Gay & Lesbian Travelers

Tibetan Tourism Info > Facts For The Visitor > Gay & Lesbian Travelers

Gay & Lesbian Travelers

What to Expect

Homosexuality still faces much legal opposition and social stigma in Tibetan and Chinese society. However, the larger mainland Chinese cities do have clubs and bars that function as gay meeting points. In Tibet, public expression of homosexuality is rare. Tibetans will typically find homosexuality very puzzling and may privately find it rather objectionable. Thus we advise gay and lesbian travelers to use your own judgment as to whether you want to try to explain to Tibetans you encounter your sexual orientation, or make unambiguous public displays. However, Tibetans do tend to be discreet about voicing such opinions, and you would be unlikely to face any public "scenes" that you might encounter in some countries.

While the official attitude toward gays and lesbians in China is ambiguous, travelers are advised to use discretion. Tibetan and Chinese men routinely hold hands or drape arms around each other without anyone inferring a sexual overtone, as do Tibetan and Chinese women. The same goes for travel in Nepal, a rather sexually conservative country.

In the past some Tibetan monasteries allowed homosexuality and male lovers were know as trapay kyemen or “monk’s wife.” The Dalai Lama has sent mixed signals regarding homosexuality describing gay sex as “inappropriate” or “improper” but has also said that “There are no acts of love between adults that one can or should condemn.

We welcome any input from gay and lesbian travelers based upon actual experience in Tibet.

Gay & Lesbian Friendly Travel Agencies

Footprints Travel (Canada-based agency that organizes gay and lesbian group trips to Tibet)
506 Church St., Ste 200, Toronto, ON, Canada, M4Y 2C8 Tel: (416) 962-8111 Toll Free: 1-888-962-6211 Fax: (416) 962-6621 Email: Web:

Different Roads Travel
8383 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 520, Beverly Hills, CA, 90211. (323) 651-5557 or 1-800-429-8747 (Ext. 14 for both) Fax: (323) 651-5454

Kennedy Travel
130 W. 42nd St., Suite 401, New York, NY, 10036. (212) 840-8659 or 1-800-237-7433 Fax: (212)730-2269

Now, Voyager
4406 18th St., San Francisco, CA, 94114. (415) 626-1169 or 1-800-255-6951 Fax: (415) 626-8626

Skylink Travel and Tour/Flying Dutchmen Travel (Serving lesbian travelers)
1455 N. Dutton Ave., Suite A, Santa Rosa, CA, 95401. (707) 546-9888 or 1-800-225-5759 Fax:(707) 636-0951

Contributors to this Page

David Germano, Pamela Riis