This country is not a modest country. Everyone is trying to accentuate
their best features. Put on some lipstick and a pair of heels if
you want to fit in on a night out. In this country, people really
prize the beauty culture. Wearing baggy jeans or clothes are frowned
upon. Better to try and look your best while you are in the city.
Don't worry--there will be hundreds of local girls dressed less
conservatively than you.
Amity, Paeonian Springs, USA
I am working and living in Venezuela where it is very hot all year
round. The women here dress very well but you will only catch the
foreigners in shorts. Shorts get rude stares and comments, and make
you a target for trouble. Ironically, any length of skirt seems
to be okay, and tight pants are common, too.
Marlene, Ciudad Ojeda, Venezuela
I live in Ho Chi Minh City and depending on where you travel it
will totally change what you should pack. The Northern part of Vietnam
(Hanoi, Sapa) is very chilly in the winter months and you will need
a coat, scarf, sweaters, jeans and boots to stay warm. Ho Chi Minh
City and the Southern parts stay hot all the time and you will want
lightweight linen pants, cotton dresses and skirts. Layering shirts
is a good idea as you WILL sweat. A lot. I suggest packing the travel
packets of wet wipes to swab your neck and face and it doubles as
toilet paper if needed. Bug spray is also another must as the mosquitoes
are quite fierce. I suggest bringing your own lotion and night cream
as it can be difficult to find anything here that doesn't have "whitening"
solutions in them (the locals prize light skin). You can find deoderant
and all the hair products you need easily enough.
As for dressing like the locals, you will feel sloppy if you dress
down in Vietnam. The local women all wear skirts, blouses and heels
and are immaculate in their grooming. They have actually told me
I look much better in dresses than pants! During the day a simple
cotton dress and dressy sandals or flats works and for a night out
in the city I would suggest nice pants and blouse or a nice dress
with heels or flats.
Tanya, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
In Viet Nam, women can get away with dressing quite liberally (tank
tops, skirts, etc), without much trouble. However, as a foreigner,
men will assume you are 'easy', due to the fact that most condom
advertisements and foreign pornography feature western women. Usually
this is not a problem, as men are quite respectful of strangers
(whatever their personal assumptions) -- but if you are taking a
taxi late at night, or a motorcycle ride, you are more likely to
get unwanted advances and groping if you are wearing a skirt or
a sleeveless shirt. You will also be treated by local Vietnamese
as a tourist. You will be treated better if you dress as 'respectable'
Vietnamese women do -- in a collared shirt that has sleeves, and
in pants or at least a knee-length skirt. Ao dai's and pajama suits
are also good to wear -- but it's pretty unusual that foreigners
wear them, so expect to get lots of compliments on your apparel
from locals. You can have beautiful clothes made almost anywhere
quite cheaply within 2-3 days, but you'll have bad luck buying underwear,
bras, or any pre-made clothes in the market, as Vietnamese women
are tiny and a "Large" in Viet Nam is often equivelent
to a 'X Small' in the West.
P.S. Thanks for the cool website.
Danielle, Davis, California, USA (2007)
My advice is to bring with you a long, wrapping skirt, like a sarong.
You look nice wearing it, it is comfortable when the weather is
hot, you can use it as a towel or as a cover for sleeping -- in
short: It is very handy, and very respectable. It is small and easy
to take with you, and when you wash it, it dries in a very short
time. Enjoy your journey.
Evy, Oslo, Sweden
According to The Treasures and Pleasures of Vietnam and Cambodia,
'Given Vietnam's tropical climate and informal lifestyle, plan to
pack as if you were visiting New Orleans or Atlanta -- lightweight
cotton clothing is especially important for hot and humid days.
If you're visiting the north and central highlands in Vietnam during
the winter months, plan to pack a sweater and jacket: it can get
cool. You need not pack formal attire since even the best restaurants
do not require dresses, suits, coats or ties. Smart casual is the
best you'll ever have to dress'.