What to wear in Pondicherry can be an important question to ask while planning a trip to this tropical destination. A lot of travellers are under this false notion that there exists some kind of a mandatory dress code. But this is completely wrong.
I’ve been to Pondicherry a number of times. Be it on my solo trips or travel experiences with my friends, the question of, “what to wear in Pondicherry” has always been dealt with, by me taking into account my comfort level and weather conditions. After all, my clothes should allow for easy exploration of the city.
In my current blog, I’ll elaborate on the dress code to be followed at various places in Pondicherry. Also, the ideal stuff to wear for both men and women will be taken into consideration. I hope that my blog helps you in packing well and stay comfortable throughout your trip.
What to Wear in Pondicherry as a Traveller ?
As a travel destination, Pondicherry is one of the most liberal places you’ll come across in India. The fact that it was a French Colony for so long makes the people here quite modern in the way they dress. The western influence is quite obvious actually.
In all of my solo trips here and travel experiences with friends, I’ve not seen anyone judging me for what I wear. The local people have always been quite warm and non-judgemental. Even my fellow travellers have been respectful and decent.
The only thing that should be kept in mind while deciding what to wear in Pondicherry is the right fabric. Reason being, the tropic humid weather of this land. Wearing a fabric that sticks will drain you down. So please avoid it at all costs.
Outfits to Consider for a Trip to Pondicherry
You should most certainly consider the following options for outfits during your trip.
Outfit ideas for women in Pondicherry
Cotton skirts and cotton tops
Cotton T-shirts and denim shorts
Cotton T-shirts with cotton capris
Cotton t-shirts with cotton shorts
Cotton shirts and cotton trousers
Summer dresses of cotton or terricot
Long Kurtis with loose cotton trousers
Comfortable water-resistant bikini for the beaches
Outfit ideas for men in Pondicherry
Cotton shirts with cotton pants
Cotton t-shirts with cotton pants
Cotton shorts with cotton T-shirts
Lounge shorts with cotton shirts
Sleeveless T-shirts with cotton shorts
Comfortable water-resistant swimsuit for the beaches
Dress Code for Women in Pondicherry
I’ve seen a lot of first time travellers get worried about the proper dress code for women (and men) in and around Pondicherry. Now this concern is valid and needs a serious reading of what I’m about to mention in the blog below.
It needs to be mentioned here that the locals of Pondicherry don’t dress up in western wear that often. You’ll mostly see them in simple but beautiful sarees (traditional Indian drapes around the body). It is the travellers visiting the region who surely experiment with their choice of clothes.
As long as you stay respectful of the native people, nobody will bat an eye. I can vouch for this myself. The people of Pondicherry are peace-loving and that makes the entire locale super safe for even solo women travellers. This is a very good thing if you’re on your own.
Dress Code for Visiting Aurobindo Ashram
Aurobindo Ashram is a pious place and requires you to follow the highest degree of rules and practices. However, when it comes to dress code, the rules are a tad bit lighter. I insist you read the section of my blog that follows from here to get more clarity on this.
Just like the rest of the locale, Aurobindo Ashram is a lovely place. It surely has rules in general but none whatsoever when it comes to the choice of clothes.
On almost all my trips to this lovely Ashram, I’ve always dressed up in a camisole and shorts. Not once have I been asked to change into anything else.
As a visitor to this pious place, you need to be respectful of its rules and nobody will care about what you wear. Respect and self-discipline is key.
Pondicherry Beach Wear
Usually, people like to wear swimsuits on beaches around the world. The beaches of Pondicherry, however, might force you to think otherwise. The reason being, the presence of crabs and black mud. Both these factors might restrain you from entering the deep waters.
Even though I’ve been to every single beach of Pondicherry multiple times, not once have I worn a bikini or a swimsuit. In fact, I’ve abstained from entering deep waters. Taking a stroll in my super comfortable sneakers, along the shore or sitting on a beach chair and gazing at the waters has been my thing.
