Welcome to Gay Dhaka, a city that exudes vibrancy and spirited energy. It’s a paradoxical hub of rich history, multiculturalism, and quick urbanization. Yet, let’s not forget to sprinkle some reality onto this vivid portrait: this city is a challenging landscape for the LGBTQ+ community.
A thriving metropolis, Dhaka, has its heart pulsating on the banks of the Buriganga River. An architectural masterpiece where ancient landmarks are mirrored in the gleaming facades of modern skyscrapers. But alas, these intriguing contrasts extend beyond the city’s physical landscape and into its social climate.
As one of the globe’s fastest-growing cities, Dhaka serves as a commercial and educational heart, boasting a mix of bustling markets, busy street food scenes, and historical sites. Yet, beneath this exciting exterior lies a harsh reality for queer individuals who call this place home.
Regrettably, Dhaka remains shackled by the chains of section 377 of the Penal Code. A relic of colonial times, this law criminalizes homosexuality, casting a dark shadow over the vibrant queer community of Dhaka and the rest of Bangladesh.
Contrarily, it’s not all gloom and doom in the city’s rainbow-colored back-alleys. There are glimmers of hope, sparks of resistance in this stifling atmosphere. Activists, organizations, and allies persistently work to challenge social stigmas, raise awareness, and promote acceptance and equality.
These rainbow warriors organize underground pride events, offer safe spaces for LGBTQ+ individuals, and advocate for change, both locally and globally. Their relentless efforts create a foundation for a more inclusive future for Dhaka.
Yet, it’s important to remember that as a queer traveler in Dhaka, discretion is a must. Public displays of affection or any act of openness about your sexuality can lead to dangerous situations. The key to navigate this city is caution and a well-informed understanding of local laws and societal norms.
Underneath the conservative veil, Dhaka remains a welcoming city, extending warmth and hospitality to all visitors. However, for LGBTQ+ travelers, a trip here should be undertaken only after careful consideration and for unavoidable circumstances. Despite the city’s appealing blend of traditional and modern elements, the risks involved for openly queer individuals make it less than ideal for leisurely exploration.
In this article we will cover...
Attractions in Gay Dhaka, Bangladesh
As a new visitor to Gay Dhaka, it’s important to be aware that being queer is illegal in this city and country, and any same-sex activity should be avoided to ensure your safety. However, there are still plenty of things to see and do that do not involve expressing your sexual orientation.
One of the best ways to experience the city is to visit its most iconic landmarks and attractions, including historical monuments, museums, and art galleries. You can also admire the city’s architecture, explore its parks and gardens, sample local cuisine, and visit local markets. Additionally, cultural events such as festivals, concerts, and shows can provide a glimpse into the local culture.
We feel it’s important to acknowledge the challenges and risks of visiting destinations where same-sex activity is illegal. However, we still believe in the power of cultural exchange and the value of experiencing diverse cultures, even if we may not agree with their laws and customs.
Visiting queerphobic destinations allows us to learn about the local culture, history, and traditions and to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ communities in those places. It also provides an opportunity to connect with local people, to hear their stories, and to show solidarity with the queer community.
It’s important, however, to be mindful of the risks and to take steps to ensure our safety and the safety of local queer people. This may include avoiding public displays of affection, not discussing our sexual orientation with strangers, and being aware of local laws and customs.
As we explore these destinations, it’s crucial to spare a thought for local queer people who may face discrimination, persecution, and even violence due to their sexual orientation.
We might also have the opportunity to use our platform to amplify their voices and to support local organizations working to protect and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights – however, this is best done once you have left (and if you reside in a gay-friendly country!).
While it may not always be easy or safe to visit queer-illegal destinations, cultural exchange and understanding can help bridge divides and promote acceptance and tolerance.
Let’s continue to explore the world while keeping in mind the experiences, struggles, and restrictions on LGBTQ+ expression in this city and country. Thankfully, it’s still possible to enjoy the city’s attractions and learn about its culture while being mindful of local laws and customs.
These are our recommended must-see attractions in Dhaka.
