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Travel & Resources: MYANMAR / BURMA

Please help us keep these listings up-to-date. Special thanks to stevemuine, ecyc02, Josan, Nikom, Justinwilson, ZAR, KYAWKYAW, Mike, Skyking, KyawThet, Mariner, Bob, Dom, Robert, John and Doug Sanders!


Advisory: Myanmar law maintians antique British-colonial prohibitions on "carnal intercourse against the order of nature." although there seems to be no history of enforcement. There are no reports of raids or harassment of LGBT-popular venues or cruising areas.

General Information

    Elections in Nov, 2010 saw military rule replaced with a military-backed nominally civilian government, which took office in Mar, 2011. Many recent positive signals have been welcomed by the international community, including the release of political detainees.

    The people of Myanmar want you to visit. Money that you spend there goes directly into their hands to improve their lives. Many of the people you encounter have studied English (they have already placed their bets on Myanmar's brighter future) and they are very grateful for any contact with foreign visitors.

    Myanmar seems frozen in time, but expect everything to change rapidly as the country opens. You can still see Asian daily life here as it existed more than a century ago. Almost everywhere you visit is going to be safe. You must take shoes off at all sacred s, so consider easily removable footwear (and a wet towel to clean feet).

    Women and men still wear charming wrap-around longyis (sarong) as standard attire and decorate their faces with pale yellow powder. The farther upcountry you go, the more colorful ethnic groups will be encountered ("Myanmar" was chosen as the country's name to include all of the dozens of ethnic groups that comprise the nation, not just the ethnic Burmese). Myanmar should definitely be on your dream itinerary for Southeast Asia.

  • Burma/Myanmar Gay & Lesbian News
  • Additional Links and Resources

click to visit MandalayTravel.com


Organizations

  • AIDS/HIV organizations and information
  • &PROUD UTOPIA VERIFIED OCT 2014
      Organisers of cultural events for LGBT in Yangon and they hosted the first &PROUD Yangon LGBT Film Festival in Nov 2014.
  • Campaign for Lesbigay Rights in Burma (CLRB)
      PO Box 37 Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai 50202 Thailand, E-mail: myomin@cscoms.com. Aung Myo Min serves as director of this committee established in mid-1996. His guiding passion for empowering lesbigay communities manifests in confidential workshops organized with gay Burmese activists who manage to go regularly to Thailand.


Travel Services

    mandalaytravel.com MandalayTravel.com UTOPIAN VERIFIED JUL 2014
      Email. Offering gay-friendly travel arrangements exclusively in Myanmar (Burma). Most tours are arranged on a private and individual basis to offer total travel freedom. See the sunset at the golden Shwedagon Pagoda, cruise on the famous Irrawaddy River, visit awesome Bagan and Mandalay, glide across serene Inle Lake, or relax on unspoiled tropical beaches. Utopia Member Discount

      Comments from Utopians:

      "We booked with MandalayTravel.com. They provided a perfect trip for us, customized to exactly what we wanted to see throughout the country. Email replies prior to our trip were very fast and professional. They arranged private, English-speaking guides and drivers for Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay. Each very friendly, knowledgeable, and spoke clear English. Each guide was able to customize our day to our preferences so we did not have to see any tourist factories or shops. Each guide was able to give us a better insight into our visits as well as personal insight into their life in Myanmar. They provided impeccably clean cars with aircon (as it's VERY hot in June). I would definitely use them again as it made our trip to Myanmar a very magical experience!" -- Luke L. (USA), Jul 4, 2014

  • Tamarind Travel
      PO Box 593 Ashmore City, Gold Coast, Australia, (61-7) 3103-2434, (61-4) 2419-5456, email. Gay and lesbian-friendly tours to Myanmar. English speaking team of travel agents and tour guides who organise individual and private tours, custom made tours, group tours, hotel and flight bookings exclusively in Myanmar. Member of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association. Utopia Member Discount



BAGAN

Attractions

    Bagan
    , Asia's spectacular lost city.



