Words: Sebastian Morgan
New in town? Taipei’s LGBTQ scene has a deserved reputation as one of the largest and most welcoming in Asia. So if you’re feeling a little too spoilt for choice, we’ve got you. On this map you’ll find a colorful selection of our top queer picks in this city of millions. From bars and boutiques to clubs and cafes, there’s plenty to explore. What are you waiting for? (Read More: Pride Hopping this Fall? Here’s Why Taiwan Should Be Your First and Only Stop)
Best Gay Bars in Taipei
1. Abrazo Taipei
Towing the line between bar and supper club, Abrazo is one of Taipei’s most popular spots with the young gay crowd—and it shows it on weekends. Come in the day for contemporary fare and an afternoon cocktail. Come a little later for some top-forty fun and a little wiggle on the dance floor.
2. Commander D
Kinky, S&M-themed bar in Ximen, dressed in all the trappings you’d expect. There’s chains and leather in the walls, bars hanging from the ceilings. Approach the bar staff and ask nicely bough and they might even tie you up. Crowd is young, drinks are stiff, and doors open until 3 a.m. on weekends. Leave your scruples at the door.
3. Café Dalida
Ask any queer guy or gal in Taipei to name a gay bar and Dalida’s the name you’ll hear. This Red House institution has been drawing in patrons for decades, and has helped launch more local drag careers than there are colours on the rainbow. First timers come for the botanical decor. Regulars stay for the Ru Paul viewing parties, cute bar staff, and easy-to-love cocktail menu (the special mojitos are a must). Come on select weekend nights for the drag shows. Expect to leave late.
Small but jumping bar about 10 minutes walk from Red House. Hero tends to attract a fairly young to mature crowd. The atmosphere here is very welcoming and friendly and there’s a cruising area upstairs.
5. Staff Only
Exclusive, members-only bar in the south of the city. At staff only, it’s the best of old and new: classic cocktails served on lego bricks, retro-inspired art deco decor, and elevated contemporary fare. The catch? You need a member’s card to enter and the management reserves the right to refuse entry—oh, and “good apples” only.
6. The Garden
Verdant outdoor bar and terrace on the ground floor of Red House. The Garden is essentially the local crowd’s answer to Dalida, just a couple of doors down. It offers a decent selection of cocktails and mixed drinks, as well as cute, attentive waitstaff.
7. Wonder Bar
Chill gay and lesbian bar close to Taipei City Hall MRT station. Wonder Bar is swanky but unassuming; think drinks at the hotel bar with a slightly cuter staff. Draws a mixed crowd of local and international night owls. “Never lose your sense of wonder,” is their motto. We don’t think you will.
23 Public Craft Beer
Not strictly a gay bar, but 23 Public is extremely supportive of Taipei’s LGBTQ community. Offering a selection of quality craft beers and more, the small, cozy bar, a short hop from Taipower Building MRT, has a friendly atmosphere and is also the current home of stand-up comedy collective Two Three Comedy.
LGBT Coffee Shops
This cozy little gay café is the cuter face of Taipei’s queer scene—art hanging on the walls, idle cats lounging on the bar, and a younger college-kid crowd. It’s the perfect place to get your bearings, ideally over a cup of hand-brewed coffee.
9. The Jen Library (真書軒)
Eclectic lounge, cafe, and gallery offering coffee, snacks and an extensive book collection. Located just across the road from Da’an Forest Park, Jen draws in the patrons with its artsy vibe and regular art exhibitions.
10. Maple Maple Cafe
Cosy French-Canadian style cafe and bar serving Montreal specialities. Owner Dominic takes pride in his healthy homemade desserts, and we’ve heard great things about the quiches. If you’re serious about your wine, Maple Maple serves perfect pours using an enomatic dispenser, and they also serve a popular cheese plate.
11. Tokyobike Taiwan
Chill cafe and bike rental shop that’s sure to ring any enthusiast’s bell. Located near Zhongshan Junior Highschool MRT, Tokyobike Taiwan is the Taipei location of the eponymous bicycle company founded back in 2002.
Nostalgic late-night cafe just around the corner from National Taiwan Normal University. Sugarman’s cozy, wood-panelled decor makes it a great place to hide away if you find yourself in the middle of a sudden Taipei downpour.
Gay Friendly Restaurants
13. Al Revés
Ximending gay-run and gay-friendly restaurant around the corner from Red House. Al Revés’ game is reasonably-priced, creative, western fare and a laid-back atmosphere. Offers a range of vegetarian options, too.
