"Majulah Singapura" is Malay for "Onward, Singapore" and the local LGBT community is truly living this motto. Homosexuality is still illegal in Singapore but in recent years gays and lesbians have made great strides toward not just tolerance, but acceptance.
As a queer traveler, you couldn't ask for a more beautiful city to visit. Singapore is clean and easy-to-navigate. It's also culturally diverse and there are several official languages. Citizens speak English, Indian, Malay, Chinese and Indonesian. A cosmopolitan city, there's a plethora of exquisite museums, parks,
cafes and restaurants to enjoy. If you love to get your shop on, the world-class malls (featuring high-end retailers) won't disappoint.
A sightseer's delight, there are several unique tourist attractions to enjoy in gay Singapore. Jurong Bird Park is a fabulous, romantic spot. Just a quick subway and connector bus trip outside of the city center, you're sure to love it. It's a great opportunity to see thousands of colorful, exotic birds flying in their natural
Singapore's Botanical Garden is also a fabulous, beautiful refuge for lovers of flora and fauna. Scientists working on site breed orchards for the gardens and name their blooming creations after dignitaries and other well-known people, including former South African President Nelson Mandela and former United States First Lady Laura Bush.
For foodies who crave exotic fare, you'll be in heaven! Singapore is a melting pot of cultures and that's definitely reflected in the cuisine. Banana Leaf Apolo is always packed but what this venue is lacking in elbow room, it makes up in its dishes. If you're a fan of curry and North Indian dishes, this is the place for you. The portion sizes are huge, so if you're traveling with a large group it's both economical and satisfying.
Mexican cuisine lovers and gringos alike will adore Cafe Iguana. Delectable burritos and incredible margaritas, this place is muay caliente! The bar offers a wide variety of 100% blue agave tequilas and handcrafted mazcal. Forget Asia, this is some of the best Mexican food you'll find anywhere. The restaurant is also located on Singapore River, offering a breathtaking view for patrons.
Although it's a chain, seafood fanatics will adore Jumbo! Chili crab, their signature dish, is out of this world. Other recommended dishes include fried pawns with cereal, bamboo clams with minced garlic and donuts with seafood paste. Is your mouth watering yet?
With the growing tolerance of homosexuality has come an influx of gay bars, clubs and other LGBT venues in Singapore. That said, there are still no protections to keep the queer community and travelers safe against homophobic attacks, so enjoy but be cautious. Tourism is huge and many businesses are vying for the pink dollar. The amazing nightlife, cruisy gay beaches and impressive infrastructure make Singapore a wildly popular gay destination. You'll find many of the popular gay clubs are in Chinatown, which is easily accessible by public transportation. Backstage Bar is one of the hottest clubs catering to queer patrons. You'll love the classic movie themed décor, from "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" to "Oklahoma." Sweat to the beats or head outside to cruise or light up. The house is packed each weekend and it's a great place to meet hot locals and other out of towners. DYMK (Does Your Mother Know) is another amazing place to get your dance one. It's a double-story retro bar with an S&M night every Thursday. You'll find a common theme with the naming of a lot of the venues. DYMK, Taboo and other clubs are named to reflect the "don't ask, don't tell" atmosphere.
If you're looking for a break from all of the hustle, bustle and modern conveniences, head to Tanjong Beach in Sentosa, one of Singapore's most popular gay beaches. Tanjong is the furthest beach from Beach Station opposite
of Siloso Beach. You'll find a wide range of sun seekers here from young twinks to bronzed older gents donning speedos. Unlike many other gay beaches, you'll find some shops, bars and cafes near Tanjong. This beach is also close to Palawan. This stretch of the coast is where you'll find a lot of straight families and teens but it's still a great place to get some rays.
In 2005, Singapore hosted their first LGBT Pride festival, sponsored by IndigNation. This year marks the sixth season. Unlike most Pride festivals, you won't find the local queer community participating in parades or other flamboyant events because organizers cannot get permits from the government. Typically the schedule includes LGBT lectures and film festivals but few if any outdoor celebrations.
Despite efforts to quiet Singapore's gay and lesbian community, it's easy to hear the roar of The Lion City's mos. The gay traveler will revel in the city's modern appeal and a queer scene that's not just growing, but bursting as the seams.
Author: Jon Fairbanks - Gay Travel Team Member - www.gaytravel.com.