Angkor has a strict dress code put in place several years ago. Everyone visiting the site should follow certain rules. If you aren’t dressed appropriately, you may not be able to even buy a ticket for the site. The guards at the entrances to the temples may also indicate, if you are dressed improperly. We witnessed a couple of times, a guard asking people to cover their knees or their shoulders. Sometimes, this could be rectified by simply putting scarves though.
Be prepared before you go, as near the temples, the clothes tend to get very expensive for the tourists, who need to buy them on the spot.
The following rules apply, whether you are a man or a woman, but especially for women (as in so many places, right?):
- No shorts, short dresses or anything that doesn’t cover the knee are allowed. Trousers, long skirts or long shorts covering the knee are the acceptable attire. Try to wear cotton or, even better, linen, as they breathe and you won’t be suffocating. I also found that the skirts were more comfortable in heat than trousers. Of course, there’s one more thing to consider is the climbing, which was slightly complicated with the skirts I was wearing. I would put the skirt up to make it easier to climb. For the convenience purposes, trousers were far more comfortable. But even though they were thin, they were still quite hot. You have an option of buying the very common elephant style trousers at the markets. You will find many people wearing them. But personally I find these very ugly. They definitely don’t flutter any body type J Of course, if you like them, go for it, they look very comfy. I don’t recommend leggings at all, as they will be simply too hot.
- Tops should cover the shoulders. There are no rules about decoltes, as far as I know, but I do believe, if it’s too revealing, it would be flagged. Any simple t-shirt will work fine. Another option is to wear a tank top and just throw a scarf on.
- That brings me to the major item that can help you in Angkor – scarf. The scarves really are very useful and you can make them work with many outfits. I did wear a sleeveless top one day and put a scarf around me. It looked quite cute and very much acceptable. But make sure that it doesn’t slip off your shoulders to avoid problems. Another thing – you are not allowed to just be covered by scarf, if you are going up the highest spot at Angkor Wat. A thin jacket can save you from this in such places, where they won’t like scarves 🙂
- Shoes – well, you can wear whatever you like, of course. There are no rules about it. But I do suggest to wear covered shoes with support, as you will be walking in very dusty places and will be climbing stairs and stones a lot. This would be quite difficult in sandals in my opinion. I myself wouldn’t dream of climbing those steep and uneven stairs in sandals. But so many people did wear slippers and sandals. I suppose, it’s comfortable in heat, if you don’t mind getting your feet very dusty and more tired of climbing.
Other tips for clothes at Angkor. These are more of a fashion choices, rather than requirements, so read on only if you are interested 🙂
- Wear bright colors. They will look much better on photos. One day I wore a bright blue skirt and it looked great with the backgrounds, another day, I had a black and white striped skirt on and it looked far duller. See the photos and decide yourself 🙂
- The skirts you are wearing can have slits. There are no rules against them. That’s great, as they look much better 😛 I personally hate long skirts. To me they are not only uncomfortable, but not very cute too, as I am short 😀 So the slits are a best thing 🙂
- A scarf can also be a fashion accessory, it may lighten up your outfit.
- Maxi or midi dresses can be a great idea. If you find the thin colorful ones at local markets in the region, they can be the best option. We didn’t have time for shopping and I hate browsing markets, so I just brought what I had 🙂 For the next time, I will definitely find a colorful maxi dress online.