The Most Beautiful Traditional Wear in Asia

The Most Beautiful Traditional Wear in Asia

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Over the past years, one of the best memories I got from traveling have been those when I got to experience traditional wear in different countries. I have dressed up in different Chinese clothing, wore a hanbok in Korea and a kimono in Japan! I absolutely love trying out different traditional wear and it also gives me a deep insight into the country’s culture. Here are some other awesome ladies’ experiences wearing traditional clothes while traveling.

traditional clothes


Jackie Wearing Barong in the Philippines


“This is a photo from my wedding day. I wanted my wedding to be a bit more “Filipino”, and so we had prepared barong’s for the men in our entourage. The Barong Tagalog (aka barong) is a traditional Filipino formal wear for men that is very lightweight and worn with an undershirt.

The Koreans in our entourage loved wearing this and was at least able to experience an aspect of our culture that not all foreigners get to experience. My hubby was the only one NOT wearing a barong. This was done intentionally to make him stand out from the group. “

– From Jackie at Bringing Up The Parks


Alexandra Wearing Saree in India

madhmama diwali saree

I wore my silk saree for the Indian festival Diwali. My husband got it for me on one of his trips back to Hyderabad. Every time he goes, he always brings me back a beautiful silk saree – and this one was a one-of-a-kind designer saree.
On Diwali, it is a tradition to dress up in brand new clothes and participate in a religious prayer called a “pooja”. You pray to the Goddess Lakshmi for prosperity and good fortune for the year ahead. Diwali is arguably India’s biggest festival and it celebrates the power of good over evil, and light over darkness. Every South Indian woman would wear their best new silk saree for Diwali, so I decided to do the same. I chose this saree in particular because it had beautiful crystals sewn into it, which made the many lights of Diwali dance off of it. I wore it along with a faux-gold Lakshmi necklace, and my traditional symbols of marriage (sindoor, thaali, venki ring).
My experience wearing the saree has and always been good. I wear it with a quiet confidence, so I’d like to think I carry it well. It was wonderful to wear it on that day in particular, because Diwali is such a happy festival. The saree itself is effortless and classic – it is very comfortable and easy to wear (no spanx required!). The best part of it was seeing my daughter’s fascination with it – she loved seeing me dress up and do the folds. She played with my saree by trying to hide under the pallu, and she carefully ran her fingers over the embellishments. One day I will teach her how to wear it herself and all of my beautiful sarees will be hers!”

– Alexandra Madhavan from Madh Mama

Linda Wearing Qipao in China


“I actually bought this “qipao” (旗袍) while traveling in Yangshuo during low season when I landed a total bargain of only 200RMB for the high-quality dress. This style was created during the 1920s in Shanghai and was mostly worn by upper class women. You can easily find beautiful qipao dresses all over China in traditional markets or tourist streets. Due to its form-fitting design, the qipao hugs your body in the right places. It can look extremely alluring wearing it and makes you feel like a Chinese Goddess. Even though I don’t really wear this dress a lot, I take it out for special occasions – even if it’s just Halloween back home.
I was lucky to have a friend who works as a photographer in Changsha, where I lived for 1 year. He offered to take photos of me in a professional photo shoot with hair and make-up done and all. We took the photos in a traditional teahouse and you really couldn’t complain about the atmosphere. I was the happiest girl in the world that day and I must say that I came a lot closer to my Chinese inner self after this experience. You should definitely pick up a traditional qipao when in China and wear it to take pictures!”

Lena Wearing a Traditional Opera Costume in China


I wore this magnificent traditional Chinese costume when I was living in Shenyang, North East China. At that time, I stayed with my then Chinese father and mother in law and one day when auntie came around the house and showed us some beautiful pictures of herself all dressed up, I said I would love to do that as well. It didn’t take Ba and Ma (F&MiL) more
than a day to prepare a photo shoot for me as well. I went to the studio with them early the next morning and while everyone was looking at me and taking photos of the funny foreigner, one girl was fixing my makeup and hair. I tried on different dresses and most of them actually fit quite well (they were all made extra big so everyone could wear all of them). I chose this costume as one of the traditional clothing to wear and I went straight to the corner of the studio and found the sword. Ba wasn’t happy about the fact that I rather wanted to look like a female warrior than the princess everyone else was up for but they let me (of course, we took some cute darling photos as well).
I chose to wear it because it was different. I also wore the red qipao but I also thought I wanted to try something not so common for girls. I’m actually not sure if the outfit was formales but I just didn’t listen to the ladies’ suggestions. I thought I wanted to be Mulan like I’d seen her in the Disney movie many years ago and I had that feeling when taking the photos.