However, if you don’t mind the tiny organisms or the mud, make sure to wear a good swimsuit and only then enter the water. If possible, apply an underwater sunscreen lotion or a reef safe sunscreen. Trust me, you will need this product because the sun is super harsh here.
Wearing Shorts and Skirts in Pondicherry
Since Pondicherry is a tropical destination, it remains warm throughout the year. The sea nearby adds to the humidity. So this makes the weather of Pondicherry quite sticky and uneasy at times. Therefore, wearing shorts or skirts happens naturally here.
Personally, I can’t even spend one day in Pondicherry without wearing a pair of shorts or a skirt. Everything else seems to just stick to your body and when that happens an explorer like me gets tired soon. Nobody should get worn out just because of the choice of their clothes.
So dress comfortably and explore as much as you want to as a traveller. There are absolutely no cultural restrictions in Pondicherry that will discourage you from wearing clothes that are short. This is one reason that Pondicherry is such a hit amongst solo travellers from around the world.
What to Wear in Pondicherry if Visiting Temples?
If you want to visit any of the lovely temples located in and around Pondicherry, you can dress up in a long summer dress or a kurta or even a saree. You can also go for shorts or skirts but I’ve seen a lot of women restrict themselves somehow. So make your call based on your level of comfort.
Men can go for lounge shorts or kurtas or cotton pants or even jeans (although wearing jeans is not the best idea in Pondicherry, given the tropical climate). I’ve seen the native people dress up in lungis (an Indian sarong kind of outfit for men) mostly when they visit temples. In fact, the lungis can be rented out many times outside temples as well.
Outfits that will cause a Sunburn in Pondicherry
The first time I visited Pondicherry, my itinerary comprised the most beautiful 16 places to visit between Bangalore and Pondicherry. Now Bangalore has pleasant weather throughout the year. Hence, the thought of sunburn did not occur to me even once.
However, once I reached Pondicherry and spent a couple of afternoons at the beaches of the city, my skin began to chaff off. Eventually, the skin of my bare shoulder got affected by a terrible sunburn that ended up being painful. After that, I avoided any outfit that exposed my shoulder, upper arm and even my back.
So wearing tank tops or camisoles or off-shoulder tops is an absolute no-no from my side. If at all you want to wear them, add one more cotton cover on top like a shrug. Else, just wear full length or at least quarter length cotton tees or shirts. They will truly help you soak up the heat with ease.
Wearing Loose Clothes in Pondicherry
Wearing looser clothes, preferably made from cotton will really help you beat the heat in Pondicherry. My own experience in the region several times now has made me realize that the more loose the outfit, the better it is for air circulation.
Be it shorts, skirts, pants or Kurtis, the looser a cotton garment, the more comfortable you will remain as a traveller. Super tight clothing is not only extremely uncomfortable but also very hurting to the body at times. So skip it.
Best Footwear for Pondicherry
The choice of footwear in Pondicherry should depend on your nature as a traveller. For instance, if you are somebody who doesn’t like moving much but wants to relax in one place, slippers or sandals can work for you well.
But if you are somebody like me who is constantly on the move and wants to keep exploring more and more places, sneakers are a decent option. I wore very light weighted sneakers throughout my trip. I’m quite comfortable with shoes on as a traveller (even in a tropical climate).
Whatever you decide, make sure that your choice of footwear depends upon your level of comfort, ease of walking and maintaining your overall balance. Do not go for footwear only for show. Go for footwear that supports your travel habits.
Pondicherry is a lovely destination to visit for travelers. Doesn’t matter whether you are travelling solo or backpacking or visiting with family. This place has something for all kinds of travellers.
All you need to take care of is your comfort level while dressing up and also respecting the locale. Once mutual respect is established, nobody will bother you for anything. On the contrary, you will easily find help and hospitality if it comes to that your trip.