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What Should I Wear?

Taiwan

I spent three years in Taiwan and I have the following tips to pass along to other JourneyWomen. Taipei fashion is similar to most big cities in China and Japan, although most heavily influenced by Japan. Therefore, it's pretty modern. The only thing I could imagine being frowned upon would be going bra-less. Shorts, miniskirts, tank tops, etc. are all fine. There's a definite tendency to overdress (dress up) than to be underdressed (too casual). Unshaven legs, although gradually going out of style, are OK, either bare or under hose. Pretty much anything goes.
Clarissa, Fremont, USA

Taiwan is very hot and humid, so thin cotton pants or skirts, T-shirts, and breathable shoes or sandals are a good choice. Expect to perspire a lot until you adjust to the humidity. Younger women wore shorts or summer dresses. Be sure to take a hat and sunglasses! P.S. You can have clothes made cheaply in Taiwan. Bring a picture of what you like, buy some fabric, and local tailors can make you fairly good tailored clothes.
Kim, Canada

Dress down in Taiwan. When travelling in my country, wear old T-shirts and jeans, so nobody will think that you are rich and rob you when walking around a strange city.
Evelyn Chen, Taichung, Taiwan

In Taiwan, young women in the cities wear clothes so short they would attract police attention in many western countries, however bare arms and even a a hint of cleavage bring stares and comments.
Amanda, Taipei, Taiwan

In Taipei, Chung Shan North Road Section 7 has export shops which carry some plus size clothing. I always manage to find something suitable there from pants and dresses to underpants. The only real problem is bras. I have found sports bras there, but nothing else.
Amanda, Taipei, Taiwan

Tanzania

I travelled to Tanzania. I went on safari at the Ngorongoro Crater. I recommend wearing leisure clothing and good walking shoes. You also must remember to bring a hat, sunglasses and bandana as it is quite dusty on safari. I was there in the winter months but it was still quite hot on the crater floor. I recommend a fleece or a vest for at night, since it tends to get quite cool due to the high altitude. As far as Zanzibar (part of Republic of Tanzania) goes, I would dress modestly. It is quite hot in Zanzibar, much hotter than mainland Tanzania so I naturally recommend dressing in light clothing. While I was there I wore knee-length skirts and short sleeve shirts. If you are walking around Stone Town, I would recommend wearing closed toe shoes.
Lauren, Bethesda, USA

Shorts and t-shirts are fine when you are with other tourists on safari in a national park, but away from this environ, modesty prevails. Most Tanzanian women wear a "kanga," a large piece of rectangular cloth printed with beautiful designs and Swahili sayings printed along the edges of the fabric. The kanga is wrapped around the waist with one corner tucked in at the waist. You can also use it as a shawl/head covering for when you are in a town or village where covering the head is appropriate. You can buy a kanga anywhere in Tanzania. They are very inexpensive -- about $2 - $4 each -- and make excellent trip momentos, as well as great gifts for your family and friends back home.
Janice, Washington, DC, USA

I travelled in Kenya and Tanzania on a safari trip. It was really hot and very dusty and in some parts pretty humid. Don't do what I did and wear white! White gets very dirty very quickly and never looks that white again. Stick to natural fabrics (cotton) and neutral colours to hide the grime. T-shirts and shorts are good. If you take extra t-shirts - particularly with good designs on them, you may be able to barter them for some fantastic carvings or rugs.
Mandy, Australia

I've just returned from Tanzania and would like to pass along some packing tips to other travellers. In tourist areas, such as the game parks, just about any tasteful leisure clothing that you feel comfortable in is appropriate. Be absolutely sure to bring a hat on safari and promise to wear it. I suggest a wide brimmed style that covers the back of your neck and chest as well. You'll find that you spend a lot of time standing up outside of the truck/van and get quite a bit of sun exposure. A fellow traveller suffered a sunstroke and we were there during the winter months. Zanzibar is a predominately Muslim area, as is most of the coast of Tanzania, so we took special care to dress conservatively. I found that wearing a knee-length skirt or pants with a button down shirt (I generally wore a loose fitting shirt untucked with a man's undershirt underneath) and my hair covered in a scarf kept people from paying any extra attention to me. I travelled with a male companion -- we wore fake wedding bands for propriety's sake. P.S. I didn't see any tourists dressed in kangas (sarongs), so you may stick out if you chose to wear one in Tanzania. I did buy many to bring back as gifts though.
Erin, Colorado Springs, USA

Thailand

No matter how hot it is, don't wear sleeveless tops or short shorts when in public areas. The Thai's look on this as disrespectful and besides it certainly singles you out as a tourist. Neat, clean clothing makes you look good and is the best bet for good respect from the Thais'.
Meg, Melbourne, Australia

Wear shoes that can be easily removed because you cannot wear shoes in the Buddhist temples. Socks are considered poor form and tacky. Capri pants are fine because the young women have discovered western fashion. Shorts are not appreciated anywhere. Showing cleavage is also a bad idea and is thought to be in bad taste. The Thais are kind and tolerant of foreigners, but the only time you will really offend them is if you wear shoes in the presence of a statue of Buddha at a shrine, even if it is not a temple. I was in a shop where they were making Buddha statutes and I was told in a cold tone to take my shoes off in the shop. It was embarrassing.
Francesca, Steubenville, USA

