Thailand, known as the “Land of Smiles,” is a country rich in culture and history, with Buddhism being a cornerstone of Thai society. As a popular tourist destination, Thailand welcomes visitors from around the world who come to explore its temples, also known as “wat” in Thai. When visiting these sacred sites, it’s essential to dress respectfully to show reverence to the local customs and beliefs. In this blog post, we will guide tourists on how to dress appropriately when visiting Buddhist temples in Thailand.

Understanding the Importance of Dress Code

Before delving into the specifics of what to wear, it’s crucial to understand why dressing appropriately in temples is vital. Buddhism plays a significant role in the lives of Thai people, and temples are places of worship, meditation, and spiritual reflection. Therefore, dressing respectfully demonstrates your appreciation for their culture and religion while ensuring you do not inadvertently offend anyone.

The Basic Dress Code

  1. Cover Your Shoulders and Knees: The primary rule for temple attire in Thailand is to cover your shoulders, chest, and knees. This means no sleeveless tops, short skirts, or shorts. Men and women should both adhere to this rule. The exception to this rule is  if you are wearing Thai traditional wedding attire for a blessing. The Lanna dress typically shows one shoulder. 

  2. Wear Loose-Fitting Clothing: Opt for loose-fitting, modest clothing that does not cling to your body. Flowy pants or long skirts are a great choice.

  3. Remove Your Shoes: Before entering the temple premises, you must remove your shoes. It’s common to see designated areas for footwear outside temples.

  4. Avoid Excessive Jewelry and Accessories: While it’s okay to wear jewelry, try to keep it minimal. Avoid wearing excessive bling or flashy accessories.

  5. Hat and Sunglasses: Remove your hat, cap, and sunglasses when entering the temple buildings as a sign of respect.

  6. Tattoos: If you have tattoos, particularly those related to religious or offensive symbols, try to keep them covered as much as possible.

Practical Tips

  1. Carry a Sarong or Shawl: If you’re unsure about your outfit, bring a sarong or shawl to wrap around your waist or shoulders when entering the temple grounds.

  2. Carry Socks: In some temples, you may be required to remove your shoes when entering a temple building, and the ground might be hot. Carrying a pair of socks to wear inside can be more comfortable.

  3. Respect Signs and Guidelines: Pay attention to signs and instructions provided at the temple entrances. Some temples may have specific rules or variations in their dress code.

  4. Ask Locals for Advice: If you’re uncertain about your attire, don’t hesitate to ask a local or temple staff for guidance. They will appreciate your effort to show respect.

When visiting Buddhist temples in Thailand, dressing respectfully is not just a matter of etiquette; it’s a way of showing reverence for the local culture and religion. By following the basic dress code and being mindful of local customs, you can ensure a harmonious and meaningful experience while exploring the spiritual heart of Thailand. Remember that dressing appropriately is a small but important step towards cultural understanding and appreciation.

What not to wear at a temple in Thailand