Five of the hottest, lesser known LGBTQ-friendly hubs around the world

By Ed Pitts, updated 2 months ago in Travel and party / Overseas

gay black man visiting the pride parade

You’ve strutted your stuff at Mardi Gras, ticked off the gay capital in San Fran, been lit on Fire Island and taken WeHo and SoHo…and the other SoHo. So what next? Here are five of the hottest but lesser-known LGBTQ-friendly travel destinations worthy of ticking off on your bucket list!

Taipei, Taiwan

Only a few decades ago Taipei was under martial law. Today it stands proudly as one of Asia’s most progressive cities.

Taiwan’s gay community has always been more visible than its Asian neighbours, with Taiwan Pride attracting as many as 80,000 marchers every October. The city is also often named Asia’s number one gay friendly destination.

Taipei’s reputation for decent food, art, nightlife and markets has resulted in exponential popularity — a must-see as one of Asia’s best.

Taipei 101 and Taipei skyline

Santiago, Chile

Despite Latin America’s varying attitudes towards homosexuality, Chile legalised same-sex marriage in 2022.

While mainly limited to the chic downtown area of Bellavista, you’ll find gay bars like Station, Farinelli, Burdel and Bar 105, as well as saunas, even a few gay hotels to welcome you. For the arty gays, Santiago is known for its incredible street art. There’s also been a significant cultural shift, with Pride March, sexual diversity and HIV/AIDS becoming part of the mainstream narrative. As a capital city, it hosts a diversity of attitudes, so be sure to check out the queer-friendly pockets of Santiago.

Santiago Chile march for gender equality

Reykjavik, Iceland

While Bjork’s popularity and the capital’s spelling may perplex (it’s pronounced REYK-ya-veek), there’s no confusion about Iceland’s stance on the gays.

Iceland is number 1 on the Equaldex Equality Index; was the first country to have an openly gay Prime Minister; legalised gay marriage in 2010 and despite having a population of only approximately 330,000 people, the Gay Pride parade somehow pulled 100,000 — now that’s a decent crowd.

Iceland fuses natural wonders like volcanoes and geysers with a modern, gay-friendly capital. There are plenty of gay bars, saunas and hotels, with unique events like Rainbow Reykjavik — a mix of nature, comedy shows, dance music, cuisine and activities like gay bingo. In colder months, try the self-explanatory Bears on Ice. With nearly 24 hours a day of sunshine in summer, and the northern lights in winter, any time of year is a great time to visit.

Reykjavik blue lagoon

Sitges, Spain

Some refer to Sitges as the St Tropez of Spain. It’s wedged between the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains of Parc Natural del Garraf. A short thirty-minute train ride from the centre of Barcelona will get you there. During the European summer, it hosts carnival and pride events that see the town explode into a delight of colours, flavours and sounds.

You can party to sunrise and beyond in Sitges, no matter your scene. It is home to Pasha — a sister club of the famous Ibiza institution — if you’re looking for some next-level dancefloor moments. If you want to stick to a truly queer experience, there’s a multitude of gay-owned and operated accommodations, restaurants, bars, and clubs. Parrots is one of the local favourites, which combines all three, including a sauna, so you’ll never need to leave. And If you’re down for some steamy action, check out our guide on upping your chances of scoring while there!

Smiling man celebrating pride event in Sitges

Bangkok, Thailand

The beauty of travelling to Bangkok is that it’s affordable and relatively close to Australia. In April, the Kingdom of Thailand celebrates Songkran, otherwise known as Thai New Year, with the biggest water fight in the world. During Songkran, millions will take to the street with giant super soakers, buckets of ice water, and colourful powder. Visit Bangkok’s famous gay Silom Street while you drench the local gays (in water). Pack your board shorts so no one escapes the water, which is a show of luck and abundance.

The festival coincides with G-Circuit, Asia’s most prominent gay circuit party festival, with over a week of parties at a scale that has to be seen to be believed. International DJs alongside international men — what more can you ask for? Oh… you want more? Then be sure to check out Chakran Sauna or the Yunomori Onsen while you’re in town, too!

Bangkok Gay Night Club Party

It’s important to remember that different countries and cultures have different attitudes towards sex, and particularly sexual health. So if you’re keen to get to know the locals, think ahead and be safe. If you take them, pack enough PrEP or meds to get you through the trip (take a little extra just in case you extend your stay or misplace some!); and condoms — regardless of the any other HIV prevention strategy you may be using, condoms will help protect you against other STIs when the situation and partner requires it. And don’t forget, a safe sex regime always consists of regular testing so get tested before and after your trip… And don’t forget to have fun!

For more on travelling with HIV or PrEP medication, check out these: