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What to Wear in Thailand: A Comprehensive Guide

Thailand, a country known for its breathtaking temples, captivating culture, beautiful beaches, and diverse landscapes, is a favorite destination for many travelers. Its unique blend of ancient temples, bustling markets, pristine beaches, and vibrant nightlife makes it a sought-after destination.

However, while the country is known for its welcoming and laid-back vibe, visitors should be aware of the cultural norms, especially when it comes to dressing.

This guide will help you navigate the intricacies of what to wear in Thailand, ensuring you remain comfortable while also showing respect for local customs. Here’s a breakdown of what to wear and what not to wear during your visit:

Understanding the Climate

Thailand’s tropical climate means it’s warm and humid throughout the year. This can be a stark contrast for travelers from temperate regions. The immediate warmth and humidity you feel upon landing might tempt you to wear as little as possible. However, Thai culture, deeply rooted in Buddhism and traditional values, places a high emphasis on modesty. This means that while it’s essential to dress for comfort, it’s equally important to ensure your attire is culturally appropriate.

Dressing for Different Occasions

  1. Everyday Wear: Lightweight, breathable clothes should be your go-to choices. While you’ll often see locals wearing long sleeves and trousers, this isn’t just a cultural choice. Many Thais wear such attire to protect their skin from the sun’s harsh rays. Opt for loose-fitting clothes that allow your skin to breathe.

  2. Beachwear: Thailand boasts some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. While it’s okay to wear swimsuits, always have a cover-up ready. Avoid topless sunbathing, and remember that nudity on beaches is illegal and can result in fines.

  3. Visiting Temples: Temples, or ‘wats’ as they are locally known, are places of worship and require visitors to dress respectfully. Both men and women should cover their shoulders and knees. Women might find it handy to carry a scarf or shawl, while men should consider wearing long-sleeved shirts. It’s also customary to remove your shoes before entering temple premises.

  4. City Shopping: Urban areas like Bangkok are modern and cosmopolitan. However, when shopping or exploring, it’s best to avoid overly revealing clothes. While you might see younger Thais dressed in contemporary fashion, it’s always a good idea for tourists to err on the side of modesty.

  5. Nightlife: Thailand’s nightlife is legendary. While most bars and clubs have a relaxed dress code, high-end venues might require patrons to dress more formally. Men should consider wearing collared shirts, and women should opt for modest dresses or skirts.

  6. Trekking: Thailand’s northern regions offer incredible trekking opportunities. If you’re venturing into the jungles, wear appropriate trekking shoes and lightweight clothing. Don’t forget to pack mosquito repellent and a raincoat, as tropical showers can be sudden and intense.

Footwear Tips: Thailand’s cultural sites often require visitors to remove their shoes. Therefore, comfortable, easy-to-remove footwear is essential. Sandals or flip-flops are ideal for most situations, but if you’re planning to do a lot of walking, invest in a good pair of breathable walking shoes.

Materials Matter: The humidity in Thailand can be challenging. Opt for moisture-wicking fabrics that dry quickly. While cotton is breathable, it tends to retain moisture, so clothes made from synthetic-polyester blends might be more comfortable.

Types of Fabric

  • DO: Choose breathable materials. Clothes that wick away sweat quickly will be your best friend in the sweltering Thai heat.

  • DON’T: Bring heavy clothing like jeans or thick sweatshirts. They’ll only weigh down your luggage and are impractical for the Thai climate.

Daily Attire

  • DO: Opt for airy everyday clothing. Flowy skirts, lightweight shorts, billowing shirts, and airy pants are ideal. Long skirts and pants that cover the knees are also suitable for temple visits.

  • DON’T: Wear overly revealing outfits. Thailand is a modest country, and it’s essential to respect local customs. Avoid very short shorts or tops that expose too much cleavage.


  • DO: Pack beach-appropriate clothing. Bikinis and short shorts are acceptable on the beach.

  • DON’T: Wear beachwear when not on the beach. Always cover up when you’re away from the beach area.


  • DO: Bring comfortable sandals and trainers. You’ll be doing a lot of walking, so ensure your footwear is up to the task. Flip flops are also handy for beach visits and hostel showers.

  • DON’T: Pack heels, overly strappy sandals, or crocs. They’re impractical for most activities in Thailand.

Rain Gear

  • DO: Carry a lightweight rain jacket. When it rains in Thailand, it pours, so it’s good to be prepared.

  • DON’T: Wear white during the rainy season. It can become see-through when wet, which can be considered disrespectful.

Fancy Dress

  • DO: Bring at least one nice outfit if you plan on visiting upscale restaurants or clubs.

  • DON’T: Overpack on fancy clothing. One or two outfits should suffice for most travelers.


  • DO: Pack lightweight accessories like breathable scarves or shawls. They can be useful for temple visits or protecting against the sun.

  • DON’T: Bring excessive or expensive jewelry. It’s best to leave valuable items at home.

Respecting Local Customs

While Thailand is generally tolerant and welcoming, it’s essential to be aware of certain cultural norms. For instance, the Thai Royal Family is deeply revered, and any form of disrespect, even unintentional, can be offensive. Wearing clothes that depict the Buddha can also be seen as disrespectful.

Final Thoughts

Thailand offers a rich tapestry of experiences, from its ancient temples and traditional markets to its modern malls and vibrant nightlife. As a visitor, dressing appropriately not only ensures you’re comfortable but also shows respect for the country’s customs and traditions. By being mindful of your attire, you can fully immerse yourself in all the beauty and culture Thailand has to offer, ensuring your visit is both enjoyable and respectful.

While the locals are friendly and understanding, it’s essential to respect their customs and traditions, especially when it comes to clothing. By following the guidelines mentioned above, you can ensure that you dress appropriately and comfortably during your stay in the “Land of Smiles.”

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