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What To Wear In India As A Tourist


by Lacee Toland



Welcome to India, a land of incredible diversity, rich cultural heritage, and stunning landscapes. As you embark on your journey to this magical country, one question that may cross your mind is, “What should I wear in India?”


India is a country with a tropical climate, but the weather can vary significantly from region to region. From the scorching heat of Rajasthan’s deserts to the cool misty hills of the Himalayas, each destination demands a different approach to dressing.


However, clothing choices in India aren’t just dictated by the climate. They are also influenced by cultural norms and considerations. India is a country deeply rooted in tradition, and it’s important to dress respectfully to show appreciation for the local customs and sensitivities.


In this article, we will guide you on what to wear in India as a tourist, taking into account the climate, cultural considerations, and offering practical clothing tips for both men and women. We will also discuss suitable footwear options, accessories to pack, and provide insight into dressing for specific occasions you might encounter during your stay in India. So, let’s dive in and get you ready for an unforgettable journey through this captivating country!


Climate in India

India experiences a diverse range of climates due to its vast size and geographical variations. The country can be broadly categorized into four seasons: winter, summer, monsoon, and post-monsoon.


During the winter months (December to February), the northern regions and hill stations can be quite chilly, with temperatures dropping to single digits or even below freezing. In contrast, southern parts of India remain relatively warm, with temperatures ranging from 15-25 degrees Celsius.


The summer season (March to May) brings scorching temperatures across much of the country. The northern plains and central regions can reach sweltering highs of 40-45 degrees Celsius, while coastal areas experience milder temperatures ranging from 25-35 degrees Celsius.


The monsoon season (June to September) is characterized by heavy rainfall, particularly along the west coast and in the northeast. This period is known for its humidity and can be accompanied by occasional thunderstorms and torrential downpours.


Post-monsoon (October and November) marks the transition from rainy season to winter, with pleasant temperatures and relatively dry weather in most parts of the country.


It is essential to consider these climate variations when planning your outfits for a trip to India. Layering is often the key, especially during winter months in the northern regions and hill stations, where temperatures can significantly drop after sunset.


Additionally, it is crucial to pack clothing that is breathable and lightweight during summers to beat the heat and humidity. Opt for loose-fitting clothes made from natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, or lightweight synthetics that allow air circulation and help wick away moisture from the body.


Now that we have an understanding of the climate in India, let’s delve into the cultural considerations when it comes to dressing.


Cultural Considerations

India is a country with a rich and diverse cultural heritage, and it is important to dress respectfully and modestly when visiting religious sites, rural areas, or conservative communities. Understanding and respecting local customs will help you make a positive impression and connect with the locals on a deeper level.


Here are a few cultural considerations to keep in mind when it comes to dressing in India:

  • Modesty: Indians generally dress conservatively, especially in rural areas and religious sites. It is advisable to avoid revealing clothing such as short skirts, low-cut tops, or skimpy shorts. Opt for clothing that covers your shoulders, knees, and cleavage.
  • Taking off your shoes: Many religious places, temples, and even homes require visitors to remove their shoes before entering. Wearing slip-on or easily removable footwear will make this process more convenient.
  • Respecting religious customs: When visiting temples, mosques, or any other religious sites, it is essential to dress modestly. Women should cover their heads and shoulders, and men should avoid wearing sleeveless shirts or shorts.
  • Appropriate swimwear: Indian beaches are often conservative places, and skimpy swimwear may attract unwanted attention. It is advisable to wear conservative swimsuits or cover-ups.
  • Traditional occasions: If you are invited to a wedding or any traditional event, it is a wonderful opportunity to embrace Indian culture and wear traditional attire. Traditional Indian clothing, such as sarees for women and kurta-pajamas or sherwanis for men, are usually preferred for such occasions.

Remember, dressing modestly and respectfully not only shows cultural sensitivity but also helps you blend in with the local population and creates a positive impression.


Now that we have covered the cultural considerations, let’s move on to some specific clothing tips for women when visiting India.


