Vietnam is considered relatively progressive compared with many other countries in Asia. When it comes to LGBTQ rights, Vietnam has taken recent strides toward a more accepting government and culture. This beautiful, tropical country has a time-honored culture, and the mingling of Vietnamese tradition with French and Chinese influence make for a fascinating travel destination with plenty to offer for any traveler.
Vietnam Gay Scene
In 2012, Vietnam took a major stride by having its first ever Pride Parade, which took place in Hanoi, the country's capital city. In January 2015, Vietnam passed the Law of Marriage and Family, which allows gay weddings to take place, but does not legally recognize same-sex unions. While more progress must be made, the LGBT community has embraced these recent changes as important strides toward equality, and as of 2016, Vietnam is one of only eight countries in Asia to vote in favor of a recent resolution put forth by the United Nations on the protection of the LGBTQ community.
Today, more LGBTQ travelers than ever are visiting this country's stunning landscapes, bustling cities, and charming villages. The country's emerging gay scene has expanded the annual Pride Parade to dozens of provinces, which takes place peacefully every year.
Homosexuality has never been illegal in Vietnam. Prostitution is illegal throughout the country and it's best to abide by local laws and customs. You may notice that it's common for local men to hold hands while walking together in public, as men in this region tend to be fairly relaxed when it comes to displaying affection with friends.
Vietnam's cuisine is known for its simple dishes that use just the right combination of ingredients. Vietnam also boasts a number of French, American, Italian and other international restaurants.
Puku Café & Sports Bar
Puku is a popular Hanoi hang out for locals and visitors alike. This gay-friendly venue hosts events like open mic, trivia, language classes, movies and more. One of Hanoi's few 24-hour venues, Puku is the perfect place to snag a quick meal while using the wifi, have a couple beers with friends or plan a casual meet up. Puku is a New Zealand-inspired café serving Vietnamese and international food.
Hanoi Social Club
Both locals and tourists frequent this charming café, hidden in one of Hanoi's many alleyways. The menu features mostly international items with a focus on delicious and healthy meals, along with a beer and wine list. The Hanoi Social Club has a hipster vibe to it and hosts occasional open mic nights. The bulletin board is a great way to get the skinny on local groups and events.
No Stress Café *LGBTQ-Owned
This lesbian-owned coffee shop in Ho Chi Minh City serves cocktails, coffee, cake and more. Located near the backpacker's district, the No Stress Café hosts occasional LGBTQ events and is a prized gem for the local LGBTQ community.
This gay-friendly beer garden, barbecue and restaurant is located right on Hoi An's idyllic riverside. Stop in for a cool drink or a bite to eat on the beautiful outdoor patio.
They gay nightlife in Vietnam keeps a low profile, but if you can catch the local crowd, you're sure to have a blast.
The Golden Cock
The only gay bar in Hanoi, the Golden Cock has a casual atmosphere with long tables, cheap beer and a friendly crowd. Swing by for a game of pool or a few drinks for a great way to meet local and traveling gays.
Cinemateque is a hidden movie theater in Hanoi that is most likely the only of its kind in the country. Located at 22 Hai Ba Trung, this independent movie theater is able to subvert the national censorship laws by charging a small membership fee. Arrive early to enjoy a hearty meal and glass of wine on the outdoor patio before catching a screening of renowned international films, shows and documentaries in their single theater.
This is the most popular gay club in Ho Chi Minh City. The local gay crowd tends to head over around 11 pm for a night of dancing, DJs and drinks. The Republic hosts occasional drag shows and lays claim to the best kumquat mojito in town.
Golden Pine Pub
This small pub in the coastal city of Da Nang gets packed with locals and tourists looking for a bite to eat, drinks and music. One of the only local places where the party keeps going after midnight, the Golden Pine has a youthful crowd and energetic atmosphere, making it a great place for meeting people or going out with a group.
Gay-Friendly Activities & Destinations
Vietnam is a country loaded with possible adventures and unique cultural experiences. While not many activities are specific to the LGBTQ community, gay travelers are unlikely to face problems. Nevertheless, be careful about public displays of affection when you are unsure of the local customs.
The Mekong Delta is a lush region of lush green paddy fields among winding canals and rivers. Located in the south of Vietnam, the Delta is easily accessible by bus from Ho Chi Minh City. Take an all-day tour of the floating markets, pagodas and tiny traditional villages. Don't forget to sample the local soup, a succulent pork rib atop a steaming bowl of noodles in delicious broth and some of the freshest street cuisine in the country.
Temple of Literature
The Temple of Literature is a Confucian temple built in 1070 that holds Vietnam's first national university. Now a prized destination in Hanoi, the temple is a peaceful respite from the city's bustling streets. Amidst local families and the occasional tourist, you can take a stroll through the five beautiful courtyards and observe locals offering gifts to ancestors in ancient tradition. The temple is free to enter.
The Easternmost peak in the Himalayan chain, Fansipan is the highest mountain in Vietnam. Take a train from Hanoi to Sapa, where hill tribes live a traditional rural life, save for the small tourism industry that has amassed over the years. Hire a local guide to take you on a 2-day trek to the top of the mountain for an unforgettable trekking experience.
Hanoi Opera House
Local Tips, Tricks & News
Getting around in Vietnam is most common on a motorbike or scooter. Hire a "xe om" (pronounced "say-om"), or motorbike taxi to take you on short trips around a city. They are easy to find, as local men await foreigners on every street corner offering rides around town for a fee. Bartering is normal, but the fees are small enough that you may prefer to simply pay the extra 50 cents or so. You can also rent your own motorbike if you wish to drive yourself around. They are simple to learn, even for a beginner. Make sure you have traveler's insurance if you plan to ride on a motorbike.
A "bia hoi" is a beer hall common in the north of Vietnam, particularly in Hanoi. Travelers interested in diving into a local scene can head to one of these outdoor spots with long tables, simple Vietnamese dishes, and the cheapest beer in the world.