Tainan, the oldest city of Taiwan, is sought out for its thriving traditional culture, historic sites, Tainanese gastronomical delights and beautiful canals.
Sadly, however, Gay Tainan has been slow coming. There is only one gay sauna in town and not a single exclusively gay Tainan bar, which is rather shameful for a city of 1.8 million.
While Taipei is the undisputed gay capital of Taiwan – it was a little disappointing to find such a lack-luster LGBT scene especially considering the small but vibrant gay scenes in similarly sized Kaohsiung and Taichung. We are not saying Tainan should be skipped – it’s absolutely gorgeous – but make sure you are heading here for its temples, frequent festivals, beautiful nature and slower pace of life. Because you will have to look pretty hard to find gay life in Tainan.
Nevertheless, LGBT acceptance in Tainan is high as in the rest of the country. 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.
Gay life in Tainan is relatively normalized, and you can spot 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: straight or gay.
Since there are basically no gay nightlife options, Tainan is the perfect place to take a break, enjoy a few early nights and make the most of all the art galleries, cafes, and historical attractions. Plus it’s on the high-speed rail line making a trip here simple and accessible from any major city in Taiwan. While Tainan might still be a little conservative compared to Taipei, gay travelers can feel entirely at ease in this liberal society and are highly unlikely to experience any problems at all.
Gay Tainan Guide: The Essential Guide To LGBT Travel In Tainan Taiwan
In this article we will cover...
Attractions in Tainan
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 Tainan during the day! There is so much to do here – but we found our favorite memories were wandering around the nearby mountains, making use of the cities extensive bicycle lanes (while promptly getting lost) and wandering the vibrant night markets.
One of the best tips we can give you for exploring Gay Tainan 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 in Tainan that you absolutely not miss! If you get lost along the way, you can always refer to our gay Tainan map at the end.
- Tainan Ancient Capital – The original capital of Taiwan there is plenty of sites of historical importance to admire. Not to be missed are the quaint Xinhua Old Street, the scenic reservoir area of Wushantou, the Old Merchant House of Tait & Co and the French-designed Eternal Golden Castle. Pick up the Tainan Historic Sites Pass to save time and money.
- Chihkan Towers – Aka Fort Provintia, the Dutch outpost of Formosa built during colonization of Taiwan in 1653. A picturesque place to wander in the sun and enjoy outdoor concerts that are frequently held in the weekend.
- Chimei Museum – A private museum with an extensive collection of musical instruments, weaponry, natural history exhibits and Western Art. Funded by a petrochemical company with deep pockets, this is not only the best museum in Tainan but one of the best in Taipei.
- South Pasture – A gay-owned cafe with weird operating hours but an excellent selection of favorite Taiwanese snacks. A fun place to relax, try to chat with the staff and owner to learn more about gay life in Tainan.
- Tainan Cooking Class – Impress your friends back home by learning to prepare the most popular dishes in Tainan, like Spring Roll and Coffin Bread. With a fun teacher well versed in each dishes history, this is a unique way to get to experience Tainan.
- Luermen Matsu Temple – A beautiful temple dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess Mazu. It has been declared a protected monument of Taiwan and the alter of Yua Lao (old man under the moon) is said to help singles in search of a husband or wife…
- Taijiang National Park – A favorite coastal park with plenty of mangroves, wetlands, and wildlife to explore
- Tainan Flower Night Market – Wander the best night market in Tainan where everything from bubble tea to stinky tofu is available to try. The atmospheric is quintessential Taiwanese and oh-so-photogenic.
- Togo Rural Village Art Museum – Book a tour or explore with a car this entire outdoor village where locals turn farm goods into art and the sprawling fields into their canvas. Trust us when we tell you this place is unique!
- Alishan Mountain – Take the train and discover the vibrant bamboo forests, hidden waterfalls and picturesque tea plantations of Chiayi County. Other highlights include the Fenqihu Old Street and Everlasting Bridge, evocative of Old Taiwan – and the breathtaking scenery of the March Alishan Cherry Blossom Festival.
- Guangzuling Hot Springs – City life can be tough, so why not take a day out and relax in soothing spring water surrounded by soaring mountains, lush forest and breathing in fresh, clean air. The Guangzuling Hot Springs is one of the best hot springs in southern Taiwan and is famed for it’s exposed natural gas flame in a cave which is a peculiar view.
