Being nude in Asia

Asians have had a long history of nudity in their lifestyles throughout both the ancient and relatively modern ages. However, it's almost impossible for a woman to take their tops off on a beach, let alone find a nudist beach in Asia today. Granted, there are a very few countries like Thailand where there are a few nudist venues and where nudism is for the most part, tolerated, but those are too few an exception. This is of course ridiculous because not only of our history of nudity but because most of our countries have incredible nature and experience wonderful weather throughout the year, all perfect to get naked in. Why has this come about? How are we coping with it?

There are many reasons for our incredible aversion to nudity and it would take another blog to discuss those. But from living in my country alone (Sri Lanka) and having studied its history, I know that a lot of these prudish attitudes came into being after the British invasion of the 19th century. We had a monarchical system here before which, apart from its feudalistic and imperialistic facades, did have a good tolerance of nudity. Women in villages used to go fully topless without anyone caring, dancers performed topless in palaces and royal events all the time and Art often depicted full-on nudity sans censorship of any form. It was after the British enforced their Victorian moralities that things began to change. They have since moved on from this prudishness, but many of our countries are still stuck in the 19th century.

I'm not saying that the British are the only reason for our negative attitudes to nudity, but they were a main contributing factor. Today, we are forced to be nudists only in our homes, not daring to go nude even in our own backyards for fear of persecution. We practice in secret, meet in secret and have become a taboo community who will be vilified if ever caught. It really is sad but the young generation at least, seems a bit more immune from their parent's ultra-textile attitudes. One can only hope that this generation will grow-up and embrace nudism for what it really is, at least from online communities like this, and make our continent a more nude-friendly zone. But then again, it's a long way to go and so very few people to travel with..

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68 thoughts on “Being nude in Asia”

    • Can you explain for which (various) circumstances the 500 baht fine had to be paid? Was anyone taken to a police station? If so, was one transferred to a court office? For other misdemeanors such as card playing (though considered low level gambling, the penalty is already higher), this may occur and one pays the amount of the fine at the court office. That is however, in fact a bail and later on the judge will usually come to a verdict without presence or representation of the Thai player, convicting to a fine of the same amount. If this would happen to a foreigner, I'm pretty sure it would be noticed thereafter by officers considering to grant a visa or an extension of stay…

      Even at a Royal Thai Police station, e.g. an Immigration Office, the document one has to sign at paying a fine, includes a phrase by which one admits being guilty at … – this input space was even left blank when I was presented one to sign. In fact, the form was made out on the name of a Thai friend who had not reported my staying 'over 24 hours' at his property and therefore had to pay 2,000 baht, which I was willing to pay for him; after my pointing out the confusion, it was properly filled in (otherwise they could have put "murder" though that's probably not so cheap) and he signed the document.

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    • Indeed, by section 388 of the Criminal Code. I never had to pay it. The problem might be that it could come with a criminal record, which usually can be avoided for traffic violations with similar fines. I don't think one can use any Title IX section against nudity in Thailand; nevertheless, by reading the text of article 385 of the Belgian Criminal Code, it's not obvious that judges could possibly convict true and discreet naturists – but they do.

      In this context, by 'publicly' I did not mean in the middle of a market square. It might be actually allowed to be seen on an indicated naturist beach, or hardly ever possibly seen by others than a group of naturists on a remote but publicly accessible beach. So far, in Thailand only the latter is thinkable for a very tiny group of a few persons, in only very few places and there not at all times – and still at risk of the section 388 penalty.

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  1. Considering the present state of the government in Thailand we are happy where we are right now. Like I said we are only 10 years old this year and have made tremendous progress considering the circumstances of the geo/political area we live in. Consider where the USA was ten years after naturism started there.

    I don't know what are normal levels for prices at any resort, and I have been visiting here for 20 years and living here for 5. Prices will level out and places will charge what the market will bare, as is the case in any market place. If it is too expensive for you find some remote resort on an island and you can probably swim and sun nude.

