The first thing you’ll notice when you visit Thailand at any time of the year is the extreme heat. The Thais joke there are three season, “Hot, Hotter and Hottest”, and it’s pretty much true.
For many westerners, particularly those who choose to live here, keeping clean and body odor free can be a challenge. I’ve heard Thais say they meet a lot of westerners who smell and, on the sky train or underground, I often find myself moving away from westerners who really need a shower. Keeping clean and sweat-free in Thailand though is actually easy. Just do what the Thais do and you’ll have few problems.
Shower – One thing I’ve noticed with a fair few westerners is they don’t shower enough in Thailand. Thais shower in the morning, at lunchtime if they’re close to a shower, in the early evening before going out and at night right before they go to bed.
If they’re going to have sex, they’ll often shower before sex and then again after sex. Thais are likely the cleanest people in the world but, living in a country this hot, you have to be. For a westerner to stay clean and make sure you don’t smell, taking at least three showers a day is a must. If not, don’t be surprised if people start to move away from you.
Use Deodorant and Baby Powder – Just about every Thai I know uses deodorant or anti-perspirant plus a liberal coating of baby powder. The deodorant and anti-perspirant help with sweating and the baby powder helps with the smell.
Even men in Thailand often cover themselves with baby powder after a shower which, as a western woman dating a Thai guy, I must say I absolutely love. Girls also use the baby powder to put on their faces, which makes them slightly whiter plus smells nice. You will rarely come across a Thai who smells bad and this is one of the reasons why.
Change Clothing at Least Once a Day – My whole life, I’ve always changed into a clean set of clothing if I’m going out for the evening but a lot of people don’t. In Thailand, you really don’t have an option, not unless you want to join the armies of western men who roam Bangkok with sweat-stained armpits and stinking up a storm because, at 10pm, they’re still wearing the same shirt they put on that morning (or, even worse, the day before).
With average temperatures in Thailand in the mid-90s to 100 degrees, you simply have to change clothing more often if you don’t want to smell.
Never Wear the Same Clothing Twice – I once worked at a school in Thailand with a western guy who wore the same shirt for three days in a row. By the end of the third day, he smelled so bad, the kids refused to go in the classroom with him and his shirt would probably stand up on its own.
Finally, he got a Thai girlfriend who immediately had him trained in putting clean clothes on every day. It was amazing how much more pleasant it was to be around him.
In Thailand, you cannot get away with wearing the same clothes two days in a row. Everyone, including the Thais, sweats ferociously and, on day two, whether that sweat is on your shirt or around your crotch, believe me, we can smell it. Take your clothing off and wash it every night or, if you don’t want to, there are hordes of Thai women who take in laundry for as little as 25 cents a piece.
Don’t Walk For Miles If You Don’t Have To – A fair number of western teachers in Thailand, mostly men, will walk 10 blocks to school or to their home, rather than spend the 10 baht (33 cents) for the bus. Where they have no problem spending five times that on a beer, they will not spend it to get home or to work in relative comfort.
Consequently, by the time they reach their destination, they stink of sweat and carry that smell around with them for the rest of the day. With public transportation in Thailand being dirt cheap and everywhere, you will never see a Thai walking 10 blocks to work, because they know how much they’d smell when they got there.
If you must save money so you can buy beer, try to economize elsewhere. Particularly as there’s nothing worse than having a stinking westerner standing next to you in the supermarket who’s obviously drunk a lot of beer and then walked and now the alcohol smell is oozing out of his pores. Yuk.
Wear Cotton Clothing – To keep clean and prevent body odor, it’s better to wear cotton clothing if possible. Synthetic fibers make you sweat more and also make it more difficult for your skin to breath. Cotton will make you feel fresher and less sweaty so you’ll stay cleaner longer.
Carry Baby Powder With You – One thing I always have in my bag is a small container of baby powder. That way, I can go to the bathroom and liberally coat my body with it every time I’m feeling a bit sweaty. Thai girls do this all the time and always smell lovely. Plus, after you’ve just walked in from outside and you’re feeling all damp, a liberal coating of baby powder makes you feel a lot better too.
It’s easy to stay clean and sweat-free in Thailand. Just follow these simple rules and you’ll soon smell as great as the Thais do.