I wanted to write a post about this as it was something I googled and searched on Pinterest for whilst I was packing. I knew you had to cover up in almost all temples in Asia, but for me I wanted some outfit inspiration as to what I could wear and not feel like a pile of poo in baggy clothes. If you read my packing list, you’ll know that I like to dress to compliment my body and I stressed how important it was that you packed items that made you feel good. Here I’ve compiled a bunch of outfits I wore at various temples throughout Southeast Asia and also how strict they were.
*It’s always good to have a google yourself before each one just in case there are particularly strict guidelines*
Outfit 1 – bangkok, Thailand
I bought this jumpsuit/harem trousers (can be worn as both!) on Khao San Road within days of arriving in Thailand knowing I would need a pair of these for travels and temples. They came in so handy so I’d definitely recommend picking up a pair. The temples we went to in Bangkok (see my post here for where we went and photos) were pretty flexible in what you could wear within the grounds as long as you covered your shoulders and knees once inside the pagodas themselves. I wore this jumpsuit and took a t-shirt or a sarong in my bag to throw over my shoulders when going in. You could do this the other way around and wear shorts and a t-shirt and take a sarong to cover your legs when you go in. *Don’t rely on the temples providing sarongs as this doesn’t always happen and if you can’t cover up, you’re not going in – simple*
outfit 2 – Borobodur, Java, Indonesia
Featuring my bangkok-buy again but this time as trousers with a little cropped top. This top is sleeveless but covers a large part of my shoulders so I wasn’t sure if I’d get away with it, hence why I ALWAYS carry a scarf or sarong in my day pack. As it happens, we were fine in the tops we had but Glen’s shorts were too revealing so he was given this sassy sarong to cover his knees! P.S. This temple is mighty and incredible, I’d recommend going to see it – you can see the route we took around Java, Indonesia in my post here.
OUTFIT 3 – Prambanan, Java, indonesia
One of my favourite temples of all of our travels, it was breathtaking! These photos hardly do it justice, there are more on this post and our Instagram – check it out. Because I was able to wear this top before, it is so much cooler than other t-shirts I have so I wore it again here and again it was fine (still had my trusty sarong with me). This skirt I also bought in Yogyakarta as Java felt like a place I wanted to cover up more generally so I wore this at night too, and it’s great because it also converts into a strapless dress if you want it to AND the best part, it has a little drawstring thing on the inside which hooks it up to a shorter skirt if you want it a bit shorter or more breezy.
outfit 4 – goa gajah cavE, UBUD, INDONESIA
We walked from Ubud town to this cave and it took us longer than the stroll we expected, when we got there we also realised we weren’t remotely dressed for a temple as neither of us realised it was one. Luckily they were not too strict and simply gave us sarongs to wear over our legs and were not bothered about our shoulders, which was lucky as it was the one time I didn’t bring my sarongs!
OUTFIT 5 – AYUTTHAYA, THAILAND
In Ayutthaya we did a bike 9km bike ride around the many temples to see in Thailand’s Ancient City, it’s in my itinerary (second visit to Thailand) and I definitely recommend you follow the route we did as it’s a great way to see everything. I read up on what to wear beforehand and as these temples were no longer used religiously, they didn’t expect you to cover up when walking around the ruins. I had a playsuit on as it was a really hot day and we were doing a lot of cycling but I still took a couple of sarongs and tied one around my legs each time we stopped to go inside one of the ruins. Not everyone did this, but for me I still wanted to be semi-respectful even if it wasn’t strictly necessary.
outfit 6 – angkor wat, cambodia (day 1)
I visited the Angkor Wat Temple complex around 7 years ago when I was in school and I remember wearing a little skirt and tank top most days to visit the temples. However, I knew that they had become a lot stricter in recent years due to several tourists wearing extremely revealing outfits so they put their foot down (hard). I wore these fisherman pants which I picked up in Chaing Mai, Thailand and they were so comfy and light with a little crop top (my middle wasn’t showing – this is against the rules). But I had a sarong with me for each time I went into a temple ground I put this around my shoulders. One the first day, we were watching the sunset on top of one of the temples and I slipped my sarong off my shoulders to adjust it slightly – I’d literally had it off 5 seconds and was about to put it on when I got a tap and told to put it back on, they are that hot on it!
OUTFIT 7 – ANGKOR WAT, CAMBODIA (DAY 2)
On day one, I had seen other girls wearing gym gear and thought of how great it would be in the heat as it’s sweat-wicking and dries fast so the next day we both went sporty which was super comfy. Be warned through, I still wore a t-shirt that was long enough to cover my bum which I tied at a knot at the side. Luckily, it was fine, but the guards can vary from day-to-day so either have a sarong at the ready or have a t-shirt on that’s long enough.
outfit 8 – angkor wat, cambodia (day 3)
I bought these trousers within the temple complex on the second day; if I’d had them on the first day I would have worn them every day, they were so comfy and floaty, they are perfect for temple touring. These trousers are everywhere in Siem Reap and I’m so sad I only got one pair, I haven’t found them anywhere since! Stock up!
outfit 9 – Wat Phra that Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai, Thailand
This temple is on a hill just outside of Chiang Mai and is well worth the drive for the views. After climbing 300+ steps up you get to a beautiful temple complex and lovely views over the whole of Chiang Mai. I wore gym leggings, a top and a hoodie to cover my shoulders. This temple was fine with leggings however, we drove a little further up the hill after this to another temple and they were very strict – no skinny jeans and no leggings – basically nothing that showed shape. You know what I’m going to say… trusty sarongs!
Basically as long as you have common sense about where you are going then you should be fine but get yourself a couple of staple outfits that are cool in the temperatures and good for a day of temple touring. The great thing about outfits like this is that they will always double up as comfy outfits for travel.
- Sarongs, sarongs, sarongs (or scarves) – don’t be without them just in case
- Always have a quick google just in case there are specific rules
- Be respectful
- Don’t rely on the temples to have cover-ups for you
Hope you enjoyed reading, check out my other posts for more travel tips from us!