In most Asian countries it's common to understand the remains of British influence, in the students' dress code. In Bangkok we saw a parade with students, using traditional costumes and some uniformity, but not so rigorous and classical as in India, for instance.
I don't know what they were celebrating, but they were a very happy crowd - maybe the end of scholar period?
In Thailand you will always be judged on appearances! all Thais put a great deal of effort into being well dressed and well groomed. If you want to fit in, you will need to do the same. To Thai eyes, if you wear the casual dress beloved of Western holiday-makers, you look like you’ve crawled out of an old laundry basket.
The must Do:
-dress properly when visiting a temple
-treat monks with the highest respect
-try to learn a few Thai phrases
DON'T EVER TRY TO:
Don't show disrespect towards the Thai Royal Family
Don't touch a Thai woman without consent
Don't touch a Thai person's head or ruffle their hair
Don't take Buddha images out of the country
Don't point your feet towards other people
Jeans are acceptable in al of these places. However, understand how hot it is going to be wandering around during the month of May, or any month for that matter in Thailand. You are better off wearing a nice cotton nylon pair of pants and shirt. Columbia makes some great tropic weight clothing. Also if it rains, which it could in May, your jeans will not dry, thus will breathe even less when it gets steamy, and it will. Lightweight loose fitting clothing is ideal. Thai's are conservative in their dress and manner, they appreciate tourists who dress decently and are clean.
As already mentioned, taxis are readily available at all times of the day and night. Make sure that you insist on the meter and that it is on once you start.
Been here 12 years and wear shorts everyday. So do 90% of my mates. Pants, shirt, tie and occasionally a suit to work, but then who is stupid enough to but on jeans in 40 degree heat with 60% humidity? Not the Thais, thats for sure. Looking out of my windown now I can see dozens of Thais wearing shorts.
Asians/expats don't wear shorts? Horse hockey!
Wearing shorts is considered improper and low-class attire, but acceptable for children. No matter how hot it is, long pants should be worn in urban areas. If you are planning to visit a Buddhist temple, dress conservatively and remember to take your shoes off when you enter the temple.
I'd read all sorts of things about how you should wear closed shoes (not sandals or flip flops) when visiting temples, but generally I found that this was not correct. The first temple I went to I wore trainers because of this and found that they were quite laid back about the whole shoe thing.
You have to take your shoes off anyway to go inside the main prayer rooms of the temples, and shoes with laces are a pain if you are visiting many. Pretty much everyone wore sandals and flip flops, including the people who worked there.
They are not happy about women wearing sleeveless tops, but a sarong or shirt draped over your shoulders was fine. Women with t-shirts with short sleeves were not asked to cover up, it seemed to be only those whose shoulders were showing.
Shorts are not really acceptable, but again, a simple sarong wraped around your legs is perfectly fine and you should try and carry one with you if you find long trousers too hot for a days sightseeing. I saw women (including Thai women) wearing knee length skirts and this didn't seem to be a problem.
I have been to temples in other parts of Thailand and the less visited ones are stricter, but in Bangkok, they are used to the ways of tourists and are prepared for the more scantily dressed, even giving out free loans of shawls/sarongs for them to use. The guards were very happy and jolly and gave out the shawls with a smile, telling my friend that she was 'too sexy for Buddha', which made her day!
That's not true. I just saw this too many times myself that tourists complaining why we can do it and they can't. (And I don't really get it coz it's obviously that those who complain come in casual spaghetti stripes) And even for Thais we're not allowed to enter Grand Palace with sleeveless spaghetti stripes tops. They're not really serious about shoes anyway BUT definitely no 69 Baht flip-flip will do. Open shoes are OK as long as they have stripes. Not the absolute beach flip-flops.
If you arrive Grand Palce with your shorts and sleeveless tops. Just "borrow" sarong from the booth. They're available 'free' to borrow. And shoes are available for "rent' from the shops just right opposite the Grand Palace.
And if you spot any Thai that wear sleeveless, shorts, flipflops and enter the place. Please take the photos and post it on this website. I'll write to the officers. Because I, too, don't like "double standard"
Some people think they can dress "Sabai" here in Thailand. But not always. And it's not only me who thinks this is really bothering us to see tourists dress unrespectable and too casual (see the link) or just 'try too hard' to dress up and it turns out to be "ehmmm.." I just don't know how to explain.
Check out the link below.
What to wear
Most of time you can wear whatever you want in this country. But visiting places like temples, palace, do the tours around the city. Dress modestly. People will treate you nicer if you dress 'nice'.
So how far you go?
Wearing very short skirts, shorts, tank-top that showing your belly button is "OK" but not for everywhere you go You might see some Thai girls dress like that too sometimes but I can tell you they dress like that only when they go out for a party and ALWAYS with glamourous style. So, the key is.. KNOW we you're going and dress yourself to suit occassion. We won't complain if you wanna wear spaghetti stripes tops because it's so hot in Thailand but then stay out of sacred places.
The Fisherman Pants
Fisherman pants are cool. But wearing them with thongs to wander around town is cosidered "low class" (Even we don't say it out loud) As I could see.. backpackers love those. I don't hate backpackers (I'm one of them) but sometimes it's nicer to dress 'respectable' if you want to be treaten nice. Even T-shirt and shorts are nicer than fisherman pants and tight sleeveless shirts.
We love to wear fisherman pants too, but not with spaghetti stipes tops and thongs to roam around the city. It's not the way to "go local"
So it means I shouldn't wear them in the city?
No, it's OK, You can wear them in town but make sure altogether with your shirt you won't look like a bum. (wearing them with 'modest' shirt always helps)
Or wearing these when you finished your day trip and relaxing around your guesthouse or for your Yoga class, casual dinner with friends.. is OK. Not when you're doing the trip or going to cinema, eating out in the 'good' restaurants, meeting your friends at the fancy shopping malls. Unless you wanna be considered 'low class'
Well, as a counclusion. You can dress sexy if you want (oh yes, we don't mind as long as it's not in the temples) but don't dress 'too casual all the time' we just don't get it.
You have to dress appropriately when visting temples and the Grand Palace to show proper respect. They are nice enough to provide a sarong for free if you happen to be walking around in shorts and a tank top. You'll soon discover they are perhaps even better for the hot climate than shorts are.
My experience with Bangkok only spans about 10 years.
But, I've seen a radical change in attitude, not so much by the Thais, but by the visitors.
People used to read guidebooks to reseach their destinations.
Reading about places still doesn't remove the "mystery".
All the books on Thailand addressed modesty, politeness, and demeanor.
There would be a laundry list of cultural considerations.
Then came the forums.
Everyone has become an expert and lends their "reality" to the topic.
Any mystery is lost.
Thai's are culturally sensitive? 'Don't make me laugh!'
Dress modestly? 'I see Thai girls dressed provocatively all the time!'
Don't argue or show hostility? 'Don't let the little bastards screw you!'
'All the cops are crooked!'
'Everyone's out to scam you!'
'The land of (phoney) smiles!'
'It's my vacation; I'll do want I want!'
I'm not trying to take a moral high ground.
Anyone can travel in any manner they choose.
But, how one presents himself might just make the difference, whether he is treated as a guest or a mark.