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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > 292 > OLD-SCHOOL THAI

OLD-SCHOOL THAI

Thailand is famed for its delicious food, unspoilt beaches and the warm welcome it extends to gay tourists. Matt Cain travels to Bangkok, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan to see whether the country lives up to its reputation
RELAXED: Matt Cain

As our taxi sets off from Bangkok airport, I’m bombarded by billboards carrying images of the Thai king. Our driver tells us that he died nearly 10 months ago now but the country is still in mourning.

I’m intrigued by how attached the Thai people are to their royal family. But without wanting to be insensitive, I also find myself worrying that if the country’s in mourning, my holiday might not be what I was hoping for; I’m here with a friend to get away from the stresses of work and really want to relax for 10 days.

As it happens, I have nothing to worry about.

I’ve never been to Bangkok before but soon discover that, like many Asian cities, it mixes the new with a smattering of the old; modern high-rise office and apartment blocks (not to mention countless branches of 7-Eleven) jostle for space with low-rise buildings that may look tatty but offer a glimpse into the city’s intriguing past. My favourite area is the neighbourhood near Chinatown, where the streets are lined with trees and the alleyways bustle with the activity of street markets.

One major downside is I don’t think I’ve ever been to a city so choked by traffic and we soon discover that getting around Bangkok by car is a constant challenge. But this negative is easily outweighed by the wealth of positives, not least of which is the city’s thriving gay scene. With such a calm, peaceful and tolerant culture, the capital of Thailand has become the undisputed hub of gay Asia.

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About Attitude

Actors Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz discuss Star Trek’s first gay kiss, Dancing on Ice star Matt Evers comes out as gay, and we speak to Love Island’s Kem Cetinay and pop star Paloma Faith. Plus an expanded travel section featuring Thailand, Hawaii, Tel Aviv, Venice and Florida.