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What Should I Wear?


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'.




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