Summer in Asia is not just hot, but usually unfathomably humid too. Most countries in Asia, being highly spiritual nations, are also quite conservative. So, when it comes to packing for summer in Asia, how do you stay cool and respectful at the same time?
Here are a few tips from our diverse team of locals and expats, who are all battling the heat this summer.
Choose the right fabrics
It may be tempting to buy an entire new wardrobe of cheap high-street fashion for your coming holiday but we would urge you to reconsider. Most fashion trend items will be made with poor quality fabrics to keep the costs of mass production down. For you this may mean non-breathable, sweat-inducing discomfort.
Instead pay a little more for higher quality fabrics that naturally keep you cool and wick away sweat. Cotton, linen, silk and sportswear are all good options.
Long, light layers
When travelling in Asia during the summer months you may be surprised to see a lot of local people wearing long sleeves and trousers. Now, yes, they are acclimatised to the sweltering weather but they are also smart in keeping their skin away from the sun. Wearing longer layers of light fabric, like the ones mentioned above, will shield your skin from the direct heat of the sun.
While shorts and sleeveless tops are becoming increasingly more acceptable across the region, you will need to have something to cover your shoulders and knees when visiting certain cultural and spiritual sites. You can either think ahead and wear a t-shirt and long trousers, or you can carry a scarf or sarong with you.
One of our favourite ways to dress in a culturally appropriate way while travelling is to invest in the local dress. In Myanmar and Indonesia, both men and women wear long skirt-like items that are extremely comfortable and cool.
Be aware that you will see tourists (and locals) wearing all manner of clothing, both appropriate and inappropriate and you’ll often find unsuitable clothing for sale in tourist shops. Times are changing and locals are turning a blind eye to western styles of dress, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t make an effort to leave swimwear on the beach and bare skin off the streets.
You probably have your favourite pair of sunglasses packed but don’t forget about a sun hat too. Shielding your whole face from the sun will instantly cool you down as well as offer extra protection from those harmful UV rays.
Another important accessory is a comfortable day bag in which you can pack a water bottle and sun cream. Remember to bring a reusable water bottle to reduce your plastic use.
Wear a pair of comfortable walking shoes on the plane and pack a lighter pair, like sandals, in your luggage. If you intend to go hiking, don’t buy a brand new pair right before you go as they may be uncomfortable and give you blisters if they are not broken in. Don’t rely on buying a cheap pair of knock-off shoes in Asia as they are often low quality and sizes are limited.
We hope this guide to packing for summer in Asia helps simplify your packing process! For ideas on where to take this perfect summer wardrobe, read through our top picks for Asia in July and August.