We’ve come to appreciate travel tips that our friends give us. We’ve compiled our list of the top accommodations and attractions that we experienced during our travels in case you are headed to the same places we’ve visited.
Paragliding: Iquique in northern Chile has the best paragliding on the continent.
Sandboarding: So awesome and fun! Great way to see the sand dunes and try a new sport. Falling hurts far less than snowboarding as well.
Valle de la Luna: Rent bikes and head out to this valley around Sunset. Jenni says it was the best bike ride of her life.
Hostel Inn Iguazu I stayed her 10 years ago and we returned to this hostel. Best Hostel International around, especially when on a budget.
Queer Tango: We LOVED the dance classes and the scene in Buenos Aires. Plus, it starts early for those of us who don’t want to be out until 6am.
BACH Bar: For when you do want to stay out until 6am, this is the best lebian scene. We wish we had a bar/club like this in San Francisco. Just don’t show up until at least 1am. We went by at 11pm and it was not even open yet.
Private Dinner Party: We enjoyed Jueves a la Mesa, a delightful lesbian couple who welcomes people into their home for a vegetarian feast. Trust us, you’ll be missing vegetarian foods after a few days of steak in Argentina. Make a reservation in advance.
El Chaten y El Calafate: A must for outdoor adventure. Glacier Perito Moreno is an incredible site in El Calafate. Go further to El Chaten where we went ice climbing, fly fishing, and hiking on Fitz-Roy trails.
Cooking Class: We loved this cooking class in Rio. The instructor had lived in the States for a period and has excellent English. She was an excellent guide through Brazilian culture and cuisine.
Sal y Pimiento: We aren’t big clubbers, but this gay bar/club had a great vibe with both boys and girls. The Friday night we went there was a hip lesbian performing some live samba music.
Rio Scenarium: This place is a bit touristy (for good reason), but it has the best samba dancing scene. We were happy to see that we weren’t the only gay couple on the dance floor either.
Porcao Rio: This all-you-can-eat Brazilian BBQ restaurant nearly broke the bank, but so worth it! We went running before our meal and then walked home to try to settle our stomachs. Included is an all-you-can-eat sushi bar as well that’s amazing.
Hell’s Gate National Park: The Lion King is heavily modeled after this park, where several lead crew members of the film went to the park in order to study and gain an appreciation of the environment for the film. You can ride bikes or hike without a guide and be in the middle of your own safari. We rock climbed Fischer’s Tower which you can’t miss form the entrance. Guides hang out there during the day with gear waiting for adventurous tourists to hire them by the hour.
Ngorongoro Crater. We chose to hike all around the rim of the crater and got the best views of the Rift Valley, known as the Cradle of Humanity. Just bring sunscreen as there is no shade.
Camp Carnelleys: We stayed in an affordable banda here right off lake Navasha. Great food and an easy matatu ride to Hell’s Gate and Ngorongoro Crater.
Duma Explorer: We booked both our 7 day Kilimanjaro climb and our 7 day safari with this company owned by an American and Tanzanian couple. We let Stacey, the American partner, know ahead of time that we were a lesbian couple. She assigned some gay-friendly staff to work with us (though we still had to be discreet in Tanzania). Duma sent our three-man Kili expedition up with a team of 16 porters and guides who made our climb as comfortable as possible. They also have the best tents around for the camping safaris.
Arusha Backpackers Hotel: Because safaris and Kili expeditions are so expensive, we chose to stay in a basic hostel in Arusha before and after our trips. This place is the best deal in Tanzania with free breakfast and fast wi-fi for $15 a couple. Just don’t arrange for them to pick you up at the airport if you arrive in the evening. They didn’t show up.
Kendwa Rocks: We planned to spend 2 nights here and stayed 6 nights. An amazing beach on Zanzibar where you can stay in your own banda.
Wild Rainbow African Safaris: Supergay Jody Cole runs this LGBT safari company in East Africa. As budget backpackers, we had to go with another company that offered camping safaris. But if you are a LGBT tourist looking for a luxury safari, I would definitely book with them. You spend hours out in the bush with your guide, and I would imagine Jody to be an amazing traveling companion.
Aurovalley Ashram: We spent 2 full weeks here having Our Own Eat, Pray, Love Experience. This ashram is in a serene setting an hour outside of Rishikesh off the Ganges River. We enjoyed two hours of yoga and meditation a day. We found this an ideal place for a personal retreat. However, if you are looking for a lot of instruction in yoga or meditation, this may not be the place for you. The ashram caters almost exclusively to Westerners and we came out as lesbians to everyone with no problems, including our Swami.
