I guarantee that you will be shanghaied by The Bund at night. The city’s skyline views after sunset are breathtaking. You do not need to join a night tour – just go there by yourself and enjoy it.
Don’t worry much about security. The Bund promenade has police officers on duty everywhere. Not to mention the cameras that seem to follow you wherever you go.
The flickering neon lights of the skyscrapers across the Huangpu River are mesmerizing.
But before getting too excited to see Shanghai skyline at night, how about a dinner with a view?
On Pingjiang Lu, you can still relive the Old Suzhou you are looking for. However, it’s not a kind of experience that will fully give you a satisfying experience. Though the street is lined with white-washed houses of old yore, many are turned into businesses that cater to tourists. There are cafes, street food stalls, a few high-end fashion silk brands, and restaurants. And oh, Starbucks invaded this street, too.
Pingjiang Road is a well-preserved street that is part of Old Suzhou. Record shows that the street’s history dates back to Song Dynasty. At first glance, you’ll find the street to be made-up to attract tourists. The good news, however, is that there are no aggressive hawkers and vendors here.
We spent 2 years travelling around Asia and completely fell in love with the continent. It offers so much in terms of cultural experiences, food and landscapes, with some of the most humble people you’ll ever meet.
But when it comes to LGBTQ rights, Asia has some serious work to do! In quite a lot of countries in Asia, being gay is either illegal or an arrestable offence, like in Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, the Maldives, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. If it’s not illegal, then it’s such a strong taboo that you have to stay in the closet to avoid jeopardising your job prospects and embarrassing your family like in China, Russia and Indonesia.
Despite this, there are a number of countries in Asia that are paving the way forward in relation to LGBTQ rights. We’ve selected the top 10 most gay friendly countries in Asia, which we’ve based on the following criteria:
- Where are they at with same sex marriage legislation, along with other LGBTQ laws?
- What is the gay scene like and do they have any notable annual LGBTQ festivals?
- Our personal experience travelling there as a gay couple, with reference to the most recent Spartacus Gay Travel Index.
We have taken it as a given that homosexuality is legal in the countries we’ve selected, which is why we haven’t included Singapore despite it having quite a vibrant gay scene and a famous LGBTQ PinkDot festival in June/July.
We have also included two “places” (Taiwan and Hong Kong) rather than “countries”, because although they’re not officially recognised “countries”, they can still be regarded as a “country” given they have their own flag, currency, national anthem, set of laws etc.
Hong Kong is an Instagram paradise! This city has so much to offer, from architecture to beautiful beaches and mountains, Hong Kong has it all. But where to start?! We made a list of the 7 most Instagrammable Hong Kong places that you can’t miss!
This is the most famous Instagram spot of all. The incredibly dense and stacked residential complexes of Quarry Bay are featured in movies like Ghost in The Shell and Transformers: Age of Extinction. There are five complexes but Yik Cheong and Montane Mansion are the best known. They are perfect for a fantastic photo. But try to be creative, since many angles and poses have already been shot here!
While it is true that the online casino industry has overtaken the more traditional brick and mortar casino industry in terms of convenience, there are still plenty of great real world casino destinations worth travelling to, at least once in your lifetime. Of course nothing beats the speed and convenience of playing online casino games like slots, baccarat, roulette, or blackjack. But, at the same time, nothing beats the sheer excitement of booking your tickets and travelling to an exotic casino resort somewhere in the world.
The modern world of casino gambling is quite different from the old days, when mobsters ran the show and the number of quality destinations was rather more limited. Today, you can book your tickets for any number of casino resort destinations scattered throughout the world, including far flung places like New Zealand and South Africa. However, when it comes to going really big, nothing beats a trip to Las Vegas or Atlantic City in the USA, or any number of casino resorts in Macau, China.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Say what you will about Las Vegas and its former glory days, but this is still considered by many to be the premier casino destination in the world. Many new sites in the UK will have some great competitions for a chance to win a trip to Las Vegas. Even if you don’t love the idea of travelling to Vegas, visiting at least once in your life is on most bucket lists. In fact, you don’t even have to be into casino games to go there. The famous Vegas Strip is a tourist attraction in its own right and many visitors go there just to see the shows, the lights and the incredible fountains. If you are serious about gambling at a top Las Vegas casino resort, you really can’t go wrong with the Venetian. The Venetian is the largest casino resort in Las Vegas and covers a staggering 243,684 square feet, with more gaming machines, tables, restaurants and bars than virtually any other casino in Las Vegas.
“Welcome to the back!” proclaimed an English sign at the front door of a small Chinese restaurant in Hangzhou, a city in China, known for its West Lake. It was here where Marco Polo once sailed, mesmerized by its stunning beauty and declared the place in ancient times as “the most beautiful place in the world.”
