Gay Taipei Guide: The Essential Guide To Gay Travel In Taipei Taiwan 2019
It’s official: Taipei is one of the most liberal and gay-friendly cities in Asia.
Slowly simmering away in the background for decades, the Gay Taipei scene has exploded onto the international scene in recent years as queer travelers from all over the world flock here for the gay nightlife, creative design, delicious food and friendly citizens.
You can see plenty of younger gay couples wandering the street, or getting cozy over cocktails in Taipei – although you will quickly notice the culture of Taiwan is not big on public displays of affection of any type… However come nightfall, Taipei’s thriving gay nightlife scene really comes to life with everything from speakeasy bars and local waterholes to bear bars and all-night gay dance events. Whatever you’re into or looking for, Gay Taipei is sure to have it all!
Along with diverse gay nightlife options Taipei’s gay scene also offers up a variety of cultural events, the biggest of which is the Taiwan Gay Pride held every year in October, however, there are plenty of smaller events throughout the year you can find out about by asking around when you arrive. While other parts of this island might still be ever-so-slightly more conservative – including Taiwan’s other large cities; Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung – in most parts of Taipei gay travelers can feel entirely at ease and are very unlikely to experience any problems in this diverse and very liberal city.
Gay Taipei Guide: The Essential Guide To Gay Travel In Taipei Taiwan 2019
Obviously 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 Taipei during the day! There is so much to do here – but we found our favorite memories were wandering through night-markets, making use of the cities extensive bicycle lanes (and promptly getting lost) and brunching in modern cafés before wandering through design studios.
One of the best tips we can give you for exploring Gay Taipei 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.
Still – it helps to have some kind of idea what is going on, so here are our must-see attractions in Taipei that you should not miss!
Pedestrian Zone of Ximending – Known as the “harajuku of Taipei” thanks to its abundance of bizarre teen fashion trends and Japanese subcultures. Be sure to wander into one of the many, many claw machine arcades or catch a street performer in action.
Songshan Culture Park– The recently opened ‘Creative Hub of Taipei’ housed in a former tobacco factory complex. Filled with restaurants, boutique shops, art galleries and intriguing industrial design.
Taipei Eats food tour– The perfect chance to taste amazing Taiwanese dishes on a 4-hour walking tour. With multiple stops, there is no better way to experience some of the more off-the-beaten-track restaurants and food halls, along with some unusual delights.
Lungsham Temple of Manka– The most famous temple in Taiwan and one of the oldest – built-in 1738 by settlers from Fujian. The Lungsham Temple was actually bombed by the Americans during 1945 in their Raid on Taipei because the Japanese were thought to be using the temple for weapons storage, though few signs of this attack are visible today.
Miramar Entertainment Park – One of the largest shopping malls in Taipei, you can find pretty much every chain you want here but the star attraction is the rooftop 70 meter tall Taipei Ferris Wheel you can take a ride on for a unique view of Taipei by night.
Huashan 1914 Creative Park– Opened in 1914 as Taihoku Winery under Japanese rule, wine continued to be produced here until 1987 when the winery moved due to intense urbanization and pollution issues, and the ground lay derelict. Slated for demolition, the site was saved by a rogue production here covertly organized by artists and performing groups eventually resulting in the site’s transformation into space for creative talents to develop and showcase their works.
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall – The iconic landmark attraction erected in memory of the former President of the Republic of China. If you are curious to learn more there is a museum beneath the hall with an exhibition about Chiang’s life and career, and information about Taiwan’s history, and the ROC’s development after fleeing to Taiwan.
Raohe Street Night Market – One of the best night markets in Taipei (and the oldest), a 600m street packed with interesting foods and snacks along with quirky shops and stalls. Like many places in Taipei, the longer the line, the better the food.
Taipei 101 – The tallest building in Taiwan (and once the tallest in the world!). Head up to the Taipei 101 observation deck (make sure to buy tickets in advance to save time) or if you are super organized you can cheat and get your hotel in Taipei to try to make a reservation in advance to visit the Starbucks within the tower. It’s not quite as high as the observation tower but it’s free and it is the highest Starbucks in the world – literally one of Taipei’s top attractions.