MANDALAY

Popular Spots

Accommodations

      Click here for Mandalay hotels and accommodations.


Massage for Men

    • LIME Spa UTOPIAN VERIFIED JUL 2014
        No 18, 69th St (across from Mandalay University, between 41st St and 43rd St), Maharaungmyay Township, email, +95 925-001-5002. Sister branch of Yangon's gay-owned spa. Try their signature fusion massage, a combination of Thai and Swedish which will give you a deeper level of relaxation. Utopia Member Discount

        Comments from Utopians:

        "I liked the location so much, I visited twice in my two days in Mandalay! LIME Spa is a perfect gay-friendly stop for a refreshing massage after a full day of sightseeing. We did not need reservations; the hours were 11am-11pm. Both locations have friendly staff, clean, relaxing private massage rooms with aromatic oils and candles. The masseurs are very professional and courteous. Showers are available for post-massage. I even got a great haircut for K$2,000 (@US$2)! Two-hour aromatic massage for K$24,000 (@US$24). The staff arranged moto-taxi for us to get back to our hotel (great fun!). " -- Luke L. (USA), Jul 4, 2014


Meeting Places

    • There is a young and friendly crowd hanging out around the fitness equipment by the southeast corner of the Palace wall (at 26th and 66th St to be precise), opposite Mandalay Swan and Sedona Hotels. UTOPIAN VERIFIED MAR 2011



Taungbyone

General Information

    The Taungbyon Nat Pwe festival is held yearly at Taungbyone, about 20k north of Mandalay. It is held the last part of Aug for six days, up to and including the full moon. Thousands of people from all over Myanmar gather to celebrate the Nats (spirit mediums). Gays from all over Myanmar attend. The large majoirty of Nats in Myanmar are gay men. Also many gay devotees show up just to join in the party, as do hundreds of gays from nearby Thailand. For six days people dance, eat, and drink. The area is covered with food tables and shop stalls. Roving dance groups perform day and night. The atmosphere reflects that of Carnival in Brazil or in the Caribbean. During these days you can do what you feel, not what you have to do during the rest of the year. For this reason many males 'come out' during these six days. Foreigners wishing to attend should take a local along. Many guides or drivers are more than willing go.

      Comments from Utopians:

      "The Taungbyon Nat Pwe (festival) is the largest religious gathering in the country. It is not, itself, a gay event. The big stage shows every night feature regular current singers and bands, with no cross-dressing and no apparent LGBT aspects. The festival is a big country fair, with food, games, rides -- and fancy hats and toy swords for the kids. A distinctive part of the festival are dance performances by spirit mediums and other devotees of the Nats (local spirits) in the main 'palace', or a dozen or so smaller 'palaces'. Most of the spirit mediums are males and most of those are gay. The male spirit mediums will cross-dress if the Nat spirit that is to possess them is a female. If it is a male Nat spirit, they will still dress very elaborately, with make-up, eye shadow, and lustrous clothing, but they will be dressing as males, perhaps as one of the Taungbyon brothers who are the special spirits for this particular Nat Pwe. The performances by the spirit mediums are the flamboyant part of the overall festival, but they blend in with the other aspects of the very large gathering. The spirit medium performances are the special reason for the festival, but the festival is a much larger event, filled with families with kids and young heterosexual couples. Gay spirit mediums are familiar to everyone in Myanmar/Burma, just as trans figures, like kathoey in Thailand are known to everyone in Thailand. The festival is certainly gay positive. Gay mediums and their gay followers co-exist happily with other festival goers." -- Douglas Sanders.



YANGON / RANGOON -- area code (95-1)

General Information

    Yangon is like no other city in Asia. It is the definitive setting for an exotic “far east” movie set; a bustling, dusty, and color-splashed city blending nostalgic influences from India, Tibet and Persia into its ancient cultural fabric. The people are simply amazing to look at. Classic colonial facades give way to diamond and gem-encrusted spires of zedis (temple stupas) around which daily life orbits.