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    • I already found four suitable mainland beaches (thus with much less transportation and staying costs than on islands); two of them have a simple (non naturist) resort immediately at the beach. But that's on the very, very long Thai coastlines, which I had followed and explored as much as possible for their entire lengths – it took me 15 years of my visits. And as I had mentioned on April 22, discretion remains compulsory: in behaviour there as well as in maintaining a low number of visitors and not publishing locations. Naturism as social gathering, is as yet not publicly possible in Thailand.

      In the last 25 years, I also explored numerous inland lakes. These are mainly created as water reservoirs, thus with few places for easy access and then hardly ever suitable for nude swimming. Rivers tend to be flowing too rapidly or are in full sight. Just occasionally, one may find a temporary opportunity. Several not too easily accessible waterfall pools did allow me a nicely refreshing dip as well.

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  2. Very nice read!
    Many Asian countries are indeed still stuck with leftovers from their colonists, and prudery is unfortunately such a leftover.
    But we hope that this will change soon. Thailand has already noticed the economical opportunities of attracting nudists and probably other countries with similar weather will follow soon..

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    • Thank you very much guys, always great to hear some nice feedback! 🙂 Yes Thailand is indeed a very good example for other countries like my own to follow, but the politics of our countries don't really even have any room for debate for lifestyles like nudism, cultural/religious powers always make sure of that. But one can always hope of course, and I'm just one of them! 🙂

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    • Thailand is not attracting nudists. There are a few private naturist resorts — indecently overpriced. All Thai beaches are public (though one or two might be difficult to get to by public ways) and therefore nudity is <i>not</i> permitted. It means, there are no official or busy nude beaches.

      Thai are not actually prude but regard wearing clothes as a normally expected sign of respect. That's why visiting certain offices in shorts or sandals is not allowed. Nudity is seen as utter disrespect. But some Thai are well aware of westerners having different ways and tend to accept it, provided the westerners are generally known to behave respectfully to them and remain discreet.

      If too many naturists would visit a somewhat secluded beach, thus attracting the attention beyond a small local community of tolerant Thais, police action would still have to be expected soon… Slight indiscretions might initially cause police to talk to locals, for putting a stop to it. Naturists should be aware of the locals really not wanting to lose face by such reprimands and their uneasiness for having to bring up the subject with their customer(s).

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      • I am sorry to disagree but Thailand is gaining members both Thai and visiting naturists. Naturist resorts are being planned and developed by Thai. Don't expect Thailand to be at the level of Europe or Australia, we have only been doing this in an organized fashion since 2007. But our roots go back to 1931 when the first naturist group was started by a Thai.

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        • As I said: a few private naturist resorts. About five years ago, their number had increased to… <i>five</i>, in a country as large and more populous than France. At least of the one near Cha-Am, even immediate neighbours did not know that the resort (five very simple small bungalows with common kitchen area and very small pool), contained <i>nude</i> people.

          I looked for the prices also of the others, and compared them with non-naturist resorts that offered otherwise similar comfort and facilities in a comparable location: 2 to 4 times the rate that I need to pay. Of course also some 'normal' resorts are overpriced, but I can easily avoid those and don't spend that much extra for saving on swimwear.

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          • I'm glad a (the) Naturist Association exists and gathers members, but the <i>practical results</i> should show interests in <i>more</i> than <i>easy money</i>. Has their already been some lobbying for a naturist public beach? A such facility would bring the prices for naturist resorts to more normal levels. In other words… Is it an association for clever resort owners or mainly for like-to-be-practicing naturist members?

            The Belgian Naturist Federation <i>fights</i> against naturism outside its firmly enclosed associated establishments.

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  3. You have to be very careful about what I'm going to say here. You have to weigh it carefully and decide for yourself in the light of your own knowledge of the people around you. Here is my advice which has worked beautifully for me:

    When I decided to join the Taiwan Naturist Association one weekend, I thought long and hard about whether I should let the whole world know of my naturist stand. My nature is always to be open and upfront about everything. I am unable to hide my true feelings and dissembling is an impossibility for me. So I decided to let the whole world know. My family already knew all along and they were accepting. But I also decided to let all my friends and relatives know. That meant everyone who knew me including the church in which I play in the orchestra.

