Welcome to Insider Out Travel, a blog about LGBT travel written by LGBT tourism professionals. Travel the globe and gain insight into the tourism industry (with a gay twist), brought to you by the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Buenos Aires Welcomes Foreign Tourists for Same-Sex Weddings

By Pablo Polito

Buenos Aires allows visitors to the city to marry within five days of submitting the request. After legalizing same-sex marriage, it was decided that foreign couples should also have the right to marry there.

According to the Buenos Aires government, the new regulation was adopted by “explicit instruction" of the mayor, Mauricio Macri, and it will allow foreign couples without permanent residence in the city to get married, whether they are same or opposite sex.

To do so, the parties must make an appointment to get married in the registry office, specify a local address (which can be a hotel), and have the proper papers with stamped passport to enter the country. According to the resolution, the Buenos Aires civil registry shall provide a turn for the wedding couple within a period not exceeding five days from when the request is made. This type of legislation is already in force in the provinces of Buenos Aires and Santa Fe. On May 11, La Plata hosted the first foreign gay marriage in the Buenos Aires for Australian tourists Greenwich and Victor Höld.

Buenos Aires is a great starting point to take romantic trips inside Argentina, such as a honeymoon to Iguazu Falls or Patagonia. Iguazu is one of the most gay-friendly spots after Mendoza, Buenos Aires and Bariloche. "Iguazu Falls is a favorite destination for our community," said Pablo De Luca, president and founder of the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Argentina. "Snow, wine, and adventure tourism are also sought – the same as with heterosexual tourists.”

Of the total visitors to Argentina each year, it is estimated that about 30 percent belong to the LGBT community. "Gay-friendly is a fact here: Tourists do not have to be coming out of the closet every five minutes giving unnecessary explanations," said De Luca.

IGLTA member Pablo Polito is with 01Argentina Travel Agency in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Stylish Euro Sampler

By Clark Massad

We hit the road with Spain, Germany and Italy in our sights. The plan: experiencing some of Europe’s incredible nightlife and shopping.

They say New York is the city that never sleeps, but Madrid is certainly burning the candle at both ends too. Madrid nightlife is all about moving from terraza to terraza as darkness falls. Strips of pavement are crowded with partygoers who eat as much as they drink. Tapas are always a favorite for Spaniards and we were definitely as enthusiastic as they were. We did a tapas crawl, soaking up the culture of the warm night. Afterwards, we headed to Chueca, known for its gay nightlife.
Of course, we were also there for the shopping. There are some brilliant boutiques in Madrid, but we also like to visit Las Rozas Village to take advantage of discounts up to 60% off luxury brands. We went on a spree and got some great deals on denim courtesy of the Destination Denim campaign going on at Las Rozas and the other Chic Outlet Shopping® Villages. We also entered a competition to win a five-day road-trip along on Route 66. (Fingers crossed.)

Munich is a city of beautiful architecture and rich history, but it’s also known for its incredible nightlife. Like Spain, people don’t really head out until 11 or 12 at night. The beer gardens are a great starting point as the sun is setting. Friends recommended Hanoi Bar and Candy Club – both were lively and crowded and we had a great time. Everything in Munich is really accessible through public transport.
During the day, we wanted to relax, but also wanted to make sure we toured Munich’s impressive architecture, including The New Town Hall. But a few of our friends really wanted to go shopping and we had heard that at Ingolstadt Village you could customize your own denim, and we loved the sound of that. That, together with cool brands such as Philipp Plein and MCM, made it worth the trip. Like the other Villages, the brands have up to 60% off retail prices, but we did so much shopping, we were worried we would have to ship some bags home separately!
Flying into Milan was exciting – it is, after all, one of the fashion capitals of the world! We were all looking forward to experiencing la dolce vita.
The nightlife in Milan is varied, with everything from lounges to clubs; a lot of gay bars are on Via Sammartini. One of the best bars we visited was Café Atlantique – full of stylish people in an equally stylish atmosphere.
For shopping, we headed to Fidenza Village, which is just down the road and had some great offers on Levi’s. We were also excited about finding top-name brands such as Guess and Italian fashion royalty Missoni.
Chic Outlet Shopping® is a Platinum Partner of IGLTA.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Travel Snapshot: Progressive India

Utopia Asia's John Goss enjoyed an LGBT sandwich on a layover at the Mumbai International Airport. Wonder if they have gay pastries too? www.utopia-asia.com

Monday, July 23, 2012

There's More to Costa Rica

By Sheryl Kay
It is a land of many dichotomies. Costa Rica is home to incredible Atlantic Ocean sunrises, yet just a few hours drive away the sun sinks lazily into the surf of the Pacific Ocean. The land is fertile, perfect for growing cocoa beans, but you'd be hard pressed to find chocolate bars made in Costa Rica.

