If you want to experience real gay bathhouse culture, you have to leave the US

One handsome man in a towel relaxes on a bench amongst an Asian tea kettle and herbs as another walks into a sauna labeled "infrared ray"
Photo: Na Dam Spa

Aimed at reducing HIV transmission in the 1980s, sweeping reforms decimated San Francisco and New York City‘s once-thriving bathhouse scene. Only recently has San Francisco’s legislation been repealed, and slowly a younger culture is only beginning to blossom in the US’s surviving gay saunas.

Yet, if you look outside this country, you’ll see a thriving culture of bathhouses that cater to gay men, and even the trans community, in jaw-dropping locales, from renovated imperial palaces to historic stately homes…

Der Boiler – Berlin

Der Boiler

Heat, steam and power Mehringdamm 34 · Berlin 10961
(305) 770-7175

It’s no surprise that Berlin‘s Der Boiler makes our list with its sparkling clean facilities, numerous Finnish-style dry saunas at various temperatures with spa-level treatments, massive mazed cruisey steam room, and a bubbling well-maintained jacuzzi. The sauna also features a beautiful cafe and bar with a lush quaint garden and surprisingly good food. Der Boiler is a “men’s only” bathhouse but accepts transmen as well as gender-non-confirming people to soak in its waters. With a neon-lit industrial vibe and a quality electronic music soundtrack, it’s no wonder people forget to go home.

NaDam Spa – Ho Chi Minh City

NaDam Spa

Lush gay sauna oasis 66 Đường Số 16 · Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh
(090) 397-4955

Vietnam isn’t usually on the top of most gay travelers’ lists, but the country’s attitude is right behind Asia’s gay stars Thailand and Taiwan. Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, is Vietnam’s gay capital where you’ll not only find a plethora of queer bars, but bathhouses meant for a king. In fact, NaDdam Spa is built inside a refurbished imperial palace where you can find top-notch men for men massages, a courtyard filled with colorful koi fish, and a dry sauna where pineapple roasts over an open flame.

Sodome – Mexico City


More than just a bathhouse Gral. Mariano Escobedo 716 · Mexico DF 55000
(525) 066-53

Stepping into Mexico City’s SODOME (and Gomorrah) main room may feel like a hotel lobby rather than a bathhouse with its giant flower arrangements and illuminated DJ booth until you realize everyone is naked and there are strippers dancing on go-go boxes. Located in the exclusive Polanco neighborhood the space has been known to pull a local and international crowd. Starting on Fridays the place turns into a club and only closes on Sundays at midnight. Adjacent to the sauna there is a bright hotel with each room featuring a small terrace.

Spartacus – Puerto Vallarta

Spartacus Spa/Sauna

Gay sauna complex with lush rooftop pool & deck Lazaro Cardenas 240 · PUERTO VALLARTA, JALOS 48380
(322) 178-4299

In the heart of Puerto Vallarta’s gayborhood Zona Romantica, Spartacus is a multi-story bathhouse with a rooftop pool, terrace, and palapa bar that rivals many of its neighbors. You’ll often find that this bathhouse is packed during the day with sun worshippers tanning in the buff, and enjoying a cocktail. The sauna has all the normal amenities including a steam room, lockers, dry sauna, jacuzzi, and lots of room to cruise.

Wild Thermas – São Paulo

Wild Thermas Club

Where there’s a wax, there’s a wang R. Dr. Veiga Filho, 802 · São Paulo, SP 01229
(113) 666-4908

Located in a historic townhouse in São Paulo’s ritzy Higienópolis neighborhood, Wild Thermas is not only a meeting place for the neighborhood’s men who seek men, but it also offers many spa services including body waxing, quality massages, hair bleaching, hydrating facials (from the esthetician!), and even full body exfoliation treatments.

Trombeta Baths – Lisbon

Trombeta Bath

Discreet all-men sauna R. do Trombeta 1C · Lisbon 2715-311
(351) 216-0956

Barrio Alto has a reputation for being Lisbon’s party neighborhood, and it would only suit Trombeta Baths to be located here. During the weekends once the clubs close the bathhouse hosts afterparties with DJs that last from Friday night through Sunday. The sexy playground has lots of space to explore your fantasies, and they even feature live sex shows to inspire you. Relax in the jacuzzi, get a massage, or drink a cocktail in the lounge.

Chakran Sauna – Bangkok

Chakran Sauna

Naked parties 32 Chakran Building, Soi Ari 4 Soi Paholyothin 7 Phayathai Phaya Thai · Bangkok, Thailand 10400
(662) 279-1359

Bangkok is known for its massage culture and gay bathhouses which are numerous throughout the city. What makes Chakran Sauna unique is its rooftop Japanese Onsen (the only gay one in the city), the tasty Thai food served in-house, and its many theme parties that often include complimentary cocktails.

I/O Taipei Sauna – Taipei

I/O Taipei Sauna

Japanese Onsen and sex club 12-1號 Lane 49, Shuangcheng St · Taipei City 10491
(022) 586-3508

Taiwan is undoubtedly the most queer-friendly country in Asia, and the only one to have legalized same-sex marriage. Taipei is the center of queer life in the country and its population of seven million has ample queer haven to explore the city. The newly opened I/O Taipei Sauna is the talk of the town for its Japanese onsen theme which gives all visitors the option of a towel or fundoshi (Japanese underwear) to wear in the club which are color-coded. (pink = bottom, white = top, brown = versatile) The space also offers Japanese bondage demonstrations and has lots of dark rooms to explore with a new acquaintance.

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