The Answer to this is very simple: Bangkok is LGBT friendly because Thailand as a nation is very friendly towards LGBT people. But why is Thailand and its capital so friendly this way? What does LGBT friendly even mean? These answers are more complex but do not change the fact that Bangkok is one of the most LGBT friendly places in the world.
One might ask something even more profound on this subject: Is being LGBT friendly the same as full societal inclusion of all gender identification types? In the specific case of Thailand, ergo Bangkok, the answer to this is absolutely not. One thing is to be open and accepting of the LGBT community. But it is entirely another thing to say there are no prejudices and that everyone is treated equally the same.
The Perception of Bangkok as an LGBT paradise
This perception is true and entirely based on reality. Bangkok is as advertised. It is the safe, inclusive and exceedingly tolerant place everyone says it is. For travellers to King City, this is especially so. The places, the people, and even the national policies and institutions are all friendly towards LGBT visitors. But Thai society as a whole still has a long way to go to be considered completely open and free for all identities.
The root of Thailand’s LGBT tolerance, and also the overall conflict within itself, lies in the Buddhist religion. Thailand is 95% Buddhist, and there are two schools of thought within Thailand’s particular religious sect called Theravada Buddhism. On one side is that personal gender identity is not something you control in this life. Therefore, people of homosexual or bi/trans ways of life should be accepted and not be persecuted or harmed. But the traditional orthodox view says that those living outside of gender norms are going against Buddhist precepts. Read more about the buddhism view on LGBT.
This conflict is manifested in how LGBT people are treated in Thailand. All are welcome, accepted, and everybody enjoys the same freedom. But there are no laws guaranteeing this freedom. There are anti-discrimination laws, but there are no hate crime laws. More gender changing surgeries are performed in Thailand than anywhere else in the world, but changing sex is not legal. The LGBT paradise that is Bangkok is because of universal acceptance and tolerance by the people, not from state guarantees.
LGBT Friendly Thailand
LGBT friendly means people with these identities are included in everything and liked for who they are. Nobody pressures anybody to be what they think others should be or resents anyone for being different from them. It is each to their own in BKK. Friendly like this means you can be yourself and have fun, and that is what Bangkok is all about!
So, where are the friendly places? Everywhere. You can enjoy all Bangkok has to offer because it is such a friendly place that you can do anything. Go to the Grand Palace, drink on Khao San road, take a river cruise, in short, be a tourist all day. Then there is the nightlife. The best gay places are in Silom, Soi 2-4. Drag shows & cabarets, for entertainment; hangouts & dance bars to get lost in the atmosphere of free expression. If you need suggestions there are many websites like our own to find things and get ideas.
BKK is lesbian-friendly but that is about it. There are very few Lesbian bars and no party area scene like Silom for the guys. There is a lot to do out there, it’s just harder to find. Go online and look up the big weekend and monthly parties like Go Grrrrls or Lesla. These are lesbian only. Meet Thai “Tom’s and Dees” at Vega’s or go to Silom meet other ladies that come there. Just because it is not lesbian specific does not mean you are not welcome, remember BKK is friendly everywhere.
The best thing about such an LGBT friendly city is that you don’t have to seek out your own gender-specific place, you can do what you want. Take your partner out to dinner, or have drinks at the absolutely de Rigour Skybar. Get a massage. The masseuses are masters of making you feel good, the ending is as happy as you want it to be. It all goes back to the peace of mind there is just being a tourist in a friendly place.
Gays in Bangkok are in a pleasure theme park. As mentioned before there is Silom, an entire street scene of gay activities. Away from the spotlight is the gay paradise of Babylon Men’s Complex, and the hedonistic Tawan Go-Go Bar. Places like these are all over Bangkok. But BKK friendly means feeling totally at home with your partners and friends at smaller local spots too.
Drink and play pool anywhere on Sukhumvit and you will find gay guys just hanging out. The conversation is lively and intellectual, and the drinks are cheap. Some of the hotels have great lounges with a gay clientele that might surprise you. Gay life is everywhere in Bangkok. The thing is that all people are accepted as just being people.
Bi Friendly Bangkok
The “B” in LGBT might just be the Big Winners. Gays have party spots, Lesbians can relax and be themselves, but Bi’s have the best of all worlds in BKK. Bi-sexual people need a friendly place like Bangkok to really explore their sexuality. The hetero scene in BKK is legendary, both for men and women. On Soi Cowboy, some of the best-looking girls in the world are available to go with you to your hotel. A night in Silom and you have the best-looking guys available for the same thing. No one will judge you at the front desk. Male or female, to be bisexual in Bangkok is to have the most sensual experience of your life.
Trans Friendly Bangkok
If you are Transgender you have a lot of friendly company in Bangkok. Transgender people blend in everywhere because BKK is so friendly to everyone. And like all the above, to be able to have great conversations, party, and have sex with those of your own identity is priceless. But for transgenders, it might be something special to be in Bangkok. In so many other cities and countries, there is still a sense of this identity being outside the norm.
Thailand is different in that Transgender people aren’t just accepted in urban areas that get listed as LGBT friendly, they are a presence all over the nation. Thailand has the world’s only elected openly transgender Minister of Parliament, Tanwarin Sukkhapisit of the Future Forward Party. A very progressive Party name indeed! Her leadership is an inspiration to transgenders everywhere. She even argued for and won, the right to dress as she wants for her and her LGBT colleagues. It will be Ms. Sukkhhapisit that leads the next, and hopefully successful, charge towards legalizing gay marriage in Thailand.
Bangkok is an LGBT Friendly City
So, Yes, Bangkok is an LGBT friendly city. It is so because Thailand is an exceedingly LGBT friendly country. There is much to enjoy in BKK and there is the complete freedom to explore all of it unhindered. This freedom is what LGBT friendly means. The benefits of this freedom are acceptance, tolerance, and inclusiveness. Safety and peace of mind are the derivatives.
Many other cities are ranked higher on lists of LGBT cities. These are indexes of all kinds of factors. Thailand can do better. But it can never be more friendly.