Thailand

Photo courtesy of http://www.phuket-pride.org

Although Thailand is renowned for a generally non-judgemental attitude with Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket, particularly, offering a gay-friendly ambience, away from the mix withwestern culture – especially in country areas – many people are conservative.

Bangkok’s Silom district is the major financial and business centre and bursts into life at night.Around Silom road onthe vibrant side alleys of Sois 2 and 4, the gay sceneis busy and friendly;attracting crowds in Soi 4 are The Balcony and Telephone pub. Only around 200 metres away is Soi 2 which has the most popular Bangkok gay club, DJ Station with another well patronised one closeby -G.O.D. (Guys On Display). Reputedly offering some of the best go-go bars – numbered at around 40,Soi Cowboyattractsmainly tourists and expatriates.

In Pattaya, two well-known gay beaches – each laying claim to ‘the most popular gay beach in Thailand’ are Jomtien and Dong Tan.A choice of gay-friendly bars populate the area near Jomtien beach and around the Jomtien Complex.Almost year round, Dongtan beach’s gay area is busy during afternoons and weekends.

On the island of Phuket, the majority of gays and transgender people live and party in Patong – which refers to the beach and town.Centred around Soi Bangla (themain entertainment zone for straight people) andthe gay area of Paradise Plaza,the lively nightlifefeatures many night clubs, massage parlours and bars as well as a variety of restaurants withmany activities also offered by day.Connected to the Royal Paradise Hotel & Spa,the Paradise Complex comprises gay-centric guesthouses, restaurants, shops, clubs and bars. The bar girls are often bar boys, and popular ones include Boat Bar, My Way Cabaret, go-go bar ZAG Club and the Tangmo Club which has nightly shows featuring beautiful lady boys.

Popular accommodations which are mainly gay owned and/or gay managed include Connect Guesthouse, Adonis Guest House,Club One Seven Phuket, Aquarius Guesthouse & Sauna thatis “men only” as is Phuket Gay Homestay which opened a new herbal steam room sauna in 2016. Of note, CC’s Hideaway Karon is also pet friendly.

In Chiang Mai, gay bars can be found in the Night Bazaar area – includingRam Bar, Secrets Bar, and Orion Bar.

Parties/Events

Bangkok’s best-known gay sauna and one of the longest-running gay venues, Babylon Sauna hosts a special edition of its popular monthly Foam Party on Christmas Eve, Saturday, December 24, with live DJ and cocktails, starting around 6:30pm. The following day Babylon hosts a Xmas mini concert from 7pm.

Soon after is end-of-year bashWhite Party Bangkok.Featuring three massive parties, world-renowned DJs and star performers, it runs from Friday, 30 December, 2016, to Sunday, 1 January, 2017 at GMM Live House 8/F CentralWorld.

Looking ahead, Gay events for 2017 set tocontinue to attract much interest include The Bangkok Pride Festival and Phuket Pride.

Phuket Pride features a choice of activities from April 27-30, including pool parties, sports events, day trips and beach parties for LGBT residents, tourists and friends to celebrate the 2017 inclusive theme of “Come Together”.

From May 15-20, The Bangkok Pride Festival offers a variety of film festivals, workshops, LGBT social events and parties culminating in the popular Pride March on Saturday May 20 on Silom Road.

Patong hospital has the only MSM (Men who have Sex with Men) clinic on Phuket – at the end of the parking lot is Sabadee clinic.Gay and bisexual foreigners can visit theClinic for an HIV test or obtain PEP treatment.

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The Naka Island, A Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Phuket

I have been to Phuket numerous of times and frankly I’ve never stayed on any of its outlying islands. This time round, I had the opportunity to visit one of the Starwood Group’s properties, The Naka Ialand.

Located just off the eastern coast of Phuket, The Naka Island is perfectly poised along the southern portion of Naka Yai Island. To get there, simply arrange for a speedboat pick up from the Ao Po Grand Marina.

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Once you arrive at the pier, you are immediately picked up by the resort’s buggy and transferred to your villa for check-in. I love in-room check-in. No queues, no crowds, just you and the resort’s staff. The route to the villa was serene and was well greeted by passing staff. We checked into the Tropical Pool Villa and lucky for us, our villa was one of the villas that had the sea view.

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Each of the Tropical Pool Villas comes with your own private pool & sala, an open-air bathroom and if you’re not afraid of mosquitoes, an outdoor soaking tub. Coming from Singapore, I hate mosquitoes; therefore I didn’t take the risk of getting them biting me by willingly soaking myself bare-naked in the outdoor tub. But it’s definitely a romantic sight at night, when the housekeeping comes in to turn down the villa.

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After resting our feet for a while, we headed to the Z Bar to catch our first island sunset and pre-dinner drinks. Z Bar specializes in custom cocktails and offers enticing Asian style tapas and a stunning view of the surrounding island vistas.

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We then headed off to dinner at My Grill. My Grill focuses on fresh seafood and premier steaks, all deliciously prepared with a southern Thai twist. The restaurant only opens for dinner and offers the view of the infinite seascape.

