Category Archives: chile

“Boa Noite, Cinderela”

There is something darkly sinister about the Portuguese phrase “Boa Noite, Cinderela.” It sounds like something an evil witch in disguise would say to an innocent Disney princess before feeding her a poisonous treat.  In Brazil, it describes the phenomenon of drugging victims in bars to later assault or rob them.

Outside of Latin America, mostly women are targeted with this type of crime, and sexual assault is usually part of the equation.  South of the Equator, gay men are often the prey.  The predators may also be gay, or they may be heterosexual.  Assailants only need to act gay long enough to befriend and flirt with a single gay man before slipping a drug into his drink.

The substance itself could be an existing party drug which creates the desired effect (Special K, GHB, or Rohypnol.)  Or, it could be scopolomine, a particularly scary drug with the abilities to subdue victims, make them compliant in their own robbery, and leave them with memory loss.

The goal is almost always robbery, and the story almost always ends with the victim awakening hours, sometime even days, later with no memory of what happened after they met their attacker.

Recently, the crime has entered the digital age with an assailant using Grindr to pick up, drug, and rob gay men in Sao Paulo.

The tips to staying safe are obvious, but worth sharing:

  • don’t accept drinks from strangers
  • keep your eye on your drinks (bottles and cans with smaller openings are more difficult to slip a drug into)
  • take your drink with you (to the dance floor, or the men’s room)
  • if you do take your eye off your drink, just dispose of it and order a fresh one
  • use the buddy system (or, set up a check-in with someone if you go out alone)
  • don’t party too hard if you do go out alone; it’s hard to tell the sensation of a knockout drug kicking in if you’ve already had ten caipirinhas
  • take only what you need for that night in your wallet
  • if traveling, make sure your room key is unidentifiable (trash the little envelope labeled “Copacabana Palace, Room #318”)

One final tip is to share your story if you have been victimized.  When attacks have happened in the gay bars of Sao Paulo, victims and their friends have taken to Facebook to post warnings and even distribute surveillance camera images of their attackers.

Best Apps for Gay Travel in Latin America

Planning a trip to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, or Uruguay?  From our travels to all four countries we’ve  created the following list of must-have apps for gay men. (And don’t forget our guide to mobile data and SIM cards.)

Google Maps

Essential!  Google Maps over the years has evolved into one of the best ways to navigate unknown territory.  The latest update provides the best public transportation directions available.  And for walkers, try plugging one earbud in to listen to turn-by-turn audio directions to avoid walking to avoid exposing your mobile phone while barcrawling at night.  (Pre-load our Google Maps for Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, and Sao Paulo for offline browsing.)

One note for Buenos Aires, the Moovit app is a highly recommended supplement to Google Maps with some of the best tips for the city’s public transportation system.

We assume most visitors will be walking, taking the bus/metro, or being driven by taxi, but for visitors who will be driving, the Waze app is essential too.  And after you finish driving, Onde Parar is the best way to find a parking spot (only available in Brazil.)

99Taxis

More popular, and more available, than Uber in Latin America, the 99Taxi app uses both contracted drivers, and the existing pool of yellow and white taxis.  Options like the ability to pay via PayPal are great.  One downside is drivers who accept your request and then cancel if a better option appears.  99Taxis was recently in the news after one of their homophobic drivers expelled a gay couple in Rio during Carnival.  The company quickly terminated the driver from their service.

WhatsApp

This recommendation is mostly for Americans, since the extremely popular WhatsApp is one of the most downloaded mobile apps in the world.  In Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America, everyone already knows the app allows free messaging, photo/video sharing, phone calls over wi-fi, and location sharing.

Grindr

“But, I’m not one of the those types of guys who uses Grindr.” Yes, the world’s most popular mobile app for gay men does have a slutty reputation, but Grindr is what you make it.  You can create a G-rated profile stating that you are only looking to meet new people … Or, create and X-rated profile looking for sex.  Enjoy Grindr and be safe!

Other hook-up apps with sizeable populations in Latin America are Hornet, Scruff, Adam4Adam, and Disponivel (more about that one below.)

Disponivel

What began as a hook-up website whose biggest competitor was ManHunt (remember them?) has since made the leap into the age of mobile apps to be one of the most popular ways to find men in Brazil. The Disponivel app’s interface now has an English option, but often reverts, or has untranslated Portuguese elements.

TripAdvisor

Still on top after all these year!  If you must have one app for general city info and tourism recommendations (in English), TripAdvisor is the way to go.  If your phone has enough storage space, try Foursquare, Yelp, and Vespa.

VamosGay

No, we don’t have a mobile app, but we do have a mobile website! Choose the “Add to Home Screen” option and you’ll see a shiny new icon on your phone which will take you to our listings for restaurants and nightlife whenever you need them.

Gay Guide to Santiago Chile

In 2015, Chile legalized same-sex civil unions lifting the nation one step higher on the list of gay travel destinations.  Chile’s energetic capital city Santiago has been the epicenter for the country’s flourishing gay culture with a multitude of hotelsrestaurants, bars, and adults-only places to visit.

