The island country of Taiwan has long been considered one of the most democratically liberal and open-minded countries in East Asia. Recently, its Parliament passed the landmark legislation to legalize same-sex marriage, becoming the first Asian country ever to do so.
For Taiwan’s prosperous LGBTQ+ community, this was a hard-fought victory long overdue. As for travellers interested in visiting the country and attend its LGBTQ+ events, here is a quick guide for things to do and places to check out:
Taipei is the capital of Taiwan and its economic centre. The city sprawls with gleaming skyscrapers and numerous cultural landmarks. It’s also where the country’s official Pride Parade is held every year and it’s home to some of the most popular gay bars and clubs on the island.
A coastal city in southern Taiwan, Kaohsiung is both modern and scenic. It has one of the most dynamic art scenes in the country, including a dockside warehouse district, Pier-2, that has been repurposed into an art centre. The city is also known for its incredible food scene and natural landmarks.
The second most populous city in Taiwan, Taichung has a vibrant nightlife scene, busy markets, and sunny weather almost year-round. Once the industrial heartland of the country, Taichung has transformed over the years into an art and cultural hub. It’s also a convenient launchpad for exploring inland Taiwan.
At one time the tallest building in the world, the Taipei 101 is an architectural and engineering marvel built to withstand the Pacific Rim’s many earthquakes. At the top of the tower is a 728-ton tuned mass damper and several observation decks that are open for visits. The lower levels are filled with restaurants, shops, and premium stores.
National Palace Museum
The National Palace Museum possesses more than 70,000 artifacts and artwork from ancient China in its permanent collection, making it the largest showcase of imperial Chinese antiquities in the world. The relics were evacuated to Taiwan during the Chinese Civil War and contain some of the most valuable treasures accumulated by China’s emperors.
Known as the ‘Harajuku’ of Taipei, Ximending buzzes with trendy shops, roadside stalls, arcades, bars and restaurants. This hip neighbourhood celebrates fashion, various Asian subcultures, youth culture, and is filled with many lively street performances.
Taroko National Park
Covering almost 100,000 hectares of untouched nature reaching the Pacific coastline, Taroko National Park is abundant with unique terrains, landscapes, and indigenous wildlife. It’s also home to one of the seven natural wonders of Asia, the marble gorge of Taroko. The park’s many mountain hiking trails lead to hidden waterfalls, valleys, and high altitude forests.
Alishan National Scenic Area
Alishan is a mountainous township surrounded by pristine nature. Here, a historic railway travels through the mountain ranges, forests, and some of the most photogenic parts of the country. The National Scenic Area is close to hiking trails, award-winning high altitude tea plantations, and has an alpine-like climate that creates a surreal ‘sea of cloud’ that blankets higher elevations.
Sun Moon Lake
The largest lake in the country, Sun Moon Lake is shaped like the sun on the eastern side while the western side resembles a crescent moon. The lake, located at an altitude around 750-m above sea level, is a picturesque destination for boat tours and visiting nearby temples and cultural sites.
A once drab and dying veterans’ settlement was rescued from demolition by an elderly resident, who covered the last remaining houses and walkways with colourful, whimsical artwork. Now, one of the most popular detours for those visiting Taichung, the Rainbow Village is primed with photo opportunities and the chance to meet the 96 years old artist known as “Rainbow Grandpa”.
The night markets in Taiwan are places to hunt down bargains, famous street foods, and unique local goods. Among them, Shilin, Raohe, Fengjia, Liuhe, and Luodong are some of the busiest and most vibrant. You can spend hours wandering through the maze of food stalls, jewelry carts, roadside kitchens, and even find interesting shops that only open after dark.
An iconic beach at the southernmost tip of the country, Kenting is covered in soft white-sand and lapped by warm, crystal-clear waters. This stretch of the waterfront is a popular surf spot and ideal for watersports. Nearby, is a street lined by neon-lit shops and has a thriving night market peddling some of the freshest seafood on the island.
An island-hopping destination for those hoping for a change of pace from Taiwan’s bustling cities, Penghu is an archipelago made up of 90 isles and islets. Here, you can explore the local culture, go on temple crawls, beach hop, and check out the double heart-shaped fishing weir.
Formosa Pride & Taiwan LGBT Pride (October)
The largest LGBTQ pride event in the country kicks off on the last weekend of October every year. This four-day event includes a massive parade of floats, marchers, and performers travelling through downtown Taipei. The event features live concerts, a Saturday night party at W Hotel Taipei, and various celebrations spread across the entire weekend.
Taichung LGBTIA Pride Parade (December)
The second largest pride celebration in the country, the Taichung LGBTIA is held annually around Christmas. It features a parade that circles the downtown core and several large scale demonstrations, marches, and public speeches aimed at raising awareness about LGBTQ+ issues.
Taiwan International Queer Film Festival (End of August to Mid September)
An annual film festival with showcases and events in Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Taichung, the TIQFF features the best of gay cinema, filmmakers and LGBTQ+ related films from around the world. The festival offers workshops for local filmmakers, a film award, Queermosa, and a nationwide tour after the official screenings.