Naka Island’s Chef de Cuisine does a mean grilled steak. We started off with a portion of salad and ordered the restaurant’s two specialties. It’s steak and codfish. Both items were cooked to perfection. The steak simply melts in your mouth and the fish was fresh and sweet. Dinner was perfect and we simply couldn’t wait to try more of his dishes.

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Phuket, Island of Dreams

Less than 50 minutes by taxi from the airport and the magic of this island has already cast its spell on me. Normally I need a day or two to unwind after I arrive to a holiday destination, but on this occasion, the metamorphosis from stress-head to not a care in the world, occurred in the ride from the airport to my hotel.

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Giant Phuket prawns
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Glorious Patong Beach sunset
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Umbrella alley Patong Beach
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Rooftop restaurant La Flora Resort
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La Flora Resort

 

The beauty of Phuket is that it’s only approximately 8hrs flying time from Sydney. Of course this figure varies depending on which location you are flying from.

As I write this blog, I am outside my room adjacent to a magnificent 50 meter pool. From the end of the pool to Patong Beach is only 2 meters. It is mid morning and I have already walked the beach which allows me to have breakfast with a clear conscience, read the paper and contemplate a swim in the pool or a dip in the sparkling Adaman Sea.

Patong beach early in the morning is a beehive of activity. Coloured umbrellas are being erected in military precision, in ready for the influx of international guests who will make Patong Beach their home for the day. The sun is shining, the temperature is a balmy 26 degrees Celsius. Life is good.

 

HOTEL OF THE MONTH…..LA FLORA PATONG

I am staying at the La Flora Resort Patong on Patong Beach, which is the busiest and main area in Phuket. Hotel Le Flora Resort Patong is simply magnificent…….five star excellence.

There are more beautiful and peaceful areas to stay in Phuket. But for me, to be so close to the vibrant energy of Patong Beach, with everything available at your doorstep, is what I came for. Yet, when you enter Hotel Flora, the eclectic energy of the main street and town simply disappears.

Hotel La Flora Patong is a world class luxury boutique hotel and has a variety of stylish designed accommodation ranging from excellent to simply sublime.

“The La Flora Resort Patong is the only luxury boutique resort in the central Patong area that offers pool villas”.

The cuisine available in the Hotel is world class and the rooftop bar and restaurant overlooking Patong Beach is breathtaking.

I have to mention the staff, they were so professional and their attention to detail is just another reason that makes this hotel so affordable and exceptional.

The Hotel Flora is a few steps to the beach and 2 minutes away from Patong’s pulsating, raunchy and exciting entertainment/restaurant precinct and only 1 minute away from shopping and my favourite Asian pastime……. Massage!!!!

 

BANGLA ROAD

As the sun sets in Phuket, the main entertainment street, Bangla Road is shut off to vehicles and explodes in a plethora of loud music, beer bars, go go bars and dancing girls. Well, not all are dancing girls. What initially may appear to be beautiful sexy ladies in stunning evening gowns, big hair, gyrating to loud music on the street and draped in feather boas and costume jewellery, actually turn out to be not as “lady like” as they appear.

Welcome to the main “drag” of Phuket.

Top 10 best things to do in Phuket

1. Beaches, swimming, board sailing, jet skiing and para sailing.

2. Island tours.

3. Go Karting.

4. Day and night trips to Phi Phi Island and Krabi.

5. Temple Tours and a visit to the Big Buddha.

6. Restaurants (ranging from street carts and stalls to 5 star international restaurants).

7. Scuba diving courses and or snorkeling.

8. Massage (foot and body) Approx $10AUS for 60mins of bliss.

9. Cabaret Shows “Fantasea”….incredible entertainment which includes elephants, trapeze artists, comedians and much more.

10. Thai Boxing (Muay Thai)…International and local fights.

Phuket is unlike any other holiday destination in Thailand. It is colourful and has an incredible energy. Walking around town and the beach at night, where the markets and food stalls are, there is an amazing buzz and the smell of beautiful Asian food wafts through the air.

I have to be honest, there was one problem I had while I was wandering the markets and food stalls and that was what to eat. The variety of food is endless and all of it is so beautiful. The problem I encountered was to try not to eat to much. I failed, not only is the food so moorish its amazingly cheap.

I love Phuket and once you have been here, you will want to keep coming back.

For any more information on anything I have written, please email me on…..

[email protected]

HEALTH AND SAFETY TIPS

Always travel with a small first aid kit which should include band aids, antiseptic cream, eye wash, tweezers and a small constricting bandage for any sprains that may occur on your travels, and always have some insect repellant that contains deet.

Its also wise to have a course of antibiotics and some medication for an upset stomach.

Ensure when in Asia that tap water is never consumed. Only bottled water to be drank at all times, also when cleaning teeth bottled water must be used.

At the time of writing this blog $1AUS =30 THAI BAHT

HOW TO GET THERE

Jet Travel Rose Bay

(02) 9371 8166

www.jetsetrosebay.com.au

Photography and words Kelly Tang

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