    When I got home from Taiwan, I posted photos of me taken in Taiwan on Facebook. Everyone who knew me was a friend of mine on Facebook. I won't go into the trouble I got with Facebook but I also posted my photos freely on wordpress, tumblr, twitter and google plus. And I showed my face clearly in all these pics.

    The reaction was fantastic. There was an uproar. I remember going to church for an orchestral rehearsal for the Bishop's consecration and everyone avoided my gaze – they were too embarrassed to look at me in the eye. And then one of them decided to ask me if my wife was going to have a divorce. I was so glad he asked that question. That gave me the opportunity to explain why my wife accepted my naturism and why naturism had nothing to do with sex. They actually thought I had gone for an orgy. And then a clergyman came and explained that the early church conducted baptism in the nude as the Early Church Fathers tell us. That was really wonderful. I took the opportunity to explain the distinction between naturism and sex.

    Once that was cleared up, people became more accepting. They still thought I was eccentric but that was all. People do still urge me not to be so open about my nudity because 'I might be blackmailed' and of course I tell them that's rubbish. I can't be blackmailed if I make my pics available to the whole world. I kept impressing on them that nudity is NOT embarrassing so I can't be blackmailed any more than if photos of me in clothes were made viral.

    Today, everyone accepts my naturism. Everyone knows of it. I take every opportunity to preach naturism and to tell people about my own experiences. Even at my aunt's funeral, when I met my cousins and they asked me about my holidays, I sneak in stories about the nudist places I go to. Everyone who knows me knows that I went to NEWT this year and will be going again next year.

    There were some friends of mine who were quite resistant to naturism at one time. These friends of mine are like me – we are all family people, married with kids of our own. They were initially extremely disapproving of naturism. They thought I was irresponsible as a family man and that naturism was decadent. Today, everybody accepts that naturism is decent and proper. Just last week, the orchestra conductor told us where we could go for breakfast on Christmas day when in between the Christmas services in which we will be playing music. He said the young and fit ones could go to a breakfast counter farther away and leave the counter closer to the musicians' area for the older and weaker musicians. And then he mentioned that he had seen pics of me climbing up mountains so I belonged to the fitter group. The only pics of me 'climbing up mountains' that I posted were pics taken at NEWT and I was stark naked. I was very pleased with that because it means people are beginning to talk about nudity as a perfectly natural and acceptable thing.

    I have said it many times and I really believe this from the bottom of my heart – if we show the world photos of ourselves without hiding our face or genitals, the world will soon understand and accept that nudity is natural. This is why I oppose people who advocate the concealing of the genitals in naturist photos because when we do that, we are only reinforcing the world's view that nudity is shameful and hence the genitals must always be concealed. I know some naturists believe in hiding the genitals but of course they are wrong. They are no different from Facebook enforcers who are OK with photos where the genitals are concealed. These people don't understand that they are actually harming the naturist cause. And if they claim to be naturists, they are only giving ammunition to textile folks that the genitals are obscene. Otherwise, why would naturists hide their genitals?

    Getting people in my community to accept naturism is no mean feat and I am glad I have achieved that. And it's all because of the photos I've posted. My photos are always full frontal photos because that's how I pose for pics when I'm clothed so why should I pose any differently when I'm nude?

    My advice to most people is to do precisely that. But like I've said, you must assess your own situation and see if it's right for you. Of course if you live in Iran or Saudi Arabia, you'd be mad to post nude photos of yourself the way I do. But if the objection to nudity is purely cultural, this kind of shock therapy may work. It worked in my case. 🙂

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    • Thank you so much, your approach is both inspirational and truly commendable! 🙂 I think it depends on the personality of the person as much as the nudist in them. Myself, I don't like social media a lot (I'm not even on Facebook), don't care for posing for photos much (clothed or nude) and have a fairly shy personality. I certainly don't think that anyone should be shamed for posting nudity of any form but that it should be respected as a personal choice.

