Travelers visiting this beautiful Southeastern country are often pleased to see that the tourist dress code in Vietnam is rather casual. Nevertheless, foreign nationals are advised to check what the weather will be like during their stay in order to pack accordingly.
Although Vietnam is pictured as being a steamy, hot jungle in the movies, it actually has a subtropical climate that can get pretty chilly in the winter. Vietnam’s weather can also vary from one region to another.
Vietnamese people generally dress quite conservatively. Both men and women wear full-length pants, and avoid shorts due to their modest culture, even in the heat. Tourists however, sometimes wear shorts, although they are advised to bear in mind that this is considered inappropriate in Vietnamese temples.
Travelers are advised to check whether they are required to apply for a visa at a Vietnamese embassy or consulate. Fortunately, passport holders from as many as 81 eligible countries may apply for the Vietnam eVisa online. The eVisa application for Vietnam is quick and easy.
How to Dress in Vietnam
The Vietnamese have grown accustomed to European styles and Western dress is mostly accepted in major cities. The rest of Vietnam, however, still favors more conservative clothes, especially in the North.
Although mostly casual in their day to day life, appearance is very important for Vietnamese people. If you are attending any formal events or meeting people in more formal situations such as business, make sure you are dressed smartly.
Clothes are very cheap in Vietnam so pack the basics and get whatever else you may need on location.
What to Wear in Vietnam’s Weather
If you are planning a cross-country trip in Vietnam, consider dressing in layers so you can adapt to different temperatures in every region while packing fewer pieces.
Bear in mind that the weather in Vietnam is rather humid, so pick lightweight, loose-fitting clothes. Natural, breathable fabrics such as linen, silk and cotton are always a good choice.
Light wool is also a versatile choice since it naturally helps to regulate your body temperature by keeping you warm when it’s cool and wicking moisture away when it’s hotter.
Full length denim jeans can be very uncomfortable in humid weather. Instead, opt for loose pants in lighter fabrics, or longer dresses and skirts when you need more coverage.
Make sure to pack a long-sleeve button down shirt to wear as a light jacket or layer if the weather is cooler. Remember to pack warmer layers f you’re visiting the countryside, or Sapa, in the North.
Raincoats are a must, especially during the Monsoon season. Most of Vietnam’s rainfall occurs at this time; from November to April in the Northeast, and from May to October in the Southwest.
If you are planning on crossing the border from any neighboring countries to enter Vietnam, make sure to check out the pros and cons of having an approved Vietnam eVisa versus queueing for a visa on arrival.
What to Wear During the Warmer Months in Vietnam
If you are traveling to Vietnam in the warmer months, consider packing the following:
- Lightweight, breezy clothing.
- Sleeveless and short-sleeve tops that can serve as a base layer should you choose to go hiking in the mountains.
- Short shorts, crop tops and tank tops are considered inappropriate by locals. Medium length shorts are fine.
- Loose, long clothes are more respectful and keeps you cool in hot climates.
- Athletic wear designed to wick sweat to keep you dry is ideal on humid days.
- Breathable rainwear, since it’s hot, rainy and humid in the summer.
- Long-sleeved shirts paired with good mosquito or insect repellent to avoid being bitten after dusk.
Make sure to check out to discuss the health information and vaccines required to travel to Vietnam with your healthcare practitioner while preparing your trip.
Can You Go Topless at the Beach in Vietnam?
Locals in general, especially women, do not like to suntan and tend to cover their skin to protect it against suntanning. Conservative swimwear is always a safe bet, and a must, should you wish to take a herbal bath in Sapa, for instance.
Although it is not customary, tourists sometimes go topless or even nude at certain beaches.
In more rural areas, women tend to dress modestly, even while swimming. Consider bringing a sarong, pareo, or shawl to cover up, in order to avoid drawing unwelcome attention or offending locals.
What to Wear During the Cooler Months in Vietnam
If you would rather visit Vietnam in the cooler months, think about taking the following clothing options:
- A light jacket, hoodie or fleece.
- A warm jacket, layers, gloves and beanie.
- Waterproof hiking boots and socks.
- A pullover and/or a light topcoat.
What To Wear When Visiting Buddhist Temples in Vietnam
To respect the more conservative dress standards outside of Vietnam’s major cities, and within its temples, tourists are advised to wear modest clothing.
This means opting for long trousers, skirts, or dresses, with long-sleeved tops. Basically, clothing that covers your shoulders and knees, particularly in pagodas and religious sites.
- Avoid revealing clothing.
- Do not wear big jewellery, Vietnamese consider flaunting wealth in public to be impolite.
- Avoid short skirts, shorts and dresses, as well as bare shoulders.
- A pashmina can help you cover up and protect you from the sun as well.
What Shoes to Wear in Vietnam
- Comfortable sandals or flip-flops.
- Comfortable, breathable, lightweight sneakers, trekking sandals, or waterproof walking boots with a good grip for hiking.
- Avoid narrow heels.
Packing List for Vietnam
When packing your bags to travel to Vietnam, consider these essential items:
- A hat
- A hoodie and warm layers, gloves and beanie if travelling North between November and February
- A raincoat
- A sarong
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Flip flops
- Insect repellent
- Light jacket or fleece
- Loose, breathable clothing that covers knees and shoulders. Athletic wear is recommended for particularly humid days
- Reusable water bottle
- Swim shorts or bathing suit
Depending on your nationality, you may be required to carry a valid visa when entering Vietnam. Fortunately, online applications for Vietnam eVisa take just 24-72 hours to process. Make sure to print out a copy to present upon arrival which will grant you faster access at one of Vietnam’s 28 ports of entry.