Step into MY world, the world of Gay Asia. We’ve come a long way since I started with Nicky’s Gay Pattaya, four years ago. Many of you have come along with me. You’ve been there as we have set about taking you around the bars, clubs, hotels and everything gay all over that city. I’ve given you events, things to do, places to see – you know the rest!
Then we went to Bangkok. Our friends in Chiang Mai, Koh Samui and Phuket have helped us get there. Now with the help of Asia Out, we’re travelling Asia as a whole.
There’s a lot to see and do here. Many of the countries have a really thriving gay community. There’s any number of gay bars as well as hotels and massage places aimed at the gay tourist. Granted some countries such as Thailand it’s full on – in your face. However, even in Laos and Vietnam, possibly the last places you’d expect, there’s a gay community. So come along. Take a trip with me around the region. You never know what you’ll find!
If you delve into a country section on the site, please take time to read the page for the country. It gives you some tips and things to do and not to do. You might find that helpful. Apart from that, feel free to look around the site and enjoy yourself. Take you shoes off, settle down and pour a drink. Crank up the music, look at the pictures and think about what it’s like to be here. Maybe you are here? Then you can tell others about this paradise. Register on the site and share your views. If you’re not in the region, enjoy looking. Welcome to the world of Nicky’s Gay Asia.
I’ve mainly covered Southeast Asia, which is a collection of related but dissimilar states squeezed between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. The area has long been a favorite corner of the world for globe-tramping backpackers, well-known for its perfect beaches, tasty cuisine, low prices, and good air connections. For the sake of completeness, however, I’ve also included China and a very brief look at Japan. Much of the following information comes from http://wikitravel.org/en/South_East_Asia
Cambodia – Home of Angkor, still recovering from decades of war.
China – The new economic power-house with the world’s largest population.
Indonesia – The sleeping giant of Southeast Asia and the world’s largest archipelago, with more than 18,000 islands spanning three time zones.
Japan – The ‘land of the rising sun’, where the past meets the future.
Laos – The forgotten, but growing, country of Southeast Asia, landlocked by Cambodia, China, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. It is a mountainous country that is becoming more and more popular on the backpacker trail.
Malaysia – Multicultural country covering the skyscrapers of Kuala Lumpur and the jungle headhunters of Borneo.
Myanmar (Burma) – Military dictatorship open to the adventurous traveller.
Philippines – Asia’s sleeping tiger that has yet to achieve its full economic potential. A unique fusion of the Asian traditions of hierarchy combined with the Spanish culture of romance and sophistication, it is the largest Christian nation in the region with over 7,107 islands and beautiful tropical beaches.
Singapore – Clean and orderly island-city state.
Thailand – The Land of Smiles with frenetic cities and chilled-out beaches, the most popular destination in the region.
Vietnam – Firmly marching down the road to capitalism as one of the world’s fastest growing economies. One of the more popular tourist destinations in the area.
These are some of the most prominent cities in our area:
Bangkok — Thailand’s bustling, cosmopolitan capital with nightlife and fervour
Jakarta — the largest metropolitan city in southeast asia, and beautiful life in the evening
Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) — the Bustling Metropolis that has become Vietnam’s largest city and the economic centre of the south
Hong Kong — is a unique destination that has absorbed people and cultural influences from innumerable places and proudly proclaims itself to be Asia’s World City.
Kuala Lumpur — grown from a small sleepy Chinese tin-mining village to a bustling metropolis
Luang Prabang — a UNESCO World Heritage City known for its numerous temples, colonial era architecture, and vibrant night market
Manila — historic, bustling, awe-inspiring, Manila is a blend of cultures and flavors with many places to see
Phnom Penh — a rough city striving to retain the name of “Paris of the East”, as it was known before 1970
Singapore — modern, affluent city with a medley of Chinese, Indian and Malay influences
Shanghai — a huge city with over 23 million people and the largest city in China, it has become an attractive city for tourists from all over the world
Tokyo — this huge, wealthy and fascinating metropolis brings high-tech visions of the future side by side with glimpses of old Japan, and has something for everyone.
Yangon (formerly Rangoon) — the commercial capital of Myanmar, known for its pagodas and colonial architecture
These are some of the largest and most famous destinations outside of major cities.
Angkor Archaeological Park — magnificent remains of several capitals of the Khmer Empire
Bali — unique Hindu culture, beaches and mountains on the Island of the Gods
Boracay — long white sand beaches and bustling nightlife
Borobudur — one of the largest Buddhist temples in the world
Guilin and Yangshuo in Guangxi – displaying their awe inspiring Karst scenery
Gunung Mulu National Park — fantastic limestones caves and karst formations
Ha Long Bay — literally translated as “Bay of Descending Dragons”, famous for its scenic rock formations
Komodo National Park — the komodo is the biggest reptile in the world, and it can only be found in this national park
Krabi Province — beach and watersports mecca, includes Ao Nang, Rai Leh, Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta
Xi’an — The Terracotta Army a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang
Southeast Asia is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, and for a reason. Some of the countries here have it all: a tropical climate, warm (or hot!) all year around, rich culture, gorgeous beaches, wonderful food and last but not least, low prices. While its history and modern-day politics are complex, most of it is also quite safe for the traveller and easy to travel around in.