If you are a woman over forty travelling to Thailand, please take a skirt or dresses along. It is incorrect to wear pants after 40. I wasn't told before I left so I only had one skirt and had to wear my slacks day after day. Also take something that you can wash out by hand that can be hung to dry quickly.
Kelly, Florida, USA

I went to school in Southern Thailand. My comrades and I spent many a weekend trip lecturing females who wore short-shorts, no bra's, strappy tank tops, etc. Local newspapers often contained articles about women tourists getting into trouble. Southern Thailand is not a tourist mecca and the population is primarily Muslim. Cover up or expect to be propositioned, followed around by men and/or put in potential danger. Save western dress codes for westernized resorts and beaches.
Michelle, Pullman, USA

I have some blue nylon long pants that my mom gave me years ago. They are very thin and feel like a parachute. But I can handwash them with shampoo and they are dry enough to wear in 30 minutes. They were great in Thailand in 95 degree weather. I also bought some Thai nylon trousers that are put on like a diaper. These and the wrapped Thai skirt are decent enough and cool for hot weather. It is important to dress decently so that the locals and/or families are not hesitant to approach you. I traveled alone in Thailand for a month and never felt threatened.
Karen, Ancorage, Alaska

If you are going to visit any temples wear shirts or blouses with sleeves and carry a sarong or wear a skirt. Also remember that you will have to take off your shoes.
Michele, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands

After escaping the Alaskan winter, I couldn't wait to strip down to spaghetti straps and backless dresses in the tropical paradise of southern Thailand. However, I found that it is very uncool to do so anywhere off of the beach. The Thais are quite modest dressers and it's an integral part of their culture, not a fashion statement. In the south, where much of the population is Muslim, scantily clad foreign women are especially offensive to the residents. So, my advice is that if you go to Thailand, dress modestly. Another safe bet is to buy a nifty long sarong and light cotton long sleeve or at least half armed-shirt and bring them with you in your bag everywhere, so that if you're out gallivanting in shorts and a tank top and you suddenly feel out of place, you can put them on. This is critical if you might visit a Wat (Buddhist temple) because wearing shorts or tank tops in the temples is really a big no-no. Ditto for topless sunbathing. Anywhere.
Bridget, Homer, Alaska

I traveled in Thailand. To prevent bug bites, my advice is to wear long cotton pants and a sleeveless t-shirt under a thin cotton long-sleeved shirt. Leave the shorts at home. It is culturally insulting to the Thais to have bare legs exhibited.
Lois, Newport Beach, USA

When travelling in Thailand, conservative clothes, like pants and a shirt are a must when going to the temples.
Weng, Manilla

Although the Thai people will never say anything about the way you are dressed (except when entering a temple) it is good manners to cover the top of your arms and not to wear very short skirts or shorts. A everyday T Shirt is fine and long shorts are fine.
Linda, Melbourne, Australia

I travelled in Thailand and Malaysia and would like to share what I learned with other women travellers. Dress in SE Asia is (not surprisingly) conservative, but there are some subtle differences between countries. For example, in a business setting, a pant suit is acceptable in Malaysia but not in Thailand, where a longish skirt is better (knee-length or below). In Thailand, women do not usually wear trousers or shorts (except for students who wear jeans but only in casual settings), they never wear sleeveless attire or swim in t-shirts and shorts (if they swim at all).

Malaysian women overall dress conservatively but there are variations due to background (Muslim Malays, Chinese, or Indian). Whereas Thai women will wear form fitting outfits (not trashy though), Malaysian women opt for looser and longer clothing - no short skirts here.

Conservative dress implies a respect for SE Asian culture and without it, you will be denied access to religious sites (an integral part of Asian culture) and treated without respect.

While the dress codes may seem restrictive, there are a multitude of options which will not require steamer trunks to be carted around - long skirts, tank tops under long sleeve shirts (to help mop up perspiration and combat the sub-zero air conditioning), etc.
Helen, Boston, USA

I traveled in Thailand. My advice is to wear a bra under t-shirts or any other thin fabrics.
Jessica,Singapore

I traveled in Thailand. Going to the royal palace in Bangkok, many people were turned back because of their clothing - shorts were not acceptable, nor halter tops, nor were Teva or Thong sandals. I was wearing long pants, a plain t-shirt, and Rockport-type sandals, and had no problem. In general, light-weight long pants seem far more acceptable in Thailand than shorts.
Clare, Rhode Island, USA

When travelling in Thailand always carry a couple of sarongs. You can use them as a sheet, a skirt, to bath in public, and they're also good for carrying your laundry.
Gail, Thailand.

When travelling in southeast Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines), wearing a long full skirt (cotton ) with a hip length top is cooler, more comfortable and much more culturally correct than pants.
Mary Ellen, San Diego, USA

Trinidad

In Trinidad, any Western clothing style is usually appropriate. However, the locals almost always wear jeans even when it's very hot, and if you go in shorts you will get more harassment from the men.
Paula,Tacoma,WA

What to wear in Tunisia, Turkey...

 

 

 

 
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