LGBTQ+ friendly destinations



Jack's Flight Club ✈️ Travel News & Inspiration

O-genki desu ka, JFC-ers?

OK, the big exciting news first: Japan is finally back. (And we know just how many of you have been looking forward to that.)

From 11th October, independent travellers will be allowed back into the country from abroad, with the daily cap on visitors removed.

Japan’s reopening is absolutely thrilling after two-and-a-half years of strict border controls, but it’s also going to be a testing exercise for many locals. Nikkei Asia reported earlier this year that a majority of Japanese citizens would prefer border controls to remain in place, with the older generation in particular highly worried about the risk of a new COVID-19 surge brought about by foreign travellers.

In particular, visitors should continue wearing a mask while out in public to ensure you don’t cause offence - while Japan has never had a mask mandate in place, opinion polls this summer have found that 65% of locals feel that it’s inappropriate to be out without one.

But even beyond the risk of COVID-19 itself, there’s likely to be some ambivalence in the biggest tourist hubs, and particularly in Kyoto, where ‘Instagram fatigue’ had well and truly set in before the pandemic began - with thoughtless travellers tramping through and disrupting the historic city’s beauty and peaceful vibes. (The New York Times has a great story around this.)

Fingers crossed that the first wave of travellers to Japan can make a clean break with the past, then - tourism needs to work for guests and hosts alike.

Many thanks and happy flying,



Your Next Trip: LGBTQ-friendly destinations

In our regular feature, we offer tips, advice and travel inspiration in response to your questions.

Reader, we’re incredibly excited for you both! Yes, of course we can help you with this.

We’ve pulled together a list of our top recommendations based on a combination of budget, far-flung locations, and Asher Fergusson’s July 2022 safety rankings for LGBTQ+ travellers.

The issues involved in the rankings are often complex, and - sorry to get serious for a minute here - sadly there can sometimes be a gulf between the welcome and security you can expect as tourists, and the reality for a country’s LGBTQ+ citizens.

For instance, several Latin American countries - most notably Brazil - have very progressive laws in place, but nevertheless face significant volumes of domestic or street violence towards trans women in particular. Meanwhile, Thailand loudly broadcasts itself as a haven for LGBTQ+ tourists, but has been criticised for its long-standing lack of civil protections for local same-sex couples.

At the very least, this list should hopefully help you to make an informed decision about taking a trip where you can feel comfortable and safe as travellers, and enjoy a worry-free adventure.

For each destination, we’ve also pulled out some of our favourite romantic spots with a great scenic view - just to help you make that perfect proposal. Good luck, and we’ll be excited to see the wedding pics!

Consider Colombia

Colombia bills itself to travellers as a frontrunner for LGBTQ+ rights, and - at least to some extent - the hype is accurate: despite the country’s traditionally conservative leanings, approval for gay marriage has rapidly grown to (just about) enjoy majority support amongst Colombians since the institution was legalised in 2016, while anti-discrimination laws were passed back in 2011.

The mayor of Bogotá, Claudia López Hernández, is gay, happily married, and was elected back in 2020 with the city’s highest-ever vote count, while well-attended Pride parades take place in cities across the country. The Chapinero district of Bogotá, meanwhile, is the city’s gay neighbourhood and boasts a wide variety of popular bars, clubs, restaurants and nightlife.

(Despite all of this authentic representation, the stock pictures of models waving Pride flags on Colombia’s tourist website are almost endearingly low-effort, however.)

Is it cheap?

It most certainly is - Budget Your Trip estimates that the average couple will spend £382 in total for a week’s travel in Colombia.

Meanwhile, we’ve found discounted return flights to Bogotá for as low as £360 (that was back in April, but we’ll keep our eyes open for the next cheap fare!) which should leave you with plenty of cash for a fancy hotel!

Any great places for a proposal?

Want an epic view? If you stop by the city of Medellín - once called the ‘most dangerous city in the world’, now a popular destination with an LGBTQ+ scene to rival Bogotá’s - you can take a day trip out to La Piedra Del Penol (sometimes described, accurately if unpoetically, as ‘The Big Rock of Guatape.’)

This colossal 2km-tall rock comes with 650 steps up its cliff face, leading to a truly stunning panorama of the surrounding blue lakes and countryside.

If your partner’s likely to be staring out at that gorgeous view, it could be the perfect time to get down on one knee - just watch out for crowds and getting too exhausted from the climb to actually get the words out.

Want a romantic moment? We’d book a few days in stunning Cartagena - if you don’t find a suitable spot on those cobbled streets, maybe take a trip out to spend a night on the Rosario Islands off the Colombian coast.

These trendy isles are more expensive than most of the country, but if you wake up for a sunrise walk on the beach (ahead of the tourist crowds, jet skis and wandering vendors) you’ll have a stunning view and the perfect opportunity to propose.

You could also consider:

  • Asher Fergusson rates Chile as the safest country overall for LGBTQ+ travellers in Latin America, but residents have noted that conservative values mean there’s very little visibility in public - however, Santiago’s Bellavista and Bella Artes districts can be considered gay-friendly.
  • Uruguay is a good bit more expensive for travel than Colombia (about twice the price, according to Budget Your Travel) but ranks amongst the most progressive countries in the world around LGBTQ+ rights - same-sex marriage was legalised in 2013, ahead of the UK.

    Montevideo itself is often considered one of the world’s most LGBTQ+-friendly cities, but we’d be tempted to go for a road trip along the Golden Coast and find somewhere cute to stop off for that proposal.

It Could Be Iceland

If you’re looking for somewhere that feels exotic but doesn’t cost the moon to get to…well, have you considered Iceland?

Stunning natural landscapes, blisteringly beautiful views - and better yet, one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly countries in the world (with 87% support for same-sex marriage since 2004). Although it is also one of Lonely Planet’s top gay wedding destinations, if you’d rather save it for the big day…

Is it cheap?