Clothing Tips for Women

When it comes to choosing clothing for your trip to India, it is important for women to strike a balance between comfort, style, and cultural sensitivity. Here are some clothing tips to help you navigate your wardrobe choices:

  • Loose-fitting clothes: Opt for loose-fitting tops, blouses, and dresses that provide comfort and allow for air circulation. This not only helps you stay cool in the Indian climate but also adheres to cultural norms.
  • Knee-length or longer skirts and shorts: It is advisable to choose skirts and shorts that cover your knees or are longer. This is particularly important when visiting religious sites or rural areas.
  • Cover your shoulders: Wearing tops or dresses with sleeves or pairing sleeveless outfits with a lightweight scarf or shawl can help cover your shoulders, which is appreciated in more conservative settings.
  • Avoid low-cut or revealing clothing: To maintain cultural sensitivity, it is best to avoid low-cut tops or tops that expose too much skin.
  • Choose lightweight fabrics: India can be hot and humid in many regions, so opting for lightweight and breathable fabrics like cotton, linen, or lightweight synthetics can help keep you comfortable.
  • Carry a scarf or stole: Having a lightweight scarf or stole with you is not only a fashionable accessory but also comes in handy to cover your head, shoulders, or knees when required.
  • Comfortable footwear: India often involves a lot of walking and exploring, so opting for comfortable and sturdy footwear is essential. Avoid high heels or open-toed sandals, as they may not be suitable for certain terrain or cultural occasions.

While it is important to dress modestly and respect cultural norms, that doesn’t mean you can’t add your own personal flair to your outfits. Experiment with vibrant colors, prints, and accessories to embrace the vibrant fashion culture of India.


Now that we have covered clothing tips for women, let’s move on to clothing tips for men.


Clothing Tips for Men

When it comes to choosing clothing for your trip to India, men can also follow some guidelines to ensure comfort and cultural sensitivity. Here are some clothing tips for men when visiting India:

  • Opt for lightweight and breathable fabrics: Choose clothing made from light and breathable materials like cotton, linen, or lightweight synthetics. These fabrics will help keep you cool and comfortable in the Indian climate.
  • Wear loose-fitting shirts and tops: Opt for loose-fitting shirts and t-shirts that allow for air circulation and provide a relaxed fit. This is particularly important in hot and humid regions.
  • Long pants or trousers: It is advisable to wear long pants or trousers, especially in more conservative settings or when visiting religious sites. This shows respect for local customs and cultural norms.
  • Avoid sleeveless shirts or tank tops: To adhere to cultural sensitivities, it is best to avoid wearing sleeveless shirts or tank tops in public places. Opt for shirts that cover your shoulders and upper arms.
  • Sturdy and comfortable footwear: India involves a lot of walking, so it is important to wear comfortable and supportive footwear. Opt for closed-toe shoes or sandals that provide good traction and support.
  • Add a touch of traditional clothing: Embrace the cultural experience by including traditional Indian clothing items like kurta-pajamas or sherwanis in your wardrobe. They are not only stylish but also respectful when attending traditional events.
  • Cover your head: In some religious sites or rural areas, covering your head might be required. It’s a good idea to carry a lightweight scarf or hat to comply with these customs.

Remember, India offers diverse experiences, and it’s important to be mindful of the local customs and dress appropriately for the occasion or location you are visiting.


Now that we have covered clothing tips for both men and women, let’s move on to discussing suitable footwear options.