14. Fairy Taipei
Clean cut, beach-house-inspired bar in Zhongxiao Dunhua that draws in a young, hip crowd. Drinks menu offers a decent selection of cocktails, craft and draft beers, and there’s a dance floor downstairs in the basement (nothing seedy). Frequently holds themed events and parties.
15. Pure Cucina (純淨廚房)
Homey, health-conscious bistro a short walk from Taipei 101 and Four Four South Village. Decor is New York nostalgic—edison bulbs and fifties inspired plastic sofas. The big selling point about Pure Cucina though are the wholesome meals—comforting Italian fare using only fresh ingredients without additives or preservatives.
16. VIxen’s Cafe (狐狸野餐)
Charming kid-friendly Zhongshan cafe and lunch spot with an adorable vintage vibe. Settle down into a wicker chair and help yourself to one of their set lunches—healthy takes on local Taiwanese fare.
17. WuYun Shaman’s Cloud (巫雲)
Possibly Taipei’s cosiest little eatery, cluttered little WuYun offers a unique dining experience. There’s no menu here. Make your reservations in advance and get cozy in what is essentially someone’s living room while the owners decide what you’re having for dinner. Caters to vegetarians, too. Reservations advisable.
18. Zen Food (饞食坊)
Hip take on a traditional izakaya in Da’an district. Great place for some Japanese grub and a speciality beer or two—lychee anyone? There’s often a line for Zen on weekends, but you can jump the queue by adding yourself to a waitlist using Line or Facebook messenger.
Activities and SPAs in Taipei
Very popular gay sauna hidden inside Ningxia Night Market that pulls in a young crowd. It’s not hard to see why—entry is free for 18 to 25 year olds. Amenities include a gym, dry sauna, steam room, showers, bar, and movie theatre.
20. Emperor Spa (皇池溫泉御膳館)
Colonial-inspired hot spring that is particularly but not exclusively popular with the local gay crowd. Emperor Spa is a Japanese setup, meaning there is a gender segregated section (and yes, it’s all naked). It also has a restaurant attached. Fun fact: spend more than NT$400 on your meal and you get free entrance to the spa!
21. inBlooom (印花樂)
Eco-conscious lifestyle boutique in the heard of Taipei’s historic Dadaocheng district, inBlooom’s game is fabric accessories and household items in an appealing palette of soothing pastels. They are also committed to using zero single-use plastics making inBlooom a great place for minimum-impact souvenirs.
22. MK (木客微光)
Handmade lamps and other trinkets for the home near Beimen MRT. Muke Weiguang’s forté is the kind of bare-bones, nuts-and-bolts decor you’ll find adorning café tables and walls across Taipei. Best of all, they also teach DYI classes, making Muke Weiguang the perfect souvenir pitstop.
23. Sculptor Barber
Minimalist men’s barbershop founded in 2014 by contemporary artist Chou Shi Hsiung. Sculptor Barber is your classic men’s stylist with a couple of extra much appreciated frills—head massages and a cheeky glass of cider anyone?
24. The Witch House (女巫店)
Sounds dank? It isn’t. This tavernous little space has been at the forefront of Taipei’s indie music scene for over two decades. The likes of Cheer Chen, Deserts Chang, and Sodagreen all got their big break here, making it the perfect place to rub shoulders with local rising stars.
25. DeepFry (初炸小食店)
Delicious roadside stall specializing in a vegetarian version of a Taiwanese night market classic—xian su ji (鹹酥雞). A fun dining experience for first timers, drop your ingredients into your little plastic shopping basket and wait at the one outdoor table while the staff fry it up into crunchy, peppery goodness. Hao chi (好吃)!
26. Gongguan Night Market (公館夜市)
Youthful night market in Taipei’s university district. Market stalls here are surrounded by a tight network of cafes, live-music houses and restaurants serving local and Southeast-Asian fare. This is one of the places to slurp up a cup of Taiwan’s bubble milk tea at its finest.
27. Just Do Eat Ximen (就醬滷西門隆昌店)
Adorable little hole-in-the-wall that’s perfect for trying out one of Taipei’s favorite street snacks. If you’re new to luwei, the game is pretty simple. Take your basket, fill it up with with your favourites from a selection of meat, vegetables, tofu, and noodles and pick your spice level. Most luwei stores serve pretty similar fare, but this one doesn’t do a bad job on the broth.
