Gay Vacations in Hong Kong

Aerial view of the business district at night in Hong Kong, China
Tourists viewing the business district at night (Martin Harvey/Digital Vision/Getty)

Hong Kong Highlights

  • English will only get you so far in Hong Kong. Despite the decades of British rule, English is not as widely spoken as you would think. And although the use of Mandarin is growing, the tongue-twisting (at least for tourists) dialect of Cantonese is dominant. Most signs and a lot of local media, however, are in English.
  • Hotels are king in Hong Kong. Since there are no gay places to stay in Hong Kong, and since the city has some of the most elaborate and huge hotels on earth, now is the time to splurge on a great room. Even locals hang out and dine in the city's fabulous hotels. Make reservations well in advance, especially for Chinese New Year in February.
  • Avoid the summer. From humid May to late September, temperatures can regularly be in the stifling 90s, and it's also typhoon season, when the most rain falls in the region.

The "New York of Asia" is a lot cleaner and friendlier than its namesake, even if its gay identity is not as loud and proud. Gay life only really came to the forefront in Hong Kong before China took over the former British colony in 1997, when local LGBTs (who call themselves Tongzhi or "comrades") finally demanded some equal rights. But China's "one country, two systems" policy has generally been adhered to in terms of social freedoms, and LGBT life has generally survived and grown under Chinese rule?despite the fact that it still struggles somewhat in mainland China.

In 2006, life imprisonment for gay sex under the age of 21 was voided in Hong Kong, and the government also began partially funding the Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film & Video Film Festival, the largest and longest-running LGBT film festival in Asia (held in November). Local Tongzhi have become much more out in recent years, even holding "invasion" parties, where they take over straight bars, and running queer flotillas of Chinese junks in the harbor. Periodic LGBT circuit parties (such as the lesbian PIMP Party in April and the gay Labour Pride in late April/early May) also have been revving up.

But for a city of its size, the gay nightlife scene is still fairly limited, mainly found in the party-hearty Lan Kwai Fong area on Hong Kong Island and to a lesser extent in the tourist-popular Tsim Sha Tsui district in Kowloon. Hong Kong is brimming with private gay saunas, which are more innocent than their Western counterparts and include karaoke, full bars, movie nights, and lounges for discreet socializing. One of the rare sights in Asia?an all-gay beach?is at Middle Beach on Hong Kong Island, a ten-minute walk south from Repulse Bay.

Beyond the gay scene, Hong Kong has awesome name-brand shopping, great Chinese temples (such as the Po Lin Monastery on Lan Tau Island with its enormous Buddha monument), superb restaurants, and easy access to the mainland city of Guangzhou and the former Portuguese colony of Macau.


Published: 15 Aug 2008 | Last Updated: 17 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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