What to Wear in Thailand (Do’s and Don’ts)

Planning your next big trip to Thailand and trying to decide what clothing to pack? You’ve come to the right place; within this article, I outline some recommendations for planning what clothes to wear while exploring the Kingdom.

Planning what to wear in advance can help you stay comfortable during your travels and avoid any potential disrespect towards local cultures.

Thailand is hot and humid all year around, with average temperatures ranging from 18 to 38°C depending on season and location, so it’s essential to wear lightweight, breathable clothing.

Although if you’re traveling to the mountainous regions in the north of Thailand, the temperature can drop below 10°C.

So, when planning your trip to Thailand, consider the season and specific region you’ll be visiting, as temperatures can vary.

Dos and Don’ts for Dressing in Thailand

Dos

Don’ts

  • Wear swimsuits or bikinis when walking around towns or cities (beach and poolside only)
  • Wear shoes that are not comfortable for walking to avoid blisters or foot injury
  • Wear clothing with offensive images or slogans
  • Wear too-revealing clothing
  • Go topless in public spaces, including the beach

What to Wear in Thailand

  • City
  • Beach/Island hopping
  • Beach town
  • North of Thailand
  • When visiting temples

City

Planning to spend a few days in Bangkok or Chiang Mai? when exploring the cities in Thailand, it can get boiling and sticky, so wear lightweight, breathable, and comfortable clothing/fabrics.

If you’re planning a night out in the city, consider packing a smart casual outfit to look the part when you hit the cocktail bars. Although Thailand doesn’t have strict dress code requirements at clubs and bars, avoid flip-flops, shorts, and gym wear.

Bring your swimming and gym gear if your hotel has a swimming pool/fitness center. To respect local culture, avoid wearing revealing swimwear when walking around the city.

Wear sneakers or slip-on shoes that are comfortable for walking around the city or taking the local transport systems, and avoid flip-flops because they lack foot support.

Always check the weather before you go out in a city like Bangkok because torrential rain can cause flooding in the rainy season, so wear waterproofs and bring an umbrella.

Outfit ideas:

  • T-shirts
  •  Smart/casual shirt
  •  Polo
  •  Shorts
  •  Dress/Skirt
  •  Swimming and gym gear if your hotel has a swimming pool/fitness center. To respect local culture, avoid wearing revealing swimwear when walking around the city.
  •  Hat
  •  Sunglasses

Beach/Island hopping

Are you planning some beachside therapy or exploring the tropical islands of the south? Thailand is known for its amazing beaches and island, but you should prepare for 30°C+ heat you might not be used to.

First and foremost, always wear strong sun protection (50+ SPF) when exposed to the sun, even for short periods. There is nothing worse than your vacation being ruined because of sunburn.

Wear swimwear of your choice, but ladies shouldn’t go topless because of governmental regulations, and it’s disrespectful in Thai culture.

If you’re wearing swimwear, bring something to cover up with when in shops or eating at local restaurants.

Sandals or flip-flops are the ideal footwear for the beach and island hopping to keep your feet from getting too sweaty and collecting sand.

Outfit ideas:

  • Lightweight t-shirts/ tank tops
  •  Crop tops
  •  Shorts
  •  Linen or lightweight pants
  •  Light dress/skirt
  •  Hat
  •  Sunglasses

Plan on venturing into Old Phuket Town, Krabi center, or Pattaya after a day on the beach? Beach towns in Thailand have lots to do, including restaurants, attractions, and nightlife.

Dress comfortably in casual wear that is lightweight and breathable, and avoid wearing revealing swimwear.

If you’re going out a night to sample the local nightlife, the temperature will drop slightly, so consider lightweight pants or a skirt.

Consider comfortable footwear for walking, such as sneakers or sandals with good foot support.

Outfit ideas:

  • Lightweight t-shirts
  •  Shorts
  •  Linen or lightweight pants
  •  Comfortable sneakers or sandals for walking
  •  Hat
  •  Sunglasses

North of Thailand

Planning a trip to the north of Thailand to explore the mountainous regions close to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai? The north of Thailand has spectacular landscapes inhabited by local tribes and surrounded by tea fields.

