Last week a Taiwanese woman was fined over her tiny bikini bottoms while on the popular Phillipine island of Boracay.

The woman was at the beach with her boyfriend when people started snapping her, some thinking the design was so X-rated they covered her modesty up with emojis. Photos / Facebook
The woman was at the beach with her boyfriend when people started snapping her, some thinking the design was so X-rated they covered her modesty up with emojis. Photos / Facebook

"Maybe it is their way of expressing how they appreciate the beauty of the island and the beauty of her body," Maj. Jess Baylon, police chief of Malay town, which includes Boracay, told local outlet Panay News. "But in our conservative culture, it is unacceptable."

How to dress while in conservative countries

Whatever your personal values, dressing appropriately in conservative countries will make people around you feel more comfortable, which is just good manners. Here's all you need to know about the conservative countries Kiwis visit most often - and what to wear there. It will help you connect with the locals, a crucial part of every overseas experience.

Bali, Indonesia

Despite its strong customs and traditions, Balinese culture is very welcoming. There are not strict dress codes for visitors, except for some religious sites.

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Top tip: Loosen up
Sure, you can wear whatever in Bali. But why not show your appreciation for the Balinese people's values by wearing something a little longer and floatier than your usual?

Show Respect

When visiting temples and other religious sites, use common sense and be respectful. Wear a shirt that covers your arms and shoulders. Everyone should also wear a kain, or sarong, wrapped around your waist, like a skirt.

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Overall, dress like you'd normally do, but a bit more conservative. Don't be this person.

New Delhi, India

It's the legs that Indian women traditionally cover, so modesty is appreciated. Yoga pants, shorts, miniskirts - they are worn by foreigners and younger locals but you may get looks. If you must wear shorts it's a good idea for them to be much longer and looser than "Daisy Dukes".

While short, tight dresses are fine* for going out at night in the city, they're not appropriate for places like the Taj Mahal or even walking around the markets during the day. You don't want to dress in a way that would offend, right?

*see below.

Yeah.. You can.. But do you need to? Photo / Instagram
Yeah.. You can.. But do you need to? Photo / Instagram

Tummies and barely-there cleavage are ok - crop tops are popular in India. Since some traditional Indian clothing involves a crop top and a long skirt, it's not considered (generally) to be immodest when paired with long bottoms. Saris do have a cover from shoulder to opposite hip, so not everyone will approve of "wearing it bare".

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You better bet these two are getting big welcomes wherever they go. Photo / Getty Images
You better bet these two are getting big welcomes wherever they go. Photo / Getty Images

Thailand

Thailand usually turns a blind eye to foreigners' clothing choices, so on the surface there seems to be no clear-cut rules on how to dress.

Your appearance definitely has an effect on how you're treated in Thailand, so choosing to dress tastefully and appropriately goes a long way.

Men are expected to wear conservative collared shirts and shorts that come to the knee, although pants are preferred. T-shirts are ok, but a dressier shirt, whether short-sleeved or long-sleeved, is preferred.

Women would be polite to cover their cleavage and shoulders and wear pants or skirts that are at least knee-length. One of the best pieces of clothing you can pack is a shawl because you can wrap it around your waist or drape it across your shoulders and chest if you are visiting a temple. It is completely unacceptable to sunbathe topless in Thailand for a woman.

Chances are you'll see a monk at a temple. Monks are highly respected, so keep your head below a monk as you pass by them (duck a little if you're tall) and do not touch them.

Fiji

If you lean towards modest outfits and clothing made of airy and quick-wicking materials, you can dress appropriately and comfortably.

Shorts, sleeveless tops and short skirts are quite acceptable in town centres although they may draw attention. Bikinis are fine at the pool or the beach, but not out and about. This young woman would certainly raise some eyebrows.

Bathing topless in public is strictly forbidden.

Most restaurants and resorts are pretty casual but upscale eateries generally expect you to dress for dinner by donning trousers and a collared shirt for men; trousers, skirts or dresses for women.

The most conservative environment for dress is in the villages where it's expected for women to cover shoulders and for both men and women to wear sulus or at least shorts covering the knees – sunglasses and hats should also be removed.

If you mess up, you may find someone covers your shoulders for you.