And while the country is Catholic by law, even to the extent that the priests are government employees, the Costa Rican LGBT community is growing bolder every day. It's true that there are no civil rights laws in place to protect the community, but most locals will tell you their countrymen espouse the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. As long as you don't talk about it, it's fine to be gay.

Of course Manuel Antonio, located on the southwest coast, is well known. Few places in Costa Rica are as open and welcoming. The Hotel Villa Roca is a long recognized icon in the community, gay owned and operated. Nestled on a hillside, it offers stunning views overlooking the rain forest and the Pacific Ocean.

We landed in San Jose, where the nightlife is extensive. Don't miss La Avispa, the oldest LGBT bar and disco in the country; Cafe Mundo, a quiet bohemian spot; Omar Khayaam, where the mid East cuisine meets student life just adjacent to the University; and Castilla, for the younger, less affluent crowd. 

Our tour then took off on an incredible journey, from the rim of the Poas Volcano, bubbling with active fumaroles; to the rainforest canopy of Tortuguero National Park, replete with dozens of monkeys, exotic tropical birds, and rainbow-colored butterflies; to the Northwest coast of Guanacaste where surfers await the big one.  

We learned every step of coffee production at the Doka Plantation, walked 16 hanging aerial bridges in Arenal, dipped in the Eco Termales hot springs, watched an endangered green turtle lay eggs under the starlight, made authentic hot chocolate, rode the Bebedero River beside 10-foot crocodiles, and participated in the ancient Chorotegan method of hand making pottery.

Costa Rica is a place where you can find the rainbow flag, or you can just fly yourself via zip line among the multihued butterflies. Either way, it’s a pallet of adventures.

Sheryl Kay is a freelance photographer and journalist who also serves as the Out In Front editor for CURVE Magazine.  She can be reached at skreporter@hotmail.com  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pattaya, Thailand - An LGBT Traveler's Paradise

By Brett Hayhoe
Bangkok to me is just another big city. My real love is around an hour and a half from Bangkok: the beautiful beachside city of Pattaya (Chon Buri).

For the LGBT traveller, Pattaya (and neighbouring Jomtien) is heavenly. From Boyztown (an area specifically designed by Jim Lumsden and his business partner Gordon May) to the bars, nightclubs and beaches, this area has something for everyone. The accommodation on offer encompasses all star ratings and often includes breakfast. My personal recommendation would be The Ambiance or the newly built Baan Souy Resort. The two properties are very different. Both properties feature in the July issue of Q Magazine and you can read more about them on my website at www.qmagazine.com.au.

For total relaxation, Sansuk is a beautiful sauna in the area and is within walking distance of Baan Souy Resort. It has amazing facilities including a bar, restaurant, pool and in October this year will complete a whole new accommodation wing with elevator access to all floors and to the older section. It is open from 2 p.m. daily and is a favourite spot for socialising in a safe and friendly environment. 

It is advisable to consult as many websites as possible prior to visiting Thailand. There are specific protocols that will make the exercise a lot less surprising. You can choose to indulge in the wilder side of life or simply laze on the beach, buy a foot or full body massage, and enjoy light refreshments and food with the panoramic vista of water, boats and the buildings of the area.

I have often said that Buddha would be so proud of Thailand and its people, and I don’t say that flippantly. The people really do make this country special. They are generous, centred, happy, accommodating, welcoming and attractive to boot. Their demeanor is one of mai pen rai (in layman's terms: "no worries"). Nothing is a hassle, service is paramount and if you’re on a budget you can’t go wrong. This is obviously assisted by the very healthy exchange rate with most other currencies and a flamboyant barter system.

