Clothes to wear in Kenya

Which clothes to wear in Kenya as a traveller? This page gives practical information about travel clothing. (If you are looking for information about Kenya traditional dress, click on the link.)

Which place and time?

Kenya has a tropical climate, with sunshine in all seasons, and summer clothes can be worn throughout the year. However, depending on the places you’ll visit and the time of the year, you can choose which clothes to wear in Kenya.

safari jeep, kenya

Generally, the hottest periods are January to March and the coolest are July to August, though the difference is not too big. Furthermore, on the coast it’s hotter and wetter than inlands, which is more moderate and dryer.

Also take into account the two rainy seasons, when it’s best to carry rain coats with you. The ‘long rains’ are from April to June and the ‘short rains’ from November to December.

(Elsewhere at this website is more information about the climate in Kenya.)

Dress codes in social life

Also take into account the Kenyan social norms on clothing. Kenyans dress rather conservatively. Men usually wear shirts with long sleeves, often with a sweater or blazer, and women wear trousers or skirts below the knee. You will see few men in T-shirts, practically no men in shorts and absolutely no women in shorts or short skirts. This is frowned upon, even though sexual morale is often rather loose.

safari travelers in kenya

But you won’t get into trouble if you do wear shorts or T-shirts. Kenyans are too polite to make comments. In places frequented by tourists, locals are more used to ‘tourist dress’ anyway, and in tourist resorts shorts and T-shirts are totally accepted. There you have a lot of freedom in your choice what clothes to wear in Kenya.

What clothes to bring

Summing up the above, you’ll need to bring the following clothes when visiting Kenya:

- Sunglasses, while good sunglasses are expensive in Kenya
- A hat against sun strokes
- White or other light colour clothes
- Something to carry bottles of water in – you’ll need to drink a lot of water in this climate and tap water is never safe
- One really warm sweater, as nights can be cool
- Swimming clothes as Kenya has over 500 kilometers of beautiful white sand beaches, as well as plastic sandals for walking on reefs
- A raincoat, especially during the rainy seasons (see above)

Washing your clothes

There are virtually no laundrettes in Kenya, but even cheap hotels often run a laundry service for their guests and you’ll easily find people (dobis) everywhere offering the same service. Many dobis in hotels or street stalls won’t wash your underwear, however, so you’ll have to do that yourself. You can usually buy washing powder in small packets, wash your clothes in your hotel bath tub or shower, and let them dry fast in the sun. Don’t spread your clothes on the ground to dry, however: the tumbu fly may lay eggs in them and the larvae penetrate your skin…

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