    Have high tea at the classic Strand Hotel, wander the shady markets in the afternoon and then head to the glimmering Shwedagon pagoda before sunset. Here, amidst prayer halls, spirit shrines, and monumental bronze bells, take a moment to sit and watch the crowd of families, tourists, pilgrims, school children, monks, nuns, and worshippers as they flow through the golden light.

    Yangon has a population of over 5 million (that's more than 200,000 Utopians).


Popular Spots

Bars and Clubs

    • Heaven UTOPIAN VERIFIED SEP 2013
        Next corner of Thu Kha and Baho St, near Asia Royal Hospital, 009 594-0258-2147, 009 594-932-4003, email. Gay-owned cocktail bar. Friendly and polite, cute barman and handsome owner. International cocktail service and nice, low volume music. Aircon. Open daily from 4-11pm.
    • Ko Ko's
        9 Sayar San Rd (near Mr. Guitar), Bahan Township. The first PLU cafe and bar in Myanmar. Ko Ko is a famous hair-stylist with five hair salons around Yangon.
    • Lion World (mixed) UTOPIAN VERIFIED MAR 2012
        Corner of Anawyatar St and Shwedagon Pagoda Rd. It is an upstairs restaurant and bar on a balcony connected to one of the overhead walkways (and to a department store above 369). It draws some local gays for a snack or beer. Gays gather at the bar so it's not obvious at first that it's a gay bar. Closes early.
    • Silver Oak Cafe (mixed)
        83/91 Bo Aung Kyaw St, 299-993. The front is a Ko Ko hair salon, the club is in the back. Live music club with very friendly staff. Local food and drinks. Two blocks from The Strand. Busy from 8pm onwards.
    • The Strand Bar (mixed)
        92 Strand Road, Yangon, 243-377. Not gay, but the place to be on Fri nights for trendy locals, expats, and visitors alike. Cozy seating and excellent service. Great range of cocktails, wines and spirits, cigars and snacks. Happy Hour special prices. Pool table.

      Comments from Utopians:

      "BME II and YGN bar have both closed." -- Jeewee, Oct 14, 2014


Discos

    • 369 Disco UTOPIAN VERIFIED MAR 2012
        Shwedagon Pagoda Rd, between Mahabandoola Rd and Anawratha Rd. A 15 minute walk west of Sule Pagoda (the central landmark in the British colonial section of Yangon). This largely gay disco has been in operation for a number of years and seems to have fallen on lean times. The crowd is small and the show close to nothing. Entry fee includes a drink. It closes at 2am. Open on Sat and Sun (maybe more nights). Some some foreigners.
    • 9th Floor Disco UTOPIAN VERIFIED JUN 2012
        Located in the Mingal Zei group of buildings, north of the old British colonial area and close to Kandawgyi Lake. Tell your taxi driver to go to JJ Disco. JJ is on 8/F and 9th Floor Disco is on 9/F. Can get jammed on Sat with hunfreds of young Burmese. Loud disco music makes conversation difficult and the lighting challenges anyone trying to identify the number of transgenders among the clubbers. Video screens continually show football. The crowd is middle-class, about 90% gay males, plus lesbian couples and some straights. The crowd's too hip to wear longyis (sarong). Basically everyone's in jeans. Entry includes a beer. A sign indicates the disco is open Thu-Sun. It closes at 4am. Few, if any, foreigners.
    • fab UTOPIA VERIFIED AUG 2014
        VIP Bar, Yangon Hotel, 8th mile (at the junction of Pyay Rd and Kabar Aye Pagoda. , email. Taxis know "Yangon Hotel 8th Mile" and the entrance to VIP bar is at the back of the hotel. Gay-owned fab is Yangon's first monthly party for lesbians, gays and friends. It's for drinking, dancing and flirting. It attracts a mixed crowd of locals, expats and visitors. Organised by YG. Every last Sat of the month they throw a party. Come and dance, flirt, drink and chat in a great mix of locals, expats and tourists, gays and straights. The relaxed atmosphere and great tunes from DJ Bay Tar make for a great night out. Entrance is very inexpensive and includes a free shot. FAB is non-profit: all proceedings go to the Yangon LGBT cause.

