November 4, 2018

What to wear in Thailand at night

Whether you prefer a dressy night in Bangkok or dinner on the beach – first of all – you want to know that you’re dressing properly for Thailand’s culture, climate and transport options.

This post may contain affiliate links, from which I receive a small commission on any resulting purchases at no cost to the customer. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. It keeps The Koh Samui Guide ad-free, never sponsored and 100% independent. See privacy policy for more details.

What to wear in Thailand at night?

Do you prefer to dress up or down at night? Whether you’re headed to Thailand’s city or beach destinations, if you routinely dress to the nines at night and love nothing but – we’ll help you adjust Fancy Friday to Thailand’s culture and climate. If you’re a casual creature who can’t be parted from your Birkenstocks at any time of day, no worries. It’s just a matter of context.

Whether you prefer a dressy night in Bangkok or dinner on the beach – first of all – you want to know that you’re dressing properly for Thailand’s culture, climate and transport options. Indeed, Thailand’s cultural considerations still apply at night and – yep – it’s still hot:

What fabric is best to wear at night?

Even at night, Thailand’s climate brings fabric choice into focus. You can pack a disaster of a suitcase without meaning to. Ideally, choose light-weight and natural clothes (for both day and night in Thailand): cotton, silk-cotton and linen tie for first place. All our clothing recommendations that follow are made of fabrics suitable for the tropics.

What to wear in Thailand?

Get fabric tips for the tropics

How to stay safe from Thailand’s mosquitoes at night?

Thailand’s mosquitoes come out to feast every evening, and easily avoiding them is all the more reason for light-weight chinos/trousers for men and longer skirts or maxi dresses for women. Definitely wear mosquito repellent at night (we favour natural products without DEET on Koh Samui).

Find out how to avoid mosquitoes in Thailand (and why we're scared of DEET)

What to wear in Bangkok at night?

Consider Bangkok a tropical version of the well-heeled, cosmopolitan city you know best. Whether it’s Sydney, London, New York or other – you’ll already have a few ideas of city-appropriate evening outfits… and chances are it doesn’t involve a bathing suit. If you want to taste the high-life, it’s ready and waiting, but prepare to dress accordingly. Otherwise, casual nights of street food and market browsing will be great fun.

What to wear in beach towns (Phuket, Koh Samui, etc) at night?

By comparison, Thai tourist beaches and towns – Koh Samui and resort destinations like Phuket etc. – are more casual than Bangkok. In many cases you can recycle the sun dress or shorts and flip-flops that got you to and from the beach earlier that day. The exception is at high-end resorts and aligned restaurants. In such locations, tend towards dressier choices.

So, what to wear in Thailand at night? While your fellow tourists will provide every example to the contrary, you will get better service in Thailand if you look decently ‘put together’. Accomplish this like a Thailand total pro, in both casual and dressy contexts, as follows:

Casual dress for Thailand at night?

Ideal for:

  • Browsing night markets
  • Beach bars
  • Hole-in-the-wall restaurants
  • Nightlife in tourist and beach towns
  • Dinner in casual/family-run resorts

Women's outfit examples:

natural mosquito repellant, RMS luminizer, elephant scarf, maxi dress (wicking!), striped skirt, black tank, Sanuk yoga sandals, mint sandals, gold bangle

Light and loose pants/trousers and a top are ideal (whether a T-shirt, blouse or anything that’s comfy). Note that you’ll probably find it too hot for jeans. Longer shorts (ideally knee-length) or capri pants are perfectly suitable for beach towns but, in Bangkok, consider a summer dress or skirt (in jersey, cotton or something that doesn’t wrinkle).

As for tops, T-shirts are great but choose a tank top with more coverage than not. While rubber flip-flops are fine on Koh Samui’s casual end, a dressier sandal or slip-on shoe is a tad more suitable. Finally, throw a light-weight pashmina or cardigan in your bag (especially in rainy season when beach breezes can pick up). Don’t forget the mozzie spray!