- Jingzaijiao Tile-paved Salt Fields – Hire a car to see this historic and hyper-instagrammable salt field. It’s even better if you can time your visit for sunset and visit the nearby Salt Mountain Theme Park and Taiwan Salt Museum.
Gay-friendly and Gay Hotels in Tainan Taiwan
- U.I.J Hotel & Hostel ☆☆☆☆ – Our favorite hotel in Tainan this luxury hotel and hostel hybrid offers chic design, a magical location, comfortable rooms and fantastic lobby space. In the heart of the West Central District, what we really love here is the ability to socialize with other guests and opt for a shared dorm or private room. Since the Tainan gay scene and nightlife is pretty tame, it makes a difference to makes some friends and bring the party with you wherever you go. There might not be a gay hotel in Tainan, but we would stay here even if there were!
- Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel ☆☆☆☆☆ – A gay-popular hotel in Tainan thanks to its impeccable quality and extensive amenities such a large swimming pool, gym, indoor hot tub and fun sauna. There might not be a gay spa in Tainan, but the spa and massage services are divine and will leave you feeling renewed and more fabulous than ever before. In a high-rise cylindrical tower, most of the sleek rooms here have expansive city rooms.
- Silks Place Tainan ☆☆☆☆☆ – A luxurious and modern hotel in the West Central District featuring trendy, cutting-edge design, spacious rooms, and a fun cocktail lounge. Complete with a large outdoor pool and well-equip gym this is a serene environment perfect for relaxing.
- Kindness Hotel (Tainan Minsheng) ☆☆☆ – A clean and basic hotel catering to budget travelers with some of the lowest private room prices in Tainan. We loved having access to international TV channels like HBO, free afternoon tea daily with ice cream, tea, egg and coffee and the modern rooms with black-out curtains.
- Hisato-an Inn ☆☆☆ – Newly opened hotel themed as a traditional Japanese inn. An extension of Taiwan’s obsession with their northern neighbors, this is a fun and different stay which prices much lower than you will ever find in Japan.
- 3 Door Hotel ☆☆☆ – Funky modern rooms, low prices, and a beautiful rooftop garden to relax in. The train station is close by, and staff are always on hand to help with anything you need.
- Cao Ji Book Inn ☆☆ – A fashionable book hostel for literacy lovers, tourists on a budget or anyone who wants to meet other fun loving people. Newly opened and the cheapest accommodation option in Gay Tainan, this is a great option to connect with other international travelers and explore the city by day or by night.
Gay-Friendly Bars in Tainan
The gay nightlife scene in Tainan – much like the general nightlife – is rather underwhelming. Better to save your night out for the rest of Gay Taiwan if you can. Previously the only Tainan gay event was Pride Thursday’s at Legends Sports Bar but it seems like that is no longer running anymore. It pays to ask around when you arrive in Gay Tainan (e.g. log into Grindr) to see if any new gay bars or events are taking place and if you hear of any please contact us!
This is still a very LGBT friendly city however and you will be welcomed in most of the cities gay-friendly bars and clubs. Hopefully, you still bump into your queer family at these popular hangouts but its a good idea to organize to meet someone beforehand on a hook-app. Even if it is just for a drink.
- Bar TCRC – A gay-popular cocktail bar with beautiful and delicious concoctions you will be sure to add to your Instagram story. Understated decor, professional bartenders and an almost speakeasy vibe this is our favorite bar in Tainan.
- Midnight Tainan – Fun and modern cocktail/ shisha bar with a cozy atmosphere. Gay-popular, but you will often need a reservation if more than three people as it can get hectic.
- Kinks Pub – Funky dark lounge concept with vintage furniture and healthy drinks. Just like hanging out at your grandma’s house, if your Grandma holds fun house-parties with an enviable liquor collection.
- Dive Bar and Grubhut – The name couldn’t be more accurate. Great food, cheap drinks and nice outdoor seating to meet locals and relax in the warm night air.
- Lobby Lounge – Trendy cocktail bar in the gay-popular Shangri-La Far Eastern Plaza Hotel. Not so much for a night out but a great place to meet when organizing to meet up.
Gay Saunas in Tainan
- Green House / Green Love – Clean, modern and spacious – It might be the only gay sauna in Tainan, but at least it has everything you could want. Cruising zone, private cabin, dry and wet sauna, showers and lockers plus free soft drinks and tea. Everyone comes here: old, young, sexy muscle boys and mature Asian bears. Most popular on Sunday afternoon but can be busy from 4-6 pm on weekdays.