When travelling, whether volunteering on your gap year, career break or simply backpacking, it’s important to be aware of local laws and customs and adhere to them. This is especially true when it comes to clothing. Wearing the wrong type of clothing could attract unwanted attention, offend locals and even forbid you from entering certain places. So, here are our top tips on what not to wear around the world.
Ghana - Don’t wear anything above the knee
In Ghana it is considered offensive for both men and women to show their thighs, so if you’re travelling here, make sure you pack long board shorts, or maxi skirts and dresses for women.
Zambia - Don’t wear short t-shirts
Zambians consider it exceptionally rude to show your lower back. It might be hot, but make sure your t-shirts are long enough so that they don’t ride up when you bend over.
Fiji - Cover shoulders, arms and legs
If you’re heading to Fiji, you might automatically think beach attire, but shorts, bikinis, strappy tops and mini-skirts should all be strictly reserved for the sand. Fijians have strong conservative values and Christian morals play an important role in everyday life. Women will be forbidden from entering local villages for a craft fairs or cava drinking ceremonies unless their arms, legs and shoulders are covered and men too must make sure they cover their knees.
Bhutan - Don’t show your legs or shoulders
Bhutan has a very strict dress code policy and all Bhutanese are required to wear national dress, ghos, robes for men and kiras, like kimonos for women. While tourists are not expected to wear these, they are expected to be respectful of the culture by wearing long trousers or skirts. If you are visiting a Dzong or temple, long sleeves and proper shoes must also be worn by both men and women.
Saudi Arabia - Cover up most parts of your body
The Saudi Arabian dress code is very strict and some places even have religious police called matawa that patrol to make sure everyone is wearing the correct attire. Women should wear loose fitting long skirts and long sleeved tops, or even borrow an abaya, traditional black cloak, so as not to attract unwanted attention. You should also carry scarf to cover your head if need be.
Middle East - Don’t wear revealing clothing
Out of respect for the local Muslim cultures all over the Middle East, tourists, especially women, should not show their thighs, shoulders or too much skin in general. Long skirts or dresses are best, with light-weight long sleeved shirts. Short skirts or tight clothing may offend people and cause a lot of unwanted attention.
If you’re travelling anywhere in Asia or the Middle East it’s handy for women to carry around a shawl or sarong to cover up when need be. You won’t be allowed into many temples in Asia if you have bear shoulders or any mosques in the Middle East if don’t cover up your hair.
Women should not wear anything too skimpy or revealing in most countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Take a look at what the locals are wearing, and although you don’t have to wear traditional dress, try to blend in as much as you can.