Packing for a conservative country is not easy, but this guide will help ease your wardrobe anxiety! It’s very simple to pack your favorite clothes without running the risk of being offensive. Remember, you are their guest, and you are representing your country as well. While it’s important to respect their local and religious customs, you are still able to make use of your current wardrobe!

Thailand has a predominantly Buddhist culture and along with that comes a very conservative dress code.

I chose to travel to Southeast Asia in January, which is one of the hottest and humid time of year. Of course you don’t want to wear long sleeves and pants in 85° weather, but when you’re at a temple or anywhere sacred, make sure you have something to cover your shoulders and knees when necessary.

One thing I try (emphasis on the word try) to do is pack light, and the first step is to pack things you can wear multiple times. If you have to pack light, think about bringing a shawl or different jewelry to make it look and feel like you’re wearing a different outfit. No one will ever know that shirt was from yesterday…

There will be laundry available almost anywhere, so don’t worry about having to wear something 3 times.

If you’re pinching pennies, wash your clothing in the shower with you and hang it out to dry.

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I’ve laid out some packing ideas below, but seasons change, so adjust accordingly.

Tips before you start: Roll your clothes, and stuff them inside shoes/pockets. It allows more space for other necessities!

Necessities

  1. Shawl or Scarf – This makes it easy to cover up your shoulders when entering temples.
  2. Hat – A ball cap or floppy hat, anything with a brim that will protect your skin from the sun!
  3. Booties or Sandals – Make sure your shoes are comfortable and supportive. I take comfortability over fashion any day when traveling.
    You don’t want to focus on sore feet when you still have an entire day of walking to do.
  4. Cross-body or Day Bag – Invest in a high quality, durable bag that will be able to go everywhere and carry all of your daily essentials!
  1. Sunglasses – The sky’s the limit as far as cuteness factor goes, but make sure they are polarized to protect your eyes;
    with as many stylish polarized ones there are now, there’s no excuse not to protect yourself!
  1. Water Shoes – They may not be stylish, but it’s better than stepping on broken shells and glass on the beach.
    Make sure they have some tread on the bottom to make walking easier. I use the FitKicks any time I’m in or near water!
  2. Swimsuit – you only need one, despite what the Instagram fashionistas tell you.
    But bring a backup, because, well, if it’s that time of month for you, it’s nice to have a backup..haha..

thailand temples

Tops

I try to avoid wearing whites and grays because I prefer not to purposefully display my sweat. Flashy and bright colors will call attention to you, so if you’re traveling alone, try to avoid those.

  1. Long Sleeve – linen or thin cotton will keep you cool and dry in the humidity.
  1. Tank tops – Exploring beaches and hiking are an exception to covering up. Just be conscious about cleavage with any shirt you wear.
  1. Short Sleeves – This automatically keeps you in the safe and comfortable zone. They will keep you cool, and cover your shoulders appropriately.
    I just packed workout tops.
  1. Dresses – My go-to for being lightweight and I can wear them more than once! I like the stretchy fabric, it’s comfortable for sunburns…
    Solid colors are useful so you can mix and match kimonos or other accessories for a quick, cool and comfortable outfit!
  1. Swimsuit covers – This is always in my bag for any beach I’m at! I wear my cover-up as clothes for the day,
    which cuts down the amount of items you have in your bag!

Bottoms

  1. Leggings – Prime knee coverage, and they are lightweight for packing. Workout pants are never not in my suitcase, for any trip.
  1. Jumpers – A great option for a busy day. Accessorize with a belt or floppy hat!
  1. Long Skirts – Maxi, wrap, or high low are all lightweight, stylish and breathable. Mixing and matching is a breeze!
  1. Wide Leg/Jogger/Palazzo Pants – Any pants that are breathable and flowy are the most popular pants, so you’ll blend right in!
    They are also great for not showing sweat and are super breathable.
  2. Shorts – I bring 2 or 3 pairs with me. If you go to a temple, they will give you a skirt to wear!

Packing doesn’t have to be intimidating! In fact it’s my favorite thing to do and I always end up bringing too much. Don’t focus too hard on it because no matter what you’re wearing, you’re going to be having loads of fun. I hope this conservative country packing guide will aid in your pre-flight check list (check out my carry on packing guide!).

Please let me know if you have any questions, or comment below with other tips or ideas for the community!

chiang mai sanctuary

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asia packing guide