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I once had a very romantic idea about Thailand with it’s exotic culture and deserted tropical islands. And while it is still my favorite country in the entire world and the place where I most feel at home; the romantic notion no longer exists and I’d like to offer some “local” observations after living here for some time.


 What Travelers Wear in Thailand and Southeast Asia



There are several types of traveling personalities in Southeast Asia. If you’re wondering what travelers wear in Thailand and most of the surrounding countries, keep reading to find out!



 The Tourist




Many people always use technical clothing and convertible travel pants no matter what part of the globe they visit. They may stand out but aren’t usually concerned with fashion so their practical gear keeps them comfortable and happy.

This is one type of traveler style in SEA.


Gap Year Students




Many times unprepared, gap year students over pack all the wrong things but look fabulous in their stylishly cute but impractical clothes. They’re the ones that send everyone else rushing to buy a whole new wardrobe which is easy since shopping in Bangkok and other parts of Thailand is amazing!

This image represents the typical “backpacker” look of loose sleeveless tops and denim shorts (my favorite beach side outfit in Thailand or Bali).


Holiday Makers





Holiday makers are here for 1-2 weeks and stay in the resort areas of Khao Lak, Phuket, or Koh Samui wearing pretty summer dresses and sparkly sandals that don’t need to be too practical – just look amazing in their vacation pictures. If you plan to venture outside of your resort, pack a couple of versatile pieces and comfortable shoes you can wear to explore.

Please apply plenty of sun screen! You can always tell when someone’s just arrived on their holiday because they have bright red sunburns on their skin. Ouch!


 The Boho Hippies




Whether boho hippies arrived in Southeast Asia with dreadlocks, plugs, and baggy pants or transformed into these types of travelers upon arrival is uncertain.

One thing’s for sure: it’s easy to adapt and transform with the laid back traveler clothing style and endless fisherman pants in this region.


No matter what type of traveler you are, everyone seems to end up with some variation of the look below:



These are 7 items travelers insist on purchasing upon arrival in Southeast Asia:

fisherman / harem pants / flip flops / denim shorts / straw fedoras / fabric cross body bags  and beer logo shirts.


To sum it up, Thailand and many other parts of Southeast Asia have a unique traveler dress code that usually has nothing to do with local customs.


Please Note:

Locals may dress traditionally or conservatively while others will wear less modest clothing. Try to dress appropriately if going to small towns, villages, and when visiting temples. If you’re unsure, do what the locals do.

On a beach in Phi Phi you might see local girls with short shorts and in Luang Prabang you may observe a more conservative local dress.

Places like Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are modern so anything other what you’d normally wear at home will more than likely stand out. When in doubt, do what the locals do.


Creating an interchangeable capsule wardrobe is the key to simplified packing, which can easily fit into a carryon suitcase with the help of packing cubes to compress your clothing!   



Have you been to Southeast Asia? What did you think about the traveler style?


For more tips on what to wear in Thailand and SEA, please read:

Suggested Travel Resources:





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