Thailand Country Guide




Personal appearance is very important in Thailand as a measure of respect to others. Dressing appropriately means you will be shown more respect in return. This translates in several ways and may even lower the initial offering price at the markets. While some allowance is made for the differing customs of foreigners, Thais respond more positively to well-dressed Westerners. Topless sunbathing is common by western women at many touristy beaches. At beaches which are primarily visited by Thais, this is not advised.

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Beach at Koh Phi Phi Leh by Mr Bullitt
Thais are traditionally modest and conservative dressers. Your clothes should at least be neat, clean and free from holes or tears. Except at the beach, you should avoid wearing clothing that show too much skin. Long pants are preferable to shorts, blouses should have capped sleeves and if tank tops are worn, the straps should be thick i.e. not spaghetti straps. Thai men generally wear long pants and Thais generally view adult men wearing shorts as quite ridiculous - shorts are primarily worn by labourers and schoolchildren. Men's shorts should at least be knee length or more, if worn at all.

Evening in Chiang Mai by Takeaway

At the Temples
It is best to dress modestly when visiting the temples or "wats" and other religious sites. Your dress should cover your entire torso and most of your limbs. For men, ankle-length pants are mandatory and though T-shirts are acceptable, a button-front or polo shirt would be best. Many recommend that women should wear full length dresses and skirts but should at least wear clothing that covers the shoulders and knees.  Some places may require women wear ankle-length pants or skirts and long sleeved tops. Shorts and sleeveless shirts are highly inappropriate as well as short skirts.

Taking off your shoes at temples and private homes is mandatory and may also be requested at some shops. Therefore, wear shoes that slip on and off easily. Flip-flops, hiking sandals and clog-style shoes are a pragmatic choice for travelling in Thailand and only in the top-end establishments are shoes required.

Country Guide
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