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Gallivanting and Giving Back in Thailand with Susan Skog

Please join us in welcoming writer and humanitarian Susan Skog to The Window Seat. She is the author of six books, including her latest The Give-Back Solution: Create a Better World with Your Time, Talents and Travel, which features Travelocity’s Travel for Good program. Her guest blog tells of her volunteer vacation through Thailand with her son.

My teenaged son, Evan, and I were hanging out the window of the Death Railway Train as it plunged through the emerald Thai countryside, dropping down along the River Kwai. We grinned at each other, our faces pulled tight by the wind, as tamarind trees with outrageous purplish plumes, enchanting temples, and farmers tending sugarcane fields rushed past our rolling car.

Gay Thailand: Paradise in More Ways Than One

San Francisco–check. Provincetown, Mass.–check. Miami–check. Gay and lesbian travelers have an increasingly broad–and exuberant–array of gay-friendly U.S. destinations to pick from. Internationally, we’ve also got “gay” Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Amsterdam, Canada, and more. But tilt the globe in an entirely different direction, and the average lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person might have no clue where to get their gay on.

Seeking outside-the-box destinations that are also easy on the dollar, many savvy American travelers have recently made Thailand their getaway of choice. But how do gay and lesbian travelers rate this tropical nation? I asked openly gay friends and colleagues James Harris and Mario Diaz for their thoughts on their recent Thailand trips.

Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member nova_chic.

One Night In Bangkok

Now, personally, I’m not the type of girl to spend $250 on a hotel room when I go on vacation. No siree—not when I could be spending that sort of money on food or souvenirs or (in the case of my recent three-month jaunt around Southeast Asia) two months worth of local beer. (And we’re talking several a day. Every day. Honestly, in Beijing, it was only a quarter!)

But if you are looking to drop the mad cash when you travel abroad, you might like to know that the Peninsula Bangkok has been voted the world’s best hotel for USD$250 or less in a reader survey conducted by Travel + Leisure magazine.

I can’t, of course, vouch for its excellence, as I stayed in an $8-a-night flophouse with a shared bathroom in the backpacker mecca of Khao San Road the last time I was in Bangkok. But since the Peninsula beat out the prestigious Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge in Gold Beach, Oregon and the Post Hotel & Spa in Lake Louise, Alberta–which came in at second and third place respectively–we’ll just have to go ahead and assume that it’s pretty darn fancy.

After all, I’m fairly sure you get your own toilet there. Which is more than I can say for where I stayed.