The National Parliament House in Dhaka, Bangladesh, is an architectural masterpiece and a symbol of the country’s democratic governance. Designed by world-renowned architect Louis Kahn, the building is a stunning fusion of modernist and traditional elements. Its distinctive geometric design, soaring columns, and open courtyards create a sense of grandeur and openness.
The Parliament House serves as the seat of the Jatiya Sangsad, the national legislature of Bangladesh. Beyond its political significance, the building is admired for its aesthetic beauty and thoughtful design. It stands as a testament to the nation’s commitment to democracy and serves as a source of inspiration for visitors and citizens alike.
Sonargaon, located in the Narayanganj district of Bangladesh, is a historic city with a rich cultural heritage. Known as the “Golden City,” Sonargaon was once the capital of ancient Bengal and a thriving center of trade and commerce.
Today, it stands as a living museum, showcasing the remnants of its glorious past. Visitors can explore the ancient ruins, such as the impressive Panam City, with its beautifully preserved colonial buildings.
The Folk Arts and Crafts Museum in Sonargaon offers a glimpse into the traditional arts and crafts of the region. Sonargaon is a captivating destination where history and culture come alive, leaving visitors with a profound sense of awe and appreciation.
Bangladesh National Museum
The Bangladesh National Museum, located in Shahbagh, Dhaka, is a treasure trove of the nation’s rich history, culture, and heritage. Established in 1913, it is the largest and oldest museum in Bangladesh. The museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts spanning various periods, including ancient archaeological finds, exquisite sculptures, traditional crafts, paintings, and textiles.
Visitors can delve into the diverse cultural heritage of Bangladesh, gaining insights into its art, literature, music, and lifestyle. The museum also plays a vital role in preserving and promoting national identity and heritage. With its comprehensive exhibits, the Bangladesh National Museum is a must-visit for those seeking a deeper understanding of the country’s vibrant past.
Ahsan Manzil, popularly known as the Pink Palace, is an iconic architectural marvel in Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. Built during the late 19th century, this magnificent structure served as the official residence of the Nawabs of Dhaka. Its distinctive pink hue, intricate designs, and Indo-Saracenic architectural style make it a captivating sight.
Ahsan Manzil now houses a museum showcasing the Nawabs’ rich history and lifestyle. Visitors can explore its grand halls, elegant galleries, and serene gardens, immersing themselves in the opulent past of Dhaka. The Pink Palace stands as a proud symbol of the city’s cultural heritage and is a must-visit for history enthusiasts.
Shahid Minar, meaning “Martyr’s Monument,” is a significant landmark in Dhaka, Bangladesh. It is a poignant tribute to the language martyrs who sacrificed their lives during the Bengali Language Movement of 1952. The monument, characterized by its soaring height and minimalist design, holds deep symbolic importance for the people of Bangladesh.
Every year on 21st February, known as International Mother Language Day, the nation gathers at Shahid Minar to honor the language martyrs and celebrate Bangladesh’s linguistic and cultural heritage. The monument is a powerful symbol of resilience, identity, and the indomitable spirit of the Bangladeshi people.
Lalbagh Fort, situated in the heart of Old Dhaka, Bangladesh, is a captivating historical landmark. Constructed in the 17th century by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb’s viceroy Prince Azam, the fort showcases a harmonious blend of Mughal and Bengali architectural styles. Its majestic gate, imposing walls, and beautiful gardens transport visitors back in time.
Inside, one can explore the intricately designed buildings, including the Diwan-i-Aam, the Tomb of Pari Bibi, and the mosque. Lalbagh Fort holds historical significance and is a testament to the region’s rich cultural heritage. A visit to this enchanting site provides a glimpse into Dhaka’s past and leaves visitors in awe of its architectural splendor.
This convenient full-day trip to Dhaka will take you through the ancient streets of Sonargaon, the old capital of Bangladesh. In a mere 10 hours, you will be familiar with the rich, ancient history of the country and its old capital, exploring it through a boat ride to a small island in the Meghna River.
This mesmerizing tour will be fully guided with commentary and includes all the entrance fees to attractions. Traditional local lunch will be served at midday, and after that, there will be a visit to the Folk Arts and Crafts Museum and the abandoned city of Panam. This exciting tour is worth it!
