When planning a visit to the enchanting kingdom of Bhutan, one of the key considerations is understanding the local customs and dressing appropriately. Bhutan, nestled in the Eastern Himalayas, is renowned for its rich culture, stunning landscapes, and a profound respect for tradition.
As you explore this unique destination, it is important to ensure that your attire not only suits the climate and activities but also reflects your respect for Bhutanese customs.
In Bhutan, clothing plays an integral role in expressing cultural identity and preserving the nation's heritage. The country has a dress code deeply rooted in tradition, which is not just an aesthetic choice but a symbol of respect for Bhutan's unique way of life.
In this guide, we will provide a comprehensive list of outfit items, each with tips and styling ideas, to wear when visiting Bhutan. These items are carefully selected to help you adapt comfortably and respectfully to Bhutanese culture and diverse climate.
Additionally, we will highlight outfit items to avoid, ensuring that you navigate this mesmerizing country with cultural sensitivity and ease.
Whether you are wandering through the charming streets of Thimphu, trekking to remote monasteries, or soaking in the rejuvenating hot springs, our tips will enhance your experience and help you embrace the essence of Bhutan.
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Long-sleeve Shirts or Blouses
Modest long-sleeve shirts or blouses are suitable for women who do not wish to wear the kira - traditional Bhutanese dress.
Ensure that they cover your shoulders and arms to respect local customs. Discover the 15 best affordable, ethical, and sustainable blouses.
Bhutan's climate can vary, so a lightweight sweater is ideal for layering. It keeps you warm without adding excessive bulk to your outfit. For more inspiration, check out our great tips on what to wear under your sweater for a cozy look.
Gho for Men
The gho is the traditional Bhutanese attire for men. It is a knee-length robe made of woven fabric and is secured with a kera, a traditional belt. The gho is the most culturally appropriate outfit, and you may need to rent or purchase one in Bhutan.
Kira for Women
The kira is the traditional Bhutanese dress for women. It is a full-length dress that covers from the neck to the ankle. It is usually worn with a short jacket or toego and is a symbol of Bhutanese identity and culture.
Jacket or Toego
The toego is a short jacket that is traditionally worn over the kira by Bhutanese women. If you do not want to wear a toego, pack a lightweight jacket. It adds an extra layer of warmth.
It can be adorned with intricate patterns and designs. Here are the 15 best affordable jackets for broad shoulders.
Long Skirts or Pants
For women who prefer not to wear the kira, knee-length skirts or long pants are appropriate alternatives, provided they are not too form-fitting. Discover the 15 best affordable and sustainable maxi skirts we have selected just for you.
Scarf or Shawl
Carrying a scarf or shawl is practical for adding warmth, covering your head when entering religious sites, or offering respect to local customs.
Comfortable Walking Shoes
Sturdy and comfortable walking shoes are essential for exploring Bhutan's diverse landscapes, especially if you plan on trekking or hiking. Choose a pair that best complements your outfit while being comfortable and providing good support.
If you are an avid hiker or plan to go trekking, invest in high-quality hiking boots with ankle support and good traction for safety and comfort on rough terrain. Here are the 18 best affordable vegan hiking boots in 2023.
Bhutan has hot springs, so if you plan to enjoy them, bring modest swimwear that respects local customs and covers your body appropriately. Make sure to check out the 20 best sustainable swimwear brands in Europe.
Sandals or Flip-flops
Casual, open-toed sandals or flip-flops are convenient for relaxing moments, especially in guesthouses, and are easy to slip on and off. Check out our extensive selection of the most affordable and sustainable flip-flops.
Hat or Cap
High altitudes can mean strong sunlight and a hat or cap is crucial to protect your head and face from the sun. A wide-brimmed hat is ideal for maximum sun protection.
Bring thick, comfortable socks for trekking and warmer socks for chilly evenings, ensuring your feet stay dry and comfortable. Check out the 20 best affordable, sustainable, and organic socks.
Rain Jacket or Poncho
Bhutan can experience sudden rain showers, so a waterproof jacket or poncho is a must for staying dry while exploring. Discover the 10 best affordable and sustainable waterproof jackets.
A small daypack is handy for carrying essentials like water, snacks, a camera, and a light jacket when exploring Bhutan's picturesque landscapes. Here are the 14 best affordable, vegan, and eco-friendly backpacks.
Sunglasses and Sunscreen
Protect your eyes from the strong sunlight at high altitudes by wearing quality sunglasses with UV protection. Pick a pair from our selection of Australia's best affordable and sustainable sunglasses.
High altitudes can result in sunburn more quickly. So, always apply sunscreen and lip balm to protect your skin from the harsh sun.
These outfit items are chosen for comfort and cultural sensitivity. Remember that Bhutan is a country with deep respect for its traditions, and dressing appropriately shows respect for the local culture and values.
Avoid the Following Outfit Items!
Avoid wearing shorts, tank tops, or clothing that exposes too much skin. Bhutanese dress conservatively, and it is respectful to do the same.
Tight or Form-fitting Clothes
Loose-fitting attire is more appropriate than tight clothing.
Bright Colors and Flashy Patterns
Bhutanese prefer modest, earthy tones and simple patterns. Avoid flashy, neon, or loud clothing.
Footwear in Temples
Remove your shoes before entering a temple or sacred site. Wearing shoes inside is considered disrespectful.
Headgear in Religious Sites
It is generally not allowed to wear hats or headgear inside religious sites. Always remove them when entering temples or dzongs.
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