Costumes at temples ignites trend
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Costumes at temples ignites trend

Tourism agency quick to latch on

Temples and palaces in Bangkok have attracted more foreign visitors, bolstered by the rising popularity of dressing in Thai costumes among Asian tourists, with a recent viral video clip showing groups of male travellers dressed in female attire.

A video clip of cross-dressers visiting Wat Arun and Rattanakosin historic area went viral on the internet and received positive feedback from Thai netizens. (Photo courtesy of TikTok Krumaywa)

Thapanee Kiatphaibool, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said dressing in Thai costumes has been a trending activity for tourists in recent years, which has developed as men now wear traditional garments designed for women.

An average of 25.8 million foreigners visit Bangkok annually and most of them explore temples and palaces in the old quarter, as well as nearby shopping districts, she said.

The 10 most-visited temples in Bangkok are mostly concentrated in the Rattanakosin historic area, led by the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Temple of Dawn, known as Wat Arun.

The video clip, which showed cross-dressers visiting Wat Arun and the Rattanakosin area, went viral on the internet and received positive feedback from Thai netizens.

Ms Thapanee said the agency welcomed this trend as it helped highlight Thailand's openness, ensuring tourists have the freedom to choose their own way of dressing, even if it does not match their gender.

She said the trend would promote the uniqueness of Thai traditional costumes for tourism activities, aligning with the government's strategy to promote soft power.

In the first quarter this year, Bangkok generated 216 billion baht in tourism revenue from 14.6 million tourists, including both domestic and foreign markets, noted the agency.

Visitors to Bangkok grew 7.2% in January and 4.8% in February, followed by a 4.5% decrease in March, compared with the same period last year.

Tourism revenue in Bangkok rose 33.1% in January, 33.6% in February and 15.2% in March, according to the TAT.

Chanyuth Sawetsuwan, director of the Bangkok office of the TAT, said there are roughly 10 Thai costume rental shops near the Grand Palace, with fees mostly less than 1,000 baht.

He said some Thai restaurants in the area sought methods to increase revenue, partnering with rental shops to offer discounts for customers who dressed in Thai costumes.

Mr Chanyuth said these activities created a positive vibe for established tourism spots and benefit Bangkok, as the city has a high percentage of foreign tourists at around 45%.

Famous photo shoot spots, such as Wat Arun, welcome more than 3 million foreign tourists per year and the figure is expected to increase this year, he said.

"The increase in temple visits is largely attributed to more transport options, including the opening of a new MRT station four years ago, which helped connect temples, as well as the opening of Iconsiam on the Thonburi side of the river, which tourists use as a hub for Chao Phraya River cruises," said Mr Chanyuth.

He said more temples in suburban areas that are accessible via river or canal cruise have become more popular, such as Wat Paknam Phasi Charoen, which boasts a 92-metre Buddha statue visible from a distance.

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