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Dressing Etiquette in Vietnam: What to Wear When Traveling

Thien Nguyen
When embarking on a journey to a foreign land, it's important to be mindful of the local customs and traditions, including how you dress. Vietnam, with its captivating beauty and rich cultural heritage, is no exception. The question of appropriate dress arises because each country has its own unique norms and expectations when it comes to attire. What may be considered acceptable in one place may be deemed inappropriate or offensive in another. In Vietnam, where modesty and respect for traditions are highly valued, paying attention to dress becomes crucial.

Vietnam, a captivating Southeast Asian nation, boasts a rich history, diverse landscapes, and a vibrant culture. To ensure a positive and respectful experience, paying attention to dress becomes crucial. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of dressing appropriately in Vietnam and provide useful tips on what to wear during your visit.

Vietnamese on the street of Hanoi.jpeg
Vietnamese on the street of Hanoi.jpeg

Modesty Matters:

Vietnamese society values modesty, and it's advisable to dress conservatively, especially when visiting religious sites, rural areas, or more traditional communities. Both men and women should avoid clothing that reveals too much skin or is overly tight-fitting. Opt for modest clothing that covers the shoulders, knees, and cleavage. However, Vietnam is a hospitable and integrated country. In big and modern cities like Hanoi, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City, ... you can dress comfortably and modernly in the style you want.

Lightweight and Breathable Fabrics:

Vietnam's tropical climate means hot and humid weather, particularly during the summer months. Pack lightweight and breathable fabrics like cotton and linen to stay cool and comfortable throughout your travels. Loose-fitting clothing allows for better airflow and helps protect against the sun's rays.

Tourists dress comfortably when traveling in Vietnam.jpeg
Tourists dress comfortably when traveling in Vietnam.jpeg

Respectful Attire for Temples and Pagodas:

When visiting temples, pagodas, or other religious sites, it's important to dress appropriately as a sign of respect. Both men and women should wear clothes that cover their shoulders and knees. Consider carrying a scarf or shawl in your bag to cover bare shoulders if needed. Additionally, it's customary to remove your shoes before entering religious buildings, so slip-on shoes or sandals are practical choices.

Traditional Vietnamese Clothing:

Immerse yourself in Vietnamese culture by trying traditional clothing known as "ao dai." For women, the ao dai is a long, elegant dress with a high collar and slits on the sides, often worn on special occasions. Men can opt for a similar attire called "ao gam," which is a long shirt worn over loose pants. Wearing traditional clothing shows respect for the local culture and can make for stunning photographs.

Consider the Occasion:

Vietnam offers a diverse range of experiences, from bustling cities to tranquil beachside escapes. Take into account the activities you have planned and dress accordingly. In cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, casual and comfortable clothing is suitable for exploring attractions and enjoying the vibrant urban life. For beach destinations like Nha Trang or Phu Quoc, pack swimwear, light cover-ups, and comfortable beachwear.

Dress modestly when coming to pagodas and temples.jpg
Dress modestly when coming to pagodas and temples.jpg

Footwear and Accessories:

Opt for comfortable footwear suitable for walking, as you'll likely explore various attractions and markets. Closed-toe shoes are preferable, especially in rural areas or when hiking. Don't forget to bring a wide-brimmed hat or cap to protect yourself from the sun. Additionally, consider packing a lightweight scarf or sarong, which can serve multiple purposes like a cover-up, headscarf, or towel.

Paying attention to dress when traveling to Vietnam is not only a matter of respect for the local culture but also an opportunity to dive deeper into the rich and diverse costume culture of the country. By being mindful of your attire and understanding the historical significance behind Vietnamese costumes, you can truly immerse yourself in the local traditions and customs. Traveling with a local buddy can enhance this experience even further, as they can provide valuable insights and knowledge about the costume culture of each historical period. By exploring Vietnam's vibrant fashion history alongside a knowledgeable local, you can gain a deeper understanding of the country's heritage and create lasting memories. So, when planning your trip to Vietnam, consider the invaluable experience that comes with traveling alongside a local buddy who can help you appreciate and embrace the beauty of Vietnamese costume culture.


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