It’s no secret that packing for a holiday is difficult. I often over pack and I never properly think about where I will be visiting beforehand, so I’m normally underprepared for whatever shenanigans I get up to. However, for my trip to Thailand I took my wardrobe into a little more consideration as I knew I would be visiting some of the most famous Thai temples in Bangkok, and I like to be considerate of their dress codes. It’s all part of having respect for a culture and just being a decent tourist in general, which I always try to be. But we can all make mistakes, and I’m sharing mine (as well as my successes), so you know what to wear to a Buddhist temple in Thailand.
In short, and for fear of sounding like your nan, put some more clothes on. Covering up when visiting the temples is essential. Short-shorts, strappy vest tops and cleavage-bearing dresses are big no-nos when visiting the religious sites in Thailand (and most religious attractions across the globe, to be honest) – it’s obvious enough to say that I feel like I shouldn’t have to. But, to be embarrassingly honest, I forgot this simple rule when visiting my first religious site of the trip; Prasat Sut Ja-Tum. I turned up in a modest t-shirt, but paired it with short denim shorts and was refused entry unless I tied a sarong around my waist to cover my bare legs.
So, in light of my mistake, I amended my wardrobe for the remainder of my trip. I hadn’t been so thoughtless as to not pack some longer trousers for my trips to the temples in Bangkok – I had simply been a little careless when dressing for the Sanctuary of Truth – so I can also give you good examples of what to wear when visiting a Thai temple.
It can be difficult to choose what to wear when visiting a hot country. If you’re anything like me you sweat buckets when the thermometer reaches even 10C, so the thought of covering up in 30C+ weather is not pleasant. However, think hippie with your summer holiday outfit choices, and get loose and flowy with your clothes. I bought these wide, loose-leg trousers from Homeplus (F&F) for under 10,000W and lived in them for both my trip to Thailand and the summer in Korea. Loose-leg trousers are perfect, especially if, like me, you suffer from a little bit o’ the old chub rub. If you’re not so femurly blessed, long skirts – think mid to maxi-length – are both airy and respectful.
To go on top, a loose t-shirt or blouse is ideal. For five days in the Thai capital, I packed three or four different t-shirts to go with my loose trousers. I made sure they weren’t too low-cut, that they covered my shoulders, and that they didn’t stick to my skin (though that was more for my own comfort than anything else). T-shirts are perfect for dressing up in the evening, especially if they’re plain, and they can be worn tucked into both your hippie trousers and your flowy maxi-skirt (as well as the elephant print harem trousers you picked up at Chatuchak Market that you got swindled 500THB for).
I had the extra concern when I was there that Thailand was still in a period of mourning, as well as the King’s birthday coming up. I was a little worried that my bright red t-shirt would be too much, but I wasn’t turned away from anywhere, even on his actual birthday. Just in case, though, I recommend researching the time period that you’re visiting in, especially if it’s around the anniversary of an important death.
Bangkok & Pattaya | Travel Series
Sanctuary of Truth | Prasat Sut Ja-Tum ปราสาทสัจธรรม
Wat Pho – Temple of the Reclining Buddha | วัดโพธิ์
Hostel Review: Chao Hostel, Bangkok
‘Wat’ (Not) to Wear to the Thai Temples