        Comments from Utopians:

        "fab is definitely a must-go if you want to get to know the local LGBT community better. It's a party for LGBT held every last Sat of the month at Hotel Yangon. Even though it's a mixed crowd, most of the LGBT will eventually attend the party. The place is quite a distance, almost reaching the airport." -- younggun80, Aug 6, 2014


Massage for Men

    • LIME Spa UTOPIAN VERIFIED JUL 2014
        57 Mingalar St, Sanchaung Township, 094-2015-6395, email. Gay-owned spa founded in 2010 and one of the best men's spas in Singapore, now with sister branches in Yangon and Mandalay. Try their signature fusion massage, a combination of Thai and Swedish which will give you a deeper level of relaxation. Utopia Member Discount

        Comments from Utopians:

        "LIME Spa is located in both Yangon and Mandalay and is a perfect gay-friendly stop for a refreshing massage after a full day of sightseeing. Friendly staff, clean, relaxing private massage rooms with aromatic oils and candles. The masseurs are very professional and courteous. Showers are available for post-massage." -- Luke L. (USA), Jul 4, 2014

        "LIME Spa is a real asset to the local scene. It provides facials, hairdressing and the usual range of massages. Located in San Chaung Township, which is about 20 minutes from the centre of Yangon (on a good traffic day!). Local phone number is 420156395 - the manager is excellent and will provide you with a map to help the taxi driver find it. Will also get you a taxi to get back (and negotiate the rate!). All in all, first class service. I visited on Nov 28 2013 and it will be my first stop next time I'm in Yangon!" -- Hamlet, Dec 1, 2013

        "Went to gay-friendly LIME Spa in Sanchaung Township. They provide very good quality massage." -- younggun80, Nov 10, 2013

    • Spa D'lax UTOPIAN VERIFIED JUL 2014
        35 Thuka St (next to Seik Taing Kya Tea House), San Chaung Township, 092-5053-5322, email. Gay-owned spa for men, opened in 2014. Offering grooming and relaxation services, from head to toe, including haircuts, body treatment and aroma massage. Utopia Member Discount

        Comments from Utopians:

        "Romantic atmosphere with clean, boutique style private rooms; soothing music; polite and professional staff with great customer care attitudes; and friendly management. You can get there either from Pyay Rd or U Wisaya Rd. Get in from Ma Po St and then turn into a smaller lane call Thu Kha St (next to Seik Taing Kya Tea House), then a couple of houses on your righthand side, there it is. Easy to locate on Google Maps coordinates: 16.807923, 96.138718." -- Choice C., Jul 26, 2014

        "Newly opened - I was actually the first customer! A great addition to Yangon. The space is clean, private and very boutique spa with courteous, professional masseurs. The manager was delightful. A great way to relax in busy Yangon! You can ask taxi to drive to 'Blazon Bld' or 'House of Memories' and walk the two blocks to the spa. Much easier than trying to explain to taxi drivers the exact location. Easy to locate on Google Maps (16.807923, 96.138718)." -- Luke L. (USA), Jul 4, 2014


