Indonesia has the world’s biggest population of Muslims. However, apart from its Islamic society, there are considerable populations of Hindu and Chinese-Indonesian as well as 300 other diverse ethnic groups. The social customs followed in Indonesia can be quite different compared to the West. As such, if you plan on traveling to Medan, it is suggested to know what to wear in Medan and learn the appropriate items to pack.
In Medan, a largely conservative and reserved dress sense should be applied, most particularly for women. The hemlines of the skirt must be below knee level and the shoulders covered. As much as possible, avoid wearing shorts for men, but in general, during holidays, wearing casual clothes such as T-shirts, trousers, skirts and dresses are acceptable.
Wearing make-up is acceptable for women but go for the ‘no make-up’ makeup look or the natural classic look. When attending business meetings, light cotton suits are enough but wearing business dress in the city might be too conservative and formal. When visiting sacred sites or places of worship, wearing proper dress etiquette for these places should be followed. When you visit Hindu temples, remove your shoes, with the toe pointing outside from the inside of entrance of the lobby area. Likewise, when visiting mosques, remove the shoe. Women should wear a scarf to cover the head.
If you are wondering what to wear in Medan during ordinary days, just maintain modesty in your dress sense, from the tops to the skirt or trousers. Do not be afraid to wear colorful clothes, even Acehnese women in Medan love wearing bright clothes. Young local women usually wear jeans and headscarves that completely cover their hair. Majority wear shoes or sandals that can be easily removed as it is a norm to slip off the shoes right before entering a home.
In public places, you can see men wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants while women wear long-sleeved blouses, dresses and skirts. On the other hand, at home, they can wear any clothes like shorts or tank tops. Men can even go shirtless. For tourists, they can be exempt from wearing long shirts but oftentimes, bare arms are considered more revealing than bare legs. Wearing low-cut tops and mini-skirts is not prohibited but going out dressed like that could get too much attention and you may be considered a prostitute. Within hotel premises, tourists can wear any clothes they want. Denim jeans and jackets are quite trendy in Medan, as well as Western branded shirts. Due to the hot and humid climate in Medan, always bring clothes made from cotton.
There is no need to pack up too many clothes since there are plenty of shops selling clothes at relatively cheap price. Do not forget to bring sunblock lotion, insect repellant, trekking shoes, slippers and personal medicines. Thinking what to wear in Medan beaches? The locals usually wear T-shirts and shorts when swimming but in private resorts or hotels, you can wear a one or two-piece swimsuit. Going topless for sunbathing is offensive to the locals.