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South East Asia wardrobe?? not a silly one!

Travel Forums Asia South East Asia wardrobe?? not a silly one!

1. Posted by hayzjb (Budding Member 8 posts) 7y

I am a female traveller heading to thailand, cambodia, vietnam, loas malaysia etc. I want to be fully respectful of the culture and what is acceptable for clothing.
From what i can tell covered shoulders, clevage and knees during the day and in religious buildings iss acceptable?
What about on the beach does this relax? Can i feel comfortable in a bikini on the beach? Would that be something for a more touristy beach and then more covered in quieter places?
Also for going out in evenings, generally i just like a few chilled out drinks rather than an all night party but are more strappy typye tops accetable?
I dont mind either way to be honest i just dont want to impose on others!

2. Posted by bwiiian (Travel Guru 768 posts) 7y

Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam are well trodden tourist trails and you will be fine wearing a bikini on the beaches. But as you say, do cover up when not on the beach, unless you are on a little Thai island like Koh Phi Phi where it is acceptable to wear beach wear everywhere as you are always next to the sea on such a small island.
As for going out in the evenings, if you wear a strappy top then just wear a jacket with it and you can test the waters, see what everyone else is wearing and if it seems ok you can take your jacket off (Hehe I never thought I would be giving out fashion tips to a girl!).
Malaysia is a Muslim country so I would take more care about covering up here, although on beaches you will be ok in beach wear.
You also say you are going to other countries, but you don't say which ones, but if you are going to the Philippines then this is a Catholic country and all the girls wear little tops everywhere and dress up for nights out like in Europe. But be aware that as you are a westerner that if you do dress in little tops you will have every man and his dog staring at you

3. Posted by hayzjb (Budding Member 8 posts) 7y

Thanks for your reply!
I'm going to borneo for definite, but thinking about bali and jakarta also but not definited yet. depends on funds!

4. Posted by kdichirico (Budding Member 3 posts) 7y

I totally agree that clothing choices indicate respect for local culture. This is not a trivial consideration, especially for solo females.

I spent a month in Borneo. I wore a bikini, though not a teeny tiny one. It was not a problem for me but I did feel a little self-conscious in places where I was with mostly locals. Next time, I will bring a bikini but I'll also throw in a tankini, or swim shorts and modest top. Even on scuba excursions, I would have been more comfortable in something more modest.

Local women and girls do cover up more than we do. If they wear a swimsuit, it's a one-piece suits that is not revealing. Mostly, they wear shorts with a t-shirt or a modest swim top or tank top. I never saw a local girl in a little sexy bikini. For resort wear, you would be absolutely comfortable in a bikini...but that's not really the point of going to Borneo!

I was comfortable in tank tops on river trips and treks. Mine are not the strappy type. I wore them everywhere, including teaching in a village school. I was a bit self-conscious in areas where they were no foreigners. My best travelling top was a white sleeveless shirt from an adventure/sport company. It has mesh panels and is made of quick dry fabric. It looks neat in town and is very cool and comfortable for beach and trekking. It washes and dries in a flash. It was great with local sarongs. I'll bring more of this type next time, especially in darker colors, as white is not good in the jungle. Gauzy Indian tops are also good.

Have a great time!