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Gay Travel: Bangkok Update

December 27th, 2011 Lawrence Ferber

Sunrise at Wat Arun Bangkok. Image via Passport.

There’s a pleasant breeze blowing down Bangkok’s Chao Praya River this morning, much to the delight of those enjoying breakfast at Mandarin Oriental, Shangri-La, and other vaunted luxury hotels that line it. At the former, a gay couple sprinkle chopped chives on each other’s sunny-side-up eggs and suck up the Los Angeles-like springtime weather.

While Mandarin guests find a note in their rooms explaining the realities faced and concessions made due to the recent flood—particularly the financial and logistical hardships faced by dedicated employees who live in waterlogged zones—this area saw little else than high tide thanks to the efforts of local government and workers.

Indeed, with the waters receded from all but some outskirts of the city, Bangkok is back in business and this is an ideal time to visit. It’s high season, the weather is unbeatable, prices are great, and amazing hotel rooms are available between December and February.

Keep reading after the jump…

Many locals became heroes during the floods last month, rescuing people and pets trapped from homes, and dodging additional dangers brought in by the waters like cobras, crocs, and poison centipedes.

Along the city’s Silom strip, waterproof sand bags line the fronts of shopping centers and hotels for water that never arrived. Following a brief closure due to the floods, the famed, massive Chatuchak Weekend Market opened again, which was heralded in the cover story of English-language weekly BK Magazine. Last Saturday, at noon, crowds once again snaked through its endless lanes—you’d never know anything happened. Ditto for Ayutthaya, a historic outskirts city known for its ruins, temples, and other tourist attractions. Barring some spots of mud, you couldn’t imagine that fisherman pants had been required a couple of weeks back.

I check out a show dedicated to the flood at The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, a sort of Guggenheim-esque multi-level gallery complex. Its current exhibitions, including “Water + Empathy,” are dedicated to the flood (talk about a speedy response!), with hundreds of photos, including some very well-known ones like a woman putting a mermaid costume to use in her waterlogged environs, and partially-submerged temples in Ayutthaya.

Celebrations and parties have started up again. On December 15th I attended the grand opening of glam Japanese restaurant Zuma at the ultra-luxe St. Regis, which was swimming with Thai socialites and celebs.

While staying at the Siam Kempinski Hotel, next door to high-end Siam Paragon shopping center (which is gay gay gay!), I enjoy an incredible molecular Thai dinner at Kempinski’s Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin restaurant from Denmark’s Michelin Star-winning chef Henrik Yde Anderson, I joined expat Forrest Mallard at Silom’s gay bar strip, Soi 4. We check out the nightly drag queen show at DJ Station. It’s less packed than usual, but just as entertaining. Choreography! On-point lip synch! Humor! And… more room to dance.

Bangkok’s back—get out here, now!

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