekend away from the city. Located on the sunrise side of the Gulf of Siam, this is also where generations of Thai royals have built their vacation retreats. Marukkhathayawan Palace, built between the two cities, is a beautiful Victorian gingerbread palace built by King Rama VI and now open to the public. It is, in fact, a traditional Thai "village" raised high on stilts, open to the sea breeze and with its various "compounds" connected by covered teak walkways. It was rescued from ruin, restored, and now stands as one of Thailand's architectural gems.
Nightlife in Hua Hin, including the gay scene, is very quiet (out of respect for its neighbors), with seafood dinners at the warf and the busy little night market being the main attractions. Hua Hin is therefore a perfect get-away for couples who want a little peace and privacy.
The population of Cha-Am and Hua Hun is over 100,000 (that's about 4,000 Utopians).
CHIANG MAI -- area code (66-53)
Chiang Mai is many people's favorite city in Thailand. Ancient, lush, and generally cooler than the rest of the country, it has seen the rise and fall of mighty and influential civilizations. Within the moat-bound Old City, you can still escape down cobbled lanes and wander through quiet temple courtyards, past old teakwood houses, and into bustling markets offering goods from the Golden Triangle. The Ping River is the lifeblood of a city whose charming rural atmosphere stubbornly clings on despite misguided stabs at development in the last decade. Chiang Mai is Thailand's laid back "LA" to Bangkok's New York City hustle.
The population is approaching 200,000 (that's about 8,000 Utopians). Chiang Mai has a relaxed bit of gay nightlife, mostly commercial in nature, with some popular saunas where locals and visitors can meet and socialize.
- Gays and lesbians celebrate their unions with traditional bai sri soo khuan ceremonies in Chiang Mai.
- Rainbow Sky Lanna
Email. Local chapter of Thailand's first officially registered gay association, a private non-profit organization, working for public interests especially for the homosexual, bisexual and transgender community.
Click here for Chiang Mai hotels and accommodations.
Huay Kaew Rd (opposite Hillside 4). Women-only bar and restaurant a tuk-tuk ride out of town. Some English spoken.
- Kudos Bar
70/16-17 Gold Place Centre, Chiyapoom Rd (opposite Sompet Market), A. Muang, 089-262-3998 (Thai), 086-115-1341 (English), email. Gay and lesbian bar in the heart of the city, close to the Amora hotel. Friendly and relaxing atmosphere with high quality pool table, aircon, and a modern lounge bar.
- Le Lang Matong (mixed)
053-302-260, 081-111-893. East side of the Ping River, just south of town. Gay-owned and managed riverside night spot with live music. Young, local crowd.
- Pornping Coffee Shop (mixed)
Pornping Hotel. Live band entertains at this popular hangout for young Thai, including groups of gays and lesbians.
- Soho Bar
20/3 Huay Kaew Rd, 086-743-8202, 087-073-0958, email. The new owners remodeled and Soho has been attracting a larger and younger crowd with some lesbian patrons. The atmosphere is much funkier now, often with very trendy dance music. On weekends, especially after midnight, things heating up and the crowd can get a little wild. If you are sitting near the bar, drinking alone, you can expect to get pulled onto the dance floor. Utopia Member Discount
- Antique House (Northern Thai specialties)
71 Thanon Charoenprathet (next to the Diamond Hotel) 053-276-810. Open-air seating in a century-old teak mansion or in the lovely gardens. Local cuisine at moderate prices.
- Benelux (Belgian and international)
125 Loi Kroa, 053-281277, email. Gay-owned restaurant near the night bazaar. Open nightly for lunch and dinner.
- The Gallery (Thai food)
25-27 Charoenrat Rd (avenue running along the east side of the river), 053-248-601, 053-248-602. Lovely open-air dining along the Ping River. Gallery at the entrance offers a wide selection of unique arts and crafts (and some same-sex images, look carefully).
- Hong Tauw Inn (Thai food)
95/17-18 Nantawan Arcade, Nimanhaemin Rd, 053-218-333. Opposite the Amari Rincome Hotel and located in a wonder shopping area with some of Chiang Mai's most contemporary boutiques (see Gong Dee Gallery below). This restaurant is known for "good Thai taste" according to locals, and indeed their pahd thai noodles are perfectly yummy.
