Bangkok, Thailand, has been called everything from the Venice of the East to the Capital of Sin, but only recently has it been raising eyebrows as a cosmopolitan destination. The mantra "anything goes," once applied only to the city's naughty nightlife, now extends to everything from shopping and art to hotels and spas. Add a karma-driven culture and relaxed views on sexuality and gender and you have a gay mecca in the making.
While there's no gay neighborhood per se, two crowded alleys in the area of Bangrak host the lion's share of happening gay bars and clubs at night, and during the day the expat-filled Sukhumvit is where you'll spend most of your time. This seething metropolis may seem intimidating, but it's also wonderfully accessible. It's an urban explorer's paradise.
86-88 Silom Soi 4; 66-2-235 -5891
One might start a bar crawl along the tourist-friendly Silom Soi 4 at this publike bar and restaurant with a top floor where you can survey all the freewheeling Western tourists and their temporary Thai boyfriends.
Silom Soi 2, Bangrak; 66-2-266-4029 DJ-Station.com
This is the crown jewel of Soi 2.
Young Thais and a handful of Westerners flock to this multilevel dance club on weekends, especially during festivals where colorful costumes are de rigueur.
60/18-21 Silom Soi 2/1, Bangrak; 66-2-632-8033
A former cabaret, this club's tradition of showmanship lives on in drag shows and go-go boys (hence the name "Guys on Display") who dance to progressive house music on three floors, the top of which is notorious for its active darkroom.
Old Bangkok Inn
609 Pra Sumen; 66-2-629-1787 OldBangkokInn.com
Eschew the isolated and gargantuan five-star resorts for the rustic Old Bangkok Inn, located in a converted teahouse. Situated in the city's historic center, the inn has a series of calm, green-friendly rooms filled with Thai and Burmese antiques, native teak, silk and ceramics.
27 South Sathorn Rd.; 66-2-625-3333 Metropolitan.como.bz/bangkok
Filled with natural colors and plenty of polished wood surfaces, the design favors calm and Western minimalism over easy Buddha clich?s. Much like its popular sister locale in London, this is home away from home for the creative Western jet set. In keeping with the exclusive vibe, the sultry Met Bar lounge is for hotel guests only.