In the vast realm of LGBT travel destinations in Asia, Taiwan has often found itself overshadowed by its more mainstream counterparts. However, this friendly island nation in East Asia offers far more than just stunning landscapes and a vibrant culture.
Indeed, Taiwan stands out as Asia’s most LGBTQ+-friendly nation, making the capital, Taipei, a must-visit for any traveller seeking inclusivity and acceptance.
Though at first glance Taiwan may not scream “LGBTQ+ paradise”, this destination has made remarkable strides in embracing diversity and creating a welcoming environment for all. In 2019, it marked a historic milestone by becoming the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage. This groundbreaking move signalled a major societal shift towards greater acceptance, paving the way for a more inclusive travel experience.
A vibrant hub of LGBTQ+ culture and nightlife
For LGBTQ+ travellers seeking a destination that celebrates love in all its forms, Taiwan beckons with open arms. Taipei, the island’s bustling capital, is a vibrant hub of LGBTQ+ culture and nightlife. The progressive atmosphere and lively spirit of the sprawling metropolis make it an essential port-of-call for those looking to immerse themselves in a city that perfectly blends traditional and modern.
As you traverse Taipei’s streets, you’ll quickly discover the city’s rich tapestry of LGBTQ+ establishments. The epicentre of the city’s queer scene is the Ximen Red House Theatre, located in the historic yet ultra-modern Ximending shopping district. The sprawling Red House complex, nestled amid neon-lit skyscrapers, serves as a focal point for LGBTQ+ culture, with its trove of bars, restaurants and cafés all laid out in close proximity. It’s the perfect place to sip an evening cocktail while people-watching.
Taiwan Pride, held annually in Taipei since 2003, is notable as Asia’s largest Pride celebration, attracting visitors from around the world — particularly those from neighbouring countries who have no Pride celebrations of their own. Despite being held in the autumn, Taiwan is mostly sunny all year round, meaning it has that typical summer Pride atmosphere we all know and love.
What makes Taiwan Pride stand out from others, though, is its atmosphere. There are no route barriers, meaning anyone can hop in or out of the parade as they wish. And it truly is a day for everyone, with all corners of the community — and beyond — visible and sharing their love.
A blend of old and new
Taipei is truly a city that blends old and new, with its myriad temples standing beneath sleek skyscrapers — including the iconic Taipei 101, once the world’s tallest building standing at over 500 metres. Ascending to its observatory affords you a panoramic view of the entire city, set against a backdrop of green, rolling hills — which are perfect for hiking.
And, of course, Taiwan’s food scene alone is worth the journey. Taipei’s night markets like Shilin and Raohe are home to an endless array of tantalising street food, from stinky tofu to beef noodle soup. That’s not to mention the world-famous bubble tea — a Taiwanese creation that’s now found in practically every city worldwide.
Read on to discover 10 highlights of Taipei and why it deserves to be your next Asian holiday destination.
1 Longshan Temple
Experience Taipei’s religious diversity at Longshan Temple, one of the oldest and most significant temples in the city. Marvel at the intricate architecture, witness traditional rituals, and soak up the spiritual ambiance.
2 Yangmingshan National Park
Nature enthusiasts will find solace in Yangmingshan National Park, located just a short drive from Taipei. This expansive park offers hot springs, hiking trails, and picturesque landscapes, providing a serene contrast to the city’s urban hustle.
3 National Palace Museum
Immerse yourself in Taiwan’s rich history and culture at the National Palace Museum. Home to an extensive collection of artifacts spanning 5,000 years, the museum offers a fascinating journey through centuries of art, craftsmanship and dynastic history.
4 Ningxia Night Market
Taipei is famous for its many night markets, but this is one of the city’s biggest. You can sample a wide array of local delicacies that define Taiwan’s street food culture — not to mention the unique atmosphere.
This charming district is known for its hot springs and makes the perfect day trip or overnight stay. View the steam from the open-air Thermal Valley springs and treat yourself to a traditional hot spring experience in one of the area’s many spas.
The city’s bustling entertainment and shopping district is also the heart of its LGBTQ+ nightlife scene. Head here after dark for relaxed people-watching, countless dining choices, or all-night clubbing — the area has it all.
7 Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
Pay homage to Taiwan’s political history at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. This grandiose hall, flanked by the National Theatre and National Concert Hall, commemorates the former president and provides a serene retreat in the heart of the city.
8 Rabbit God Temple
This unique Taoist temple in an unassuming office building is dedicated to Tu’er Shen, a deity associated with gay love and sex. People come here to give offerings and pray for a successful love life — though anyone is welcome.
9 Taipei 101
A visit to Taipei isn’t complete without marvelling at the iconic Taipei 101, a towering symbol of modernity. Ascend to the observation deck for panoramic views of the city, then enjoy the plethora of high-end stores and restaurants downstairs.
10 Dihua Street
Step back in time by wandering through this historical area lined with traditional shops and buildings. Particularly vibrant during festivals, this street offers a glimpse into Taipei’s past, while still embracing its present.
For more information on visiting Taiwan, check out the official Taiwan Tourism website.