Every year more than 15 million people travel to Vietnam. Although it is a quite a conservative country that is steeped in tradition, it is also one of the more gay-friendly countries within Southeast Asia. There are no anti-gay laws, and the ban on gay weddings was lifted in 2015, although sadly many gay people remain in the closet and are still expected to have heterosexual marriages. Attitudes are gradually changing though, with the first pride parade, Viet Pride, held in 2012. There are an increasing number of travel companies there that are catering to the LGBTQ market, or you can organize an amazing Vietnam adventure yourself.
Traveling around Vietnam
If you want to see just how varied the Vietnamese landscape is, then traveling by motorbike is one of the cheapest and easiest ways for the adventure tourist. You can hire a bike in most towns, but make sure that you invest in safety gear too, especially if you aren’t an experienced biker. Protective clothing is essential if you are navigating rough terrain, as are a helmet and gloves. Whilst you are traveling around Vietnam, public displays of affection are frowned upon, no matter what your sexual orientation. You should also make sure that you dress appropriately at all times, especially if you are visiting important cultural sites or going to religious temples.
Exploring the Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh City has an extremely welcoming gay community, and you will find many gay bars and saunas that are welcoming. Whilst you’re in the city, make the most of the local food markets – you will find some amazing speciality delicacies that are unique to this part of Asia. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, book yourself on a tour of the Cu Chi tunnels – these are a large network of tunnels that stretch out underneath the city. They were used by the military during the Vietnam war as a hiding spot, and also as a supply route for food and weapons. These tunnels are certainly not for the fainthearted.
LGBTQ travel companies
There are a number of LGBTQ tour operators that can help you make the most of what Vietnam has to offer. Purple Dragon have been running for over 20 years and pride themselves on an “up close and personal” tour experience. You certainly won’t be spending days sitting on a tour bus. Zoom Vacations are another good option – there were voted Best Small Tour Operator by PlanetOut. If you fancy going on a river tour whilst you are in Vietnam, then Pandaw is your go-to company. They offer small shop river cruises throughout Asia with a very gay-friendly and inclusive atmosphere.
Vietnam is changing, and the culture is now generally very welcoming towards LGBTQ tourists who want to travel to this beautiful country. You can have an amazing adventure, both off the beaten track and in the vibrant cities, that you will never forget.