Overshadowed in almost every respect by Taipei in the north, Kaohsiung – the second largest city in Taiwan – has a small but vibrant gay scene, but is worth visiting just for the sheer variety of attractions and slower pace of life.
An under-the-radar gay tourist destination Kaohsiung has a vibrant arts scene culminating in the newly opened Pier-2 Art Centre, incredible food options, plenty of nature and lower prices than Gay Taipei (which is only two hours away via high-speed train)
GBT acceptance in Kaohsiung is high as in the rest of the country and the gay scene here is more vibrant than other popular cities Tainan and Taichung. Gay Taiwan is well-known as the most LGBT-friendly destination in Asia, so you are highly unlikely to have any issues here concerning public displays of affection or discrimination.
The Taiwanese are among the most delightful, friendliest people in the entire world and during our time in Gay Taiwan we did not experience anything except warm welcomes – a nice change after visiting Shanghai and Hanoi. You can plenty of younger gay couples wandering the street, or getting cozy over cocktails – although you will quickly notice the culture of Taiwan is not big on public displays of affection of any type.
Along with diverse gay nightlife options, Kaohsiung’s gay scene also offers up a variety of cultural events, the biggest of which is the Kaohsiung Gay Pride held every year in December, however, there are plenty of smaller events throughout the year you can find out about by asking around when you arrive. While Kaohsiung might still be a little conservative compared to Taipei, gay travelers can feel entirely at ease in this liberal society and will not have any problems.
Gay Kaohsiung Guide: The Essential Guide To LGBT Travel In Kaohsiung Taiwan
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Attractions in Kaohsiung Taiwan
Naturally being gay does not define which attractions most of us will want to see in each city and most queer travelers will simply want to check out the top things to see in Kaohsiung during the day! There is so much to do here – but we found our favorite memories were wandering along waterside parks, making use of the cities extensive bicycle lanes (and promptly getting lost) and brunching in modern cafés.
One of the best tips we can give you for exploring Gay Kaohsiung is to pre-order a travel SIM card for easy airport pickup and activation the moment you arrive so you will not pay a fortune in international roaming charges. Get restaurants recommendation and reservations on the fly, public transport instructions up to the minute, bar opening hours and if it is your thing – access to gay hook up apps to find out more about the local scene.
Mobile data is fast, cheap and available almost everywhere in Asia so it is no wonder most travelers chose to stay connected and to get off the beaten track (without ever worrying about getting lost). So why wait? Pre-order the best local SIM card now to have it waiting for you in Taiwan when you arrive.
Still – it helps to have some kind of idea what is going on, so here are our must-see attractions Kaohsiung that you should not miss!
- Pier-2 Art Centre – Our favorite thing to do in Kaohsiung, this recently opened district has transformed industrial buildings into an uber-cool spot filled with cafés, museums, galleries, boutique shops _ street and modern art installations. Especially popular during the weekend, the vibe here is just infectious, and you will want to go back over-and-over again.
- Shoushan Nature Park – Hike up this mountain for incredible views over the city and for a bit of fresh air. Bring some beers to enjoy at the top but watch out for the naughty macaque’s that live here. It was named Ape Hill by the Dutch in the 17th century, and the name is just as appropriate today.
- Hamasen Railway Cultural Park – Next to Pier-2 Art Centre, this old railway yard is now an outdoor exhibition space for modern art. You can just wander around and enjoy, but on the weekend the main show is all the kites and bubble blowers that gather here, and plenty of dogs (and unique pets such as rabbits out for some fresh air).
- Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum – One of the top ten landmarks of Taiwan, this newly opened museum features plenty of photogenic pagodas and a giant Buddha and even houses one of the tooth relics of Sakyamuni Buddha, the founder of the Buddhist faith.
- Dream Mall – The largest shopping mall not just in Taiwan but in all of East Asia (Gay Bangkok has the biggest shopping malls in Asia). There is pretty much every brand you can imagine here, plus plenty of local boutique shops and even a roof-top Ferris-wheel in case it wasn’t over the top enough already.
- Dragon and Tiger Pagodas – A modern temple on the beautiful Lotus Lakes that are fun to explore. If you’re heading out all this way, you won’t want to miss the nearby Spring and Autumn Pavilions too!
- Cihou Fort – A historic fort high on a hill-top with views back over Kaohsiung and out to see. Packed on the weekends, this is a great albeit small outdoor hike. Located on Cijin Island – you can either take a ferry or ride-share over and be sure to wander along Cijin Beach and eat on the Cijin Market street. Plan to spend a whole day!
- Liuhe Night Market – One of the most popular night markets in Kaohsiung – come and mingle with locals, find the busiest shop and wait for whatever it is selling or just come to hang out in the infectious atmosphere. An integral part of modern Taiwanese culture.
Gay-friendly and Gay Hotels in Kaohsiung Taiwan
- Hotel Indigo ☆☆☆☆☆ – Newly opened in a sleek, contemporary glass tower over-looking Kaohsiung Central Park, Hotel Indigo is our favorite luxury hotel in Kaohsiung – and previous guests agree! A hotel like no other we have stayed in, the highlights include a unique design fit-out with vibrant colors, the roof-top bar with expansive skyline views and the high level of service.
- 85 Sky Tower Hotel ☆☆☆☆☆ – An iconic luxury hotel located in the tallest building in Kaohsiung. Enjoy city or sea views from bed, an indoor pool, sauna + gym, and even an observation level. Homely design but nothing to write home about. Here – location is everything.
