I visited Yangon and Inle Lake in Myanmar for Escapers17. It was a fast paced super fun event. I still found time to look at what was the dress code for women in Myanmar.
The local women dress beautifully in Longyi and tops. Men also wrap the same longyi in a slightly different style. Given the hot weather, the comfortable skirt makes a lot of sense. It is almost the same as the wrap around skirts worn in North East India and Thailand.
I clicked this picture at the Yangon Airport. You can see both men and women wrap the same longyi but slightly differently. They wear it with a t-shirt/shirt/top. This is by far the most common way to dress in Myanmar.
When it came to tourists, they have more leeway in the way they decide to dress. It might be a little contrary to the local dress code but I don’t think wearing sleeveless or spaghetti is going to raise too many eyebrows, though locals certainly cover up more.
Women (men too) in Myanmar put Thanaka on their face. It comes from the tree (not sure what is the Indian equivalent) bark and it is applied on the face to prevent sunburn. It is also used as a beauty product in Myanmar. I tried it out too, it is cool stuff!
The people in Myanmar are friendly, but many may not speak English! I saw this group walking by on the road! Not sure what they were talking about but I am sure wearing sleeveless tops in no way affected their conversation!
By now I was used to clicking beautiful women in Longyi but I was wondering why these two were wearing an identical dress. I was in the Scott Market in Yangon and my guess is they worked in a place where this was the uniform? But then what do I know, I am just a curious tourist!
And nearby, a tourist was dressed for the hot summer afternoon in Yangon! Let me bring in the temple code here. If you are dressed like this you cannot enter a temple (pagoda, shrine etc) in Myanmar. Like many other Buddhist places in South East Asia it is required that you cover your knees and shoulders. If you are wearing a short dress you can cover the knee by simply carrying a longyi! For shoulders many places will give you a wrap.
At Inle Lake which is in the Shan State of Myanmar women wear a headgear which I am sure can be part of a ramp model’s style! Inle Lake has cooler weather so you can see women wearing a jacket over their top. Longyi is still by far the common dress here too.
I close the post by a picture of the woman I chanced upon in Inle Lake. She was smoking the local cheroot. She has swag!
You can virtually wear anything and be comfortable in Singapore. The dress code for women in Singapore easy, there are no special requirements. Visiting places of worship would be the only exception. I am writing this post from a tourist’s point of view. I would say dress according to the weather! It is hot and humid during the day and slightly cooler during the night!
As you can see women dress for comfort and style in Singapore. Shorts is fine, sleeveless is fine, basically you can dress as you dress at home! And it is cool to click the Marina Bay Sands.
It was equally fine if you wish to dress conservatively according to your religion. It was common to spot people who would cover up and that too was fine! I clicked this picture in the China Town.
Places of worship need a special mention. I visited a Buddhist temple in China Town and the Sultan Mosque, located at the Muscat Street. I was wearing a sleeveless top that day. At both the places they gave me robes to cover up. y Singaporean friend Sy was wearing shorts. He was also given a sarong. The rule applies both to men and women. So, the dress code for religious places is that you need to cover your shoulders and knees. This is true for most of the Asia.
By now you have a fair idea of how it goes in Singapore and what you can wear. The rest of the pictures are fun pictures of people. I loved the way mom and daughter were posing for the father!
Here is another one from the Bugis Street, close to which I stayed. I actually love places like Singapore where you can just be!
I would close this post with this picture from the Botanic Garden, which is the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Singapore. See Sy, I went there after all!
Singapore is an easy country when it comes to the dress code for women. You can dress the way you like. The only places that do require some attention are the places of worship.
I have now visited Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman and crossed through Fujairah. However I have stayed only in Dubai and Sharjah for a few days on separate trips. I hoped over to Ajman from Sharjah on a whim. It was a short day trip, I really did not send much time in Ajman. Still, here is a quick take about the dress code for women in Ajman.
The first thing that surprised me was women in bikini on the Ajman Beach, which is a public beach. There was this young women who wore her shirt but didn’t bother to cover her legs. I could also see that no one was paying them any extra attention so that might be the norm.