Meeting Places

    • Aungsan National Sports Stadium
        National team dormitories under stadium and restaurants surrounding. Soldiers, police and athletes. Take someone with you who can speak Burmese.
    • Fitness area at the Olympic swimming pool is a hangout for local gay people. Facilities are very poor (don't expect a proper shower) and equipment is ancient.
    • Inya Lake park.
    • J-Donuts
        Shwe Bon Htar St at Dagon Centre is cruisy in the day and early evenings 5-7pm on weekends especially. -- eye contact is crucial. Once you make contact, you'll find a friend. Beware of the hustlers but most times they just want to get to know a foreigner who will help sponsor them and help them get out of a life of tyranny and unemployment.
    • Lake Kandawgi -- vicinity of Kandawgi Hotel.
    • Mahabandoola Park area, at night.
    • Pedestrian overpass at Thein Gyi Zay (Anawyater St and Shwedagon Paya Rd) in the evenings between 7-9pm. If you make a new friend, head to nearby Lion World Beer Garden for a drink. Young men stand here in the evening hoping to find a boyfriend. There is also a facility at the northwest corner of this junction and people also stroll along the section of Shwedagon Pagoda Rd north of this junction. UTOPIAN VERIFIED JUN 2012
    • Rock Heart cafe on top of the FMI center is cruisy.
    • Sule Paya Rd starting about 4:20-5pm at an outside tea shop. There are two cinemas here. Next to one of those is the tea shop with a blue awning. Every evening, but especially on the weekends.


Restaurants and Cafes

    • 365 Café (western and Asian) UTOPIAN VERIFIED MAR 2012
        G/F Thamada Hotel, in front of the Rail Road Station. North of Sule Pagoda, over the railway tracks that mark the end of the British colonial area (just before you get to the Park Royal Hotel). A 24-hour café that's a good place to grab something to eat before heading back to your hotel. Always busy and you will see the youth of the new Myanmar middle class here in numbers. You may also see some Myanmar and Western gays here. Several of the waiters are gay and the place looks like the work of a gay interior decorator.
    • 50th Street Cafe Restaurant and Bar UTOPIAN VERIFIED NOV 2012
        9/13 50th St (just off Merchant Rd), Botahtaung Township, 397-060. Lovely, gay-friendly café and bar in a restored colonial building. It has pool tables, newspapers, sand-blasted brick walls and warm wood trim. Very fashionable. Excellent Burmese food and cold beer. A well known hangout frequented by both the expat and local crowd.
    • Aung Thukha (Myanmar food)
        525-194. Popular with the locals. Have a driver or friend take you there. Everyone knows where it is.
    • Golden Duck
        Several branches around, including one near the jetty to cross the river that has a great view and atmosphere, plus really cute waiters who are sometimes bathing outside at the far end of the restaurant.
    • Lavender (Myanmar, Korean and Taiwanese food)
        179/181 Botataung Pagoda Rd (about four blocks east of city hall). Gay friendly and later in the evening gay and lesbian couples show up.
    • Monsoon (Myanmar, Thai, Vietnamese, and Cambodian cuisine) UTOPIAN VERIFIED NOV 2012
        85-87 Theinbyu Rd, lower block, Botataung (east of city hall about six blocks), 295-224, 705-063. Expensive, but the food is good and the waiters cute. Very gay friendly.
    • Ritz Café (western and Asian)
        296/1 Shwedagon Pagoda Rd, Dagon Twp., 253-680, 243-934. A short walking distance over the rail lines from downtown Yangon. It is a small quiet place for food, drink, and talk. Very gay friendly.
    • Silom Village (Thai)
        Local branch of this popular Bangkok restaurant.
    • The Strand Café(Myanmar and international) UTOPIAN VERIFIED NOV 2012
        92 Strand Road, Yangon, 243-377. Their Myanamar set lunch is a great introduction to local cuisine, including seasonal specialties like a fantastic tomato salad with crunchy peanut dressing, savory butterfish curry, and delicious sweets. Their daily high tea is also a wonderful way to relax during the heat of afternoon while you absorb the ambiance of this classic colonial-era hotel.
    • The Strand Grill(Myanmar and international)
        92 Strand Rd, Yangon, 243-377. The cities most elegant fine dining in a refined, exotic interior. Excellent service from charming staff.


Shops

    • The Golden Tortoise UTOPIAN VERIFIED MAR 2012
        Aung San Market, Bogyoke Aung San Rd. Great contemporary laquerware. Closed Mon.



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