Footwear Suggestions

Choosing the right footwear is crucial for any trip, and India is no exception. The diverse terrain, weather conditions, and cultural considerations all play a role in determining the most suitable footwear for your journey. Here are some footwear suggestions to keep in mind:

  • Comfortable walking shoes: India is a country that often involves a lot of walking and exploration, so it’s important to have a pair of comfortable walking shoes. Opt for shoes that provide good support and cushioning to keep your feet comfortable throughout the day.
  • Closed-toe shoes or sandals: Closed-toe shoes are more practical and provide better protection, particularly in crowded areas or when visiting religious sites. Sturdy sandals with adjustable straps can also be a suitable option for warm weather.
  • Waterproof shoes: India’s monsoon season brings heavy rainfall, so having a pair of waterproof shoes or rain boots can be handy to navigate through puddles and wet streets.
  • Slip-on footwear: Considering the custom of removing footwear before entering certain places, having slip-on shoes or sandals can be convenient and save time.
  • Comfortable flip-flops or sandals: Flip-flops or sandals with good arch support are perfect for relaxing at the beach or walking around your accommodation.
  • Shoes for specific activities: If you plan on engaging in specific activities like hiking in the Himalayas or exploring the desert regions, it is advisable to invest in appropriate footwear that offers traction, support, and protection.

Remember to break in your new shoes before your trip to ensure maximum comfort and to avoid any discomfort or blisters while exploring the diverse landscapes of India.


Now that we have covered footwear options, let’s move on to discussing essential accessories and items to pack for your trip to India.


Accessories and Essentials to Pack

When packing for your trip to India, it is essential to consider the various accessories and items that will enhance your comfort, convenience, and overall experience. Here are some accessories and essentials to include in your packing list:

  • Travel adapter: India uses Type C, D, and M electrical outlets, so it is important to bring a travel adapter to charge your electronic devices.
  • Sun protection: India can have strong sunlight, especially during summers, so pack sunscreen with a high SPF, a wide-brimmed hat or cap, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.
  • Insect repellent: Mosquitoes and other insects can be common in certain regions of India, so carrying insect repellent is advisable, particularly during the evening and night hours.
  • Travel-friendly backpack or daypack: A lightweight and spacious backpack or daypack will come in handy for carrying essentials during day trips or outings.
  • Reusable water bottle: Staying hydrated is crucial, especially in the Indian climate. Carry a reusable water bottle to minimize plastic waste and refill it with purified or bottled water as needed.
  • Medication and first aid kit: It’s a good idea to carry any necessary medications, as well as a basic first aid kit with essential items like band-aids, antiseptic ointment, and pain relievers.
  • Travel documents and copies: Keep your passport, visa, travel insurance policy, and other important documents organized and easily accessible. It’s also recommended to have copies of these documents stored separately, either digitally or in paper form.
  • Reusable fabric tote bag: A compact and foldable fabric tote bag is handy for shopping, carrying souvenirs, or keeping your daily essentials together.
  • Outdoor essentials: Depending on the activities you plan to engage in, consider packing items such as a travel towel, a portable umbrella, a mini flashlight, or a travel-sized umbrella.
  • Clothing accessories: Don’t forget to pack a lightweight scarf or stole that can be used for covering your head, shoulders, or as a fashion accessory. Additionally, pack a money belt or a small pouch to secure your valuables.

Remember to pack according to the specific needs of your trip, including any specific medications, electronics, or personal items that are essential for your comfort and enjoyment.


Now that you are equipped with the right accessories and essentials, let’s discuss dressing for specific occasions you might encounter during your stay in India.


Dressing for Specific Occasions

As you explore India, you may come across various occasions and events that require special attire. Embracing traditional clothing or dressing appropriately for specific occasions can enhance your experience and show respect for local customs. Here are some guidelines for dressing for specific occasions in India:

  • Weddings: If you have the opportunity to attend an Indian wedding, it is a delightful experience to dress in traditional attire. Women can opt for a beautiful saree or a lehenga choli, while men can wear a kurta-pajama or a sherwani.
  • Festivals: India is known for its vibrant festivals like Diwali, Holi, and Navratri. For these celebrations, brightly colored clothing is favored. Women can wear traditional outfits like salwar kameez or a ghagra choli, while men can go for a kurta-pajama or a dhoti-kurta ensemble.
  • Religious ceremonies: When visiting temples, mosques, or other religious places, it is appropriate to dress modestly and respectfully. It is best to wear clothes that cover your shoulders, knees, and cleavage. A scarf or stole can be used to cover your head if required.
  • Business meetings: Dressing in formal or semi-formal attire is generally appropriate for business meetings in India. Men can wear suits, trousers paired with dress shirts, or traditional attire like a kurta-pajama. Women can opt for Indian formal wear like sarees or tailored salwar kameez.
  • Casual outings: For casual outings and everyday activities, opt for comfortable and modest clothing. Women can wear loose-fitting tops or tunics paired with leggings or cotton trousers. Men can choose comfortable shirts or t-shirts with trousers or jeans.