Six exhausted backpackers from four countries and I, who all met in a hostel, froze for a moment in silence, as if trying to decipher one of China’s ancient, decrepit signboard. We exchanged quick glances, hoping one had a clue to share. We were pretty sure we were standing at the entrance, not the back, of the restaurant. Almost in unison, we quickly realized what the sign meant was, “Welcome back.” It’s one of those rampant translations gone wrong in Chinglish, a blend of Chinese and English.
With hunger excruciatingly creeping into our stomachs, we gave up looking for another restaurant. We’d been walking all day and we were so hungry we could eat a barrel of dumplings sans chopsticks.
Two ladies behind the reception desk smiled when we came in. One disappeared quickly to call someone from the kitchen. When we were all seated, the other waitress came with a kettle of tea and a vacuum flask of hot water. She carefully poured the hot water and tea alternately with impeccable skill. When she was done, she said something in Chinese and our jaws dropped. We understood not a single word. She looked at each one of our tired faces, hoping a single one of us could make sense of what she just said. Meeting our uncomprehending looks, she smiled sheepishly and left embarrassed.
If you are looking for magic, you should go to a sky lantern festival. Sky lantern festivals are one of the most magical things on earth. Disney dreams will come true. We can’t get enough of them, so after experiencing Yi Peng in Chiang Mai, we travel to Taiwan to experience the magic of the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival. It’s one of the most spectacular happenings in Taiwan.
As it’s a big happening, you would think there’s a lot of information available online. Unfortunately, the resources of the Taiwan Tourism Board were limited and the blog posts we found, didn’t provide us with the right transportation-information. Therefore, we end up in the wrong town. We will not let that happen to you, so here’s the ultimate guide to Pingi Sky Lantern Festival!
WHY SHOULD YOU GO?
The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival takes place once a year, usually in February or March, during the first full moon of the Lunar New Year. The festival has been named one of the 15 Festivals To Attend Before You Die and one of the Best Winter Trips. So, it’s a must see! At night, thousands of lanterns float up into the night sky, and with them, so do many dreams and wishes for the new year. The lanterns are released in group releases. And it’s truly like a dream come true.
WHERE SHOULD YOU GO?
So here’s where it gets tricky. The festival takes place in the Pingxi district, in New Taipei City, and lantern releases are held in the towns Jingtong, Pingxi and Shifen. The biggest lantern releases are NOT held in Pingxi old town – so don’t try to go there, like we did. The biggest event is in Shifen, where they set up the main stage at a parking area and is transformed into the Shifen Sky Lantern Square. It’s located close to the Shifen waterfall, and only a short 15 minute walk from Shifen Station.
The USA has some of the best gay destinations in the world. Despite the bad press it has received recently, there are many pink havens here ranging from San Francisco, New York, Key West and Fire Island. We always love visiting the States and always feel very comfortable travelling here as a gay couple.
Chinese travellers visiting the US has increased exponentially over the past few years, with more and more gay Chinese travellers also choosing the US for their vacation, with companies like Cuke Travel and Blue Ribbon servicing the Chinese LGBTQ travel community.
These are our 5 tips for gay Chinese travelers visiting the USA to make their travel easier and more enjoyable.
Getting A USA Visa for Gay Chinese Travelers
Chinese travellers heading to the US will need to complete the EVUS application form beforehand. If travelling to the US as a “visitor”, you will be eligible for a tourist visa. Tourist visas are the ideal category to apply for because they are processed much quicker than other visa types – around 24 hours, and no more than 72 hours. You’re visa is then emailed to you, which saves time.
To qualify for a tourist visa, you need to state that the reason for travelling to the US is tourism, you have Chinese citizenship, and all supporting documents requested in the application form are included.
China’s LGBTI community are flocking to more rainbow-friendly cities in Asia to vacation and be free to be open with their sexuality. There are about 70 million LGBTI people living in mainland China, but because it is still taboo, many can’t live openly.
The 2016 China LGBT Community Report revealed many mainland Chinese LGBTI people are jetting off to cities such as, Bangkok, Taipei and Hong Kong to let their hair down. Enjoying the cities’ LGBTI scenes is just one reason Chinese people visit them. Many LGBTI people go to Thailand to stock up on the HIV preventative medication PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) or to have gender-affirming surgery.
Sam is a studen in Shenzhen often heads to Hong Kong to hang out with his surrogate LGBTI family.
‘The reason I keep coming back to Hong Kong is because I feel more comfortable here – like I can finally live my real life,’ he told the South China Morning Post. ‘Plus my friends and family on the mainland hardly visit, so I don’t have to be scared of being recognised. ‘Maybe in future, when I have a job and can hopefully move to Hong Kong, I might come out to them.’