- Lamdoun Kaosoy
352/22 Thanon Jaroen-rat, (drive north along Thanon Charoenrat on the east side of the river, the road becomes Jaroen-rat), 053-243-519, 053-306-076. Don't miss lunch here! They are masters of the Northern Thai specialty--khaosoy--a non-spicy, curry dish of soft and crispy noodles with the meat of your choice. Side dishes are satay bar-b-que and coconut waffles. Unbelieveably cheap.
- Mit Mai Yunnan (Yunnannese)
42/2 Thanon Ratmankha (two blocks east from the old city moat, just after the temple wall), 053-275-033, 053-208-454. Lots of fresh vegetable and fish dishes. If you're a brave gourmet, try their specialty: "young bees"!
- Tha-Nam Thai cuisine)
43/3 Thanon Changklan (just south of the Mengrai Bridge). Lovely Lanna-style riverside dining with traditional music. Always busy with local Thai. They also maintain a guesthouse.
- Wildflowers Garden Cafe (Thai and International)
118 Charoen Prathet Road, 053-818-786. Located in the tropical garden of the Souvenir Guest House. Chef Chatri studied cooking in Bangkok and worked in some of the finest restaurants before opening his own. He specializes in exotic Thai dishes, several of which are on the menu daily. Open every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Inexpensive. Utopia Member Discount
- Art On
116 Charoenraj Rd (the charming lane that runs along the east side of the Ping river). Small shop just outside Wat Gate, featuring good quality, handmade ceramics by Chiang Mai artists. Nearby on this stretch of road are many other upscale arts and crafts shops in beautiful, teakwood heritage buildings.
G/F Chiang Inn Plaza next to Night Bazaar. Gay guidebooks to Thailand and Asia. Local and foreign English-language newspapers and magazines (more than 600 magazine titles!). The latest Pocketbooks, cards, maps, calendars, etc.
- Classic Lanna Thai
2/F Night Bazaar, Thanon Changklan. Traditional silks and antique fabrics made into modern designs. If you find a piece of fabric that you like they'll create a custom design for you.
- Gong Dee Gallery
10/12 Nimanhaemin Rd Soi 1, 053-225-032, email. In the middle of a great colony of upscale contemporary arts, crafts and apparel boutiques. Large and beautifully appointed shop and gallery with a lovely café to boot. Fine art by local painters and gorgeous houseware, Thai greeting cards, and objet. Occasional musical recitals on the in-store piano!
Koh Chang (Trat Province)
Located in Trat Province, near the border of Cambodia, Koh Chang is Thailand's second largest island after Phuket. Still relatively undeveloped due to its pristine interior of tropical jungle and aquatic environment designated as a National Marine Park, Koh Chang and the dozens of picturesque islands ringing it have now been discovered by tourists and tourism developers. You can still find cheap little bungalows right on the beaches here and its close proximity to Pattaya (2.5 hours by car) and Bangkok (4.5 hours) means its popularity will continue to grow.
White Sand Beach (Had Sai Khao) has the most foreign tourists, while Kai Bae Beach and Bang Bao are more popular with local Thai. Most of the island's gay-friendly venues are located in Kai Bae. You may want to drive onto the island, via the 30-minute ferry at Laem Gnop, so that you can explore the various beaches, waterfalls, and rural communities.
Click here for Koh Chang hotels and accommodations.
- Lemon Bar
Kai Bae Beach. From K.B. Bungalows, walk north up the beach towards the No Name Bar on the rocky outcrop where the dive school is, but before you get to No Name, cut through the row of mini-shops using the little alleyway that bisects them. Lemon is on the other side, behind the mini-shops. This cute little open-air bar is tropical tiki cross-pollinated with amateur drag and staffed by locals who tend bar, play guitar, or burst into spontaneous lip sync performances. Women welcome.
- No Name Bar
Kai Bae Beach, just north of K.B. Bunaglows. Gay-owned and staffed. A sign on the exterior of this open-air grass shack promises "fire shows". May be closed during slow season, May-Oct.
