Thailand--the land of smiles--is, at once, a rich cultural experience as well as a gay travel Mecca. With 90% of its population following the Buddhist philosophy, homosexuality is widely accepted without protest or judgment. Though an anything-goes policy is in order once the bedroom doors have been closed, visitors should inform themselves on the otherwise modest customs and traditions of this country's fascinating people. Since some of these can be quite unique and unusual to the westerner, it is advised that one do a bit of research on the topic before embarking on gay vacations to the country, or on any gay tours offered there.
For instance, although the sight of two men walking the streets arm in arm may be completely acceptable and normal to the typical Thai person who views this as 'a simple friendship', a man and a woman holding hands as they walk is not so readily accepted. And though sexual acts are left to the discretion of the involved individuals behind closed doors, public displays of nudity are considered absolutely unacceptable--even wearing shorts and a tank top is questionable in some areas and establishments. Never should one touch another's head, as the head is considered to be sacred. And one should make sure never to point one's feet in the direction of another human being, since this also is viewed as being taboo.
A visit to Thailand can be as relaxed or as active as the traveler chooses it to be. Most gay tours are geared toward the ever popular nightlife scene. Go-go clubs, boy bars and sexy discos have been popping up at an increasing rate over the past few years in larger cities such as Bangkok, Chiangmai and Phuket, making these the ultimate destinations for the sexually adventurous traveler. On the other hand, gay vacations to quieter and more traditional regions like Koh Samui offer visitors a peek into the true, laid-back Thai island experience. Here, the crystal clear waters and magnificent rock formations are the main day-time attractions. But don't be fooled; the nightlife, though less common than in the larger cities, is still widely available and not to be missed.
Some other ideas for gay travel in this fascinating country would include; catching one of the drag performances offered in the larger cities (Calypso in the Bangkok Asia Hotel is considered one of the best), a visit to one of the many Buddhist temples (remember to dress appropriately), joining one of the gay tours which take you to camp out in the hills with tribal villagers or to the rainforest where you'll sleep in a floating bamboo hut.
The best time for travel to Thailand is between November and February, as March and April can be quite hot and May through October, the monsoon season, even hotter and more humid. Gay vacations should be booked keeping in mind that the country offers three separate gay pride festivals in the major cities of Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket.
Thailand, and its people are full of surprises. The phrase 'Mai pen rai', or 'it's nothing/no worries/it's cool' tells all about the country and its inhabitants. Gay people are more than accepted by the general Thai population, making Thailand the ultimate choice for gay travel.