Visiting one of the many Thai temples while in Thailand is an absolute must. But you must make sure that you respect the dress codes of these important places in Thailand.
And this is what we’re going to talk about today: what to wear when visiting temples in Thailand, for both men and women, and how to dress to be both comfortable but also show respect for the deeply rooted Buddhist faith and traditions of the Thai people.
General Rules for Dressing in Thai Temples
The general rule of thumb when visiting a temple is Thailand is to cover up. This goes for both sexes, who should at least cover their shoulders and knees. Ideally, you should cover your ankles too.
In terms of what to wear, think of any decent clothing items that you have, from regular t-shirts (buttoned up at the neck and NOT sleeveless), to blouses and polos.
If you have something that doesn’t fully cover your shoulders, a scarf is acceptable – but try to prepare in advance and be properly dressed.
As for pants, the best choice is going with ankle-length trousers or skirt. Longer shorts, capris and any sort of skirts that cover the knees are acceptable, though.
As for shoes, it’s very easy here because you will have to take off any kind of shoes that you are wearing. Therefore, wearing something that’s easy to take off (including sandals or flip flops) would be a good idea.
PRO TIP: You are allowed to wear socks when visiting most Thai temples. Having a pair with you would be a good idea, especially if you’re not used stepping on the sometimes scorching hot floors.
All in all, the dress code for Thai temples is all about dressing modestly and appropriately by covering your shoulders and knees, as well as being mindful that you are a visitor in a sacred space.
Avoid “inappropriate dress code” scams around Thai Temples
Since we’re here, I want to tell you about a potential scam that some locals might want to try on you.
It usually happens around the temples, where you will have a local tell you that you’re not properly dressed to visit the temple. Even if that is true, don’t take their offer to get you to a place where you can get appropriate attire for cheap.
Usually these are tuk tuk drivers (or their partners) who will take you to various tourist-trap places where you will actually end up paying more than you should. Politely decline and you will be left alone.
Remember – Thailand is an extremely cheap country to live in and you can make ends meet with as low as $500 per month if you’re not very demanding, but this also means that tourists are generally seen as rich people that some try to take advantage of. Fortunately, just a small minority.
Dress Code for Women Visiting Thai Temples
The dress code for men and women when visiting the Thailand temples is pretty much the same, but just to make sure that you get it right, I want to talk speecifically about this.
There are three main areas that we have to talk about, and we’ll start with the most important.
Covering Shoulders and Chest
When it comes to women visiting Thai temples, they must wear clothes that cover their shoulders and chest. It’s not about being overly conservative, but about cherishing the sanctity of these spiritual places.
So make sure to wear something appropriate for the occasion. I recommend going for breathable fabrics like cotton or linen for your tops as it will be very hot during the visit.
If you forgot about this and came wearing a tank top or something that doesn’t cover your shoulders or has a low cut neck, wearing a scarf is acceptable too.
Appropriate Bottoms: Skirts and Pants
Then comes the question of what to wear below the waist. Long skirts or pants are the fitting pieces for this puzzle.
The main rule here is that you need something that at least covers your knees. Ideally, have your ankles covered too – but if you can’t, it’s not a biggie as long as the clothes you’re wearing cover your knees.
Consider opting for flowy, loose-fitting skirts or pants for the same reason mentioned above: to keep yourself as cool as possible during the torrid weather in Thailand.
Footwear Considerations for Women
When I visited, I found the simpler my footwear, the easier my experience. Sure, I am a man, but the same goes for women.
This is because the custom is to leave your footwear outside before entering the temple premises. Flat sandals, flip-flops, or any other slip-on footwear are perfect. But you can wear anything you want, as you’ll leave them outside anyway.
As I mentioned already, I recommend having a pair of socks with you and wear those: it is allowed and your feet will appreciate it, as the floors can get really hot under the sun.
Dress Code for Men Visiting Thai Temples
The same rules apply for men when it comes to visiting temples in Thailand. You should wear modest clothes that meet a few requirements. Let’s check them out below!
Covering the Shoulders
This is basically the main rule when it comes to what to wear. Light, airy, full-sleeved clothing or at least T-shirts that cover your shoulders can be your best allies in this journey.
Don’t wear tank tops, beach attire or anything that doesn’t cover your shoulders. Apart from that, basically anything goes.
Appropriate Bottoms: Long Pants or Shorts
Let’s turn our gaze downwards now. The Thai sun might be tempting you to throw on a pair of shorts, but remember that they have to be longer, as the rule of covering your knees still stands for men visiting Thai temples.
Ideally, wear long pants that cover your ankles. But if you don’t have any available, make sure that your shorts are long enough to cover the knees.
Footwear Considerations for Men
It doesn’t really matter what types of shoes you’re going to wear, as you will leave them at the temple’s entrance. This is why it’s ideal to wear something that’s easy to take off.
And the advice I gave in the previous section stands here too: try to bring a pair of socks. You’re allowed to wear it and it will provide some much needed protection from the scorching hot floors.
What Happens If You’re Not Dressed Appropriately when Visiting a Temple in Thailand?
If you’re not dressed appropriately – following the simple rules above – you might not be allowed to enter. However, that rarely happens.
Instead, you will most likely be asked to wear a sarong or a robe provided by the temple – and most larger ones will have these available. But it’s easier to simply get things right from the beginning.
Now, let’s get into some specific questions that were already answered above. I know I’m not the only one just scanning articles and not reading them entirely, so maybe you’ve missed my answer.
Can you Wear T-Shirts in Thailand Temples?
Absolutely, you can wear T-shirts in Thailand’s temples, but you have to make sure that any t-shirt that you are wearing covers your shoulders and isn’t excessively revelaing.
Also, make sure that your T-shirt has a plain, family-friendly design, so no potentially offensive graphics, images or signs, nor graphic language.
Can you Wear Sandals in Thailand Temples?
Yes and no. While you can wear sandals when visiting a Thai temple, you will have to take them off at the entrance. You will have to remove any type of shoes that you’re wearing – this is the custom here.
So feel free to wear anything you are comfortable wearing – sandals included.
Can you Wear Shorts in Thailand temples?
Yes, you can wear shorts when visiting Thailand temples, but make sure that they are long enough to at least cover your knees. Any type of pants (or skirts, that is) that doesn’t cover your knees is considered inappropriate.
But as long as your shorts are knee-long and they don’t have any offensive drawings or words on them, they are permitted when visiting a temple in Thailand.
Now you should be an absolute expert when it comes to knowing what to wear when visiting a temple in Thailand.
Remember, in the end, that it’s all about being considerate for the culture of the people you’re visiting and fortunately their dress code is extremely easy to follow.
So as long as you wear modest clothes that cover your shoulders and knees – no matter if you are male or female – you are good to go when it comes to Thai temples.
Speaking of spirituality and amazing places, don’t hesitate to explore next the Naka Cave in Thailand – one of those special spots with an amazing legend behind them.