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  1. #1
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    What is appropriate beach wear in Thailand?

    Thailand seems to be a land of contradictions. Many Westerners have an impression that Bangkok is the "sex capital of the world". The shows at Patpong are infamous. However, all of this misleads them into thinking that all of Thailand is like this. It isn't. Most Thais are very respectable people and dress modestly. The topless bargirls are a far cry from what happens on the beaches of Thailand. If you have ever been to a Thai beach resort (I am not talking about Phuket or Pattaya) then you will know that 90% of the people swim in the sea with all their clothes on. You will rarely see a woman in a swimming costume. And hardly ever will they wear a bikini. This is not just because of the sun. They are just too decent to expose too much skin.

    Now, today I was at Bangsaen which 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. And they walk around at the top of the beach in their clothes. However, today we saw a foreign couple in their late 50's who were walking around in their swimsuits. Not exactly a crime but you should have seen the shocked looks they were getting from the Thai people. He was wearing a baggy speedo and she a two piece bikini. I could hear the people near me saying how disgusting this was. Thai people are just too polite to say anything to them.

    The question is, were they doing anything wrong? It was a beach and they were wearing swimming costumes. She wasn't topless. The Thai government are doing their best to promote Thailand as a tourist destination and the beaches are often at the top of their list of places to visit. Should the government indoctrinate all tourists with their values as and when they enter the country? Or should they let values slip in favour of the tourist dollar?

  2. #2
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    I don't think so,
    We were at Pattaya awhile back, were going to spend a week and made it 2 days before coming back home, we saw some farang women in skimpy bikini swim suits fit for a Thai size woman and they were whale size,,very disgusting really, but of coarse they were on a sidewalk close to the beach and not on the beach so made it worse.
    There is all this talk of Customs and traditions,,lets keep it along these lines then, if folks want to go half naked or topless, let them go to Tahiti or Hawaii, if not then let them come here without insulting the local people..

  3. #3
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    I always think a bikini, looks best on a woman in reasonable shape and under 35 yo, but for the rest, it better to cover up, with a one piece swim suit.
    Thai woman, are moving with the times and the bikini is very popular.

  4. #4
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    What part of Thailand are you hanging around in????

  5. #5
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    Phuket, Pattaya, and other foreign tourist destinations are the exception. Bangsaen is mostly for Thais and one should respect the ways of the natives. Personally, I wear longer swimming trunks (surfer style) and a t-shirt when I go to the beach in Thailand. My wife and stepkids are Thai and all swim in their regular clothes. It is important to be understanding of when you are in a tourist enclave and when you are in the local zone. They are quite different. In Saudi Arabia, a woman in an expatriate enclave might wear a bikini at the swimming pool within the expat compound, but who would dare do so in a public place frequented by Saudis. At least the Thais are polite and won't stone you to death for your cultural faux pas.
    Life is learning. If you stop learning, you might as well be dead.

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    I think there also has to be some ownness on the tourists to pick up the cultural cues of the country (or specific region within that country). 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 immediately knew that I was out of place. I went back up on shore and put my clothes back on and then got back in the water!

    I think this also speaks to a larger issue of tourists now expecting the same travel experiences wherever they go. What happened to cultural immersion and the desires to learn and grow from another culture? It seems to have boiled down into wanting a beach scene, a bar scene, and a McDonald's. Be it Thailand Beaches, the Carribbean, the Medditeranian, Australia's Beaches and on and on.

  7. #7
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    at a beach like Bang Saen, is a modest one-piece bathing suit ok? or bathing suit and a t-shirt, but no shorts? 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.

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    No I think I agree with Richard about the modesty issue.
    One of my favourite beaches in Thailand is PrachuapKhiriKhan, just a vast expanse of sand albiet quite hard and the casaurinas offering shade and seating with the umberellas and table service. I have a great pic of my girlfriend sitting on a deckchair as though she is the only person on this huge beach whereas behind us the beach is crowded. 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.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Kroo
    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.
    Funny you should say that. I think the longer I stay here the more Thai I become. I don't try to be "white" on purpose, but like Thai people I hide in the shadow of bus stops and walk down the street with a newspaper shading my face. Whenever I return to my homecountry I have to make sure I get a suntan first otherwise people will wonder why I am so pale. When I returned to school after the last summer holidays everyone commented on my "black face" and asked if I had been playing in the sea.

  10. #10
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    Yeah I can't do that walking around with a tissue on my head or just my hand covering it come rain or shine and I can't imagine going around in a balaclava, but I do like to stay out of the sun when waiting for buses etc...anyway back to the beaches. I reckon its fine to wear bikini in tourist resorts (not on me, well especially in public anyway) and most farang would get away with it on Thai resorts, maybe different in the south where it is more muslim.
    Anyhow my GF has just told me Liz Hurley and Jude Law's fav resort is none other then Prachuap, although they have 4 staff to one guest, personal counseling sessions with a Buddhist monk and 4 organic meals a day, I bet they don't go to any of the delicious fresh night markets serving great sea food in their cropped bikinis

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