High Tea at the Imperial Hotel: After spending a few days walking around the chaotic streets of Delhi, we loved taking a break in this royal hotel for High Tea. The all-you-can-eat biscuits are out of this world.
Lotus Temple: After 2 weeks in the ashram, we wanted to put our meditation skills into practice. This is the perfect meditative setting in Delhi…and it’s free!
Delhi by Cycle: We found this the best way to tour Old Delhi, though the tour starts at the crack of dawn to avoid the traffic. But well worth getting up early for.
Shashi’s Cooking Class in Udaipur. We’ve never eaten so much in our lives. Shashi told us to “Come Hungry” and we did. We cooked about 20 dishes in four hours while having a progressive meal for $15.
Krishna Horse Ranch outside of Udaipur: Jenni got to live out one of her dreams and horseback ride. Another wonderful escape from the tourist trail, this ranch had an organic garden, a running trail to a lake, and best of all: quiet.
Trekking: We found Nepal to be an easy place to trek without any companies or porters. We spent 10 days each on two separate trips. First we did the Annapurna Base Camp Trek which we’ll remember for the striking views of the Himalayas. We then did the Langtang Trail which we’ll remember for our homestays with Tibetan refugees.
Kayaking and White Water Rafting: Jenni did a four day kayaking clinic and Lisa (after a nauseating experience attempt with the kayak) went white-water rafting (see, we don’t do EVERYTHING together). We really enjoyed camping next to the river with Equator Expeditions.
Zhongshan Park: Lisa’s favorite place to hang out in the mornings to catch Thai Chi, fan dancing, ballroom dancing, badminton, and just about every park activity imaginable.
Shiliupu Fabric Market: Lisa went on a shopping spree here. This mall of custom tailors is located at the junction Dongmen Lu by Zhonghua Lu. Lisa used Supergay Charlene Lui’s favorite suit tailor who has tailor suits for numerous butch women now. Mr. Wang at store 313.
Love Boat Shop: Taipei’s unique boutique clothing store for butch women and trans men. Don’t miss one of their queer Tarot Readings or Taiwanese knife massage in their holistic health center.
GinGin Bookstore: Asia’s largest LGBT bookstore with an adjoining coffee shop in Taipei.
Taroko Gorge: We spent four nights and five days in this national park hiking and enjoying hot springs. An easy getaway from Taipei out into nature.
The Local: Kamala, a friendly Auzzie lesbian, owns this bar and hotel right off the riverfront tourist area in Phnom Penh. It’s a great place to pop in for a 50 cent beer available all day.
Friend Restaurant and Romdeng Restaurant: Jenni says that if she were to have one final meal in her life, it would be a Cambodian dish. She would probably want to order from either of these restaurants in Phnom Penh. Not only does the food delight, but you feel good because the employees are former street kids who learn cooking skills to make a living. We bought their cookbook to bring home.
Golden Banana B&B: We loved this gay owned bed and breakfast hotel with two swimming pools and fabulous staff. This place was mentioned in the NY Times as one of the best places to stay in Siem Reap. The owner, Kee, continues to expand the mini resort. For $25 a night you’ll want to extend your time.
Le Tiger de Papier Cooking Class– For $12 a person we visit the market and then cooked a three course meal with an excellent teacher. They have an extremely clean teaching kitchen on a separate level and classes three times a day. Best of all, you get to sit down and eat it all at the end of the class.
Walking Tour Of Manila by Carlos Celdran: This one man theatrical show is highly entertaining while also proving a basic Filipino 101 course. Really, this is your best first stop to understanding Filipino history, culture, and society. Carlos’s sense of humor keeps you engaged and there is even a halo halo at the end of the 3 hour walking tour.
Boracay Island: Boracay will forever be a special place for us because we got engaged here. Really this is the best beach we’ve ever seen in our lives and we’ll keep coming back. Scuba diving and windsurfing lessons filled our days and in the afternoon we never missed a sunset. We rented an apartment which turned out to have some ant infestation problems. So we spent lots of time next door at the Blue Mango, where the American owner, Vaughn, kept inviting us over for free breakfasts. We also enjoyed the restaurant next door, Coco Loco for a simple romantic dinners. In the evenings, you can’t miss the mesmerizing transgender firedancers at Sandbar who entertain every night around 8pm (and it’s free!)
