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Thailand Travel Tips

Beach Resorts

Don't go to the beaches where the tourists are. They only swim in tiny briefs, getting sunburned and stung by the jellyfish. Go to the beaches where the Thai people go and swim in clothes. At almost all resorts where mainly the locals go, most people swim in the sea with all their clothes on. They then spend the rest of the day eating, chatting and sleeping under the umbrellas at the top of the beach. Enjoy the view and meet friendly local people.

Foreigners are a rarity here, so please dress decently and don't swim in just your speedos. Please cover up when you are walking around the beachfront or in the water. Ladies, please don’t go topless. Although most Thais won’t say anything, many of them are offended and shocked on how Westerners dress and behave on the beach.

Bangsaen near Bangkok is a typical Thai beach resort. Most people there are Thai and there are very few foreigners. If you have been there before then you would know that most people swim in their clothes.

Your Comments

Swimming in Jeans and T-shirt

by James from Oxford, England

Picture the scene: a heavy day on the golf course. Sweating, sweating, sweating. Even the shower afterwards does not stop the perspiration.

One day we avoided the statutory after-golf shower, and went to a beach. We sat under a palm-thatched hut, and I idly watched Thais swimming in the sea with their clothes on. Now I knew something about this. Modesty, my friend had said. But, as with all things in Thailand, there's more to it.

Acting on impulse, I jumped into the sea and swam around, wearing my perspiration-soaked T-shirt and jeans. My Thai companion was impressed and joined in. I was surprised how nice it felt to swim in clothes.

But what was this? As I sat soaked at the hut a little later, the breeze blew across my clothes, and I found I had cooled down considerably. My clothes were still damp and I felt very comfortable indeed. Another shower later at the hotel and I felt really good wearing my clothes in the hotel pool. A clear case of Thais knowing their onions again.

For many times since I bathed in sportswear or casual clothes and I can say that this much more pleasant than bathing in some swimbriefs.

Show Some Respect

by Romano from Roma, Italy

There should be some ownness on the tourists to pick up the cultural cues of the country (or specific region within that country).

I mean for the swimming and splashing bit, it's better to get dressed anyway while you're out in the sun. my guess is that not wanting to get a tan also has to do with covering up.

I really enjoy this aspect of Thai beach culture being ginger and whiter than white even after a year here. I think on the whole Thais are more modest about showing skin in public, TV ads and pop vids and front of magazine covers being an exception, oh yeah and newspapers.

School Outing

by June from Vancouver, Canada

I remember a school trip in Trang. My class (ม.๕) was going to the beach! I was very excited put on my very modest one piece bathing suit under my clothes. We got to the beach, a very secluded Trang beach.

I ran out across the lot and into the water tearing my clothes off as I ran and went into the water in my bathing suit. My Thai classmates all ran with the same enthusiasm towards the water, but kept their clothes on.

I immediately realized I was underdressed and while no one said anything, I knew that I was out of place. So I went back up on shore and put my clothes back on and then got back in the water!

Family Trip

by Cliff from London, England

I am visiting Thailand next month with my family (wife and children). We intend keep our regular clothes on when we're on the beach or swimming. I was told that most Thai people swim in their clothes as well, for us to feel comfortable.

You should keep your clothes on while swimming in any beaches, it says in the tour guide. For the pools in hotels, swimming in sports clothes is acceptable, but some ignorant foreigners may not like it. I don't care. Their problem.


The nearest beaches to Bangkok, like Bangsaen in Chonburi and Cha-am the other direction, are popular with Thai people with few foreigners. Wearing speedos on these beaches will raise a few eyebrows!

In Phuket you should easily find places where Thai people swim as well. But, like Khun Chin said, it is a public beach so don't worry about swimming in the sea with your clothes on.

Swim Shirt

I remember asking something similar a while back. I ended up buying a long sleeve 'rash guard' shirt and loved it. Not only does it cover you up and give you UV protection, but it doesn't feel uncomfortable wet as would a regular t shirt. It is made of material that dries quickly and doesn't affect you swimming. I bought mine on Amazon and I highly recommend it for those who don't like to go topless on the beaches.

Traditional Thai Swimwear

by Bruce from Sydney, Australia

I'm a Farang but often swim in Thai fisherman's pants and a T shirt when in Thailand. You won't look unusual doing that.

I found it interesting the part about Thai tourist beaches where the locals swim with their clothes on. I find this interesting because I like the concept! Let's just say that I am a bit aesthetically challenged, and my man boobs and gut aren't exactly something I'm proud of showcasing to the world.

So next time I visit Thailand beaches, I'll be glad that I won't be 'strange' swimming with my top on, I'm conforming to local customs! I'm thinking though of getting a shirt that's a bit more "water friendly", maybe one of those under armour loose shirts.

Well I always swim in Australia with my clothes on, basically I don't like getting sun burnt. Thais don't want dark skin so they cover up.

Yea, if you don't put on your clothes when swimming or taking a public bath, you'd probably be an alien for Thai people, LOL. I mean they will keep watching you and avoiding your eyes!

Many Thai people that you may see in the water with their clothes on are
1. shy,
2. poor,
3. do not want to make their skin darker.

Most Thais that go to the beach often don't have a swim suit, so it is normal for them to wear a shirt and jeans in the water.

No More Jellyfish Stings

by Dave from Leeds, England

I had a jellyfish sting me and I DO NOT wont that to happen again. You would not go naked either if you had that happen to you.

Now I booked a holiday to Thailand, and when I orientated myself a bit, I saw some pictures of Thai people swimming FULLY CLOTHED. After some digging I found, Thai don't ever wearing swimsuits because swimming in clothes cools you down. Ha, they are smart.

In Thailand it is quite normal to swim in clothes. Because of the heat wearing wet clothes keeps you cool for some hours. The people who were "out of order" in this situation were the Europeans. If they are incapable of respecting another country's customs, they should not have been there.

So I won't take swim shorts in my suitcase, but a lot of long sleeved shirts and long pants. You should respect the country you visit, right? I leave in six weeks but I can't almost wait until the time is there. I think this will be the most pleasant holiday in years.

Sun Protection

by Ryan from Dublin, Ireland

I think for the swimming and splashing bit, it's better to get dressed anyway while you're out in the sun. My guess is that not wanting to get a tan also has to do with covering up. I really enjoy this aspect of Thai beach culture being ginger and whiter than white even after a year here.

I think on the whole Thais are more modest about showing skin in public. TV ads and pop videos and front of magazine covers are an exception, oh yeah and newspapers.

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