- Hotel Wo ☆☆☆☆ – An oh-so-hip hotel recently opened near Love River with minimalist decor and complimentary breakfast. We loved the luxe suite in particular thanks to the private pool and garden terrace. Modern on-site dining and trendy bar complete the package.
- Hotel Dua ☆☆☆☆ – A contemporary hotel close to the subway line and gay nightlife spots. The outdoor dining from their restaurant with city views is incredible – so even if you don’t get to stay here, you should try to make a reservation. Elegant rooms and recently refurbished.
- Legend Hotel Kaohsiung Pier2 ☆☆☆ – A fun and vibrant hotel close to the Pier 2 Arts District with whimsical theming and plenty of color. They have fabulous private rooms at very reasonable prices, but we also liked their very private dormitories if you’re on a budget.
- The Tree House ☆☆☆ – Funky designer details with a roof-top swimming pool and garden. Each room has an individual theme – some of which are quite bizarre/creative. Close to the gay nightlife district.
- Hotel R14 ☆☆☆ – Sexy, industrial design close to all of the gay nightlife in Kaohsiung. This is one of the most gay-popular hotels in Kaohsiung – in no small part thanks to view from their double-deluxe rooms with floor-to-ceiling curved glass with expansive city views. There is also a beautiful designer roof-top garden hangout space.
- Trip GG Hostel ☆ – A fun, upscale hostel literally right on the intersection of Kaohsiung’s two subway lines and only a short walk to gay nightlife spots. Perfect if you are on a budget or traveling alone and want to meet up with other travelers before heading out for the night. They have a beautiful common area with views over Formosa Boulevard and nightly all-you-can-drink beer specials at the lowest prices in town.
Gay Bars and Gay Clubs in Kaohsiung Taiwan
Like Kaohsiung itself, the gay nightlife scene in Kaohsiung flies under-the-radar and is often overshadowed by Gay Taipei or Gay Hong Kong – but if you know where to look, rest assured there are plenty of intriguing gay and gay-friendly bars in Kaohsiung! Depending on your mood you can find anything here from a relaxed cocktail in an upscale bar to an all-night dance rave surrounded by your queer family!
New gay events in Kaohsiung are always taking place here, so it pays to ask around when you arrive (hostel staff are a good bet – as is logging into Grindr) but at the moment these are the most popular nightlife spots, gay bars and gay clubs in Kaohsiung for travelers and locals.
- Rainbow Thursday @ Brickyard – The most popular gay event in Kaohsiung and the best way to get the weekend started early. Only on Thursday the expat-popular Brickyard club get’s taken over by the Rainbow crowd with cheap drinks, great DJ’s, shirtless guys and plenty of fun. Check out their Facebook page as the Rainbow event is occasionally held on other day’s – but if you’re looking for things to do in Kaohsiung on a Thursday night, look no further!
- X-One Club (previously Hi-Bar Club) – The most popular gay club in Kaohsiung, check out their Facebook page for upcoming themed parties and events. Annoyingly the music kept getting stopped for Chinese ballads being belted out on stage, but after midnight on the weekends, it is pretty packed!
- Private Life Gay Bar – A small gay bar in Kaohsiung’s old town. Doesn’t often get pumping, but if you’re looking to meet gay locals, chat and sing a bit of karaoke, then it can be pretty fun here.
- Muse Nightclub – Probably the best nightclub in Kaohsiung famous for its all-you-can-drink menu. Plenty of EDM music and newly renovated. Not a gay venue but on Wednesday many gay men flocks here on Wednesday when it’s Hunky Boys’ Night and anything can happen…
- Glow Kaohsiung – Organised 4-6 gay dance parties in Kaohsiung per year. Check out the events tab on their Facebook page to look for upcoming details, but often it is not up-to-date. If you get lucky and there is an event on, this is the place to go!
- Black Dog Pub Kaohsiung – Not a gay bar, but a popular expat hang-out with live music and daily drink deals that gets pretty busy every night of the week after 9 pm. Come for the wide selection of beer and to find out what else is going on.
- Barcode – A gay-popular but very mixed venue with a sophisticated crowd and luxurious vibes, Delicious cocktails and a great atmosphere with a strict dress code.
- In Our Time – A great place for live music, food, and craft beers. An inclusive environment filled with hipsters on Sunday. In Our Time also houses an art gallery and radio station in the famous art district, Pier-2.
Gay Saunas in Kaohsiung Taiwan
- hi-MAN Sauna – he biggest and best gay sauna in Kaohsiung with everything you could want. Dry sauna, showers, busy steam room, bar and a gym – and this is Asia, so there is even karaoke here! Check out their Facebook page for the theme of the night…Think naked, towel, young, gym or even special events like Year of the Dog! Foreigners report, however, this is not the place for bears or more mature travelers, and if this is the case, you likely won’t see much action.
- Station Sauna – The oldest Kaohsiung gay sauna and the largest – Station Sauna caters everyone but it popular with the military, mature guys and tourist – with all of the expected facilities including gym, steam room, private rooms, theatre zone and hot pool spread out across 5 floors and a roof-top terrace.
- Galaxy Sauna– Most gay sauna in Taiwan can be a bit ‘clicky,’ but if you’re a bear or mature gay (or even a supporter) then Galaxy Sauna Kaohsiung is for you as a bear-friendly option. Basic facilities however and a location that is a bit far away (take a ride-share – it’s more comfortable!), but they do have a hot-tub, lounge area, gym and roof-top terrace.
GHP and 101 Club Sauna in Kaohsiung are now permanently closed.
Gay Kaohsiung Map