The stupa 'That Louang' in Vientiane

Lunag prabang moinesI’ve been to Laos. I had the weirdest time there. This short story will illustrate many things about gay Laos. When I went, it was to Luang Prabang. I knew there was a bar where gay men gathered and I went there. A cute bar boy offered to take me to a disco. We went, and had a good time. It was still quite early when the lad said we had to get back to the hotel. I noticed the place was rapidly emptying and we left. We just got back to the hotel by the time the doorman was about to lock the door. It turned out there was a government curfew (I don’t remember the exact time – either 11.00 or 11.30) and we just made it back in time.As for the lad, he said he couldn’t stay and rushed back to his room before he got caught. Such is life in Luang Prabang.

A couple of mornings later I went to see the procession of monks receiving alms. This is a spectacular sight as over 200 monks pass gathering food for the day. In the past, this has been a chance for local people to offer what little they could afford, mainly in the form of cooked sticky rice) to the monks. Now it’s been hijacked by tourists. The villagers sell the rice to the camera-laden people, who themselves give it, along with sweets and cash, to the monks. Not really the original purpose!

LGBT flag map of LaosAnyway, this is a page on gay Laos. Technically, homosexuality is legal in Laos, but it’s not really accepted. The younger generation are pushing the boundaries and things are changing, but it’s slow. Many venues do not like to advertise and gay men tend to meet discretely. Both prostitution and payment for sex are illegal, and there are very strict laws on under-age sex. Be careful if you pick up anyone off the street. There are cruisers around, but you may well get ripped off. In many hotels it is impossible or difficult to bring back a guest to your room that has not registered in advance. The younger generation seems to be very open about their sexuality, and the expat community is somewhat out and supportive of the gay community. There are several bars, pubs, discos, nightclubs, restaurants, guesthouses and resorts that are gay owned or managed, but they tend not to advertise the fact. The discos and nightclubs are mixed but the gays know where to gather.

Luang Prabang and Vientiane are beautiful French-style cities and both are well worth a visit. Enjoy the peace and quiet and the atmosphere of being 30 years ago and you’ll have a great time.