The Type Of Clothing Tourists Visiting This Popular Asian Country Should Avoid Wearing

White-sand beaches, lush rainforests, and a vibrant cultural scene — Malaysia has a little bit of everything to make for a truly unforgettable trip. Located in Southeast Asia, the country is split into two regions: Peninsular Malaysia, which borders mainland Thailand and Singapore, and East Malaysia, an island that shares a border with Brunei and Indonesia.

Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country, observes and respects Islamic traditions and customs. Malaysians are typically reserved in how they dress and prefer to cover up. While it's not enforced, it isn't uncommon to see some girls and women wearing headscarves, pants or skirts that fall to their ankles, or clothing that covers shoulders. Similarly, the men are conservative — no tank tops or shorts that fall above the knee — and dress modestly in public.

Tourists aren't expected to adopt the same level of modesty and fully adhere to local dress codes, especially by the beach or a pool. However, it is important to exercise some caution when packing to ensure you bring everything you need. Specifically for Malaysia, that means not packing any strappy shirts or dresses, short shorts, or revealing clothing — especially if you plan on visiting its religious sites and temples.

Dressing while visiting Malaysia

Malaysia is a hot and humid destination, so it makes sense that you'd want to feel as cool and comfortable as possible during your trip. The country's average annual temperature hovers around 78 degrees Fahrenheit, with highs of up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. So, how can you make sure you're not breaking a sweat while still covering up? One word: Layers. Since most temples and religious sites request that visitors arrive modestly, you must be cautious of your clothing choices. Wear a light scarf shirt over your shoulders (or knees) if uncovered. Ideally, you'll want to opt for breathable fabrics like linen, chambray, viscose, or cotton.

In addition, you'll want to avoid tight-fitting or see-through clothing — both of which are considered inappropriate. This means that loose skirts, blouses, or flowy pants made from light materials are the way to go if you want to combat the heat and still respect tradition. Lastly, if you're planning on visiting the inside of a mosque, keep in mind that women are required to cover their heads with a scarf.

Does a modest dress code apply all over the country?

Compared to other more conservative destinations, Malaysia is generally more liberal in dress code once you're in larger cities, near a beach, or in any of the country's 25 national and state parks. This means that women will be fine wearing a bikini while lounging by the water in hotels and the beaches on the East Coast — just no topless sunbathing, please! In line with this, men will do well with a pair of swimming trunks or speedos in the same situation. Away from these places, it's best to reach for one-piece swimsuits and board shorts to be on the safe side. Additionally, covering up with a dress, pants, and a T-shirt is a must once you're on the go.

As for venturing out into the wild side of Malaysia, the country's dress code also takes a second seat in terms of comfort and practicality. Think sturdy hiking boots, mosquito repellent, activewear, and sweat-wicking clothing made of rayon or nylon. However, you probably won't be rocking a cropped sleeveless top or short shorts while trying to spot wild orangutans in Borneo. The same goes for embarking on a two-day hike to the top of Mount Kinabalu or exploring the vast and intricate cave system of Gunung Mulu National Park, so you don't have to worry about clothing choices here.