Sadarghat Port, located on the banks of the Buriganga River in Dhaka, Bangladesh, is a bustling and vibrant hub of activity. It is one of the largest river ports in the country and serves as a major transportation and trading center. The port is a mesmerizing sight with its countless wooden boats, steamers, and ferries constantly coming and going, connecting Dhaka to various parts of Bangladesh.
From sunrise to sunset, Sadarghat Port buzzes with the energy of commuters, merchants, and tourists. It is not just a transportation hub but also a cultural melting pot, offering a unique glimpse into Bangladesh’s daily life and riverine traditions.
The Star Mosque, also known as Tara Masjid, is a magnificent architectural gem in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Built-in the early 18th century, this mosque stands out for its stunning mosaic work, where thousands of ceramic tiles are intricately arranged to depict vibrant floral and geometric patterns.
The mosque gets its name from the beautiful star motifs that adorn its domes and walls, creating a mesmerizing effect. Stepping inside, visitors are greeted by a serene atmosphere and a sense of tranquility. The Star Mosque is not only a significant religious site for Muslims but also a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Bangladesh, attracting tourists and locals alike.
The Dhaka Pride March is a vibrant celebration of diversity and LGBTQ+ rights in the capital city of Bangladesh. The first pride march in the city took place in 2014, started by the transgender community.
It brings together people from all walks of life, united in their commitment to equality and inclusivity. Participants proudly wave rainbow flags, wear colorful costumes, and march through the streets with joyful exuberance.
The event serves as a powerful platform to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ issues and advocate for equal rights in a country where same-sex relationships are still criminalized.
The Dhaka Pride March fosters a sense of community, solidarity, and hope, inspiring positive change and acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community in Bangladesh. Due to the conservative attitude of the people, this battle is still ongoing.
Gay-Friendly and Gay Hotels in Dhaka, Bangladesh
In the grand labyrinth that is Dhaka, where being gay stands at odds with the law, it’s essential to recognize the risks and gear yourself up with protective measures to ensure your safety. Among these measures, choosing your sanctuary, your accommodations, plays a crucial role, particularly those that have shown to be less prickly with guests of same-sex orientation.
Our advice leans towards a dance of platonic friendship rather than open romantic ties. It is wise to secure lodgings that offer twin beds, cultivating an atmosphere of harmless camaraderie rather than same-sex companionship. As guests in a city where our rainbow hues clash with local norms, it’s crucial to maintain a facade that won’t spark undue scrutiny or perilous interest.
Unfortunately, Dhaka’s tapestry doesn’t include the colors of ‘gay-friendly accommodations.’ Thus, we find ourselves recommending international or upscale properties that seem less likely to turn a harsh eye on their LGBTQ+ patrons. Remember, the cover of their Western parent brands, while not a shield, could afford some layers of insulation against the cultural norms at play.
Despite their cosmopolitan pedigree, these accommodations don’t proudly proclaim themselves as gay-friendly, nor do they have explicit policies fostering inclusivity or safety for LGBTQ+ guests. Yet, these are the jewels of Dhaka, sparkling brightly in the narrative of fellow queer travelers and our own explorations, and they earn our stamp of recommendation for your stay.
Dhaka, despite its lack of leniency towards homosexuality, does not fall short when it comes to the spectrum of lodging options. Finding a welcoming abode in this cultural metropolis might feel like a Herculean task for a queer traveler. Yet, armed with these nuggets of wisdom, you can significantly enhance your chances of a secure, enjoyable sojourn within this city’s vibrant walls. These are the most fabulous hotels in Dhaka, according to other gay travelers and us, and where we recommend staying.
Renaissance Dhaka Gulshan Hotel is a luxurious retreat nestled in the heart of the vibrant Gulshan neighborhood in Dhaka, Bangladesh. This five-star hotel offers a blend of contemporary elegance and traditional Bangladeshi charm. Its elegant exterior can leave your jaw hanging, and its stylishly designed rooms and suites provide guests with modern comforts and panoramic city views.