Elephant Mountain Hiking Trail – It takes around 15-25 minutes to climb up depending on how fit you are but you will be rewarded with the best view of Taipei 101 and the surrounding city – it is especially magical when all of the twinkling lights come on!
If you have more than a few days in Taipei you really should try to get out of the city for a breath of fresh air – the difficulty then becomes with so many options, what are the best Taipei day trips? While there are so many options (thanks to Taiwan’s high-speed rail network you can be anywhere on the island in a just a few hours) here are our favorite Taipei day trips so you can choose the best fit for you…
Northern Coast Of Taiwan– A Taipei day trip for geology lovers! Start with a visit to the picturesque harbor city of Keelung and then head to the Yehliu Natural Park with its famous spectacular natural rock formations, including the bizarre “Queen’s Head”.
Taroko Gorge – One of the 7 wonders of Asia, take a trip via train to the coastal city of Hualien to gaze upon the amazing marble cliffs of Taroko Gorge and swing by the Swallow Caves and the Tunnel of 9 Turns.
Yangmingshan National Park – Geothermal activities, beautiful grasslands and a soak in a hot-spring to cure-all that ails you! This is everything you need to recover from a stressfulTaipei itinerary or a long night in the Taipei gay clubs!
Thousand Island Lake – Not a futuristic skyscraper in sight! Just a tranquil lake followed by an in-depth look at the tea-making heritage of Taiwan at the Pinglin Tea Plantation. Breath easy again with all that fresh mountain air!
Pingxi, Shifen & Jiufen – A little bit of everything. The Shifen falls, the real-life spirited away town of Jiufen and the adorable town of Pingxi famed for its sky lantern ceremony at night. Our absolute favorite day trip from Taipei!
Gay-friendly Dining in Taipei
As previously mentioned, Taipei has a very gay-friendly vibe and with so many places to explore (and a booming foodie scene) there is no need to limit yourself. Below are just a few of the more popular, trendy places that have opened that you should try to visit, perhaps as a warm-up for the crazy gay nightlife in Taipei…but please, don’t limit yourself and try to explore as much of the Taipei food culture as you can!
Ding Tai Fung – The original DTF location (you know, the Taiwanese chain now found around the world-famous for its xiao long baos?). Although there are multiple locations, local food bloggers agree the original location is the tastiest. Go around 11:30 AM if you want to avoid long lines.
Mountain and Sea House– Taiwanese fine dining establishment. Organic farm-to-table classic Taiwanese cuisine in a unique setting. A bit on the pricey side, but a tasty unique dining experience.
Buttermilk – Elevated comfort food taking inspiration from American dining. Great service, an innovative menu and plenty of nostalgic classics including the signature Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Pickled Watermelon or Hawaiian Salmon Poke Bowl. Call ahead for a reservation – It can get extremely busy here!
Mala Top Double Soup Hot Pot– Fun experience for pretty good quality all you can eat mala hot-pot (including all you can eat Haagen Dazs and all you can drink Taiwan beer and wine). You can choose the spiciness level and have half of the pot as regular non-spicy broth. Seven locations throughout Taipei.
Gen Creative – Creative Taiwanese fusion dishes. Seasonal menu with big flavors. Ask for a counter seat to watch the chefs at work!
Chiba Ximending – An upscale cafe in the heart of the Ximending Pedestrian Zone. We loved the Detroit-style square pizza, delicious cocktails and healthy salads combined with a fun decor featuring classic children’s toys and eclectic books.
Yu chocolatier– Local pastry shop specializing in chocolate desserts. The passionate pastry chef trained in Paris. You can bring home chocolates laced with Taiwanese flavors, or sit down and savor the hard-to-find Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique whiskey by the glass!
Want to try some of the more curious delights of Taipei including stinky tofu, refreshing cold sesame noodles and pork belly stuffed Taiwanese burgers? We recommend checking out Taipei Eats – a LGBT-friendly food tour, and one of the most highly rated in the city!