Men's outfit examples:

mosquito-repelling wristbands, Sperry boat shoes, Sanuk beer cozy flip-flops, cotton polo, linen shirt, linen pants, linen shorts

Shorts, a T-shirt and flip-flops are fine to wear to any beach restaurant or Koh Samui hole-in-the wall. The same goes for most every island bar or pub, as well as enjoying night markets and walking streets. Thanks to the island’s many laundry services, it will probably be an ironed T-shirt! In Bangkok, add a dressier notch – landing somewhere between Casual Friday at work and going for brunch. Jeans (or khakis if you’ll find jeans too hot) and a polo shirt or short-sleeved shirt. Ideally, swap your flip-flops for loafers, boat shoes, TOMs or the like.

Formal dress for Thailand at night?

Ideal for:

  • Refined Bangkok nightlife
  • Resort fine dining and Christmas/NYE galas
  • Weddings or parties in Thailand

What do women wear at night in Thailand? (dressy version)

anti-humidity hairspray, v-neck dress, silk print dress, sleeveless maxi dress, striped maxi dress, butterfly clips, waterproof mascara, gold wedge sandals

If you can pull off Jackie O in light-weight trousers or capri pants – by all means. More likely, you’ll be more comfortable in the heat wearing a dress, or a skirt with a nice top. If Kate Middleton wore similar in Singapore or the Solomon Islands, then you’re on the right track. Meaning? Easy-breezy-beautiful and no cleavage. Rather than over-packing, you can make a day-dress do double-duty with a silk wrap/pashmina and a pair of dressy sandals, wedges or flats.

The dressier your destination, if inside, the more likely they’ll crank the air-conditioning to sub-zero temperatures. One minute you’re melting, the next shivering. Bring a spare layer – like a cardigan or wrap – if you get cold easily.

If you’re headed somewhere special at night, note that hairdressers are abundant in all corners of Thailand and offer hair-styling at very affordable rates.

What do men wear at night in Thailand? (dressy version)

linen shirt, cotton-linen pants, Sperry boat shoes

Long trousers/pants (not jeans) and an ironed, collared shirt (with the buttons done up, not flapping open bare-chested). No flip-flops or sandals but, instead, a slip-on shoe like loafers or boat shoes. Sorry, it cannot be otherwise.

What to wear for dinner in Thailand?

If you have plans to enjoy a nice dinner or special occasion somewhere fancy, whether in Bangkok or at a resort, note that many higher end spots have dress codes (mostly for men): long pants, a collared shirt and closed-toe shoes. The rest of the time – just wear what you’d wear to your favourite neighbourhood spot, only adjusted for Thailand’s climate.

Dress code for nightlife in Thailand?

Dressing for a night out in Thailand is easily done once you crack the fabric formula and accept that beach stuff stays on the beach.

Women’s nightlife dress code tips: Whether in Bangkok or resort areas, if you want to wear your skimpiest club stuff and head out ‘til the wee hours – you won’t be alone. Nor would you be too dressed up – Thailand has a real love for shiny, sparkly and brand name things. Just see our note below regarding heels. Cleavage isn’t displayed in upstanding parts of Thailand (and certainly not in the conservative north or Muslim south) – but there’s plenty of chance to head elsewhere.

What shoes to pack? Do you need high heels? Uneven pavement (and very slick surfaces when it rains) can make high heels a dangerous proposition. Find out what to bring instead The 5 best kinds of shoes to pack for Thailand

Men’s nightlife dress code tips: If you’d like to set yourself apart from “those” tourists … don’t wear shorts when going out at night. You can, and many do, but Thai guys in nice venues don’t. Add a shirt with a collar (and sleeves – any sleeves at all) and you’re absolutely golden.

Whether you head out to enjoy a night of buckets or Bollinger, you now know exactly what to wear. Enjoy!