How Should You Dress When Traveling in Southeast Asia

Now matter how experienced of a traveler you are, it’s often difficult to gauge what you need to pack before heading off to somewhere new. You don’t want to overpack of course, but traveling to certain regions where modern amenities are not always at your fingertips can make things tricky. 

Southeast Asia of course is a large region so I’m going to stick to what you may need if you’re traveling to some of its more remote areas, not the big, more modern cities like Bangkok, though some of it will apply. Here is a short video that explains my advice for how you should dress when traveling in Southeast Asia.

As far as clothing goes, you’ll want to bring items that are loose and cotton. It’s pretty warm in Southeast Asia year-round so most people dress casually and to stay cool. Trust me, when you’re in 100 degree weather at your 7th temple of the day, you’ll thank me for this suggestion. Err on not bringing enough clothing since you can pick up anything you need at street markets–anything from cotton shirts to tailor-made suits and dresses that can be made-to-order in a couple days. Laundry is also very cheap here so it won’t be too expensive, even at hotels to launder clothing and re-wear it.

Keep in mind that when you’re visiting certain temples or religious complexes that you’ll need to cover up your shoulders and knees. I always kept a light scarf with me so I was prepared at all times. And these can be picked up at the street markets almost everywhere. There were several times where our tours ended up leading us to a temple or religious complex that required I keep them covered when our itinerary didn’t mention it.

What to Wear Thailand Vietnam Laos Cambodia

As for shoes you’ll need comfortable shoes that you can easily slip on and off. When you enter many religious buildings you’ll need to remove your shoes. You don’t want to be stuck retying laces over and over. Also remember you won’t want to leave behind expensive shoes since they are left outside on the honor system. Lastly, be sure to bring along a cheap pair of flip flops for beach excursions and for showers–especially if you’re staying at a hostile. Trust me on this.

Finally, just a few final reminders! Don’t forget to bring extras of medicines and prescriptions you may need as these will not be easy to get. You’ll also want to bring sunscreen with you as it can get pretty pricey. Also be aware that makeup and deodorants in Asia often have whitening agents in them so be sure to bring your own from home. 

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