Pattaya is one of Thailand’s most infamous party destinations, and also one of the big gay scenes in the country. For years it has been known as Bangkok’s seedier counterpart, with Thai sex tourism being one of the main attractions. Overdeveloped and hedonistic, it was avoided by many tourists who saw in it the worst of Thai tourism.
However, Pattaya has recently started to rebrand itself. Authorities have cleaned the beaches, pedestrianized certain streets, and started to control the sex trade more rigidly. Families and couples have started to share the area with party-goers, creating a fun and relaxed atmosphere where it is almost impossible to have a bad time.
For the gay traveler, the city’s large selection of gay go-go bars, cabaret shows, karaoke nights, drag acts, clubs, massages, and the ever-popular gay Dongtan beach make gay Pattaya irresistible. Less than a two-hour drive from Bangkok, Pattaya is starting to prove it is not only well worth the detour but a great Thai destination in itself.
In terms of public tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality, Thailand is one of the most welcoming countries across Asia. With Pattaya being quite a popular tourist destination, gay couples should not encounter any issues.
As a whole, Thai people value discretion and non-confrontation, so no one should give you any hassle for being seen together. That said, public displays of affection – both straight and gay – are frowned upon in most areas. Since Pattaya is mostly a resort for tourists, this doesn’t apply as strongly here.
Male and female same-sex activity is legal in Thailand however gay marriage is not legal yet. Bangkok Post reports that “…while Thailand is viewed as a tourist haven for same-sex couples, the reality for locals is that the law, and often public sentiment, is not so liberal.” LGBT residents of Thailand and Bangkok are not offered equal legal protections offered to non-LGBT (straight) people.
Some guys and girls working in Pattaya look young. It is your personal responsibility for ensuring that the person is over the age of 18 – particularly freelancers who are not supervised by a bar. Ask for photo ID if in doubt. Sex with a minor is a serious criminal offence; and the police have, quite rightly, been cracking down on this unacceptable practice.
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