I have travelled all over the world but no place relaxes me like Thailand – and in particular Pattaya. If you have any specific questions I would be more than happy to receive them via my personal email: brett@hayhoe.com.au

Brett Hayhoe is the publisher & editor of Australia's Q Magazine.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Iceland - A Fresh Meeting Point!

By Hannes Sasi Palsson 
Queer Sports Club Styrmir, in co-operation with LGBT travel experts Pink Iceland, hosted the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics World Championships in Iceland from May 30 to June 2. 

450 competitors and about 150 supporters graced Reykjavík for the biggest organized LGBT event the country has ever seen. 

The idea was planted at the Copenhagen Outgames in 2009, and a bid to host the event was presented at the Gay Games in Cologne in 2010. With support from the city of Reykjavík, The Ministry for Sports and The Icelandic Swimming Association, the organizing team was able to secure part of the funds necessary, the aquatic facilities and the expertise needed to run the championships. The overwhelmingly positive reaction from those who were approached echoes the general attitudes Icelanders have towards the LGBT community; and while most were happy to support a good cause that livens the city up, the financial benefits of hosting an event of this size escaped few people.

Competition was set up so that most people competed either before or after noon, freeing them up to take part in tours and activities organized by Pink Iceland and their affiliates. The most popular one was the Fontana Tour where guests visited Iceland’s most famous landmarks and then took a soak in Iceland’s newest thermal baths at Laugarvatn. Some ventured further out to the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.

Modest estimates value the worth of the championship to the Icelandic economy at $1.2 million dollars, creating a very high ROI on the $50,000 support from local authorities and government.

Reykjavík, and its guests, enjoyed 10 consecutive days of sun and unseasonally high temperatures before, during and after the championship. With its open society, breathtaking nature, vibrant nightlife and lively locals, Iceland's way forward is gay. All the way.

For more information, visit www.pinkiceland.is.

Friday, May 11, 2012

LAN Makes it Easier to Visit South America's Wonders

By Megan Kat

Travelers looking to visit some of South America’s most famous and iconic destinations can reach them more quickly and easily today thanks to LAN Airlines and its affiliates.

Gay Pride - Sao Paulo

In 2011, LAN launched nonstop flights to Easter Island, Chile; Iguazu Falls, Brazil; and Lima, Peru.
“Before, travelers had to go to southern cities like Santiago and Buenos Aires just to connect to these tourist hotspots,” said Katitza Mandakovic, Leisure Director, LAN Airlines North America. “Travel time from major U.S. cities to these emerging destinations has been cut substantially. And passengers finally have the opportunity to visit these ‘wonders’ of South America without having to backtrack on their itinerary.”
Between Lima and Iguazu Falls, LAN offers four weekly flights on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. LAN’s Lima-to-Easter Island service returned in February 2012, with two flights per week, on Wednesday and Sunday.
LAN has also made getting to the Galapagos Islands a lot easier. In September 2010 LAN Ecuador, an affiliate of LAN Airlines, began daily service between the islands and Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador. LAN now operates Airbus A320s on these new routes.
Last fall, LAN Ecuador also launched a new twice-weekly service to San Cristóbal in the Galápagos. LAN Ecuador currently operates into Baltra, Galápagos, so this new service will enable easier connections to cruise ship itineraries and reduce backtracking for travelers to the islands.
Galapagos is a growing LGBT tourism destination regularly visited by LGBT groups. Tour organizations like Olivia and Concierge Travel have offered numerous trips to the islands in recent years.
“Ecuador has some great tourist attractions for LGBT travelers,” said Mandakovic. “In addition to the Galapagos Islands, Guayaquil and Quito are fast becoming LGBT destinations in their own right.”
Cusco and nearby Machu Picchu, Peru as well as Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, El Calafate and Bariloche in the Patagonia region of Chile and Argentina are just a few of the other unique tourism destinations to reach from LAN’s hubs in Lima, Santiago and Buenos Aires.
LAN also offers flights to dozens of other popular South American destinations with a network of over 90 destinations in the region. Major destinations include Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Guayaquil and Quito, Ecuador; and Santiago, Chile.

For more information on LGBT travel in South America, visit LAN.com/diversity.