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EXCLUSIVE | Ask the Travel Expert, May 2008

EXCLUSIVE | Ask the Travel Expert, May 2008

Costa Rica (lesbian); gay Africa; frequent flyer miles; China, Greece

Ed Salvato, who's responsible for Gay.com/Travel and PlanetOut.com/Travel, is the editor-in-chief of The Out Traveler magazine. A pre-eminent gay travel expert, Ed speaks often about gay travel and is frequently quoted in the press. He writes a monthly syndicated travel column and appears regularly on radio and TV. Ed and his team know gay travel, and they prove it by answering your questions.

Lesbian Costa Rica
A group of ladies is planning to travel to Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, for a week, and we would like to know if there are any women's dance clubs or bars you would suggest.
The best bet for a bar is the mixed gay/lesbian Bar Cocatoa in the Jungle Room at the Casitas Eclipse. For gay-friendly restaurants, try Barba Roja (506-777-0331) for excellent daily fish specials and gay night on Thursdays with a DJ. Plinio (506-777-0055) is good for Italian specialties, the friendly crowd, and the warm atmosphere. El Gran Escape (506-777-0395) offers great seafood. Vela Bar (506-777-0413) offers seafood and vegetarian specialties, but it's a bit touristy. For more on Manuel Antonio, click here.

Gay days in Botswana and South Africa
I am considering a safari in Africa. Given the political turbulence in East Africa, I am focusing on Botswana and South Africa. Are you familiar with reputable gay safari outfits that handle safaris in both countries?
Two excellent tour operators offer specific gay packages to this great continent -- Gay2Afrika, the gay arm of New York's 2Africa (866-GO-2-AFRIKA or 212-385-9770, Gay2Afrika.com) and Philadelphia-based Africa expert Premier Tours, which has also ventured into the LGBT market (800-545-1910, PremierTours.com). You should also have a look at Gay Luxury Vacations. They offer a walking, hiking, and game walking vacation to South Africa and Botswana. Swimming in air miles -- and off sunny beaches

I'm swimming in airline miles, but unfortunately not in liquid assets.
I can get literally anywhere for free. Any suggestions for a place that is exotic, with physical activities, perhaps a beach, one or two gay men would be nice, with reasonable, cheap accommodations? I'm not afraid of roughing it.

I recommend Costa Rica or Thailand. Costa Rica is one of the world's most attractive destinations for adventurous travelers gay or straight, and for good reason. The mountains teem with rare and exotic birds, flowers, butterflies, and wildlife. Some of the world's most beautiful remaining rainforests are protected here; their misty waterfalls and pristine lagoons beckon visitors from around the globe. The isolated tropical beaches and warm aquamarine seas are unsurpassed. Thailand isn't known as the "country of smiles" for nothing. With lush tropical beaches and islands, and splendidly intense, buzzing cities, it's nearly impossible not to open up while visiting. Plus, given its history of gay-friendliness and amazingly open-minded attitude (thanks, Buddhism!), the country boasts the most developed gay scene in Asia.

HIV-positive travel to China and Greece
I am planning a trip to China and Greece for my partner, who is HIV-positive. Is there anything we should be aware of? Special visas? Restrictions? Websites that you can direct me to?
The Reuters news agency, quoting a Health Ministry official and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, recently reported that China is to scrap immigration laws that restrict people with HIV/AIDS traveling to the country. In November, the vice-minister of health said that the new law was due to pass "in the coming months." It's worth (anonymously) calling the Chinese Embassy and checking current regulations.

The AIDS map is a really useful resource for travelers concerned about HIV-related travel regulations. It lists HIV-related entry regulations for countries from Albania to Zimbabwe, and has a section on traveling with medication. Click here for another useful site.

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