Fashion 101: What Do People Wear in Thailand?
Common dress in Thailand, just like in any other area, depends on the environment you are in, the current weather, and the occasion. There isn’t a strict dress code, but people tend to stick to a few unspoken rules. No matter the scenario, modesty is generally the norm. Additionally, the country is notorious for its warmer climate so cool, light fabrics are typical.
The following guide will help give you an idea of what clothes are commonly worn across different situations in Thailand so you can be prepared for your visit.
Visiting a Temple
Thailand’s emphasis on modesty is evident in their customs at temples. Before entering, women must have their shoulders and knees completely covered. Many places of worship even loan out sarongs or scarfs at the entrance. Clothing items such as nice leggings, maxi skirts, long pants, sweatpants, and dresses are all considered appropriate for the temple.
Men are also advised to have their shoulders and knees covered, but it is not compulsory for them. Presentable collared shirts make good tops, and while pants are preferred, shorts that come to the knee are also acceptable.
In short, dress modestly for a temple. Women are typically barred from entering if their cleavage, shoulders, or thighs are exposed. Regardless of gender, wearing shorts that are too short, swimwear, or sleeveless shirts is considered disrespectful. These customs are also respected at government offices and other religious buildings.
As for shoes, it is a good idea to wear a pair that slides off easily. People are traditionally expected to remove their footwear before entering a temple.
Going to the Beach
It is not uncommon to find locals fully dressed at the beach, but it is usually acceptable for foreigners to wear more revealing swimwear. In more conservative areas, however, it is a good idea to stick with more conservative options such as wetsuits.
Regardless of location, people generally do not wear their bathing suits when they are not on the beach. When going into town after a swim, it is courteous to cover up.
When selecting footwear, you should choose a pair that is practical and comfortable. If you are going to be doing a lot of walking, breathable shoes are a good choice. Socks are often not worn because it is so hot, so it is especially important that footwear is breathable. Keep an eye on the weather, because waterproof materials are a lifesaver in Thailand’s rainy season. For nicer events, go with closed-toe shoes.
Just like before entering a temple, it is customary in Thailand to remove your shoes before going into other buildings such as shops or people’s homes. The foot is considered the dirtiest part of the body in Thai tradition, so it is important to wear shoes when you are out in public. Taking them off before entering a building is respectful.
Walking Around Bangkok
When strolling around the country’s capital, you will want to dress nicely yet comfortably. Pants are always a safe bet. Jeans are commonly worn by Thai locals, but those who are intolerant of the heat might be more comfortable in fabrics such as linen or light cotton. Modest skirts, shirts, and dresses are also good options.
Because of the hot weather, materials like polyester are best avoided. When the rainy season comes, most people take this change in climate into account when choosing their outfits.
Attending Certain Venues
When going to a club or bar, people typically opt for dressier clothes. Button-ups and collared shirts are popular, as are dresses and tops that provide modest coverage. You don’t have to reach for your classiest outfit, but being presentable is important. Clothes shouldn’t be worn or stained, and you should shower regularly and maintain your hygiene while staying in this country.
Make your home country proud by being courteous to Thai values and standards of dress!