The Muslim world has its traditions and rules. Dress code is one of the main rules for both men and women. Just like Muslims keep the traditions in other countries, they are expecting tourists to respect those rules. When visiting one of the countries of Central Asia the guests should not only get some information about the weather, history and sights but also learn some specific rules about do’s and don’ts. When it comes to dressing code in Central Asian countries, there is a divergence of views so let’s try to find more information and make it clear.
Traditions of dress code in Central Asian countries
Five countries of Central Asia have their traditions, culture and history yet they have so much in common including the details of national clothing and the dress code specifics. Before getting into details here is a short historical background about the traditions of clothing in Central Asian countries.
The traditional male shirt is called a kurta. It is a long silk or cotton tunic that is combined with salwar, baggy trousers that is usually edged with tapes. Of course, national clothing is now seen only in the museums and maybe on special events and national holidays. Today the only strict rule for men is that no shorts are allowed in the cities and especially in religious centres and holy places.
The most important part of the clothing was the headdress. Both men and women wore a headdress that could identify the ethnic group they belonged to. Men wore turbans and the bigger it was the more important the person was. Much has changed thanks to or because of the Soviet influence. The residents of the capitals and major cities got rid of traditional clothing and the dress code was moved to the background. Modernization gradually spread and even after the collapse of the Soviet Union it was hard to get back to the roots. Today the region fights against the adoption of Islamic traditions like black hijabs covering the whole body. The governments of the countries of Central Asia are trying to bring back national clothing in bright colours to restore integrity and national unity.
Dress code for tourists in Central Asian Muslim countries
Unlike other Muslim countries Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan are more liberal and less strict about the dress code. Female tourists will not have to cover heads with headscarves. There are no separate public places for men and women like in Iran and there is no discrimination. In one word, it is quite comfortable for women to travel in Central Asia.
Still, there are some rules for men and women to keep in mind when packing bags. First of all, the rule works everywhere; if a woman doesn’t want to provoke too much attention, a modest style is always a working option. It is better to wear a long or medium length skirt or pants, T-shirts, blouses with covered shoulders. In religious centres, women should cover shoulders and knees and wear headscarves when entering a mosque or a mausoleum. Men should avoid wearing shorts in cities and religious places. Comfortable clothing including shorts will be an option for hiking cause there are so many great places in Central Asia for trekking and camping.
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