Angkor Wat Dress code

The beautiful Preah Khan

One of the things that bothered me the most before I visited Angkor Wat was wondering what I should wear.
It might seem like a silly topic to frown over, but there are strict restrictions in some southeast Asia temples, such as those in  Chiang Mai, that doesn’t allow people who don’t cover their shoulders and knees to enter. It is for religious reasons and also a sign of respect. The only little problem is the hot weather.

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Angkor Wat Dress Code

While it explicitly stated that visitors must be modestly dressed and cover your shoulder and knees, a lot of people didn’t. The only time I saw the rule enforced was when we had to go up to the third gallery of Angkor Wat via some steep stairs. You weren’t allowed to wear a hat there, either, but they do have robes to lend visitors.

However, I did feel that we should respect the religious site and hence we all covered up. I want to cover up and yet still look stylish and pretty in my photos, so I had purposefully got some new pieces to make sure that I adhere to the dress code but still look good. With eight of us girls, we got some pretty good combo and range on what to wear which ill cover below:

What to wear to Angkor Wat

Short-sleeved dresses

preah khan exit me walking, Angkor Thom Angkor Wat, Cambodia | Laugh Travel EatI got an old-fashioned short-sleeves long dress made of cotton that was perfect for the occasion. It was stylish, light, and airy, which was exactly what I needed to combat the hot weather. Here are some photos and suggestions:

Light, plain coloured top

My sister and I brought a white and black short-sleeved top for this trip, finding something that was thin enough to not suffocate us but opaque enough that it was decent. They work great with any bottoms so that’s a bonus. Below are some suggestions:

Wrap skirt

me walking through the temple, Angkor wat, cambodia
A plain top with wrap skirt (don’t forget the hat!)

Wrap skirt was a surprisingly good choice given that it allows freedom of movement but still cover your knees. You can buy some before you go or you can just grab some for cheaper when you are there (and match with every other person, but still it’s nice!). Here are some suggestions nonetheless:

Long trousers / Elephant pants

Ta prohm girl, Angkor Wat, Cambodia | Laugh Travel Eat
My sis got nice cotton trousers/pants for her first day of temple run

My friends end up buying long, elephant trousers for 2/3USD to wear (although most of those ripped after day 1 – so go for skirts, ladies). My sister wore her long trousers from A&F and it looks surprisingly good.

Hat

Hat is essential on your roam around Angkor Wat – the sun is relentless and you need something to shield your face. I would recommend a straw hat, though a cap would do too. You can buy some from the street vendors around but I have my trusty hat from years ago.

Footwear

I ended up wearing sandals for the trip and it was a good choice for me. However, if your sandals has a thin sole then it isn’t the best idea as some of the temples has uneven ground. Some of the stairs are quite high and you should wear something with decent grip.

Verdict

neak pean girl walkway, Angkor Thom Angkor Wat, Cambodia, Hong Kong
Soooo what to wear?

it’s better to wear dresses or skirt because it gives more breathing room, although you do have to be more careful when you go up and down stairs. Personally, I fare fine with sandals and it gave my feet some breathing room but it still got rather dusty which might not be ideal to some.

Weirdly enough, what to wear when visiting Angkor Wat is one of my main concern before my trip. Here's the rules, reality, and what we wore:
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Written by Nam Cheah

Hi, my name is Nam. I am 24 and spent half my life in Hong Kong and the other half in UK. I believe there's endless experience and beauty in the world and this is me chronicling how to experience the best at the best price.

6 Comments

  1. Great post! I have visited Angkor Wat two years in a row and I wore long pants, a tshirt and my converse both times. But I think a long skirt would have been cooler.
    x

    • A few of my friends’ elephant pants ripped so they ended up buying wrap skirt later – so that’s definitely another factor

  2. Great guide, Nam! I saw lots of people who didn’t adhere to the dress code and while it isn’t always strictly enforced, like you, I felt that it was important to dress conservatively at an active place of worship.

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