what to wear in thailand

I’m sure you already know that Thailand is hot and humid all year round, and you might be wondering:

What to wear in Thailand?  

Can I wear shorts in temples in Thailand?  

How should I dress in Thailand to fit in with locals?

What should I pack for Thailand?

In general, locals in Thailand dress very conservatively with knees and shoulders covered at all times.  My husband’s cousins in Thailand almost never wear shorts that I’ve seen, even when it’s 90 degrees out. Though mostly locals turn a blind eye on what tourists wear except at temples.

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What to Wear in Thailand

The best things to wear in Thailand for women are long skirts and dresses, cropped or long pants with button-down shirts or short sleeve tees.  For men shorts and long pants with short sleeve tees, polo shirts, and long-sleeved button-downs. 

Overall Thai locals dress more conservatively than their counterparts in the United States.  I’ve seen ladies in Thailand wearing cardigans in the 90-degree heat like it was nothing!

The easiest rule to follow is to keep your knees and shoulders covered when deciding what to wear in Thailand.

Though no one will prohibit you from entering anywhere for how you are dressed, except temples and the Grand Palace, it’s best to dress a bit more conservatively in Thailand.

Can you wear shorts in Thailand? 

You can definitely wear shorts, but I’d keep it longer than what you would probably wear in the USA. 

As for tanks and sleeveless tops, I usually pair tanks with either long pants or long skirts and not shorts to balance out the outfit.

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How to Pack for Thailand

One of the most important factors in deciding what to pack for Thailand is fabric content. 

Because Thailand is so hot and humid it’s best to pick natural fabrics instead of clothing made of polyester. 

Even the lightest fabrics, like chiffon, made of polyester will just trap heat and make you miserable.

Clothing made of cotton, linen, bamboo, rayon, and silk are more breathable and better suited for a trip to Thailand. 

The one exception is perhaps sportswear specifically designed to wick sweat and breathe. These will work too, but again I would avoid packing leggings because they are definitely not accepted as pants in Thailand. 

 

What to Pack for Thailand

  • Midi Dress
  • Maxi Dress
  • Cropped Pants
  • Shorts
  • Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Short-Sleeve Tee
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat

Wrap Midi Dresses are Perfect to Wear in Thailand

One of my favorite things to pack for Thailand are midi dresses. 

what to wear in bangkok thailand

Midi dresses fall below the knee so are acceptable for temples if you choose one that covers your shoulders as well.  My favorite midi dresses are wrap ones because they give you such a nice shape and almost always have sleeves.

Some of my midi dresses have very deep v necks, so I just wear a tank underneath for extra coverage. 

what to wear thailand

Definitely don’t pack a dress that’s made out of polyester though, you will be extremely hot!  I’ve recommended a ton of cute ones below that are cotton or viscose which are both breathable and perfect to wear in Thailand.

what to wear to wat pho
wat pho what to wear

What to Wear in Thailand:  Maxi Dresses

Maxi dresses are another favorite of mine when deciding what to wear in Thailand. 

thailand what to wear

I love the longer length of maxi dresses because they are so pretty to twirl in! And just like the midi dress, maxi dresses are also temple appropriate if they are not open back and have sleeves. 

Also, make sure no part of the dress is see-through and the neckline is not too low. If it’s a deeper v neck dress layer a tank underneath or pin the v neck together.

If your maxi dress happens to have spaghetti straps, you can easily layer a short-sleeved tee underneath so you can wear it to a temple.

what to wear to temples in thailand

Again do not buy any that are polyester!  I’ve listed a bunch of cute options below made out of rayon, cotton, or viscose that breathe!  This one is on sale for only $30!

I also love packing off shoulder maxi dresses for Thailand.  Yes your shoulders are showing so you won’t be able to get into a temple in Thailand wearing an off-shoulder maxi dress unless you cover up with a scarf that’s not sheer. 

what to pack for thailand

But when we are not visiting temples in Thailand I love wearing off-shoulder maxi and midi dresses because it’s still more on the conservative side with your knees covered.

how to pack for thailand

thailand outfit ideas

Midi Skirt

I love to pack midi skirts for Thailand. 

clothes to pack for thailand

Getting into the Grand Palace for any temple won’t be a problem with a midi skirt because you’re knees will be covered.  You can easily wear a simple short-sleeved tee with your midi skirt and you will be temple ready in Thailand. 

thailand packing

You can chance wearing a polyester midi skirt but you could still be really hot.  Breathable fabrics like cotton, viscose, rayon are a much safer bet, I’ve listed some pretty midi skirts below in breathable fabrics.

What to Wear in Thailand:  White Tee Shirt

I like to keep it simple when it comes to packing tops for Thailand.  White tees are perfect for layering and going with your midi skirt. I prefer cotton tees that are thick and not see-through.  My favorite tees are from Old Navy and H&M.

Long Sleeve Linen or Cotton Button-Down Shirt

For more coverage than short sleeves, I usually pack a linen long-sleeved button-down. 

packing for thailand

Linen is super breathable and perfect for the humidity in Thailand. It’s a great layering piece if you want to wear a tank top.  Or if you have a strappy maxi dress.

packing for thailand long sleeve shirt

You can easily layer your button-down over the tank or maxi dress to make your outfit appropriate for the Grand Palace or temples in Thailand.  My favorite linen shirts are from Uniqlo.