The hotel boasts an array of amenities, including a rooftop pool, fitness center, spa, and multiple dining options serving local and international cuisine. Its convenient location near corporate offices, diplomatic zones, and shopping centers makes it an ideal choice for business and leisure travelers seeking a sophisticated and comfortable stay in Dhaka.
The Westin Dhaka is a luxurious and upscale hotel located in Gulshan, a prime neighborhood of Dhaka, Bangladesh. This five-star hotel offers an exquisite blend of modern elegance and exceptional service. The spacious and tastefully designed rooms and suites provide guests with a haven of comfort and relaxation.
The Westin Dhaka features an array of amenities, including a well-equipped fitness center, a rejuvenating spa, a rooftop pool with panoramic city views, and multiple dining options offering a diverse range of cuisines. With its prime location, impeccable hospitality, and attention to detail, The Westin Dhaka ensures a memorable and indulgent stay for all travelers.
The Best Western Plus Maple Leaf is a well-regarded four-star hotel in Dhaka. Situated in the heart of the city’s commercial district, it offers convenience and comfort to business and leisure travelers. The hotel provides a range of modern amenities, including spacious rooms and suites, a fitness center, a swimming pool, and various dining options serving local and international cuisine.
With its warm hospitality, attentive staff, and convenient location, the Best Western Plus Maple Leaf strives to ensure a pleasant stay for its guests. It is a popular choice for those seeking comfortable accommodation in Dhaka.
YWCA Guest House in Dhaka is a comfortable and welcoming hostel accommodation option for travelers visiting the capital city of Bangladesh. Located in a prime area, it provides easy access to major attractions and business centers. The guest house offers clean and well-maintained rooms at affordable rates, making it suitable for budget-conscious travelers.
The friendly and helpful staff ensure a pleasant stay, and additional amenities such as complimentary breakfast, free Wi-Fi, and laundry service add to the convenience.
YWCA Guest House is known for its safe and secure environment, making it a popular choice for solo travelers, families, and groups seeking affordable yet comfortable accommodation in Dhaka. Queer travelers should be more cautious in hostels such as this than in higher-rated hotels.
The Holiday Inn Dhaka City Centre, an IHG Hotel, is a prestigious and contemporary hotel in the heart of Dhaka. Its prime location offers easy access to the city’s business and entertainment districts. The hotel boasts stylishly appointed rooms and suites with modern amenities and luxurious comforts.
Guests can indulge in various dining experiences, from international cuisine to local delicacies, at the hotel’s restaurants and cafes. The Holiday Inn Dhaka City Centre also features state-of-the-art meeting and event spaces, a fitness center, and a rooftop infinity pool, providing a perfect blend of business and leisure amenities for guests to enjoy during their stay.
Gay Nightlife in Dhaka, Bangladesh
Dhaka’s nightlife is not one of the traditional party scenes, with drinks and clubs after the sun sets. Due to Bangladesh being a conservative Muslim country, alcohol sale is extremely restricted in the country, and there are not a lot of popular clubs or bars in Dhaka. Traditional nightlife for the locals means hanging out with family or friends and having delicious food.
Hotel restaurants and bars are the most happening spots in this city’s nightlife. From trendy rooftop bars offering stunning city views to lively clubs with live music and DJs, there are options for every night owl. The nightlife scene also includes cultural performances, such as traditional music and dance shows, adding a touch of local flavor.
Queer nightlife is not visible in the city due to the criminalization of homosexuality in the country. The bars and restaurants mentioned in the list below are said to be safe and highly rated by all guests. Queer travelers should be cautious and enjoy a night out in one of these spots.
While exploring the nightlife of a new city can be exciting, it’s important to remember that Gay Dhaka is a city in a country where same-sex activity is illegal, and being queer is not accepted in public. As such, it’s crucial to avoid any displays of queerness or same-sex activity in public.
However, you can still enjoy the ‘straight’ nightlife in Gay Dhaka as you would in any other city. You can meet new people, try new things, and get a taste of the local culture without attracting unwanted attention.
Whether you’re dancing at a club or mingling at a bar, remember to respect the local culture and avoid any behavior that may be seen as queer or same-sex activity. By doing so, you can have a fun and memorable experience while still being mindful of the local laws and customs.
