It’s official: Asia has a new gay capital. Bangkok and its money boys can move over, and the chiseled abs that flit around Hong Kong can take their attitude elsewhere. Taipei is the place to be. That’s right, the Taiwanese capital is fast becoming the new destination of choice for gay travelers in Asia who would rather avoid┬ásordid sex scenes and sky-high STD rates, and get their party on in a place that is uninhibited without being completely chaotic or forcing you to look behind your back. So, why should gay travelers head to Taipei? Here’s my low-down.

 

1. Proud of Pride

Gay pride events in Asia can often be a tricky thing to wrap your head around: parades and rainbow flags, but full of people wearing sunglasses and not actually wanting to show their faces. Taipei’s gay pride has no such inhibitions, and last year, the city hosted Asia’s largest gay pride festival, with over sixty thousand attendees. This year’s event is expected to be even bigger and better, and the festivities will take place on October 25th and 26th. If you’re looking to attend a pride event in Asia, it doesn’t get better than Gay Pride Taipei.

 

2. The Red House

Taipei’s Red House, located in the Ximen area of the city, is known as the premier gaybourhood. Unlike other Asian cities, where gay bars can only be accessed by veering down dark alleyways or in dank parts of the city, Taipei’s Red House hosts a bevvy of bars around a courtyard area, along with a few gay clothing stores. The calzone at Alleycat’s is a winner if you’re hungry, and for cocktails, head to Dalida – they make them strong! Head upstairs to Xanadu if you want a chance to catch a glimpse of a Taiwanese drag queen, or just survey the courtyard below you. Taipei has a refreshingly open gay neighbourhood, and one that you can feel completely comfortable in.

 

3. The Locals

Taiwanese gays probably have to be the friendliest I’ve encountered anywhere on the planet. Compared to other Asian cities like Seoul and Hong Kong, Taipei’s locals are super open and welcoming towards foreign guys, and seem genuinely concerned that you’re having a good time in their city and country. I think part of this relaxed attitude is the openness that pervades throughout Taipei, and the result is a population of gay guys who are more secure with themselves, and willing to embrace others with open arms.

 

4. The Steam

If you’re looking for some almost guaranteed action, then you’d better check out Aniki. The grand relaunch of Taipei’s premier gay sauna is scheduled for this month, and it’ll be quite an event if its weekly parties were anything to go by. Expect foam, pools of lubricant, and a friendly, up-for-it crowd. And remember, as in any gay encounter with someone you’re not in a monogamous relationship with, protect yourself and show the guy you’re hooking up with a bit of respect – use a condom, and enjoy the fun without fretting.

 

5. Dance ’til You Drop

Taipei’s gay clubs are always a good laugh, with the best being G-Star, Jump, and lesbian club Taboo. If you’re into darkrooms, then check out Commander D, but give Funky a wide berth – it’s not worth your money. G-Star has a very mixed crowd of locals and foreigners, with K-Pop being the music of choice for guys to get down to on the podiums, and Jump is for a more mature, gym-fit crowd, although be careful if offered drugs – it’s not wise for a foreigner in Asia to get mixed up with illegal substances, as repercussions can be serious.┬áMake new friends, have a holiday fling, or simply dance your cares away in clubs that are for those that like to party hard.