One of the most commons questions people ask me about my travels is “What should I wear?!” Be it visiting Marrakech as a solo female traveller or backpacking around Thailand with kids, figuring out what both a comfortable and appropriate wardrobe looks like can be tricky. I’ve roped in a few other world travellers who have all visited Bangkok recently to give you an idea on what to wear in Bangkok – both for guys and girls!
First off, what you wear in Bangkok will very much depend on where you’re staying, what you plan to do and what attractions you intend to visit. Strolling down Khao San Road at night doesn’t come with much of a dress code but visiting Bangkok’s Grand Palace, as I learned the hard way a few months ago, comes with a lot of dress restrictions. As outlined in the video below.
What to wear visiting The Grand Palace Bangkok
They are very strict in what both guys and girls where and you have to be very covered up. I turned up in an ankle length dress and had a scarf over my shoulders but the security guard turned me away and said my shoulders weren’t covered properly an should my scarf slip down I would be exposing too much flesh, so I had to buy the white t-shirt pictured in a shop across the road for about $5. My friend shows up in shorts and had to go buy some elephant pants to cover up.
Even if you’re wearing jeans but they have rips in them, you WILL be turned away.
SHOES! I just about got away with flip flops but in general it’s recommended to wear proper sandals or closed in shoes. They are not too strict on this but there is the possibility you will get turned away.
What to wear in Bangkok: Casual sightseeing
For sightseeing, what you wear in Bangkok will depend on where you’re going. For any temples or palaces, dress conservatively and take the advice of the video above. If, however, you plan to do some shopping, have a few drinks on Khao San Road and maybe visit the famous Unicorn Cafe, you can wear very casual summer clothes and don’t have to worry about covering up too much.
What to wear in Bangkok: Travellers advice
Here’s some advice from some fellow travellers on what they wore while in Bangkok…
Laura from Wilful and Wildhearted says:
“One of the more important aspects of traveling for me is to make sure I’m aware of the local culture, so’s not to disrespect it. One of my staple outfits for Southeast Asia travel is this lightweight, breathable jumpsuit that I purchased in South Korea.
I’m always sure to bring a light scarf to wrap around my shoulders, to ensure I’m covered when entering a temple or holy site at a last minute’s notice.”
Kaila from NomList says:
“I am a huge clothes horse but it’s so important for me to feel super comfortable while traveling. Many of my most fashionable pieces are quite restrictive and not ideal for traveling whatsoever!”
Marya from The BeauTraveler says:
“I went to Bangkok with my sister, accompanied by my former roommate who’s now living there for good. All of us, surprisingly wore the same kind of outfit when we went out: the midis!
I chose a short-sleeved blouse and midi skirt, as the weather in Bangkok could be a bit humid. The reason why we chose midi skirts is also because we had temples in the list of places that we were aiming to visit, so midi skirts sound like something that are still modest to wear, but still comfortable.
In some temple, we still had to borrow the scarf to cover our legs though. But comfort is guaranteed with this outfit in Bangkok, at least it is when it’s sunny!”
“Bangkok is a cosmopolitan city and you can wear whatever you want there. But when it comes to visiting temples and royal places you must follow a dressing code. Knees and shoulders must be covered all the time, and at the Grand Palace they even ask you to wear closed shoes, flip-flops are a no-no there. Of course, they can’t check on every single person so you might get along wearing sandals.
To be on the safe side and to look pretty my advice is to pack a long skirt. I love black, blue or red long skirts that you can mix and match with different tops. Maxi dresses are good too, but if you want to wear a different and respectful outfit every day, you will need to pack a lot. Two long skirts with three or four different tops it’s enough for a week in Bangkok, and don’t forget to bring flats or running shoes, just in case you need. Dressing like this you won’t need to buy scarves or overprices elephant pants before in front of the temples.”
What to wear in Bangkok at night
Going out in Bangkok at night can means different things to different people. There are some world class rooftop bars with pool parties or you can join the epicentre of backpacking in South East Asia and head for drinks out of neon buckets on Khao San Road. The latter is casual while the former may require fancy dresses, heels and closed toe shoes for men. Here are what some fellow travel bloggers have to say about what to wear in Bangkok at night…
Laura from Travelling Weasels says:
“I would recommend wearing something ‘fancier’ than your average backpacking outfit whilst in Bangkok. I turned up with my massive rucksack and elephant trousers and felt really out-of-place on the metro – surrounded by immaculately dressed business people in suits.
Bangkok is a great place to try out luxury hotels and rooftop bars (seeing as they’re cheaper than in Western countries), and everywhere is air-conditioned. I felt most comfortable in a smart dress.”
Alex from SwedishNomad says:
“I’ve been to Bangkok numerous times, and I feel most comfortable in jeans and a short-sleeved shirt. The locals rarely wear shorts, they mostly use jeans or other kinds of long pants, such as linen. As a tourist I like to not stand out too much from the local clothing culture, so I find this a great mix.
Wearing a long-sleeved shirt would be to hot for me though, but wearing this will allow me to visit rooftop bars, high-end hotels and restaurants without a problem. So it’s both convenient and comfortable as well as blending in quite well with the locals.”
What to wear in Bangkok for Songkran
Gina from Jet Set and Forget says:
“For Songkran water festival, the biggest event of the year for locals and tourists alike, most rules go out the window as people face the fact that they’re going to have water thrown over them for three full days. Wondering what to wear?
How about what to wear if you are in Bangkok during Songkran? Running shorts that can get wet, a flower shirt (that’s a must have if you want to fit in with the locals) and of course comfortable shoes that you can run in as you need to run away people who are shooting water at you! The goal is to be as comfortable as possible and wear clothes that can get soaking wet for two days.”