- Bangbao Fishing Village (seafood)
This fishing village built on stilts is located on the southwest end of the island. Come here in the early evenings for the fresh catch of the day. Many restaurants to try, including Ruan Thai Restaurant, 089-833-5117, which serves fantastic garlic fried scallops and crab omelet with spicy/bitter vegetable leaves.
- Funky Hut Resport (Thai and international)
Dan Kao Beach (northeast side of the island, 1 km from the car ferry pier), 089-936-7750, 089-414-4271. Fantastic food and warm, personal attention from owners Chris and his lovely wife, Khun Oh. Lie back on pillows with a fruit shake or tropical cocktail and watch the fishing boats bob on the waves at this quiet beach. Try the crab or potato cakes. Try them again. Bonus: they've got the most enchanting restrooms north of Bali.
- Marina (Thai and international)
Kai Bae Beach. Located five minutes walk north of K.B. Bungalows, just beyond Lemon Bar (see directions above). Gay-friendly open-air restaurant serves up great food for lunch and dinner! Movies play each evening.
- Rendezvous Tom Tum (seafood, Thai and international)
Inland side of the main road, White Sand Beach. Gay-owned and staffed. Pex and Pon run this friendly, open-air hang-out. Layers of colorful decor have survived a number of holidays. Good food. Nightly movies.
Krabi -- area code (66-75)
Once the favorite get-away for in-the-know Thai vacationers, Krabi’s new airport has signaled international awareness of this picture postcard paradise of fairytale islands, spectacular sea caves, isolated inlets, monkey-filled jungles, eco-protected mangrove deltas burgeoning with wildlife, floating Sea Gypsy villages, and an influx of well-designed 5-star boutique hotels that (mostly) blend into the scenary.
Quiet Ao Nang Beach has the only stretch of shops and restaurants, but it’s decades behind the over-development of resort areas like Phuket or Pattaya. Most tourists want to stay out on the peninsula in the chock-a-block bungalows between Railei Beach and Ao Nang Beach (now accessable only by sea or the small public pathway that skirts the “private” Rayavadee hotel. Note the small fisherman’s shrine tucked into a limestone cliff on Ao Nang Beach – its stuffed with an exotic variety of balad kik phallic offerings.
The population of Krabi is about 25,000 (that's about 1,000 Utopians).
- Rainbow Bar
Ao Nang Pearl Guesthouse, 362 Ao Nang Soi 7, Ao Nang, 048-431-290, email. Krabi's first gay bar. Thai style open-air beer bar. One wall of pictures of customers from all over the world. Wide range of soft drinks, beer and cocktails. Customers of all ages. Open nightly 8pm-2am.
- Up 2 You Bar and Restaurant
7/5 Chao Fa Rd, email. Lesbian-owned and gay and lesbian-friendly. Located on Chao Fa Rd, just up from the night market. They serve a wide variety of tasty Thai and western food. Free Net for customers, a pool table and extensive cocktail menu.
- Lemongrass (Thai and European cuisine)
1 Thanon Maharaj (attached to Traveller's Guest House, on the premises of Central Inn), 075-630-443, email. Gay friendly open-air restaurant, centrally located, with attached Internet cafe (high speed access). Superb cooking by Parin. Movies and sports shown. Thai and western music.
NONGKHAI, THABO, and SANGKHOM -- area code (66-42)
Isan (northeast Thailand) is full of friendly people, surprising sights, and magical festivals. These three towns are stretched along the mighty Mekong River, with Nong Khai about a 45 minute drive from the major city of Udon Thani. Laos is just across the river by bridge and there are national parks, fascinating temples, and unspoiled nature in abundance. The area hosts several seasonal festivities, the most famous being Bahng Fai Paya Nag, the mysterious emination of glowing "Naga rockets", unexplained colored lights which shoot from the Mekong River at full moon during Pansaa, (Buddhist Lent) in October.
- Wat Kaeg
Nongkhai. Surreal folk-art garden of sculpted mythical and spiritual figures, some 5 stories high! The garden was originally begun in Laos, but the war forced the creator to abandon his works and relocate to Thailand where he started over again, completing close to 100 sculptures during his life. The remains of the original garden, much overgrown, still exist on the opposite side of the river and should not be missed if you plan to visit Laos.
