Gay Thailand

Life with a gay Asian friend will go more smoothly if you understand certain differences. Here's a guide to gay dating, 101.

Gay Dating and Social Life

Gay men in Thailand: Western gay men find themselves warmly welcomed by their Thai counterparts.

"He just used my toothbrush!" You'll handle certain surprises better, if you're prepared for the differences between Asian and western cultures.

 


Related pages:

From here, continue on to Gay dating in Thailand, 202

Gay life and customs

Thailand's social hierarchy

Thai customs

Basic travel facts

The Thai language

Making yourself understood

Mai pen rai: a slogan and a philosophy

 

 

Gay Thailand tour

 

Complete site index 

Western men who visit gay bars or other gay venues in Thailand will readily meet Thais who speak enough English to socialize. Moreover, these Thai men are eager to meet you. Sooner than expected, you may find yourself socializing with new friends, or even dating on a level that involves more than a trip back to the hotel room.

Any Thai who speaks enough English to carry on a conversation with you probably understands western customs to some extent. But he'll still be more comfortable if you understand, and respect, his* own culture and customs. 

Some of the customs below apply only to dating, others will be relevant in a variety of other social situations as well.

  • You're the social superior. The notion of dating someone on a non-equal basis is tough for most Americans to swallow, but in Thailand, the concept of social superiority is too ingrained to be ignored. (See the Social Hierarchy page.) This doesn't mean you treat your partner shabbily. And in bed, everything can change. But on a date, it's assumed that you'll pay. (If a Thai invites you, and offers to pay, that's fine; but don't expect it.)

  • Don't initiate public demonstrations of affection. No kissing. No holding hands. (Granted, straight male friends may hold hands or walk arm-in-arm in Thailand! But everyone reads the situation differently when it involves a western man and a Asian man.) Let your friend set the pace for what's acceptable and comfortable.

  • Compliment often; never criticize. If you must make a comment that might be construed as "constructive criticism" in the U.S., do it subtly, and balance it with compliments. Far better to just compliment.

  • Don't compare your country favorably to Thailand. Such comments would be rude in any country; they seem particularly boorish in Thailand. In general, don't boast, brag, or act superior about anything.

  • Dress well. Dress reflects status. Long pants, and clean, pressed clothes, are expected of someone in your position.

  • Be generous. This, like dressing neatly, is expected of someone of your status.

  • Make way for little differences. Your new boyfriend may use your toothbrush, leave pools of water on the floor after a shower, wear your clothes without asking, or leave footprints on the toilet seat. None of these acts is unusual by Thai standards, and there's no reason to object to them. (After that kiss, you think it's unsanitary to share a toothbrush!?)

  • Be prepared to be sniffed! Sniffing someone's cheek shows intimacy.

  • Don't be surprised by unannounced visits. Thai people commonly drop in on friends without notice. While they're more likely to do this with other Thai friends than with a westerner in a hotel, it could still happen. If so, do your best to at least make time for a drink; then you can explain that "this isn't a good time for a longer visit," should that be the case. Wouldn't it be awkward if you're entertaining this week's boyfriend when last week's date drops in? Yes, indeed. But sufficiently common that the Thais have a term for this situation: It's called a train crash. Respect each man's feelings and his need to "save face," and move along.

There will be occasions when it's appropriate to make exceptions to many of these rules, but let a Thai friend guide the way in determining those occasions.

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*We use the male pronoun because this page is compiled primarily from the experiences of gay men, and we expect it to be largely read and used by gay men. The advice is generally, but not entirely relevant for lesbians, and we welcome comments from women travelers about their experiences meeting and socializing with other women in Thailand.


This site is provided by Alyson Adventures, which offers active vacations and adventure travel for gay men, lesbians, and friends. We hope the information here will be useful to those traveling on our Thailand tour, and also to others planning an independent tour or researching Thailand.

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