Thailand Temple Etiquette + What to Wear to Temples in Thailand

On my recent girls trip, our tour included trips to some of the best temples to see in Thailand including Wat Pho, (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), Chai Wattanaram Temple, Royal Summer Palace and Wat Mahathat (Temple of the Great Relic). Much like Mosques, Synagogues, and Churches, there is Thailand temple etiquette and basic do’s and don’t’s associated with what to wear to temples in Thailand. If you plan on visiting the temples in Thailand, here are some basic Thailand temple etiquette tips to keep in mind.

Thailand Temple Etiquette + What to Wear to Temples in Thailand
Tips For Visiting Temples in Thailand 

Get there Early

Since the temples in Thailand are popular tourist attractions, they get very crowded throughout the day. As mentioned, at the time of my visit the country was mourning the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, so people went to the temples to pay their respects. The temples are also places of worship.

Get a Useful Tour Guide

It’s very helpful to get a guide when visiting the temples in Thailand so you can learn more about the meaning behind statues, motifs, and architectural history. On our visit to Wat Pho, we learned:

  • Prangs and stupas have former Siamese kings, revered monks or disciple’s cremated ashes enshrined in them.
  • Some stupas have Buddhist and Hindu motifs
  • The doorways to the temples are statues of Chinese warriors, philosophers, and Marco Polo


Half Day Bangkok Temples Tour in Bangkok
Thailand Temple Etiquette: Tips for Visiting Temples in Thailand
Thailand Temple Etiquette: Tips for Visiting Temples in Thailand

Thailand Temple Dress Code – Cover Up!

Before traveling to Thailand, it is important to know what to wear in Thailand temples. Prior to our visit, our tour guide suggested we avoid wearing “Bow Wow” clothing (when you bow, the people say ‘wow’). Stay away from clothes that don’t cover your knees, shoulders, and midsection. Depending on their discretion, you may need to rent clothing. When visiting the Royal Summer Palace, I wore a maxi dress, but they determined it was ‘too sexy’ because of slits on the sides. I ended up renting a wrap skirt and top for 500 Thai Baht.

Take off Your Shoes

There may be a number of times where you need to take off your shoes when visiting Thai temples. Shoes aren’t monitored by security so wear inexpensive shoes, sandals, or footwear you don’t mind losing. In addition to possible theft, someone can mistakenly think you’re footwear is theirs.
Thailand Temple Etiquette: Tips for Visiting Temples in Thailand

Show Respect for Worshippers

Part of traveling, in general, includes being respectful of people’s way of life. These temples are tourist attractions, but people also worship there. Even if you don’t agree with their religious practices, it’s disrespectful to disrupt people’s prayers and/or sacrifices. Here are some other tips to keep in mind when visiting Thai temples.

  • Be respectful to the monks in and out of the temples
  • You are not supposed to be higher than Buddha; kneel or lower yourself when taking pictures
  • Don’t touch any of the statues in the worship area

5 Tips For Visiting Temples in Thailand 
Thailand Temple Etiquette + What to Wear to Temples in Thailand
Have you visited any of the popular temples in Thailand before?

31 thoughts on “Thailand Temple Etiquette + What to Wear to Temples in Thailand

  1. Kari says:

    We are taking a gate 1 trip to Thailand next month! Thanks for the tips! Do you have any sandals or slip ons that you recommend to wear into the temples? How did u like using gate 1?
    We have been researching mosquitos and bug spray.. did you run into a lot of that? Thank you.

    • Joanna E says:

      I wore sneakers, but I saw a lot of people with crocs since they’re easy and comfortable for walking. We loved Gate 1. The food was good and I loved that they dealt with transferring our luggage to each hotel for us.

    • Joanna E says:

      I didn’t encounter much mosquitoes, but I did bring bug spray for when we went to our hotel in the jungle, visiting the elephant sanctuary and for zip lining. The last two activities we paid for on our own.

  2. Ellie says:

    I remember visiting the temples in Thailand and I was quite shocked at how many tourists hadn’t bothered to show respect and cover up. Great reminder about comfy shoes as there so much walking.

  3. Ola says:

    These are good tips to know for someone planning to visit the temples of Thailand. It’s always good to be respectful of other cultures. But the tip about the shoes is also good. Who wants to go home barefoot?

  4. Tiffany H. says:

    I loved Thailand, must return one day! true about the shoes, I would add wear shoes that you can easily remove. At one of the temples i believe they provide it for free and another temple I paid for in Chaing Rai.

  5. Ty says:

    This post was pretty interesting. The part about not wearing “Bow Wow” clothing made me holler.
    Also, not taking a picture with a Buddha statue if you are taller than it.
    I learned a lot. Thanks!

  6. Danika says:

    I really liked the term, “bow wow” clothing. I may use that when mentoring young girls. 😊 Question. What does it mean to be higher than a Buddha statue? Should you kneel when posing for a pic alongside the statue. Please excuse my ignorance.

    • Joanna E says:

      You can kneel or lower your head. In their country Buddha is elevated so if you appear to be taller than the statue or picture, you have to make yourself lower than it.

  7. Latoya says:

    I’ve never visited a temple. These are great tips and it’s really important during the times we live in to be respectful of everyone and their religious beliefs. I’m glad your tips drive that point home.

  8. Tiffani says:

    These are good tips when you are traveling to temples period. When I went to The UAE, these were self-imposed guidelines that I adhered to. This is good because sometimes us Americans can get so comfortable in our world that we don’t think about other cultures even when we go abroad.

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