how to dress in india as a female tourist


Traveling to India as a female tourist can be an exhilarating experience filled with vibrant culture, stunning landscapes, and rich history. However, it’s essential to understand how to dress appropriately to respect local customs and feel comfortable. This article will provide comprehensive guidelines on how to dress in india as a female tourist, ensuring a respectful and enjoyable visit.

Understanding Cultural Sensitivities

The Importance of Modesty

In India, modesty is highly valued, especially for women. Wearing modest clothing helps in showing respect for local traditions and reduces unwanted attention. It’s important to remember that what may be considered casual or appropriate in your home country might be viewed differently in India.

Regional Variations

India is a vast and diverse country with different cultural norms in each region. While metropolitan cities like Mumbai and Delhi may have a more relaxed dress code, rural areas and smaller towns often adhere to more traditional attire. Understanding these regional variations can help you dress appropriately for each destination.

how to dress in india as a female tourist

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Essential Clothing Items

Long Skirts and Dresses

Long skirts and dresses are ideal for female tourists in India. They provide coverage and are comfortable in the often hot and humid climate. Opt for lightweight, breathable fabrics like cotton to stay cool.

Loose Pants and Palazzos

Loose pants and palazzos are both stylish and practical. They allow for ease of movement and are suitable for various activities, from sightseeing to temple visits. Pair them with a modest top to complete the look.

Salwar Kameez

The salwar kameez is a traditional Indian outfit that consists of a long tunic (kameez) and loose-fitting pants (salwar). It’s a versatile and comfortable option that is widely accepted across India. You can find beautiful designs in local markets that reflect the region’s unique style.

Appropriate Tops and Blouses

Coverage and Comfort

When choosing tops, prioritize coverage and comfort. Sleeveless tops are generally acceptable in urban areas, but it’s best to avoid anything too revealing. Opt for tops that cover your shoulders and avoid plunging necklines.

Kurtis and Tunics

Kurtis and tunics are great choices for female tourists. These traditional Indian tops are stylish and offer ample coverage. They can be paired with leggings, jeans, or loose pants for a complete outfit.

Footwear Choices

Comfortable Walking Shoes

India’s streets can be busy and uneven, so comfortable walking shoes are a must. Opt for sandals or closed-toe shoes that provide support. Avoid high heels as they can be impractical for walking long distances.

Slip On Shoes for Temples

When visiting temples, you’ll need to remove your shoes before entering. Slip-on shoes are convenient for this purpose, allowing you to easily take them off and put them back on.

Accessories and Essentials

Scarves and Shawls

A scarf or shawl is a versatile accessory that can be used to cover your head or shoulders when needed. They are particularly useful for temple visits where covering your head may be required.

Sun Protection

India’s sun can be intense, so it’s important to protect yourself. Wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen are essential items to carry. Choose a sunscreen with a high SPF to protect your skin from UV rays.

how to dress in india as a female tourist

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Special Considerations for Religious Sites

Dress Code for Temples and Mosques

When visiting religious sites, it’s crucial to follow the dress code. For women, this typically means covering your head, shoulders, and knees. Carrying a scarf or shawl will help you comply with these requirements easily.

Removing Footwear

As mentioned earlier, removing footwear is a common practice in temples and mosques. Be prepared by wearing slip-on shoes and carrying a bag to store them if necessary.

Navigating Urban vs. Rural Areas

Urban Areas

In cities like Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore, the dress code is more relaxed, and you’ll see a mix of traditional and western clothing. However, it’s still a good idea to dress modestly to avoid unwanted attention.

Rural Areas

Rural areas tend to be more conservative, so dressing modestly is even more important. Wearing traditional Indian clothing like a salwar kameez or a long skirt with a modest top will help you blend in and show respect for local customs.

Shopping for Clothing in India

Local Markets and Bazaars

India’s local markets and bazaars are treasure troves for finding beautiful and affordable clothing. Sarojini Nagar in Delhi, Colaba Causeway in Mumbai, and Commercial Street in Bangalore are famous for their wide variety of traditional and contemporary outfits.

Tailor Made Clothing

If you prefer custom-fit clothing, you can visit a local tailor. India is known for its skilled tailors who can create outfits to your specifications. This is a great way to get traditional Indian clothing that fits you perfectly.

Dressing for Different Seasons


Summers in India can be extremely hot, so opt for lightweight and breathable fabrics. Cotton and linen are excellent choices. Loose-fitting clothes will help keep you cool and comfortable.


During the monsoon season, waterproof footwear and quick-drying clothing are essential. Avoid wearing long skirts or dresses that can get soaked easily. Carry a light raincoat or umbrella.


Winters can be chilly in northern India, so pack layers. A light sweater or jacket will be sufficient in most places, but if you’re visiting hill stations or the northern states, bring warmer clothing.

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Conclusion: How to Dress in India as a Female Tourist

Dressing appropriately as a female tourist in India is key to having a respectful and enjoyable experience. By understanding cultural sensitivities, choosing the right clothing items, and being prepared for different situations, you can ensure that you are dressed comfortably and appropriately throughout your trip.


1. Can I wear Western clothing in India?

Yes, you can wear Western clothing, especially in urban areas. However, it’s important to dress modestly to respect local customs.

2. Do I need to cover my head all the time?

No, you don’t need to cover your head all the time. However, it’s a good idea to carry a scarf or shawl for visiting religious sites where head covering is required.

3. Is it safe to wear jewelry in India?

While it’s generally safe to wear jewelry, it’s best to avoid wearing expensive or flashy items to prevent attracting unwanted attention. Opt for simple and modest jewelry pieces.

4. What type of footwear is suitable for traveling in India?

Comfortable walking shoes are essential for traveling in India due to the busy and uneven streets. Sandals or closed-toe shoes that provide support are recommended. When visiting temples, slip-on shoes are convenient as they need to be removed before entering.

5. What should female tourists wear in India to respect cultural norms?

Female tourists in India should wear modest clothing that covers the shoulders, chest, and knees. Long skirts, loose pants, and traditional outfits like salwar kameez or kurtis are ideal. Avoid tight or revealing clothing to show respect for local customs.