A Gay Guys Guide
I suppose I am biased, but I find Taiwanese guys amongst the most handsome of all in Asia. In Part One I looked at the annual Taipei Gay Pride Parade and gave a hint about gay nightlife in the city. If you are thinking of a visit, though, and have not been to Taipei before, I do suggest you try and make a friend or two from the gay networking apps before you arrive. Taiwan guys tend not to be as forward as some, and so it pays to ease into the conversation gently before you set up a meeting.
On your first evening, go to the Red House Theatre complex in Ximen (exit 1 from the blue line Ximen subway station). It’s an ideal place to eat and drink and just watch some of the great looking guys who pass by. It’s not yet as busy as Bangkok’s Silom Soi 4, except at the week-ends when it is usually packed. In addition to cafes and bars around the back, you’ll find here a Bear bar on ground level and upstairs other small bars including Commander, a leather and fetish bar. If leather is your scene (or even if it is not!), a few blocks east is Commander D. Located in a basement in a residential district, this dark bar hums at the weekends with many beautiful guys and gals. Around 11:45 pm a dark room opens up – and it really is dark in there! Later a show takes place on the bar’s small stage.
If saunas are your scene, you have to head for Aniki, a facility that is often said to be as beautiful as Bangkok’s Babylon but with a younger clientele overall. Entrance is steep at around $1,000 NTD but given the facilities, certainly worth it. Nearer the Red House is the older Hans Men’s Sauna. This attracts a varied group, generally older but sometimes with younger guys in the late afternoons and especially at weekends. There are others around the city, but remember that many gay Taiwanese do not visit saunas. So be prepared to hang around if there is no one who immediately attracts you.
Massage parlours, though, certainly seem to be on the up and up (oops)! Among the more popular are Weispa, Royal Spa, In Touch and YF. Every discussion about gay massage inevitably leads to questions about happy endings. Most masseurs are “happy” to oblige, but the service seems almost exclusively limited to HJs. Prices vary with the average for a 90-minute massage being in the region of $2,500 NTD for 90 minutes plus a tip for the masseur which will usually be a minimum of $500 NTD. Book in advance if you like the look of a particular masseur.
As highlighted in Part 1, one almost unique experience in Taipei are the hot springs on the western outskirts of the city. When the Japanese ruled Formosa (as they called the island), they soon realized that one valley had a great deal of thermal activity. So they constructed a series of mini hot spring resorts each including restaurants or cafes in addition to the health-giving water pools. The pools require total nudity and so are separated into male and female. I suppose it was then inevitable that gay guys would gravitate to one or two.
The one catering to a mostly gay crowd is now Huang Ding. This has several pools with hot, cooler and cold water, open shower areas, a small sauna and a steam room. Hot springs are not for action as in a sauna, even though there may be a bit of hanky-panky in the steam room. A few guys may swap phone numbers, but for non-Taiwanese the hot spring experience is much more one of lying in the soothing waters and watching the procession of often gorgeous naked bodies, many of the regulars being in their 20s. Huang Ding gets very popular at weekends in the cooler weather between October and April, so much so that by 6:00 pm it may be packed and you will have to queue. Entrance is $250 NTD. Remember to bring a small towel for drying yourself on leaving, and a bottle of water to keep you hydrated.
To get to Huang Ding, take the subway to Shipai station on the red line. From there exit at the front of the train and take a taxi from the rank on your right. Show the Chinese logo (pictured above) to the driver and he’ll take you up the steep, twisting main road. When he finally turns off to the right, Huang Ding is the first hot spring on your left. The fare is around $140 NTD. To get back to the station it’s easiest to get a bus on the main road for $15 NTD. Several buses stop there. Just ask the driver “Shipai” (pronounced “ship I”) and he’ll either nod yes or no!