Looking for the best gay-friendly spot for your next holiday? Thinking San Francisco, London or New York? Think again, say some of the world’s leading travel agencies, and look beyond the obvious. Here’s what the industry thinks are five of the best up-and-coming, gay-friendly tourist hotspots, in all corners of the world and for every budget.
1. Buenos Aires, Argentina
The South American nation recently became the latest country to legalize same-sex marriages and with a very vibrant gay and lesbian community, cultural scene and low prices is one of the best new destinations in the world.
Look out for one of the dozen new gay-friendly boutique hotels in trendy Palermo Soho, a neighbourhood packed with stores, restaurants and clubs. Palermo “Soho”, like its London namesake, is famous for its international class food shops, its lively nightlife and for the bohemian breeze blowing through its streets and cafés. It is also well known for its bookstores and very “in” restaurants.
2. Curaçao, The Caribbean
Named the best new gay tourist destination in 2009 by the travel agency TripOut Gay, the Dutch Caribbean island is seen as a small version of the European country, with its relaxed attitude, coupled with paradise beaches and all-year-round sun.
Colourful Curaçao is a vibrant mix of cultures – from the colonial architecture of the Dutch to the mouth-watering cuisine of the Creole. The island’s handsome UNESCO heritage capital of Willemstad offers visitors a window into the past with its pastel-coloured houses and cobblestone plazas.
3. Cape Town, South Africa
The second-biggest city in South Africa has been named the second most gay-friendly city in the world in a survey by travel website Expedia Australia (Sydney is number one).
According to the travel agency, Cape Town combines breathtaking natural sights with plenty of gay-friendly bars, clubs and accommodation to choose from and for all budgets. Cape Town is considered one of the most beautiful places in Africa, with a cosmopolitan character resulting from the cultural melting pot of Indonesian, Khoisan, Bantu, French, Dutch, British and German. It is a place where old and new harmoniously converge – in history, architecture, cultural pursuits and the essence of its people. Visit the city in February for the two-week-long Cape Town Pride.
4. Shanghai, China
Shanghai is perhaps a city best seen as a prologue or epilogue to your China experience. Recommended by Out Traveler magazine and runner-up of TripOut Gay Award 2009 for Breakout Gay City, Shanghai is the place to be if what you’re looking for is city-life with a growing gay scene. Packed with skyscrapers, shops, street food and the chance to escape to some of its, small but beautiful, beaches.
Going through all the sights along People’s Square and Nanjing Road then heading across the river to Lujiazui and Checking out the amazing aquarium; finishing off a dozen steamed dumpling after going on a shopping spree through the tiny antique shops in the Old City; Eating local snacks along cannels at Zhouzhuang ancient water-town, we serve you various way to get close to know Shanghai, and her people!
5. Istanbul, Turkey
You’ll probably be surprised to find a somewhat active gay scene in Istanbul. Despite the strong influence of Islam, homosexuality is legal in Turkey and the age of consent is 18. Where the East meets the West, Istanbul’s history, food, incredible architecture and friendly people make it an amazing travel destination. Its cosmopolite life leads to a very colorful gay life; you can encounter quite trendy gay clubs as well as astonishingly traditional and local ones near one another in this city. Add fantastic nightlife and a growing gay community and you have the perfect gay destination.
It is important that you be very discreet in public and know exactly where to go. It is actually common for straight men to sleep with transsexuals and transvestites but the bars catering to that can be dangerous and should be avoided. Also note that sex between men is not possible at a hammam. Since Istanbul itself is a very charming city with its historical, cultural and natural beauties, it won’t be exaggeration to say that Istanbul is one of the cities classified as “Don’t die before you see it”.