The traditional dress in Brunei is still very much alive, although some western-styled
clothing has made an entrance. The dress is truly based on the people's Islamic
faith, which requests conservative dress, especially among women as all women are
expected to cover their hair. Both men and women are also expected to have their
shoulders and knees covered at all times.
For many women the traditional dress is the baju kurang, which is similar
to a dress, which is often times very colorful. The men traditionally wore the baju
burung, which consists of a simple long-sleeved shirt and pants or a sampin,
which is similar to a sarong worn in place of pants. While both of these
traditional outfits, and others, are still commonly worn in Brunei, there is a slow
movement to western-styled clothing. This shift, however, is taking place slowly
and is primarily being undertaken by the younger generation.
As a visitor to Brunei, you are not expected to wear local traditional clothing,
but it is required that you cover up. Everyone, including visitors, is expected
to cover their knees and shoulders at a minimum. Many people will cover their elbows
as well and women are encouraged to cover their hair at all times in public, but
this is not required. Despite the strict dress code, few of these rules are actual
laws so there is some leeway in what you can wear while in Brunei and some people
do wear shorts today. However, in order to show respect to the people and their
culture, it is recommended that you cover up at all times and to save your swim
wear for nearby Malaysia.