Linen or Light Cotton Cropped Pants

Cropped pants are totally on-trend and perfect to pack for Thailand.  When they are made of light cotton or linen fabric they are just as comfortable as wearing shorts. 

Actually I find them more comfortable than denim shorts. Again you can pair your cropped pants simply with a white tee or your linen shirt to be nice and cool in all the heat and humidity.

Hat

The sun and UV rays are strong in Thailand and you will need a hat!  You don’t actually need to pack a hat unless you have a specific one you love. 

Street vendors all over Bangkok sell cute straw hats for about $180 Baht, which is about $6 USD.

Sunglasses

Definitely pack a cute pair of sunglasses or too because the sunlight is strong in Thailand, especially if you are planning on visiting one of the many beaches.

What Shoes to Wear in Thailand

The streets in Bangkok as in any city are pretty dirty.  I prefer to wear sneakers and not flip flops.

Also if you visit during monsoon season, the streets are sometimes a bit flooded so if you are wearing flip flops you are definitely going to get dirty water on your feet.

My go-to shoes for Thailand have always been Converse with an insole.  They are light and they breathe in the heat and humidity because they are made of canvas. 

I will usually pack a pair of sandals or espadrilles as well. My favorite walking sandals have been these Birkenstock dupes – CHECK PRICES for $25.  They are so comfortable and the extra thick sole really keeps dirt on the street from your feet.

On our most recent trip in November it hardly ever rained and I basically lived in my Birkenstock dupes!

What to Wear to The Grand Palace and Temples in Bangkok Thailand

The Grand Palace in Bangkok, like most temples in Thailand, has a strict dress code for both men and women. 

grand palace bangkok dress code

The dress code is simple really, for both men and women, knees and shoulders must be covered. Additionally, no see-through clothing or skin-tight clothing.  So, ladies, this means no leggings, please!

The majority of the temples in Bangkok don’t strictly enforce this dress code.  I’ve wandered around Wat Arun, Wat Pho, and the Marble Temple and have seen tourists that are not covered. 

what to wear to the grand palace

These sightings were mostly on the grounds though. If you actually go inside the temples to where the Buddha statue is then, there is usually a guard to make sure you are dressed appropriately.  

The Grand Palace is the one exception. 

Here, the dress code is strictly enforced and there are guards at the entrance to check what you are wearing. 

If you are not appropriately dressed for the Grand Palace, you will be turned away. Fortunately, they do rent cover-ups if you didn’t wear the right clothes.

What Not to Wear in Thailand

There’s a few things you probably won’t want to wear in Thailand.  In general I never pack booty shorts, strappy tank tops, leggings, or heels to Thailand. 

Unless you plan on going clubbing in Bangkok I would definitely leave the heels at home.  Sometimes sidewalks are non-existent in Thailand and you are walking on pothole streets, so heels I do not recommend wearing heels in Thailand.

Strappy tanks and booty shorts may be okay to wear at some of the beaches in Thailand but I definitely would not wear them in cities like Chiang Mai or Bangkok. 

And as for leggings, I’m going to come out and say it, the only countries that consider leggings “pants” are the Western ones.  Leggings ARE NOT PANTS in Thailand. 

The only time I’ve ever seen leggings in Thailand are in pictures of blonde girls doing some weird yoga pose.  Leggings are definitely a don’t in Thailand.

How Much Clothes Should You Pack for Thailand

You should pack enough tops and under garments for at least 2 changes per day. 

Because Thailand is so hot and humid what you wore out temple-hopping will most likely be completely sweaty by the time you get back to your hotel.  And you won’t want to wear it out to dinner after you take a shower.

You can definitely get your laundry done in Thailand pretty cheaply, but the laundromat will take on average 24 hours to get your clothes back to you. 

If you want to pack light, I would at least bring extra shirts and undergarments, because bottoms usually can last more than one wear before needing a wash.

What to Wear to Beaches in Thailand

You can wear normal beachwear to the beaches and islands in Thailand. 

Tourists wear bikinis, swim trunks, shorts, tank tops, and even speedos on the beaches in Thailand.  For footwear, you will want to pack flip flops for the sand and water shoes as much of the coastline has rocks and coral.

European tourists tend to wear cheeky cut bikinis and speedos while Asian and Chinese tourists tend to be completely covered and have an umbrella.  So the variety of attire on beaches in Thailand runs the gamut.

What to Pack for Beaches and Islands in Thailand

  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Shorts
  • Tee Shirts
  • Swimsuits or Swim Trunks
  • Talcum Powder (Prickly Heat)

When packing for beaches in Thailand you can pretty much pack the same as any other beach destination. 

I would however bring one additional item, talcum powder or baby powder. I’ve found beaches in Thailand to be more humid than the beaches in the Caribbean and Mexico

I personally am prone to heat rash so I always bring prickly heat powder, you can buy this at almost any 711 in Thailand.

what to wear in thailand
what to wear in thailand

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