What To Wear In Thailand
To sum it up - This is a conservative country - dress respectfully
- There is an amazing choice of very smart hotels, bars and restaurants - often with a very western feel, and it is easy to forget that whilst the hotels may look the same as in the west the Thai people are conservative people.
- They are quite modest dressers and it's an integral part of their culture, not a fashion statement.
- In mainland Thailand, no matter how hot it is don't wear sleeveless vest tops or short shorts when in public areas.
- Showing cleavage is also a bad idea and is thought to be in bad taste.
- Neat, clean clothing makes you look good and is the best bet for good respect from the Thais.
- If you are staying in a hotel it's a good idea to take light knitwear or a pashmina shawl as the air conditioning can be fierce at times.
- People seem to make more of an effort to dress smartly for dinner in the hotels and a smart top or dress and shoes will be useful. A wrap is also very versatile and can dress up any outfit.
- If you are going to visit any temples wear shirts or blouses with sleeves and carry a sarong or wear a skirt. Also remember that you will have to take off your shoes. Wear shoes that can be easily removed because you cannot wear shoes in the Buddhist temples. Socks are considered poor form and tacky, but comfortable flip flops or sandals work well if trainers or walking shoes don't appeal. We highly recommend Hotter shoes, and also the Lindsay Phillips Switch Flops range - using interchangeable shoe and flip-flop bases with snap-on decorations, you can change your look from day to evening in an instant whilst still packing light.
- Northern Thailand enjoys hot daytime temperatures throughout the year although evening temperatures are a good deal lower from October - March when you will need to pack warmer layers or a pashmina for the evenings. Good sturdy walking shoes are vital. Make sure you take plenty of sun screen (we love the Riemann P20 range - apply just once a day, even if swimming, for a whole 10 hours protection) and bug spray with you as it is very difficult to buy locally in the north and if you do happen to find some it will be expensive.
- If you're planning to go elephant trekking or even a short ride on one, make sure you have long trousers because you will get dirty and dusty - if not wet.
- If your trip includes Thailand's islands such as Phuket, the key word here is ‘relaxed'. All types of dress are acceptable here and you'll see a huge variety. The weather's always hot, so you really don't need much and if you're backpacking, it pays to pack light. Our advice is to take a day pack with you and buy everything there – clothes and toiletries are just so cheap that it's really not worth carrying them from one country to the other and then back again.
- If you're here on business then a smart suit is the order of the day. Thai women would normally wear a skirt suit rather than a trouser suit.
- Don’t drink or even brush your teeth in tap water. Consider taking a waterstraw water purifier or safe drinking water bottle.
- Keep bottled water out of the sun as the plastic bottles can release dioxins when they heat up, which is not healthy. An alternative is to use a 100% BPA-free foldable water bottle. Reusing your water bottle will also help you do your bit for the planet - millions of plastic water bottles end up in landfill every year.
- Keep your electrical gadgets (camera, iPad etc) fully charged using a solar powered charger. This one gadget will charge most devices anywhere at any time, and it also cuts down on the number of leads and adaptors you need to pack.
- And look after your mobile phone with a phone bunjee - this elasticated strap will secure it to your bag or pocket, so you don't need to worry about dropping it anywhere.
- If you need to take cigarettes with you, you are not allowed to take more than 200 into Thailand.
- If you are able to visit a local school they are very grateful for new materials. See the Pack for a Purpose project for ideas of what you could donate.
- For more pictures and ideas, see our Pinterest board: What to Wear in Thailand.
- Stay healthy on your trip - travellers' diarrhoea can affect as many as 50% of people travelling abroad. We've tried and recommend Bimuno Travel Aid pastilles to help support your digestive health. And WhatToWearOnHoliday readers can claim a great 10% discount on Bimuno using code WHBIMUA at their checkout.
From Our Shop
Great products to pack for a holiday in Thailand:
Super-light trolley rucksack for maximum carry on luggage more >
Fed up of dropping or losing your phone? You need a bunjee! more >
Thanks so much for the very helpful email, will take your advice on board! - Angela, UK
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