Africa Travel Week
Gay Thailand

Exploring LGBTQ+ Thailand

Traveling In Quarantine highlights people and places through which we can escape our sequestered realities and in the process expand our Traveling IQ. Traveling In Quarantine interviews the Nomadic Boys and together we explore Thailand.

What got you involved in your career?
Stefan used to be a lawyer and Sebastien a computer programmer who has set up an SEO business on the side. Around two years into our relationship, we both decided that we wanted more from life, which involved seeing more of the world. So, we set out a plan to save and plan for a big sabbatical in Asia, at the end of which Stefan would turn to teaching English and Seby work online on his SEO business.

We finally left London in 2014 for our big Asia trip after years of saving and planning. We started Nomadic Boys on the back of this trip to record our stories and share our photos with our friends and family. We also started a Facebook page and Instagram account at the same time for the same reasons. However, about a year into our trip, our traffic on the website started increasing and we were getting invited by different businesses to collaborate. Essentially everything turned from that point onwards. Our big trip in Asia turned into two years, and then we did a two-year stint around North and South America. Nomadic Boys ended up becoming our full-time vocation.

How did you meet?
We met back in February 2009 in the GAY bar in Soho, London. It was a Tuesday night, Stefan was out with his friends, Seby was out with his French friends discussing how he was fed up of London and wanted to leave to live somewhere new like in Barcelona. It all began there, before the days of the gay dating apps.

What are three things you’d like readers to know about you?
We absolutely love what we do, and we appreciate we are very fortunate to be able to say that. We love engaging with our followers on social media, particularly Stefan who is on his phone almost all the time. Seby, despite being a computer geek, absolutely hates social media and avoids it like the plague! He’s happy to leave that all to Stefan.

How did you get involved in travel?
Stefan did his first trip when he was 18 with his schoolfriends. They went interrailing around Europe. He always made a point since then to try and visit a new place with every holiday he got. His first solo big trip was in Latin America in his mid-twenties before he became a lawyer. Seby left France in his early twenties and travelled around Europe a lot and found his home base in London. Our first trip together as a young gay couple was to Thailand. This was a big eye opener. We wanted to see more, not just of Thailand, but of all of Asia. That was really the main inspiration behind our big Asia trip.

Where are you from and where do you live now?
Stefan’s family are all Greek Cypriot. They left Cyprus as refugees in the 1970s after the conflict with Turkey. They settled in London, where Stefan was born and grew up. Sebastien is from a small town in France called St Etienne, which is near Lyon (France’s 3rd city after Paris and Marseille). We lived a chunk of our lives in London together. We then became nomadic for several years, and recently came to Cyprus as our new base.

Describe your featured destination:
is our favourite destination. It is a country in Southeast Asia, super gay friendly, amazing food, incredible beaches, and a rich culture in places like Chiang Mai.

What makes Thailand unique?
It has everything that ticks the boxes for us. The Thai are very welcoming and friendly. The food is delicious – there is never a bad meal in Thailand. It’s also inexpensive, extremely well connected – Bangkok being a major transport hub in Asia. Thailand also has some of the best beaches in the world, particularly around the Tarutao National Park in the southwest of the country.

What makes Thailand a place for LGBTQ travellers?
The Thai are very accepting and tolerant people who love welcoming foreigners. The gay scene of Bangkok is a lot of fun – one of our favourite. The country has a rich cultural fabric, particularly with Buddhism, with some incredible temples. The beaches are also gorgeous, which make for the perfect backdrop for all those speedo thirst traps.

What are three spots that you love in Thailand and why?

  • Bangkok: it’s one big messy, polluted sprawling mess, but we love it. It has one of our favourite gay scenes in the world. They gay life in Silom Soi 4 and 2 always has something happening every night of the week.
  • Koh Lipe: this is our favourite island in Thailand. It’s a bit more remote than the others, so not as busy. The beaches are some of the best and cleanest. The island is part of the Tarutao National Park, so it is preserved by the government thereby avoiding over tourism, which is a huge problem in many of the other Thai islands. We also love the coral around here, which is perfect for scuba diving and snorkelling.
  • Chiang Mai: Thailand’s second city and the cultural hub of the country. There are over 300 temples here to explore. The city is rich with Buddhism – for example wake early and you can see the Almsgiving ceremony where monks walk the streets accepting gifts from locals. The city is also surrounded by mountains which is perfect for biking, hiking and other wild outdoor activities.

What are three LGBTQ highlights in Thailand?

  • Bangkok during NYE: one of the best gay scenes in the world in our opinion, especially for New Year’s Eve when the whole of Silom Soi 4 becomes one fabulous gay street party.
  • Songkran: mid-April is the Buddhist New Year. During this time Thailand has some of the biggest gay parties of Asia such as the G Circuit Festival in Bangkok along with others taking place in Phuket and Pattaya.
  • Pride Cruise Bangkok: Bangkok doesn’t have an official Pride event (though other places in Thailand like Chiang Mai, Phuket and Koh Samui do). However, there are various private Pride events taking place throughout the year which we suggest looking out on their Facebook page.

If Coronavirus is magically cured overnight and quarantine ends abruptly, where will you choose to celebrate?
This may sound a bit anticlimactic, but it would be with family. Stefan would rush to London to check up on his 80-year-old father. He was also meant to go on a family holiday with his sister and nephews in Malaysia, which was cancelled due to the Covid19 pandemic, so he really wants to go and hang out with them. For Seby it’s to France to spend quality time with his family who he’s not seen for a while. Then, we’d love to go to Bangkok for a big Covid19 after party!

If you could choose anywhere in the world to Quarantine, where would it be and why?
Actually, where we are now is the ideal place and we’re secretly very pleased being based in Cyprus. Where we are based in the East of the island, it’s very remote with few people. Cyprus does have a few hundred cases and a handful of deaths, but this is mainly from UK tourists. It’s hot and humid in Cyprus, close to the beach, we’re surrounded by outdoors and have the big police station of the area next door, and a supermarket close by, so we cannot complain. We do however worry for our friends and family in France/UK, so are always calling them, checking up on them.

Read the Nomadic Boys comprehensive Gay Guide to Bangkok and other Thailand articles.

Check out Nomadic Boys’ other adventures:

Thailand is one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly destinations in Asia, with a dedicated LGBTQ tourism website: Go Thai. Be Free.

Follow the Traveling IQ (In Quarantine) series, highlighting people and places through which we can escape our sequestered realities.

This article first appeared here.

Ivan Quintanilla

Cuban born, Miami raised, Dallas and London educated and New York seasoned Ivan Quintanilla is professional actor and travel writer living in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City. His passion for travel has resulted in covering all areas of leisure and LGBTQ+ travel. His work has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, New York Magazine, Out Traveler and National Geographic, among others.
Ivan is an active member of SATW (Society of American Travel Writers), NYTW (New York Travel Writers Association) and IGLTA (the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association). He has been a featured travel expert and crafted destination-focused, on-air segments for media outlets such as Portland’s KPAM and Toronto’s Proud FM. In addition, Ivan has been a guest, host and travel expert on various podcasts and forums.

As an actor he has performed in theatres throughout the country and co-starred on TV shows including “Gotham”, “The Blacklist”,” Law & Order,” and “Blue Bloods”, to name a few.

In his own words, “I believe every step out the front door is an opportunity. With every trip we learn a little more about a place, a person, a culture… ourselves. From faraway lands to our neighbourhood streets, let’s explore this huge, small world and in the process expand our Traveling IQ”.