- Village Weaver Handicrafts
786 Prajak Rd, Nongkhai. Beautiful handicrafts and woven fabrics.
PATTAYA -- area code (66-38)
Pattaya: love it or hate it, Thailand's largest developed tourist resort just keeps expanding as its fans flood in year-after-year. Over the last decade the town has cleaned up its act on a number of fronts -- restoring the water quality, landscaping the beaches and adding bike and pedestrian pathways, licensing the roaming vendors, and sponsoring world-class festivities that attract locals and tourists alike. Pattaya is also a favored place for retirees given the vast choice of condominiums and excellent and inexpensive healthcare available. Pattaya offers a wide variety of international dining in addition to as much fresh seafood as you can eat. The speedy superhighway from Bangkok has cut down travel time to just under a 2-hour drive. The boom is set to continue with the opening of Bangkok's new international airport, situated only an hour away from the resort.
Pattaya's population is over 250,000 and growing (that's about 10,000 Utopians, not counting the tourists).
- Travel in Pattaya message board
- Pattaya and Jomtien Beach
Have a relaxing foot massage, manicure or body massage right on the beach. Masseuses wear white uniform shirts with an ID number.
Phuket's most popular resort town is Patong Beach, about 45 minutes drive southwest from the airport. This well-developed tourist resort caters to huge numbers of visitors from around the world, but seems to appeal especially to Europeans. There are only a half dozen hotels right on the beach, the rest spread back across the main beach road (the layout is very similar to Pattaya). Nearby Phuket Town is filled with Sino-Portuguese architectural treasures: beautiful old shophouses and mansions built by Phuket's wealthy merchants. Sun-splashed weather, fresh seafood feasts, and carefree nights bathed in an ocean breeze is the lifestyle enjoyed here.
Phuket's population is over 300,000 and growing (that's over 12,000 Utopians, not counting the tourists).
- Travel in Phuket message board
- Phuket Sailing Tours
083-102-7801, email. Comfortable and casual cruises around some of the most beautiful and least visited islands in the Andaman Sea. Come aboard Tom Yum, a beautiful, traditional Malay sailing boat and decide where to go, where to stop and for how long. Gay and lesbian-friendly. Utopia Member Discount
Click here for Pranburi hotels and accommodations.
SAMUI ISLAND -- area code (66-77)
Despite the fact that quite a few Thai and expat lesbians live on Samui, and many women visit Samui, there is not yet a women-only place to meet. Places listed below are known to be lesbian-friendly.
The Wave Samui (mixed) UTOPIA VERIFIED SEP 2012
11/5 Moo 2 Chaweng Beach Rd, 088-753-2921, 077-230-803, email. A gay-friendly bar with great service and snacks. Rooftop garden and also guest rooms for rent. 6000 books to read. Everyone gets a warm welcome, including women. Utopia Member Discount
- Fah Samui
Soi Al's Hut (opposite Starbucks on Chaweng Beach Rd), Chaweng Beach, 077-414-419, email. Gay-owned and managed massage shop offering traditional Thai massage, oil massage, foot massage, head and shoulder massage, facial massage, manicure and pedicure, waxing, etc. A stylish and relaxing oasis where you will be papered from head to toe in a welcoming and gay-friendly environment, either alone or as a lesbian couple. Open daily from 10am-2am. Utopia Member Discount
UDON THANI -- area code (66-42)
The population of Udon Thani is about 250,000 (that's about 10,000 Utopians).
- High Tech Music World(mixed)
22/2 Chamnusorn Road, 042-241-330. Stupendous live review and wild theatrical effects, surpassing even Bangkok in show value (and they let farang in free for a change!). A bit of Vegas transported magically to Isan.
- Chai Boo Paa (drinking snacks)
042-243-102. Ask any tuk-tuk driver to take you. Open-air garden atmosphere with luug-toong (country music) and "Songs for Life" (socially progressive folk music) performers. Waiters are mostly tomboys. Tables of gays and lesbians in their 20s and 30s. Later everyone moves to Yellow Bird Disco.
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