Er, not really, no. You’ll be looking at about a £150 spend per day on average. But if you’re travelling from the UK, at least you can be certain of a cheap flight (at the start of September, we tracked down £37 returns) to help even out the price.

Any great places for a proposal?

Want a great view? The ‘lava waterfalls’ of Hraunfossar are astonishingly beautiful at any time of the year - whether they’re flecked with snow or coated in rich green moss. There are lookouts and boardwalks aplenty on the opposite bank for the big moment.

Want a romantic moment? Rent a cabin in the wilderness surrounding Kirkjufell Mountain - one of Iceland’s most stunning peaks, pictured above, and a Game of Thrones star in its own right. You’ll have a hot tub as per standard for those romantic nights under the stars, and if you’re very lucky, you might even find yourselves staring up at the Northern Lights…

You could also consider…

Malta may not be ‘exotic’ per se, but it takes the world’s number 1 spot as a LGBTQ+ friendly nation in Asher Fergusson’s rankings (leaving other European countries trailing in its wake). And is it romantic? Hoo, boy, is it ever...

Let’s Throw In Taiwan, Too

Hey, we wanted to throw a surprise ringer in there. Taiwan isn’t the first tourist destination on everyone’s minds, but it can genuinely be considered a figurehead for LGBTQ+ rights in East Asia.

Taipei’s Pride marches have been taking place since 2003, since when they’ve grown to be the largest in all of Asia, outstripping Tel Aviv’s Pride celebrations back in 2019 with over 200,000 Taiwanese citizens marking the occasion. Taiwan was the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage ( although there are still some limitations) and anti-discrimination protections have been in place since 2007.

In Yonghe District in New Taipei, you’ll also find the world’s only religious shrine dedicated to same-sex love.

Founded in 2006 by Taoist priest Lu Wei-ming, the Rabbit Shrine is dedicated to Tu Shen, the Rabbit God - over 9,000 LGBTQ+ pilgrims visit it every year to pray to Tu Shen for a suitable match, or to be married by Lu.

So we’re just saying, it’s the perfect place to visit to make sure that wedding bells are on both of your minds…

Is it cheap?

You can expect to spend more in Taiwan than Thailand, but less than you would in Japan. Eating out is cheap - Taipei has some truly fantastic street food - but accommodation can be surprisingly pricey.

Budget Your Trip finds that the average couple spends around £105 per night on hotels - but we’ve spotted recommendations out there from savvy travellers who’ve found very nice private rooms for £40 per night. So you can definitely make it work, but you might need to do more planning!

Discounted flights, meanwhile, are less common, but they do come up - around this time last year, we found a London-or-Manchester to Taipei return fare for £450.

Any great places for a proposal?

This is where you can really get creative. Taiwan has a cheap and efficient high-speed rail system, allowing you to travel from Taipei in the north to Kaohsiung in the far south in about an hour-and-a-half. In other words, there are tons of opportunities for quick and low-cost day trips to get you somewhere suitably enchanting to propose.

Want an epic view? About two-thirds of Taiwan is mountainous - so as long as you don’t mind a hike, you’ve got views for days and ample stunning scenery to make the perfect backdrop for your proposal.

The Culture Trip has a number of recommendations for scenic vistas, but we’d be tempted by their last tip - heading up Yangmingshan National Park’s Qixing Mountain to gaze out over the golden lights of Taipei.

Want a romantic moment? From January to April, the north of Taiwan boasts its very own cherry blossom season to rival Japan’s - with several large forests and blossom-lined hiking routes scattered around the country away from the main tourist trails, you should be able to ensure you get a quiet moment for a proposal amongst the petals.

You could also consider…

Whatever you pick, reader, we hope you both have a fantastic time - and good luck with the proposal!

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Our Pick Of The Clicks

All the important (or silly, or strange) travel news from across the web this week.

Phantom Pilot: American Airlines passengers were stunned this week by an apparently inexplicable series of mysterious groaning sounds heard over the intercom. (And to be clear, no, nobody was canoodling in the cockpit.).

A Stay In Spain: Spain is attempting to attract overseas remote workers with a shiny new five-year digital nomad visa.

No Surprises From Skytrax: Skytrax have announced the winners of the annual Airline Awards for 2022, with Qatar Airways taking the top spot for this year as voted by travellers.

The Awards are prestigious, but not exactly packed with surprising underdog winners - Qatar has won six times out of ten, with Singapore Airways, Emirates, and Cathay circling around in the top spots every other couple of years.

Wood you stay in an oak hotel? Here's a cool BBC report on Finland’s ‘Wood City’, a (debatably) sustainable new neighbourhood springing up in Helsinki.

Scandinavian eco-buildings made out of timber aren’t new, of course - we’ve reported before on the stunning 20-storey ‘Wood Hotel’ in Skellefteå, Sweden.

Financial fallout: And finally, Time Out reports on the plummeting value of the British pound, which will inevitably mean UK holidaymakers will end up spending a lot more abroad. D’oh.

US and EU travellers, meanwhile, would be well advised to leg it over to London and buy up all the cheap fish ‘n’ chips, Marmite and breakfast tea you can get your hands on.


And Finally...

A big shout-out to the JFC member who kindly replied to our duck obsession last week by linking us to the Peabody Ducks at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis.

The Ducks (or their descendants) have been resident at the hotel since 1930, when the Peabody’s tipsy owner decided to place a few birds in the lobby fountain as a practical joke.

Ever since, the Ducks have marched down from their rooftop residence, out of their own private elevator and into the fountain every day at 11am, to the delight of kids and onlookers. (There’s also a Duckmaster resident on site, so needless to say, we’ll be sharpening up our CVs.)