As Taiwan is the most progressive and gay-friendly country in Asia, pretty much every hotel in Taipei can be considered gay-friendly and none of our readers will likely experience any issues here – after all being gay-friendly is not all about upscale luxury, but about providing friendly service and welcoming everyone with open arms!
Having said that, everyone likes to be surrounded by people with common interests, and as such there are a few well-known gay-friendly hotels in Taipei that are hot spots for gay travelers to stay – either because of their location near gay clubs in Taipei or their design and inclusive vibes.
The following hotels in Gay Taipei have all had glowing recommendation from gay travelers in the past, but of course, there are hundreds of other hotels in Taipei if these are not quite what you are looking for. Whether you want a fun and social hostel, a cheap place to crash after a night of partying or a chic designer option to sip cocktails and surround yourself with fabulous people – Gay Taipei has something for everyone!
One of the best hotels in Taipei for those who want to splurge, amba Taipei Songshan offers it all. Located on the upper floors of a recently built highrise this luxury hotel in Taipei has stunning views of Keelung River and Taipei 101, the Songshan district and …well, almost the entire city! You are floored almost as soon as you enter their sky-lobby on the 17th floor, with a ‘trendy without trying’ vibe – but for most travellers, the stand-out feature is the spacious rooms with superb design, expansive views, eco-friendly amenities and every creature comfort catered for. The amba Taipei Songshan is one hotel you won’t want to leave – and with a delicious wood-fired restaurant on site (famed for its weekend brunches), lightning-fast WiFi, chic on-site bar and plush beds you really don’t need too! But when you manage to drag yourself away, you will find a direct shuttle to Taipei 101 complimentary from the front-door, the Songshan Train and Metro Station beneath your feet or the famous Raohe Street Night Market’s just a few minutes away. When you book through their site be sure to inquire about the year-round Pride package including a welcome cocktail – just a small way the hotel likes to make their LGBT guests feel more welcome and at home.
Located right in the heart of the super-trendy Ximending district, with the Taipei Metro Ximen Station and Red House Theatre gay district only a few minutes away, the funky amba Taipei Ximending is a popular choice for gay travelers in Taipei looking for location and nightlife. Housed on the upper levels of a renovated department store, this boutique hotel offers 160 spacious rooms, a delicious restaurant and trendy bar with the hottest beats and live music depending on the nights (not to mention the innovative cocktail collection!). Gay travelers are encouraged to celebrate diversity by booking the Pride Package all-year round with amba Taipei Ximending which includes a special welcome amenity and some delicious Rainbow shots at the bar – free of charge! We loved amba Taipei Ximending for its tasteful design, superb location, walkability to all of the Red House Gay Bars and friendly staff – and we are sure you will too!
Gay travelers on a budget will love NK hostel with their modern decor, homely feel and pod-style dormitories. When you enter a warm LGBT-friendly sign greets you and you automatically feel at home thanks to the homely decor and spacious living area. NK Hostel has thoughtful pod-style dormitories, or the upper floors house private hotel-style rooms with views out over the cityscape. Some even have outdoor terraces and Taipei 101 views. You’ll love the homestyle breakfast table where everyone can meet and chat over a delicious included breakfast, and the location just a few minutes walk from the nearest subway in Songshan. If you want to meet other travelers, watch your budget or just feel at home in an inclusive environment NK Hostel is your best bet!
Other Gay-Popular Hotels In Taipei
G’s Hotel ☆ – The first gay hotel in Taipei offering budget accommodation exclusively for men with a focus on shared bathrooms and getting cozy with other guests….Let’s just say we wouldn’t stay for the decor!
Inn Cube Ximen ☆☆ – Popular with gay travelers on a budget who are interested in the gay bars at the Red House and nothing else. Basic rooms and dorms.
Gay Bars and Gay Clubs in Taipei Taiwan
With Taipei being one of the most gay-friendly cities in Asia, you would expect an incredible gay nightlife scene – and luckily Taipei does not disappoint. 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! If you’re not sure where to start head to the Red House / Taipei Gay Village and look out for the monthly gay dance events in Taipei – WERK! @ Triangle & C.U.M @ PIPE.
