Gay Taipei: Far East Freedom

In recent years, Taipei has become a mecca for visitors to the Far East. As the Taiwanese society, in particular that of Taipei, becomes more progressive, gays and lesbians are enjoying greater freedom and openness. October of 2011 will mark Taipei's ninth pride parade.

The center of rainbow commerce in Taipei is Ximen, a neighborhood in the Wanhua district. It features several long streets of endless shops, restaurants, cafes and is a popular destination for both travelers and locals. Gay bars and spas can also be found in most other areas of Taipei. Nightlife is vibrant, with numerous restaurants and clubs staying open until early morning.

One particular phenomenon is Eslite Bookstore, which is open 24-hours and has become a cultural destination. Another is the night markets - row after row of stores and food stands that enjoy a sea of shoppers every night.