Stunning Buddhist temples, exceptionally preserved traditional ways of life, and untouched nature all combine to make this one of Asia’s most exciting travel destinations. If you want to see what traditional Southeast Asia is all about, without the mass development to be found in surrounding countries like Thailand and Cambodia, Myanmar is a must-see.
When you think “Asian gay Mecca”, you don’t usually think of Myanmar. However, this formerly closed-off conservative country has spent the past few years opening itself up to the world and to tourism. This has brought with it the beginnings of LGBT progress, with a small but welcoming gay scene forming in Yangon.
Gay Yangon is mostly made up of a monthly gay party, a lively cocktail bar and dance club, and a laid-back gay-owned brasserie that hosts weekly LGBT meet-ups. It may not be the mega-parties of Bangkok, but you’ll find a fun, friendly community of gay locals, expats, and tourists in these spots around town.
Homosexuality is still illegal in Myanmar, an antiquated holdover from the country’s British colonial past. This is very rarely enforced, but that doesn’t mean the country welcomes homosexuality with open arms. The vast majority of Burmese are conservative Buddhists and prefer to think of homosexuality as something external to their own culture.
That said, Yangon is the heart of Myanmar’s budding gay scene, so if there’s one place in the country where you’ll feel welcome, it’s here. Yangon held its first Pride in 2012, and is home to a gay film festival every year. Meanwhile, LGBT rights have slowly started to creep into public discourse.
Public displays of affection, both hetero- and homosexual, are frowned upon, but you shouldn’t have trouble booking a hotel room as a couple. This is partly because hotels might assume you are friends – make sure you double-check your arrangements if you are booking a double room. While any issues are highly unlikely, you may feel more comfortable booking a hotel that is part of an international chain.
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