The Red House Complex has a row of gay bars, cafés and clubs that are practically indistinguishable from each other and we will give a brief overview below (there are definitely some we missed). Your best bet is just to wander past, check out the crowd and Happy Hour specials on the boards outside and make your decision on the spot. New gay events in Taipei 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 Taipei for travelers and locals.
Red House Gay Bars & Cafés in Taipei
Café Dalida – A casual gay cafe and bar with outdoor seating and garden at Red House. Service can be hit-and-miss but their cocktails are divine and they have nightly drink specials. A great place to start the night and is popular with both locals and tourists.
G2 Paradise – A chic gay bar in the Red House complex popular with the bear community. Strong cocktails and nightly happy hour promotions.
Casa Cafe & Bar – Great atmosphere and food with an industrial-chic fit-out. Nice stiff drinks and playful waiters …
Bar SOL – On the edge of the Red House bars, Bar SOL is a bit more relaxed and has great pizza and Spanish tapas – and a full drinks menu. As an almost ‘mixed’ space you find a lot of guys here who are not quite out (and might need some help..)
Mudan Gay Bar – Head in for the delicious smoothie cocktails and staff in adorable pink muscle tanks. The outdoor space is nice with a fun vibe at times with plenty of trendy locals meeting up here.
Shibuya Gay Bar – A cute little gay bar with a Japanese theme with friendly staff. Popular with twinks and young things, they have been known to have go-go dancers later in the night.
The Garden – A spacious gay bar with a standard drinks menu and a lush green-outdoor space. Also has a downstairs bar called the Secret Garden which gets pretty crowded.
Bears Junkies – Perfect for all bears, otters and chasers (or as they are known in Asia – panda’s and monkeys…). Relaxed vibes and the first gay bar/restaurant as you enter the Taipei gay village.
Other Gay Bars in Taipei
Along Bar – A modern gay bar with live music and DJ’s in trendy Zhongshan. A mixed crowd filled with plenty of creative types with a nice atmosphere that really gets pumping later at night.
Commander D – A gay cruise bar around 10 minutes walk from the Taipei Gay Village focussed entirely on exploring fetish and BDSM dreams. Live shows on the weekend and a small darkroom out the back for customers to play. They host themed experience nights but are welcoming to anyone with great drinks and friendly bartenders. Extremely popular and a second location has opened in Red House simply called Commander. Utterly unique and who knows, maybe you will discover something new about yourself…
Goldfish Bar – A trendy bar in Zhongshan catering to bears and their followers. Don’t ask us what goldfish have to do with bears, we still are not quite sure. Cute burly bar-tenders but with no-show, average music and over-priced drinks we would skip it unless you’re a true fan.
Hero Bar – A ten-minute walk from Red House with Dj, cruising areas and plenty of dancing. Friendly staff and no-smoking allowed which is pretty uncommon in Taiwan.
Matt Bar – A friendly and stylish karaoke bar in Zhongshan. Great cocktails and the casual atmosphere perfect for meeting locals and having a bit of fun.
Hunt Gay Bar – An underground gay bar in Taipei popular with the young, muscles and the totally beautiful. If you’re not shy Hunt is well-known for its sexy themed nights including Underwear, KY Wrestling and Bondage. Quite the experience, everyone is friends and anything goes.
MUD Cocktail Bar amba Zhongshan – A gay-popular upscale cocktail bar in Taipei in the Zhongshan District. Hosts parties with DJ’s on occasion in the weekend but if you get sick of Red House, this is a nice change of scene with chilled vibes and some of the best cocktails in Taipei.
Taboo Lesbian Bar Taipei– While the gay scene in Taipei is largely geared towards men, Taboo is a long-standing underground bar almost entirely populated with lesbians with live music on Thursdays and a small dance floor.
Gay Dance Events and Clubs in Taipei
G*Star Gay Club Taipei – The only real gay club in Taipei with two dance floors and capacity up to 500 people. Plenty of younger 20s-30s guys and a mix of both locals and foreigners. Music is everything from international top 50 to K-POP. Check out their Facebook page for themed nights, with shows and dancers. Best on the weekend.