So, step out of your comfort zone and explore the nightlife in Gay Dhaka, but remember to do so as a non-queer traveler. Enjoy the city’s nightlife while respecting the local culture and avoiding any displays of queerness or same-sex activity in public.
Here is a list of the most happening spots in Dhaka after the sun goes down!
Olea Turkish Restaurant, located at Le Méridien Dhaka, offers a delightful culinary journey into Turkish cuisine. With its warm and inviting ambiance, the restaurant creates an authentic Turkish dining experience in the heart of Dhaka. Guests can savor a wide range of traditional Turkish dishes, including kebabs, mezes, and freshly baked bread.
The menu showcases Turkish cuisine’s rich flavors and unique spices, prepared with meticulous attention to detail. The restaurant’s attentive staff and elegant decor add to the overall dining experience. Whether for a romantic dinner or a gathering with friends, Olea Turkish Restaurant promises a memorable and flavorsome dining experience.
Prego Bar, located at Hotel Westin in Dhaka, is a stylish and popular destination for nightlife enthusiasts. Its vibrant and sophisticated atmosphere makes it an ideal spot to unwind and socialize. The bar showcases a wide selection of beverages, including both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Guests can enjoy live music performances or relax in the comfortable seating areas.
Prego Bar also serves a delectable range of appetizers and snacks, perfect for pairing with your favorite drink. With its chic ambiance, attentive service, and excellent drink offerings, Prego Bar at Hotel Westin is a favorite among locals and visitors looking for an enjoyable evening experience.
Pacific Avenue Sports Bar, located at Pan Pacific Sonargaon in Dhaka, is a haven for sports enthusiasts and those seeking a lively and energetic atmosphere. The bar offers a spacious and comfortable setting, complete with large screens broadcasting live sports events from around the world.
Guests can cheer for their favorite teams while enjoying a wide selection of beverages, including beers, cocktails, and spirits.
The bar also serves delicious bar bites and snacks, perfect for accompanying the game. Whether it’s football, cricket, or any other sport, Pacific Avenue Sports Bar provides an exciting and immersive experience for sports fans in Dhaka.
Blaze Bar, located at Radisson Blu Water Garden Hotel in Dhaka, offers a vibrant and energetic atmosphere for patrons seeking a memorable nightlife experience. The bar exudes a contemporary and stylish ambiance with its modern décor, comfortable seating, and sleek design.
It offers an extensive selection of beverages, including signature cocktails, premium spirits, wines, and a variety of non-alcoholic options.
Guests can enjoy live music performances, DJ sets, and themed events, adding to the lively and entertaining atmosphere. Blaze Bar also serves a range of appetizers and snacks, making it an ideal spot for socializing, unwinding, and enjoying a night out in Dhaka.
PITZA, a rooftop pizza restaurant in Dhaka, offers a unique dining experience with its delicious pizzas and panoramic city views. Located atop a building, the restaurant provides a picturesque setting for guests to enjoy their meals. The menu features a variety of pizza options, from classic flavors to innovative combinations, all crafted with quality ingredients and baked to perfection.
With its cozy and contemporary ambiance, PITZA creates a relaxed atmosphere for diners to savor their pizzas while taking in the breathtaking cityscape. Whether for a casual meal or a special occasion, this rooftop pizza restaurant in Dhaka promises a delightful culinary experience.
Club 13, located at Dhaka Regency Hotel in Dhaka, is a popular nightlife destination offering a dynamic and vibrant experience. The club boasts a sleek and modern design, featuring a spacious dance floor, comfortable seating areas, and state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems.
With a lineup of talented DJs and live performances, Club 13 delivers an electrifying atmosphere where guests can dance the night away to a mix of local and international music. The club also offers a wide range of beverages, including signature cocktails, making it an ideal spot for socializing and enjoying a memorable night in Dhaka.
Gay Map Of Dhaka
Finding it hard to envisage where everything is in Dhaka? Hopefully, this queer-centric map helps where we have marked all the bars, clubs, parties, hotels, saunas, massages, and more will help you stay in the spot best suited to you!