Wondering what to wear in Bangkok? If you’re going to spend your vacation in Thailand, there are two things worth remembering that will guide you in your choice of clothing. First, Thailand is a tropical country and is hot all year round. The heat peaks during the summer months of March through May. Second, the Thais are a conservative bunch. Wearing scanty clothes is not only inappropriate but is also frowned upon by the conventional locals.
It is ideal to wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing with the heat and the humidity in Bangkok. Jeans are acceptable wear in most places, but you may want to wear nylon pants instead as it’ll be more comfortable under the heat of the sun. If you plan to visit the beach, shorts and sleeveless shirts are definitely fine, but when you’re in the city, dressing appropriately is considered respectful. You’ll find that the Thais take great pains in dressing and they appreciate tourists who are mirroring their regard for appropriate clothes.
The Thais’ rigid manner of dressing was largely influenced by the British, and a quick look at Thailand’s history will tell you why. Even though Thailand was the only country in Southeast Asia that escaped colonization by the western countries like Britain, the invasion has still greatly influenced their dress culture.
There seems to be a great disagreement among locals, though, on whether short pants are now acceptable wear. Without doubt, short pants, short skirts, sleeveless shirts, spaghetti-straps and overly revealing blouses for women are taboo when visiting temples and holy shrines in Thailand, but in the urban parts of the country, more and more locals are seen wearing shorts as they wander around the city. Others, however, still contend that shorts are for the low-class and should not be worn in town. Everyone agrees, though, that shorts are fine for children.
Since you will be walking in and out of air-conditioned hotel rooms and buildings, and will possibly spend the majority of your time each day within its confines, it’s probably best to play it safe and not wear shorts in town. Casual, decent clothes like loose, cotton, short-sleeved shirts and loose pants with breathable fabric are good choices. For females, knee-length skirts are all right and you can probably wear sleeveless blouse underneath a shawl or sarong. Sarongs are widely available in Bangkok, but European shawls are also welcome.
Some tourists can be clueless about temple dress codes and the locals are quite used to handing out sarongs to visiting female tourists of their temples. When visiting holy places, you’re required to take off your shoes as well. So sandals and slip-ons are the ideal footwear as you can easily slip them on and off.
Casual footwear is also acceptable in town. However, when visiting historical places, the immigration and other government offices, closed shoes are more appropriate. So, when you’re thinking about what to wear in Bangkok, just remember that the city of Bangkok is unlike other cities in Asia where ultra modern clothes are perfectly fine to wear even at church and most especially in the office. Just avoid revealing clothes and you will be fine.