What are Thai Fisherman Pants and Where Do You Buy Them?


Living in Thailand, I sometimes forget people don’t always know what I’m talking about when I mention common Thai things. On the phone the other day, I was telling an American friend I was “wearing Thai fisherman pants”, and she seemed to think I was setting off on a boat trip.

If you too are not familiar with Thai fisherman pants, here’s a quick rundown on what they are and where to buy them.

Thai fisherman pants come from a traditional Thai garment worn by Thai fisherman at an earlier point in Thailand’s history (you don’t see them wearing them that much nowadays).

The pants consist of a long tube of material (usually a heavy, rough cotton fabric) at the top of the body attached to two even larger tubes for the legs. You climb into the tube, putting one leg in each section, and then wrap the waistband across your stomach so it’s pulled tight and lays flat. Tie the attached belt tight around your waist and fold over the top to conceal the belt. And voila, you’re wearing Thai fisherman pants.

Thai fisherman pants are popular for doing yoga, wearing as pajamas, or by backpackers who, in Thailand, seem to wear nothing but the aforementioned pants.

You can also buy them in rayon and silk, although they don’t tend to wear as well and shrink markedly if you wash them. The cotton ones, on the other hand, will last for years.

Of course, the garment has been modified for fashion purposes and now is available in just about every color you can think of — unlike when traditional Thais wore them and they normally came in blue or black.

You’ll find Thai fisherman pants all over Bangkok. Markets are the best place to buy them as they’ll be the cheapest, or at Khao San Road in Bangkok, at just about every Thai seaside resort and any inexpensive shopping mall (MBK in Bangkok has a good selection).

While they come in various price ranges, they should actually be cheap. I never pay more than 120 baht for mine (around $4) and, often, if you shop at a large market like Chatuchak Weekend Market and buy five pairs or more, some stalls will drop the price as low as 80 baht per pair ($2.80).