28. Ningxia Night Market (寧夏夜市)
Established foodie heaven so dear to the locals that it was named one of Taipei’s best night markets to grab a bite at a few years back. Ningxia serves up a selection of classic local snacks, fresh seafood, and Hakka specialities. If you’re planning on dining at just in Taipei night market, this is the one to hit up.
29. Dadaocheng (大稻埕)
Historic neighborhood on the west side of central Taipei. Prior to Japanese colonization, when it was known as Twatutia, it was the city’s business district, though nowadays things are a lot more laid back. Hit up Dihua Street (迪化街) for great street eats, especially in the weeks leading up to Chinese New Year.
30. Rabbit God Temple (兔兒神殿)
Fascinating little shrine that merges Taiwan’s traditional Taoist beliefs with its progressive 21st-century culture. The Rabbit Temple, or Wei-Ming Tang (威明堂) in Chinese, is dedicated to Tu’er Shen, the long-eared Taoist god of homosexuality. Since it opened in 2006, it’s drawn an almost exclusively gay congregation, most of whom come to beseach the heavens for a lover.
31.Red House (西門紅樓)
The palpitating heart of queer Taipei, as well as one of its best outdoor drinking areas. Red House is a two-storey strip of some ten-to-twenty bars that curve around the eponymous red-brick building, which itself is a boutique store and exhibition space.
Head to Red House for weekend outdoor markets, drag shows, and all you can drink deals (at some locations). The bar staff are pretty cute too!
32. Treasure Hill (寶藏巖)
Blink-and–you’ll-miss-it artists’ community near National Taiwan University. A short walk from Gonguan Night Market, this cluster of ramshackle houses has gone through various guises over the years: an anti-aircraft position, veteran’s lodgings, and later a squat. Today, it houses a number of galleries, museums, and studios.
33. Xia Hai City God Temple (霞海城隍廟)
Historic temple in the heart of Dadaocheng district. Xia-Hai Temple’s resident deity is none other than Chinese cupid and was reportedly brought over by villagers from Quanzhou, southern China,in 1821. Today in his new digs, he is visited daily by hundreds of young Taiwanese hopefuls here to pray to for one thing—a date!
Nightlife and Gay clubs
Dark n’ smokey, queer-friendly venue buried under the Jut Art Museum on Civic Boulevard. B1 is ground zero for Taipei’s electronic and techno music scene. Expect either house or techno on most nights, and keep an extra careful eye out for the monthly queer party—Blush—with drag performances and ballroom runways from 11 p.m. to sunrise.
35. G Star
Relatively supersized Zhongshan club. It probably isn’t too much of an exaggeration to say that G Star was every Taipei gay’s first. DJs tend to favor dance music and K-pop and the crowd hovers somewhere around the low twenties. Extremely popular on weekends. If you’re coming with a crowd, a table reservation may be wise.
Well-established Lesbian club near Xingtian Temple and Songjiang Nanjing stations. Taboo is a cozy venue, but that hasn’t stopped it from serving a very happy community for over 20 years. If you’re going with a group of friends, its NT$1,500 for a five-person box. If you’re going to make the most of the night, though, there’s also an open bar deal.
Swiss-army club located in north Taipei’s Maji Square market area. Triangle is not exclusively a gay venue and does a number of themed nights and parties five nights a week, from KTV to college parties. Keep it on your radar though for the monthly drag parties though, which attract a mix both expats and younger Taiwanese guys.
Gay Pride Shops (晶晶書庫)
38. GinGin Store
Long-standing lesbian bookstore on a quiet residential street. GinGin Store was one of the driving forces behind the year-2000 “Rainbow Community in Gongguan” project, one of Taipei’s earliest LGBTQ development plans. Inside you’ll find an extensive collection of queer literature, magazines, and movies, as well as toys and accessories.
39. Love Boat
Cozy, colorful, and queer, Love Boat doesn’t hold back on the rainbow flags. This fun and friendly venue set up shop back in 2004 as Asia’s first queer lifestyle store and offers a variety of knicknacks and essentials for a mainly lesbian clientele. Doubles as a café salon. (Read also: PRIDE, Healing and Taiwan’s LGBTQ Community: A Conversation with Olivia Wu)
40. PAR.T (帕特拉拉時尚舘)
Ximending clothing store popular with queer gals. PAR.T peddles in androgenous apparel with a bit of a K-poppy edge to it.