It was a lot of fun to try all these different dresses and costumes and I would highly recommend anyone to do it but I can’t recommend this place because I have no idea where it was in Shenyang, how we got there or how to find them again but there are many options in China so don’t worry.”

– Lena from Lena Around

Linda Wearing Hanfu in China


“I always admired the beautiful Chinese traditional clothes you could see in the dramas, especially “Empress of China” starring Fan Bingbing. I never thought I’d have the opportunity to wear a hanfu (漢服) myself but when I came across a rental store in a small traditional village just outside of Changsha, I just had to do it. The Chinese hanfu was the traditional clothing during the famous Han Dynasty (221–207 BC) but had been contiously worn many hundreds years after. 

The hanfu traditionally consists of a knee-length tunic tied with a sash, and a narrow, ankle-length skirt, called chang, worn with a bixi, a length of fabric that reached the knees. Vivid primary colors and green were used, due to the degree of technology at the time. How plentiful a hanfu was decorated had to do with the rank one was in. 

You can find many opportunities to try a hanfu throughout China. Most common places include traditional streets, watertowns and touristy villages. Even though the Chinese do not wear hanfu in their daily life, it’s a beautiful memory to wear it when traveling in China.”


Gina Wearing a Geisha Kimono in Japan


“One of the basic musts of Kyoto is dressing up like a geisha or maiko (geisha in training). These lovely women have been captivating audiences with their witty banter, music and dance skills for centuries. Why not step into this fascinating world of a maiko and become an enchantress for the day? Ever since I was young, I watched Japan from afar, admiring their mysterious culture.

The first time I visited Japan’s old capital, I dressed as a maiko and had my very own photo shoot with a professional photographer! I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to become a classy seductress like I had seen in my books. I highly recommend the Yumekoubou Studio with many convenient locations around Kyoto. The staff speaks English as long as you meet them halfway with some Japanese. They have various makeup plans where they take you into a studio, do your makeup, let you choose a kimono, and you can choose the photos you’d like from the shoot to be printed out. Your other photos will go on a CD.”

– Gina from Gina Bear’s Blog

Linda Wearing a Hanbok in South Korea

“I must admit, the first time I saw Korean hanbok dresses, I wasn’t really sure what to think about them. I wore hanbok for the first time in Seoul Bukchon Hanok Village with my fiancé Jeongsu during my first trip ever to Korea. We just came across this lovely little guesthouse offering a 10,000 KRW hanbok rental service. They were about to close and gave us a little discount so that we could try the dresses on quickly and have a little photo shoot.
Korea’s traditional clothing dates back to the prosperous Joseon Dynasty (1392–1897) and, unlike many other traditional clothes, is still widely used today. During Korean holidays and celebrations such as the first birthday of a child, Buddha’s Birthday, Korean Thanksgiving and Korean Lunar New Year, many people love to dress up in Korean hanbok.
The women’s hanbok consists of a blouse called jeogori and a skirt called chima. Men’s hanbok consists of jeogori and baji which means pants in Korea. There are also various accessories such as hats for both women and men as well as precious ornaments called norigae. The queen and other royal women would also wear an emblem on the blouse (as seen in the picture above).
I highly recommend wearing Korean hanbok when in Korea, especially in Seoul, where many tourist attractions, such as palaces and temples, offer free entrance for people wearing hanbok. Find out where to rent hanbok in my previous post.

Looking Good

All of my fellow blogger friends totally rock the outfits they chose to wear for their special memories – whether it was for a traditional festival in India, a Korean/Filipino wedding, bonding with Chinese parents-in-law of simply traveling and exploring a different culture. Each and everyone of us enjoyed every minute of slipping into a “role” and feeling gorgeous for a moment. We encourage all the other travelers out there to do the same! 


Linda has been living in Asia since 2012 and loves sharing her travel and life experiences on her website. She currently works remotely in Online Marketing and also teaches various English classes in South Korea.

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