Southeast Asia is tropical: the weather hovers around the 30°C mark throughout the year, humidity is high and it rains often. China and Japan are more temperate and can have very cold winters.
The equatorial parts of Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines, have only two seasons, wet and dry, with the dry season somewhat hotter (up to 35°C) and the wet season somewhat cooler (down to 25°C). The wet season usually occurs in winter, and the hot season in summer, although there are significant local variations.
However, in Indochina (north/central Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam), the seasons can be broken down into hot, wet and dry, with the relatively cool dry season from November to February or so being the most popular with tourists. The scorching hot season that follows can see temperatures climb above 40°C in April, cooling down as the rains start around July. However, even in the “wet” season, the typical pattern is sunny mornings with a short (but torrential) shower in the afternoon, not all-day drizzle, so this alone should not discourage you from travel.
Southeast Asia is also home to many mountains, and conditions are generally cooler in the highlands. In equatorial Southeast Asia, highland temperatures generally range from about 15-25°C. Some of the highest mountains in Indonesia and Vietnam are so high that snow falls every year, and Indonesia is even home to permanent glaciers.
In Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore and parts of Indonesia (notably Sumatra and Borneo) and the Philippines (notably Palawan), haze from forest fires (usually set intentionally to clear land) is a frequent phenomenon in the dry season from May to October. Haze comes and goes rapidly with the wind, but Singapore’s National Environment Agency has useful online maps of the current situation in the entire region.
China’s climate is mainly dominated by dry seasons and wet monsoons, which lead to a pronounced temperature differences between winter and summer. In the winter, northern winds coming from high-latitude areas are cold and dry; in summer, southern winds from coastal areas at lower latitudes are warm and moist. The climate in China differs from region to region because of the country’s extensive and complex topography.
Japan belongs to the temperate zone with four distinct seasons, but its climate varies from cool temperate in the north to subtropical in the south. Two primary factors influence Japan’s climate: a location near the Asian continent and the existence of major oceanic currents.
Southeast Asia’s culture is dominantly influenced by the Indians and Chinese as well as its colonizers. Thai, Burmese, Cambodian and Lao culture is heavily Indianized as well as Chinese-influenced in areas such as faith, folklore, language and writing. Malaysia and Indonesia are also influenced by the Indians, Malays and Chinese with a touch of Arab culture due to the large Muslim populations. Vietnam is the most Chinese-influenced country while Brunei’s culture is Malay-influenced. East Timor’s culture is influenced notably by the Portuguese and the Malays. Singaporean and Philippine cultures are the most diverse: Singaporean is a mix of Malay, Indian, Peranakan, British, American and Chinese cultures while the Philippines is heavily influenced by American, Spanish and Chinese culture with less influence from the Japanese, Indians, Malays, Mexicans and other Europeans. It is the most westernized country in the region.
Southeast Asia is religiously diverse. Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei are predominantly Sunni Muslim, while East Timor and the Philippines are predominantly Roman Catholic. In northern Southeast Asia, Buddhism dominates, mostly of the Theravada variety, with the exception of Vietnam where the Mahayana variety dominates. However, religious minorities exist in every country. The ethnic Chinese minorities in the various countries practise a mix of different religions, including Taoism and Mahayana Buddhism. Hinduism is still practised in parts of Indonesia, most notably Bali, as well as by a sizeable proportion of the ethnic Indian community in Malaysia and Singapore. The southern parts of Thailand are home to ethnic Malays who mostly practise Islam, while the island of Mindanao in the Philippines is also home to a sizeable Muslim community. Indonesia is also home to many Christians, most notably on Papua and the island of Sulawesi. In East Malaysia as well as more remote parts of various countries, various tribal religions are still widely practised. Japan has as its native religion Shinto, while the main popular religion in China is Buddhism.
Most of Southeast Asia’s major languages are not mutually intelligible. English is a traveller’s most useful language overall, although for longer stays in any Southeast Asian country (except Singapore), picking up at least some of the local language is useful, and essential outside the cities. There are also many Chinese in the area, although most Southeast Asian Chinese speak only southern languages like Cantonese or Minnan, and not Mandarin.
Despite the colonial history of much of Southeast Asia, unlike in Africa and South America, with the exception of English and Portuguese, most of the colonial languages are no longer widely spoken, and you’ll be much better off speaking English instead.
Our Region’s touristy countries (Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand) do not require visas from most visitors. Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia and East Timor offer visas on arrival at most points of entry. Vietnam and China require advance paperwork for most visitors.
It’s difficult to choose favourites from a region as varied as Southeast Asia, but picking one representative sight per country:
The awe-inspiring temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia
The Great Wall of China in the area of Badaling
The eerie, continually erupting volcanoes of Mount Bromo in Indonesia
The cherry blossom shows in Japan
The laid-back former royal capital of Luang Prabang in Laos
The surreal mix of modernity and tradition in Malaysia’s capital-to-be Putrajaya
The literally thousands of ancient temples and stupas which make up the cityscape of Bagan, Myanmar
The 2000-year-old rice terraces of Banaue, built onto the mountains of Ifugao in the Philippines by ancestors of the Batad indigenous people
The colorful ethnic districts of Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam in Singapore
The limestone cliffs, azure waters and perfect beaches of Krabi in Thailand
The delightfully well-preserved ancient trading port of Hoi An in Vietnam