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Toby Keps

Travelled to 12 countries / regions

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I backpacked across Thailand in winter 2019

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Asia > Thailand > Useful Info
Updated on Jan 31, 2020 Useful Info

What to wear when visiting Thailand

From what I've seen Thailand is generally really relaxed when it comes to what tourists can wear to be out and about. Obviously at religious spots the dress code is much tighter. Here's a guide for what visitors should wear while travelling in Thailand

For normal everyday sightseeing:

  • For just walking around the city and general sightseeing in either cities or out in the countryside, you can wear pretty much anything you want, as long as you're wearing something
  • If you're not on an island (like Phuket, Samui) or in a beach town (like Pattaya), then don't go around topless. It will be frowned upon. But on the islands and beach towns, it's fine. For women, don't go topless anywhere
  • Also, don't wear anything with image of Buddha on it. Thai people take Buddhism seriously and there are many warning signs everywhere that the image of Buddha is not for decoration. You'll see this poster plastered all over international airports in Thailand:User submitted photo of Thailand
  • If you happen to have a tattoo of Buddha on you, make sure you cover it up
  • Use common sense. Don't wear something in cities what you wouldn't wear back home. On a related not, dress for the occasion: if you're going to a fancy restaurant or bar, for example, wear smart casual just like you would back home. In fact many bars in Thailand have their own dress code that bars you from wearing open-toe footwear and shorts. Most of the rooftop bars in Bangkok, for example, enforce this dress code


Dress code for visiting temples and palaces:

  • One of the top things to do in Thailand is of course to visit the various temples and palaces all over the country. In these places, you must observe the strict dress code. The dress code at these places are pretty much all the same and applies to both men and women:
  • Cover your shoulders/cleavage/back
  • Cover your midriff
  • Cover your knees
  • No holes on your clothes
  • No tight clothes
  • No see through materials
  • So you can't wear things like tank tops, camis, cut tops, deep Vs, above-knee shorts, mini-skirt, yoga pants, skinny jeans, bikinis
  • There are no dress code on footwear at temples and palaces, so you can wear whatever shoes you want, including flip flops and sandals
  • As an example, here's what you cannot wear to Bangkok's Grand Palace:User submitted photo of ThailandAnd you can read here for what Wat Arun temple (one of the top attractions in Bangkok) enforces for dress code
  • Most of these temples and palaces rent or sell you a scarf to cover yourself with or actual clothes that you can change into, so in case you don't have anything with you that meets the dress code, you can still visit these places


Dress for the weather:

  • Thailand is hot all year round during the day, with daytime temperature ranging 32C-35C (90F-95F) in Bangkok and even higher on the islands. Even in northern Thailand, temperature is hot throughout the year. Chiang Mai for example has daytime temperature between 28C-37C (82F-99F)User submitted photo of Thailand
  • With temperatures like this, wear something light and breathable to stay cool. Clothes made from cotton polyester, nylon are all good choices. Bring lots of short sleeves, tank tops, shorts, flip flops, sandals, etc. It's also a good idea to bring a hat to block out the sun. And of course apply lots of sunscreen
  • However, temperature usually drops down significantly at night, especially in northern Thailand. In Bangkok, the south, and the islands, night time temperature will not go below 25C (77F) so is quite comfortable. In the north like Chiang Mai, night time temperature goes down to 15C (59F) in December and January, so it's a good idea to bring a sweater or warm jacket with you
  • If you're visiting during the rainy season (May to early October), bring waterproof jacketUser submitted photo of Thailand
  • You can use websites like https://www.holiday-weather.com to check what the temperature is and how much rain you should expect when you visit Thailand


What to wear to Songkran:

  • Songkran is the Thai New Year holiday, but is more famously known as the water festival where tens of thousands of residents and tourists engage in water fights on the streets all over the countryUser submitted photo of Thailand
  • Songkran runs every year from April 13/14 to April 15/16, but the festivities usually start earlier. You can read this Wikipedia article to see the dates
  • There are no special dress code for Songkran, but if you want to participate in the festivities, you will get wet and you should dress with that in mind. Here are six tips for what to wear to Songkran water fights:
  1. Wear something light so you don't get weight down by your wet clothes
  2. Don't wear long sleeves or long pants they're extremely uncomfortable when wet
  3. Wear something you don't mind getting dirty or even getting ruined
  4. Wear flip flops or sandals and definitely don't wear nice shoes
  5. Don't wear white fabric because they become see-through when wet. Wear something darker and preferably have patterns
  6. Wear swim/bathing suit instead of regular underwear and pants, this will be much more comfortable
  7. For men, still avoid going topless. It doesn't break any rules but still not something the locals do and you should be respectful of that. You will see some topless tourists though
  • Additionally, bring a waterproof bag with you to keep all valuables in. Also wear sunscreen too so you don't get burnt