Watering Hole Hostel: After nearly two months of house-hopping with friends and family in Mexico, New Zealand and Australia, we finally had to bite the bullet in Bali and check into our first budget accommodation. Located in Sanur on the east side of Bali, this area is much quieter than the overtly tourist areas of Kuta and Seminyak. $20 Rooms were clean and spacious (with daily room cleaning, which cannot be said of any of the other hostels we stayed at in Bali), and we spent plenty of hours drinking watermelon smoothies and using free wi-fi in the restaurant on the first floor. Best of all? Next to the Watering Hole is an incredibly cheap (but not sketchy) spa with $5 full body massages which we frequented more often than we’d like to admit (let’s just say that everyone knows Lisa by name there).
Lembongan Island: A small island 20-minutes (by speedboat) off of main Bali, the Lonely Planet calls Lembongan “the Bali that everyone dreams about but few get to experience.” We saw the most incredible sunsets and enjoyed five days there doing…well, pretty much nothing. We stayed at Puri Nusa bungalows and had a mixed experience (awesome location and decent rooms with a lanai where we did yoga every morning, but the worst customer service we had experienced in Indonesia), but there are plenty of bungalow-style accommodations across the island that all look pretty decent.
Pro Surf School Bali: Very professional surf school with friendly staff. The free transport to and from hotel is a huge plus, because taxis aren’t cheap in Bali. We took five days of lessons there. We’re still miles away from being respectable surfers, but we had a lot of fun and at least we’re getting down the basic concepts of surfing.
Via Via Cooking Class with Mare: The highlight of our trip in Yogyakarta, our five hour cooking class with Made had us selecting a menu, visiting the local market, and then cooking and eating our authentic Indonesian meal. Made is a wonderful instructor who carefully explains all of the foods and cooking processes and offers up practical substitutions for ingredients that would be harder for us to procure in the States.
Inner Powers: Soul Cleansing. Our yogi’s name is Dewa Nyoman Armawa. He lived in San Francisco for a period and speaks excellent English. He lives in Ubod, the town where Eat, Pray, Love took place. Email: email@example.com, phone 081916202122
Kea Campervan: These guys were advertised as having one of the newest fleets of campervans available. Our campervan was indeed very new, clean, and quite luxurious (it even had a TV, which of course we were too busy to use). However, we did have a heater malfunction that resulted in one very very cold night at the base of Fox glacier. But we would still recommend these guys because they took very good care of us – overnight shipping a new heater to a mechanic near where we were going and ultimately putting us up for two nights at a hotel when the mechanic was unable to resolve the problem.
Chalet Queenstown B&B: We warmed ourselves up after our cold campervan experience in the cozy room of this gay-owned B&B. Luxurious feather duvets, hot showers, and a hot breakfast served by our wonderful host Alex – we were sad to leave.
Waitomo Lost World Tour: This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. When floods canceled our rafting trip, we found something better – a 100 meter abseil down a cave, then a just-as-fun scramble/climb back up to the surface via slippery rocks and ladders. We wouldn’t say this was the safest thing to be doing (one small slip and you’re bound to break a bone), but hell we had a grand time.
Onsen Hot Pools: By far the best hot tub experience we’ve ever had. Private hot tubs in Queenstown with clear retracting roof that overlooks the gorgeous mountain and river scenery of Shotover Valley. Que romantico.
Northburn Station Winery: We stumbled on this winery while making our way down the south island. We enjoyed the award-winning Riesling and tasty Pinot Noirs, but most of all we loved talking about queer life with our wine server who turned out to be one of the small handful of gay people living in the sparsely populated central Otago region of New Zealand.
The Bank Hotel: Located in Newtown in Sydney, this was probably one of hippest gay venues we’ve been to (not exclusively gay, but they have stuff like gay speed dating and gay nights). Ladies night was a little dead (although it was a horrendously rainy night, so that was a big part of the problem), but nevertheless we had a good time with a group of lezzies that we met earlier that day.
Brisbane nightlife: We didn’t know what to expect when Phillip said he’d take us out to experience nightlife in Brisbane, but we were surprised by how vibrant the Brisbane club scene was. Being the old souls that we are, clubbing is not usually our cup of tea (and damn were these kiddies young since you only need to be 18 to drink in Australia), but we were happy to see a bumpin’ queer scene at the Wickham and the Beat.
Australia Zoo: How could we miss the official Home of the Crocodile Hunter outside of Brisbane? A bit pricey and of course touristy as all hell, but where else can you take a nap at a park with kangaroos hopping around at your feet? This is not your normal zoo, and you really get to get close-up with the animals (which should warm the heart of any lesbian).