Remember to adapt your clothing choices based on the specific occasion, location, and cultural expectations. And don’t forget to embrace the opportunity to experience the beauty of Indian traditional attire!


Now that we have covered dressing for specific occasions, let’s explore the possibility of shopping for traditional attire during your time in India.


Shopping for Traditional Attire

One of the highlights of visiting India is the opportunity to indulge in its vibrant fashion culture and shop for traditional attire. Whether you’re looking for a stunning saree, a stylish kurta, or unique accessories, India offers a wide range of options. Here are some tips for shopping for traditional attire during your time in India:

  • Explore local markets: Each region in India has its own distinct style of traditional clothing. Explore the local markets, bazaars, and handicraft emporiums to find a variety of traditional attire options.
  • Quality and craftsmanship: Pay attention to the quality of the fabric and the craftsmanship of the garments. Traditional attire is often intricately designed and handcrafted, so take the time to appreciate the fine details.
  • Bargaining: Bargaining is a common practice in many Indian markets. Feel free to negotiate the price, but maintain a respectful and friendly approach during the process.
  • Try before you buy: When shopping for traditional clothing, it’s important to try on the garments to ensure they fit well and flatter your body type. Many stores offer tailoring services to make necessary alterations.
  • Accessories and jewelry: Traditional attire is often complemented by beautiful accessories and jewelry. Explore the variety of earrings, bangles, necklaces, and embellishments to complete your traditional look.
  • Online shopping: If you’re unable to visit local markets or prefer the convenience of online shopping, there are also numerous trusted websites that offer a range of traditional Indian outfits and accessories.
  • Be open to experimentation: Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try different styles and colors. India offers a kaleidoscope of choices, so embrace the opportunity to experiment with your personal style.

Shopping for traditional attire in India is not just about the garments; it’s also an immersive cultural experience. Engage in conversations with the shopkeepers, learn about the significance of different fabrics and patterns, and enjoy the process of discovering unique pieces that reflect the vibrant essence of India.


Now that we have explored shopping for traditional attire, let’s conclude our guide on what to wear in India as a tourist.



As you venture into the diverse landscapes and rich cultural tapestry of India, understanding what to wear as a tourist is essential. By considering the climate, cultural sensitivities, and practical clothing tips, you can ensure a comfortable and respectful experience.


India’s tropical climate calls for lightweight and breathable clothing, while cultural considerations demand modesty and respect. Opt for loose-fitting garments made from natural fabrics like cotton or linen, and cover your shoulders and knees when visiting religious sites or conservative areas. Embracing traditional attire for specific occasions can enhance your experience and create connections with the local culture.


Pay attention to appropriate footwear options, ensuring comfort and practicality for diverse terrains and activities. And don’t forget to pack essential accessories like sunscreen, insect repellent, and a reusable water bottle to ensure your comfort and well-being throughout your trip.


While exploring India, take the opportunity to shop for traditional attire and accessories in local markets, and appreciate the craftsmanship and cultural significance behind each garment. Whether you choose to haggle in bustling bazaars or explore online shopping options, traditional Indian attire allows you to embrace the vibrant fashion culture of the country.


Remember, dressing appropriately and respectfully in India not only shows cultural sensitivity but also facilitates a deeper connection with the local people and their traditions. So, blend comfort, style, and cultural awareness to create a memorable and enjoyable experience as you embark on your journey through this incredible country.


Safe travels and enjoy your time in India!