WERK! @ Triangle – Mark this one on your calendar, the biggest gay event in Taipei taking place monthly with everything from go-go dancers, drag queens, and international DJs. Normally takes place on the 3rd Saturday of every month, but check in advance before you do. Leave your inhibitions behind.
C.U.M @ PIPE – A new gay dance event in Taipei held every 2nd Saturday at Pipe club. Welcoming to all queers regardless of gender.
Man Massage and Gay Spas in Taipei Taiwan
Don’t care about the sights or simply want to take advantage of high-quality gay spas in Taipei? Then why not get a sensual male massage in Taipei – there are plenty of options! Here are two top recommended gay spas in Taipei and male massage Taipei options (though there are about ten other gay massage places in Taipei, we have heard mixed reviews about the rest).
The Royal Spa – The biggest men spa in Taipei, with a modern Balinese fit out and various massages and treatment options. The Royal Spa website shows different masseurs hours and advanced recommendations are recommended to avoid disappointment.
Prime Club – One of the top-rated Taipei gay spa, the modern Prime Spa offers plenty of cute guys with all the expected massage packages (with up-to-date prices on their website). Call ahead for reservations.
Gay Bathhouses & Gay Saunas in Taipei Taiwan
Had enough of gay cruising in Taipei – either in the bars or elsewhere?
For those who want a bit more guaranteed action, the gay saunas in Taipei will not disappoint you (unlikely all those faceless accounts on Grindr or the other hook up apps…) and are actually among the best in Asia. In such a foreign-friendly city you should have no issues visiting any Taipei gay sauna, but be warned that we have heard reports that older, hairy or chubbier guys getting looked over at some saunas.
Gay sauna or not, in any sexual encounter, please take adequate precautions. No matter what your intentions are in while traveling, you should bring your own condoms and lube to play it safe. Take home a hot guy or a hot memory, not an STD.
Besides, you never know what other fun surprises your trip might have in store for you...
Sauna Taipei I/O – A new, modern gay sauna & cruise club in Taipei covering three floors. There is a gym, sauna, lounge, steam room, karaoke, dark room and cruising area. Popular with local bears, there is also live shows here by performers and themed events most nights of the week.
Soi 13in Sauna – A popular sauna where everyone is actually naked (most other sauna’s in Taipei locals are quite shy – nudity is mandatory here). Recently renovated with all new facilities including a jacuzzi, sauna, private cabin and steam room. Popular with young and hunky locals, and our pick for best gay sauna in Taipei.
ANIKi WoW– Recently changed management after being run into the ground, ANIKi WoW used to be the best gay sauna in Asia but sadly it’s not even the best sauna in Taipei anymore. Facilities including dry sauna, steam room, cafe, movie room but missing a jacuzzi and maze / dark room. ANIKi WoW gay sauna in Taipei is open 24/7 except for maintenance every second Tuesday during the day, and hosts weekly themed events which normally draw a crowd, but have recently up’d their prices and other places offer the same experience for less.
Hans Men’s Sauna – Old school sauna that could do with a refresh, but clean. A hang-out for local, mature gays with the evening and weekend being the best time to go (though Hans Men’s Sauna is open 24/7). There are dark rooms, private cabins, dry sauna and steam room.
XL Club Taipei Gay Spa – A clothing-optional gay gym and cruising club with extensive facilities including a maze, steam room, tanning booths and some of the best male massage Taipei has to offer. Also, a nice bar/lounge with drinks and snack, and regular themed nights with DJ and performance shows.
Huang Ding Hot Spring – One of the most popular ‘unofficial’ gay hot springs in Taipei, its men-only with lots of guys walking around naked although the facilities are a bit dated. Plenty of bears and most of the action takes place in the dry steam room. Even if you’re not looking for action this is a great place to relax.
While Huang Chi Spa and Kawayu Spa & Sauna are often described as popular gay hot springs in Taipei, recent management changes have tried to change this meaning while they are still popular with gays, no action is generally allowed and alarm bells even ring in the sauna to discourage anything happening.
Just add an adventurous attitude and plenty of smiles - they go a long way - and that about covers it all! Now go out, find your global rainbow family and don't forget to share your best gay stories with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram...We'd love to hear from you!