Muslim countries and developing countries often have a more conservative dress sense than big cities in Australia where I live.

Often this means it's disrespectful for a man to wear shorts or sleeveless shorts even in hot weather. In some places flip flops seem not to be very appropriate either.

But often this is less so in big/cosmopolitan cities or in hot humid areas.

So I'm wondering where KL fits along the scale? Would it be ok to wear a sleeveless T-shirt?

  • 2
    In Africa and Amazonia there are many tribes that not use clothes Aug 3, 2013 at 5:37
  • @ŁukaszLech: Yep I'm going there next d-; I guess I've noticed conservative dress in religious developing countries, such as in Central America, Morocco, Turkey. Aug 3, 2013 at 5:38
  • Although Malaysia is officially a muslim country, the population is very diverse (40% Chinese, Indian and others). I've been there during Ramadan and I could see all type of dress, so you shouldn't be worried about being conservative!
    – cl3m
    Sep 25, 2013 at 11:54

1 Answer 1


For Kuala Lumpur you should dress however you are comfortable (okay, not naked, you need to have some level of modesty); you'll be okay walking around the city in a sleeveless t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops/thongs. You probably won't be dressed appropriately for some venues, but you're fine for standard tourist activities. This dress is a bit uncommon for males, but trust your sense for what's appropriate.

However, if you could purchase a collared shirt made with wicking material (Underarmor or equivalent), some nice wicking shorts that require a belt (like for golf) and trainers you'll be good just about anywhere.

KL is an international city, with a population of 1.6 million which places is between Perth and Adelaide compared to Australian cities1 2. With three cultures resident in Malaysia (Malay, Chinese, and Indian) there is a lot of diversity.

The Malays (generally Muslim) tend to dress more conservatively, but there are some pretty liberal ethnic Malays in KL. My experience is the Muslims dress conservatively for socio-family and personal reasons. They don't try to force their values on you.

The Chinese tend toward very Western and the women are not afraid to show cleavage, wear form fitting clothes, dye their hair, etc. I only mention this is a gauge of how conservative things are/aren't.

The Indians, the overwhelming minority, span the width from sari's to conservative Christian or Muslim to Western.

  • Yes I've noticed women dressed in everything from too-short shorts to full burka, but there's so many tourists here it's hard to tell if everything is OK or if there's lots of tourists disregarding the cultural norms around here. Aug 3, 2013 at 5:41
  • Haven't seen a burka yet, but I have seen completely veiled Iranians and Arabians. Also met some Kuwaiti women wearing jeans and nice shirts. Middle Easterners come to KL for vacation. It's not the ME and they can easily observe the strictures of their religion, particularly the dietary side.
    – Will
    Aug 3, 2013 at 5:53
  • I almost bumped into a completely covered woman in black yesterday. Maybe it wasn't a burka - I'm not quite up with the terminology I suppose. Aug 3, 2013 at 5:57
  • This sounds like a niqab.
    – Relaxed
    Sep 26, 2013 at 5:31
  • Australian cities report population for the Greater Urban area. So to compare apples to apples - greater KL (Klang Valley) has 7.5 million people. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_Kuala_Lumpur
    – user51778
    Sep 27, 2016 at 23:21

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