Alternatives to a trip to Brunei
Planning a holiday to Brunei?
The tiny nation, once infamous for the opulent and conspicuous wealth of its oil-rich ruling family, hit the news last week for a new legal code that makes gay sex punishable by stoning to death. Brunei has a number of attractions for foreign visitors, and according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, more than 13,000 British travellers pick Brunei as a destination every year - but you can enjoy similar or better attractions in plenty of places that haven't withdrawn from the civilised world by enshrining in law medieval homophobia. Here's some of our top picks for places to go instead.
What was it that originally drew you to consider Brunei for a trip? If your big gay heart was set on a trip to exotic south-east Asia to see some golden temples, perhaps your best alternative is Nepal. Kathmandu - sometimes called by visitors "the city of the happy people" - is one of Holiday Extras' top ten LGBT-friendly destinations in the world, and the county is famous for LGBT laws and attitudes "among the most progressive in Asia."
The gateway to the Himalayas, amongst the top attractions for visitors to Nepal are the temples and ancient culture of Kathmandu and trekking through the foothills of the greatest mountain range on earth.
(While Nepal took a step backward in 2018 with a civil code that heteronormalised marriage , it's still one of the safest and most welcoming countries in the region for LGBT travellers, so if you're set on south-east Asia why not vote with your wallet and swap a trip to Brunei for a visit to Nepal?
Another possible draw of Brunei is the beaches and year-round sunshine. For such a small country Brunei is blessed with so many beaches that Tripadviser even lists the ten best.
Happily, British holidaymakers can enjoy the same benefits of golden sand and year-round sunshine without even leaving Europe.
Book your airport transfers early
It pays to book your holiday extras early. Holiday Extras offers resort transfers in more than 4,000 holiday destinations worldwide with prices in Tenerife starting at £7.73.Book my airport transfer today
Tenerife, the most popular of the Canary Islands with British tourists and consistently the number one destination for Holiday Extras customers, boasts Europe's best weather, many of the best beaches and a dramatic, volcanic interior as a bonus. We rounded up five of our favourites in a video last time we visited (below).
Another things that drew travellers to Brunei was the rainforest, and especially the Ulu Temburong national park..
If it was rainforests you wanted to see, South America has some of the best on Earth. Brazil, and especially Rio de Janeiro, used to be a world-renowned LGBT-friendly destination but the recent election of right-wing and openly homophobic President Jair Bolsonaro has set Brazil back in that respect.
Argentina may be the answer. Home to both world-class rainforests in the National Parc Iguazú and Buenos Aires, one of the top 10 LGBT destinations in the world, it combines excitingly exotic with reassuringly civilised. So why not stick Argentina on your long-haul bucket-list?
LGBT and Islam
While Brunei's terrible decision appears prompted by a extreme interpretation of Sharia law, and many of the world's worst regimes for LGBT rights apply some version of Islamic law, there's nothing fundamentally homophobic about Islam. The Ottoman Empire, arguably the largest and most successful Islamic regime in the history of the world, decriminalised homosexuality in 1858 - more than a hundred years before liberal England!
Or maybe the thing that once drew your eye to Brunei is just the fun of visiting a tiny country with a population smaller than the city of Leicester. Enter Iceland.
You can fly to Reykjavik from Manchester in less than three hours for under £100. The Golden Circle around the capital is good for a long weekend of geysers and the Blue Lagoon, but if you're looking for a longer trip you can spend a very happy couple of weeks driving around the entire island and taking in the dramatic, unique scenery, tiny, friendly settlements and remarkable food. And as for LGBT credentials, more than ten years ago Iceland elected the world's first openly lesbian Prime Minister.
If you really have to see south east Asia this trip and Nepal isn't your cup of tea, another solid choice is the Taiwanese capital of Taipei.
Another south-east Asian destination renowned for its progressive attitudes and diverse culture, Taipei was one of the British LGBT Awards winners in 2018. So if Nepal doesn't cut it for you and you still want to visit golden temples and a mix of Asian cultures, Taipei might be your best bet.
Book your holiday extras early
It pays to book your airport parking, airport hotel or your lounge as soon as you book your flights. Prices usually go up nearer the date you fly, and last year Holiday Extras saved our airport parking customers £59 each on average when they pre-booked their airport parking instead of paying on the day.Book my hotel and parking today
Next article: top LGBT-friendly destinations
Follow the link for our picks for the top LGBT-friendly destinations in the world. Or for our pick of places to celebrate Pride, see our video below.