The north of Thailand has a mix of weather types, from extremely humid to some of Thailand’s coldest temperatures.

Wear lightweight, breathable clothing, but bring a jacket or jumper if you’re exploring higher altitudes.

Wear walking shoes such as sneakers or more robust hiking boots/shoes if you plan on trekking through national parks or rough terrain.

Outfit ideas:

  • Lightweight t-shirts/polos
  •  Shorts or Skirt
  •  Lightweight pants or jeans
  •  Comfortable footwear for long walks or hiking shoes for trekking
  •  Hat & Sunglasses
  •  Swimwear if visiting a waterfall
  •  Waterproof poncho
  •  Lightweight jacket or jumper for cooler evenings

Visiting Temples

When visiting temples in Thailand is vital to dress according to the temple’s dress code to adhere to local cultures and beliefs.

Men should wear long pants or shorts that cover the knees, a shirt with sleeves, and comfortable shoes.

Women should wear long pants or a skirt, non-revealing clothing, and a top covering their shoulders, back, and chest.

It’s required to remove footwear when entering a Thai temple, so wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off.

Walking around the temple ground can get hot, so bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.

Acceptable

  • Shirt with sleeves
  •  Long pants/jeans (cover knees)
  •  Long shorts (men)
  •  Long skirts (women)
  •  Comfortable shoes (remove them when entering the temple building)
  •  Lightweight fabric
  •  Sunglasses & hat (remove when entering temple building)

Not acceptable

  • Sleeveless shirt
  •  Sleeveless vest/tank top
  •  Revealing clothing such as wide neck top
  •  Crop top
  •  See-through / transparent clothing
  •  Short pants and don’t cover the knees
  •  Ripped/torn clothing (showing skin)
  •  Mini skirt
  •  Tight gym clothing or tight leggings

Suitable Fabrics

The fabric of your clothing is important in hotter climates because some materials are more breathable, reduce sweat, and quickly dry.

When selecting clothing for your trip, choose national fabrics such as cotton, linen, silk, and bamboo because they’re more breathable and help you to stay cool in tropical climates.

Sustainable tip:

  • Natural fabrics such as hemp and bamboo are more sustainable, using less water to produce

Consider wearing lighter-colored fabric to reflect heat instead or darker colors that absorb it. Avoid denim or leather in Thailand because they’re heavier fabrics; instead, pick lightweight fabrics that don’t make you sweat too much.

Suitable

  • Natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, silk, hemp, lyocell, and bamboo

Avoid

  • Heavy fabrics such as denim or leather
  •  Synthetics fabrics such as nylon or polyester because they trap heat and make you feel hotter

Packing Tips

When planning your trip to Thailand, plan your outfits based on the time of year you will visit and the location.

To maximize the space in your luggage, roll clothing up, use vacuum bags, pack lightweight clothing, and don’t bring any heavy fabrics unless necessary.

Shoes can take up a considerable amount of space in luggage, so pick your shoes wisely and pack them separately from clothing to avoid dirt getting on your clean wear.

Try to pack your bag in compartments using packing cubes to separate clothing and make it easy to separate clean and dirty clothing.

Packing tips

  • Pack lightweight clothing
  •  Avoid bulky fabrics
  •  Roll up clothing to save space
  •  Use luggage compartments to separate clothing
  •  Use a vacuum bag to compress clothing
  •  Pack clothing that doesn’t crease easily

Looking for other packing essentials? Check out my comprehensive packing list for Thailand.

Summary

Thailand is a tropical country, so wear lightweight clothing made from breathable fabrics and pick clothing based on the activities you’ll be doing in Thailand.

Visiting the city? There is so much to do, so pack various outfits depending on your plans, including casual and smart wear if you plan on sampling the nightlife.

Visiting the Beach? Wear light clothing such as t-shirts or light shirts and swimwear, but avoid wearing revealing when walking around town.

Visiting the North? Higher altitude areas in the north get colder, so pack a light jacket or jumper (just encase!) and your usual hot weather attire.

Photo of author

Written by Nicky

Hi! 👋 I'm an expat who has lived, explored, and worked in Thailand for over 9 years. I started findyouthere.com to share the knowledge I've picked up over the years with travelers and expats alike. Find out more on our about page.

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