Taipei, Taiwan’s vibrant capital, has opened itself up as the flourishing gay capital of Taiwan, with a gay and lesbian scene that has seen it dubbed the new San Francisco of Asia.
The Taiwanese people are amongst the friendliest in the world and have a good sense of humour and the gay scene is friendlier and more relaxed than Singapore’s or Bangkok’s.
Like most gay capitals, Taipei is home to the Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade, the largest gay pride parade in Asia.
Dubbed Love Out Loud! The Power of Love Conquers Discrimination, Taipei’s seventh annual gay pride parade was held on October 31, 2009. More than 25,000 people showed up to march.
During the year, several gay and lesbian parties are held at Taipei’s most popular LGBT hotspot Luxy, including Sista Jumpa, Lesz Meeting and the traditional end-of-year Gay Dance Party, held on Christmas Eve.
It is said that Taiwan is among the more tolerant and progressive Asian countries as far as gay rights are concerned. In 2003, Taiwan’s cabinet drafted a pro-LGBT bill to legalise same-sex marriage and adoption. However, LGBTs in Taiwan need to wait before the bill is passed into law.
Bars and clubs
The gay scene in Taipei is expanding, exciting and energetic, offering dance and karaoke for even the most jaded of gay disco bunnies.
Most of Taipei’s gay clubs and bars offer cutting-edge music, enthralling light shows and top class international DJs. There’s a good mix of gay-friendly businesses, from bars and pubs to saunas, spas and massage parlours, all over the city.
Spa and massage
Taipei is known for its man-on-man spas and massage parlours.
Some of the more renowned institutions in Taipei include Aniki, Taipei Men’s Spa, Rainbow Sauna, The Mulo Spa, The Royal Spa, In Touch Spa, Taipei Hot-springs.
Shop till you drop
Taipei is fast becoming the trend-setting capital of Asia. The towering billboards and neon lights of Ximending, the main shopping and fashion district, resemble the electric atmosphere of inner-city Tokyo.
Its streets are lined with shops, hair salons, restaurants, department stores, bookstores as well as movie and karaoke theatres. Ximending is also the main LGBT district of Taiwan, with a host of clubs and pubs.
A walk through the Dihua St area gives visitors a feel of Taipei’s past. The old-town market has shops selling traditional goods such as Chinese medicines and herbs, icons and incense, and bamboo and wooden crafts.
Hot and noisy night markets are a cultural institution in Taiwan, showcasing traditional Taiwanese snacks, delicacies and crafts.
The night markets have become famous for offering xiaochi foods (xiaochi roughly translates as ‘small eats’). Famous Taiwanese snacks range from oyster omelettes to fried rice noodles, braised pork rice and stinky tofu.
Located behind the Grand Hotel, the Martyrs’ Shrine was built in 1969 and is modelled after the Hall of Supreme Harmony of the Forbidden City in Beijing. The shrine rises from an expansive park-like setting in a ring of mountains, adding to its majestic allure.
The perfect wind-down from a sultry night of partying, a cycling tour of the scenic Danshuei Riverside will give you a welcome respite from Taipei’s wild nightlife. The tour will take you over wooden bridges, mangroves, estuaries and wetlands while enjoying the sight of sailboats along the shore or the sunset over Guanyin Mountain. Fine cafés and shops are just seconds away from the bikeway.
Taiwan Handicraft Promotion Centre
For nearly five decades, this non-profit centre has presented Taiwan’s largest selection of traditional local handicrafts, from jewellery, carvings and paintings to furniture, glasswork and aboriginal ornaments, all at reasonable prices.
While taking a break from getting to know the Taipei nightlife, you can explore some of the numerous cultural, historical and architectural sites located in the city.
National Palace Museum
The National Palace Museum boasts the world’s largest and most impressive collection of Chinese art and artefacts, dating back more than 7000 years. The full collection comprises over 650,000 items, including calligraphy, paintings, jade, bronze, silk and curio pieces.
Taipei is home to many temples. Lungshan (Dragon Mountain) Temple is the oldest and most famous. It is also one of Taiwan’s finest examples of temple architecture.
Taipei 101 is the tallest building in the world. The 508-metres structure has 101 floors and is situated at the centre of the Hsin Yi District.
info: For more information about the annual Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade, visit www.twpride.net