Where to Stay
Here are some suggested hotels favoured by travellers to Taiwan:
Address: 10 Zhongxiao East Road Section 5, Metro Station: Taipei City Hall – Exit 2, Taipei 110, Taiwan
View this post on Instagram
Hello W Hotel, Taipei. #whotel #greengrass #logo #building #infrastructure #morning #view #trip #connectinternational #china #asia #expressgateway #leadership #global #markets #business #enterprise #collaboration #2016 #chinesenewyear #yearofthemonkey #eventful #celebration #cny #success #vancouver #vancity #canada
Located at the downtown core, W Hotel Taipei owns a front row view of Taipei 101 and is close to Xinyi District’s many chic, trendy bars, restaurants, premium designer stores, and nightclubs.
The Shangri-La Far Eastern Plaza
Address: No.201 Tun Hwa South Road, Section 2, Taipei 106, Taiwan
The tallest hotel in the city, Shangri-La possesses an elegant Song Dynasty-inspired interior with spacious rooms overlooking Taipei’s skyline. It’s close to metro stops, airports, shopping malls, museums and several cultural sites.
Inhouse Hotel Heritage
Address: No.107 Xining South Road, Taipei 108, Taiwan
A designer boutique hotel in the heart of Ximending, Inhouse is close to Taipei’s gay district, Red House, several hip nightclubs, bars, pubs, and restaurants. It offers quick access to Taipei Train Station, museums, and botanical gardens.
amba Taipei Ximending
Address: 77 Section 2 Wuchang Street, Taipei 10843, Taiwan
Situated in Ximending’s main shopping area, amba Hotel features sunlit rooms ideal for solo travellers, couples, and families. It’s close to a cluster of restaurants, shopping complexes, metro stops, and Red House.
The Lees Hotel
Address: No.105 Wufu First Road, Kaohsiung 802, Taiwan
The Lees Hotel offers 5-star luxury and total tranquillity within walking distance to Kaohsiung’s many landmarks, including Guanghua Night Market, Dome of Light, and Kaohsiung Cultural Centre.
Address: No.4 Zhongshan First Road, Xinxing District, Kaohsiung 80054, Taiwan
Located in Kaohsiung’s vibrant Xingxing District, Hotel Indigo comes with a sweeping view of the city’s skyline, quick access to Liuhe Night Market, Central Park, and Love River.
Just Sleep Zhongzheng
Address: No.134 Zhongzheng First Road, Lingya District, Kaohsiung 80284, Taiwan
Ideal for family, couples, solo and business travellers, Just Sleep is steps away from metro stops, Kaohsiung Highspeed Rail Station, Dadong Art Center, several green parks and temples.
Address: No. 126, Minsheng North Road, West District, Taichung 403, Taiwan
An eco-friendly, nature-themed hotel perfect for families, couples, and solo travellers, Green Hotel is right on the doorstep of Fengjia Night Market, Maple Garden, and a handful of stylish cafes and bars.
1969 Blue Sky Hotel
Address: No.38 Shifu Road, Taichung 400, Taiwan
A centrally-located retro-chic hotel, 1969 Blue Sky is within walking distance to Zhongzheng Park, the National Museum of Natural Science, shops, restaurants, and the Taichung Highspeed Rail Station.
Address: No.206 Minzu Road, Central District, Taichung 400, Taiwan
A contemporary boutique hotel with whimsical decor, Reddot is a stone’s throw from Zhonghua Night Market, the scenic Liuchuan Riverside Walk, downtown amenities, and the Taichung Highspeed Rail Station.
Bars and Clubs
Here are some of the best LGBTQ+ friendly bars and clubs favoured by travellers:
Address: Linsen North Road 85, Lane 13, the first floor Taipei, Taiwan
MUD Cocktail Bar in amba Hotel Zhongshan
Address: 57-1 Section 2 Zhongshan North Road, Taipei 10412 Taiwan
Address: NO.39,10 alley, Chengdu Rd., Wanhua District, Taipei 108, Taiwan
Rainbow Thursday at the Brickyard Club
Address: 801, Taiwan, Kaohsiung City, Qianjin District, Zhongshan 2nd Road, No. 507, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
View this post on Instagram
That morning I failed my first ever triathlon race. The river was so dark, I freaked out. Then I smiled and still proud cuz at least I jumped in and tried while most of my friends called me crazy for even signing up. And the same night I shook it off and rocked it. Still felt like I did something awesome. Head- up- high. #proud #shameless #tried #failed #itsok #djlife #stillgotit #triathlon #truestory #headsup #headshigh #djplala #taiwanindigenous #brickyardkaohsiung #brickyardclub #positiveenergy
Address: No. 10, Siwei 4th Road, Lingya District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Address: Zuoying District, Wenshang Road, No. 38, 2nd floor, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Sensation Lounge Bar
Address: West District, Wuquan Road, No. 96, Taiwan, Taichung City
Address: No. 119, Wuquan West 3rd Street, West District, Taichung City, Taiwan
Moonlight Lounge at the Millennium Hotel
Address: No. 77, Shizheng Road, Xitun District, Taichung City, Taiwan