Then there was this older woman on the same beach in her bikini! Now that was interesting to me. I also saw a couple (but could not photograph them even from far) where the girl was wearing a capri and short sleeved T-shirt.
I was wearing a jeans and a long sleeved sweater as it was cold after the rains in Sharjah. I was walking down the public beach when a traditionally dressed man approached me and politely asked about my well being. I replied and to make things clear added, I was a tourist staying in Sharjah. He pointed to his car (BMW) in the parking area nearby and offered to drop me to Sharjah! He would speak some Arabic in between his English. I told him I did not understand him and walked away. He waved from his car, tried to attract attention but went away eventually. This was an absolute first for me in UAE. Before this, no one, absolutely no one, tried to talk to me unless I asked for something!
I twice took a taxi in Ajman (as I was short on time) and both the drivers were Pakistani. They were amiable young men, ready to answer all my queries. One of them remarked when I told him I was staying in Sharjah, “here it is not like Sharjah, if you wish to, you can go out with anyone willingly.” In Sharjah apparently opposite sex is not encouraged to mingle unless you are related.
In Ajman I also noticed that not everyone was wearing black (the lady in the first picture is wearing a pink abaya) but many still covered their head. The girl in the restaurant where I had lunch was covering her head but wearing a shirt.
As I said I saw only a little of Ajman but my feeling is that it has a more liberal dress code for women than Sharjah.
Sharjah, Dubai and Ajman are next door neighbors. My thought before visiting was, “how different can be the dress code for women in the three Emirates?” The answer is very different. I was in Sharjah for few days in February on invitation of Sharjah Tourism Board and Air Arabia. I was in Dubai in December last year. But when it comes to dress code for women in Sharjah, it is different from its neighbors.
The official policy will ask you to cover your shoulders and knees (this is true for both men and women) and you are perfectly fine in a jeans and T-shirt. However in Sharjah I heard additional qualifications, clothes should not be too tight, not too transparent, etc.
Many local women dress conservatively, in abaya and hijab. Abaya is the loose garment that covers the body and hijab is the headgear. But they do not cover their face. A tourist is not at all expected to dress like this.
Here is what I saw women actually wearing on the streets- two women walking on the waterfront in skirts and T-shirts but you can see the skirts are long!
Then I got a glimpse of this woman walking far away, in a shorter skirt but still covering the knee. And while I am talking about photographing people, here is another thing to consider. Ask people, particularly who are dressed traditionally before you photograph them. This is true for both men and women. It is a bigger deal for women. I saw panic in school girls because someone photographed them. They came to our tour guide and complained. They were not creating a ruckus but they were truly upset. So do remember this when you are out on streets in Sharjah.
No one will stop you or say anything if you wore shorts, but you will stand out. I saw this couple walking in shorts near Al Noor Mosque but I did not saw too many people in shorts.
There was a FAM going on for media from another country and they dressed more like they would at home. Once again you can wear sleeveless and short dresses, more so if you are a part of a big group but you will stand out in Sharjah. Also I am not sure how respectful it is to the local culture.
Within five star resorts it is another matter. By the pool side or by the beach, I saw women wearing bikini. I did not go to a public beach in Sharjah so I am not sure about it, but from what I saw, I am sure one will once again stand out in a bikini on a public beach.
In my hotel, The Royal Tulip Act, I went for a swim. There were three kids in the pool and their father was sitting by the pool in the traditional Arabic dress. I decided to wear a single piece swimming costume. I went to a corner and did a few laps. The kids kept playing and their father kept telling them not to create a ruckus. Then came an Asian girl in a bikini and the father immediately took out his kids out of the pool and they went away. I did not understand the language but this is my best guess based on what I saw.
To sum up, I found Sharjah to be a little more conservative than Dubai and Ajman (I will discuss Ajman in a separate post) when it comes to the dress code for women. You will not stand out in a jeans and T-shirt but short dresses and sleeveless will make you stand out. You can still wear it, but less women do so. I, for my entire stay, dressed in jeans and shirts that had longer sleeves. In the end it is your choice how you decide to dress but I tried to give you a sketch of what is respectful to the local culture.
PS. I was invited to Sharjah by the Sharjah Tourism Board and Air Arabia.