This guide to gay Santiago has a particular focus on the Bellavista neighborhood, the heart of the city which lies between the Mapocho River and San Cristóbal Hill.  Bellavista is known as Santiago’s bohemian quarter, with new hip restaurants, boutiques, and avant-garde galleries occupying loft spaces and lordly mansions that punctuate tree-lined streets awash with colorful antique homes. Many of the city’s esteemed intellectuals and artists live in Bellavista, following in the footsteps of its most famous denizen, Pablo Neruda.

In the evening, Bellavista pulses to the beat of music pouring from its many discos and bars. Gay nightlife is easy to find on the colorful Bombero Núñez street.  On weekends, there is an evening handicrafts market that runs the length of Pío Nono. The area is served by the Baquedano Metro subway station, located just across the river.  (Try our Google map of gay Santiago to help navigate the city.)

Know before you go with the VamosGay 2016 Guide to Santiago Chile to enjoy the best of the city!

Bars & Clubs

A to Z listing of every bar, lounge, and club.

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Hotels

Gay-friendly places to stay in Santiago.

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Restaurants & Cafes

Meals to remember, or just a late night snack.

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Sex & Saunas

An up-to-date list of Santiago’s hottest spots.

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Gay Saunas, Cinemas, and Sex Shops of Santiago Chile

Following the collapse of its military dictatorship (1973 – 1990) Chile has steadily made strides towards a more progressive society. Sex between partners of the same sex became legal in 1998.  And, on October 22, 2015, Chile recognized same-sex civil unions.

Lke most big cities in Latin America, Santiago has many gay bars and clubs.  For those looking for something extra, here is a list of the most active gay-friendly sex shops, cinemas, and saunas in the city.   Continue reading Gay Saunas, Cinemas, and Sex Shops of Santiago Chile

Hotels and Places to Stay in Gay-Friendly Santiago Chile

For the party boy who just needs a place to crash close to the nearest gay club, to cultured traveler looking for a boutique hotel, Santiago has something for everyone.  The following short list of gay-friendly places to stay are mostly in Bellavista, the cultural heart of the city with easy access to both museums, restaurants, and nightlife.

The Aubrey

Luxurious boutique hotel in a converted mansion in city’s cultural center, Bellavista.  Each of the rooms at the Aubrey is individually decorated with stylish bathrooms.

The Aubrey has a heated outdoor swimming pool with 3 massage jets and an integrated jacuzzi. There’s an indoor/outdoor bar with poolside service.

A complimentary Brazilian breakfast is served each morning

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Casa Moro (unavailable)

This gay-owned and operated establishment was the TripAdvisor winner for Best Inn/B&B in Santiago.  However, as of late 2015, Casa Moro is no longer on the market and there is no contact info for the management.  Casa Moro and its owners were beloved by gay visitors staying in Santiago.

No longer available

Dominica Hostel

Set in an elegant house with comfortable common areas, Dominica Hostel is a short walk from poet Pablo Neruda’s house. Rooms are private with shared bathrooms.  Dominica Hostel is a great low-budget option to stay in Bellavista.

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Hotel Boutique Tremo

Beautiful four-story colonial house in Bellavista with modern design and amenities.  Plan your day over breakfast in the courtyard with the help of friendly and helpful staff.  Gay friendly, too!

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Hotel Patio Yungay

Reviews are almost 100% positive for this bed-and-breakfast located in Bellavista, but a few blocks away from the noisy ground zero of the city’s nightlife.  Click below for a photo gallery and more info on Hotel Patio Yungay.

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Mister BnB

Stay with gay locals while you explore the city.  Several great apartments in Santiago are now available.  Click below to start your search.

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Mito Casa Hotel Boutique

In an Art-Deco style building with a rooftop terrace overlooking Providencia, Mito Casa Hotel offers elegantly decorated rooms with hardwood floors. All of rooms feature minibars and heating. A buffet breakfast is served daily in a charming breakfast room.  Free bikes can be requested to explore the city. Guests can also unwind in the terrace, enjoying scenic views of Santiago. Bars and restaurants in trendy Bellavista are around the corner.

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SCL Suites

True apartment-style living.  This is a great choice if you all of the amenities of your own one bedroom apartment.  There’s a full kitchen, a living area with stylishly modern furnishings, and even a small balcony.  One issue is noisy neighbors on the weekends, but if you are out partying until the crack of dawn yourself, it’s not an issue.  There is a front gate, but no hotel-style front desk with English speakers.

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W Santiago

Stylish and sophisticated, the 5-star W Santiago offers a roof-top swimming pool and luxury guest rooms. The hotel is centrally located, with panoramic views of the Andes Mountains.  The W Santiago also hosts the hip gay-friendly part Lobo.

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For a complete list of hotels and apartments in Santiago, visit Booking.com for the lowest prices.