Dressing to Impress: How to Dress in Thailand

This is your holiday. You’re looking forward to sharing those brand-new threads in your photos and showing off to the locals. When thinking of how to dress in Thailand, it’s not always as straightforward as in the West. Not every outfit is suitable, some are downright offensive. So, what should you wear in Thailand?

Step off that plane and the weather hits you like an express train. If you’ve arrived and it’s sunny the humidity will have you sweating in moments. Pick the rainy season to arrive and chances are you could be stepping into knee deep water! Research is important and dressing accordingly too.

The weather isn’t going to be the only thing that influences your wardrobe. Consider that Thailand (despite the full-moon, go-go bar, bucket filled reputation) is a very conservative nation. They revere tradition and put prudence above flouting their figures. This is especially true when you visit places of worship. Read on further for our temple clothing guide.

Hitting the Beach

This is one of the easier places to visit in terms of clothing. 2-piece swimsuits, or bikinis for women and board shorts/trunks for men are perfectly acceptable once you’re on the beach. It is definitely worth packing a light coverall or a sarong for the walk/ride down to the beach.

Topless sunbathing is an absolute no-go area for women, in fact it’s downright illegal so don’t risk it. Pleading ignorance isn’t the way forward either. Try it and chances are the tourist police will be with you quickly. Remember to regularly apply sunscreen, even in the shade!

Day to Day

On a standard holiday day, say for instance wandering the streets and having lunch, you’ll want light clothing. The very best options involve breathable technology and help you to deal with the humidity. Trust us, wear a heavy cotton t-shirt and within 10 minutes it will have doubled in weight and tripled in smell thanks to sweat…

That said, it is worth carrying a light jumper or shawl. The shops are aggressively air conditioned. If you spend more than a few minutes in them you’ll start to get a chill!

One Foot in Front of the Other

Footwear is important and depends entirely on your season. Flip-flops or sandals will be your best bet. In Thailand, you’ll get used to whipping your shoes off at a moment’s notice. Whenever you enter certain shops, people’s homes, temples it is shoes off. This is a respectful move and is expected.

Shoes with socks isn’t recommended unless you can get very thin, breathable ankle socks. They will end up dusty, crusty and stink within hours. If you’re going hiking then definitely take a pair of good boots, but also take a slip-on option for when you’re finished.

Paying Respects

Inevitably during your visit to Thailand you’ll enter into a temple. If you don’t, you’re missing out! Be prepared to comply with their rules though. Temples are the most sacred of Thai tourist attractions and are held in high regard by the local population.

Follow the advice above but ensure that shoulders and legs are covered. The easiest way to deal with this and the heat is to invest in a sarong or two and wrap yourself up before entering. T-shirts are fine but a collared polo-style top is going to show extra respect.

Different temples have different rules (and standards of enforcement!) by far the strictest is The Grand Palace in Bangkok. Read ahead and abide by the dress code or prepare to be sent away from the gates.

Bodegan Insider Tip

It is always best to remember the mindset that you are visiting someone else’s home. People will appreciate that you are making an effort to be respectful (even if the rest of your group isn’t…). Shower regularly, especially if you’re on the hostel trail. You never know when your next decent one will be. The stinking traveler look is long dead.