      I personally reserve my full-frontal nudes to my friends here and I'm comfortable with that at the moment. I would love to be more open with my lifestyle like you and nudism certainly does help a lot in itself in that regard, but I think that social and family constraints do stop a lot of people than they would like, especially young people like myself. I can only say that you are truly blessed to have a wife and family who understand the lifestyle like you do!

      We are all a process as human beings and I'm hoping that my love for nudism will evolve my confidence if it's right as I go forward naturally, in the right time. My hope is that I'll be able to connect with people like me or around me here and get them inspired and comfortable about nudity by non-judgemental discussions and exchanges like these as a start. Nudism is about respecting each other for who we are and not for our our bodies (personal freedom) and accepting personal choices are part of that. Hopefully, my journey will lead me to the right point someday 🙂

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      • As I have said,you must weigh carefully what I said and decide for yourself what is suitable. Only you can decide. A friend of mine is of southern Indian origin which is perhaps closest to a Sri Lankan in culture. He's a naturist but his wife doesn't know a thing. He says it can lead to a divorce if she knows it. A group of us went to a naturist resort in Bali and he had a whole suitcase full of clothes because he didn't want his wife to know. So in his case adopting my method would be disastrous. There is no way his wife would accept naturism.

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          • One might ask who is disrespecting whom.

            I doubt whether when they got married, he had been a practicing naturist <i>and</i> expected she could be dead against that. Only if both, he was and is deceiving her, else he's successfully hiding something from her.
            That is not the same: I don't adhere to a philosophy of <i>guilt & remorse if not perfect</i>.

            <i><b>For better or for worse</b></i>, if his health would deteriorate… Then also if it improves.
            I'd say his becoming a naturist proves his mental health to have been improving, and his naturism will keep him mentally healthy.
            If she would find out, she might think his mental health to have been deteriorating and him now to be seriously sick.
            No fair reason for a divorce.

            No-one could be so devious as to ask her to <i>follow</i> her man in his poor condition, but could she still <i>live with</i> her clothed naturist?
            Is confessing to suffer from a usually incurable disease that occasionally to regularly though relatively rarely needs a hidden treatment to happily and easily survive, a marital duty?

            Should he trust her and accept the risk of her proving her marriage vows to have been a deception but also give her the opportunity to prove her lasting commitment? It <i>is</i> a big thing to ask — by us in her place from him, and then by him from her. Does <i><b>she</b></i> put <i>righteousness</i> above <i>happiness</i> ; <i>knowledge</i>, unbearable without solace from friends or else in shame, above <i>laid back ignorance</i>?
            In case he can be sure she could not possibly acquire peace of mind with his naturism, his giving this up might have to remain a <i>secret</i> token of love. Is that <i>honest and respectful</i>?

            Asia! Where had this blog so few traveling to? Ah… OK: <i>"Steady as she goes, mister Sulu."</i>

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          • In an Asian country having obtained its now by well over 90% observed Theravada Buddhism from Sri Lanka more than 8 centuries ago, <i>huge</i> 'little white lies' in marriage are <i>expected</i>.

            I think that's not genetical. I see Buddhist avoidance of confrontations. I'd be surprised if in Sri Lanka and —if that much related— in southern India, <i>Brits</i> could have changed that cultural aspect. If they'd fully realized the limitations of <i>their</i> traditions and ways, there might have been one more signature in Rome yesterday.

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          • I'm all for openness and frankness. It makes life a lot easier too. Not only do my wife and family know, everyone who knows me knows I'm a naturist too and have access to my photos which I post all over the internet. The good thing about being open is the freedom. I can never be blackmailed. LOL

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    • It takes a good kind of quiet courage to advocate for something good that is not seen that way by the culture you live in. It is the best way to increase acceptance of nudity and nudism, though, and it sounds like it's working out well for you. You have gotten your friends, church, and community to see that nudism isn't sexual, and that's the first step to their acceptance of nudity. I'm especially appreciative of the clergyman pointing out that nudity was once accepted by the church (and if you're Catholic, recent Popes have published texts saying that nudity in itself is not sinful). Slow steps, maybe, but moving in the right direction.

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  4. Doesn't Sri Lanka have roughly the same culture as India? In India, sadhus are known to go around totally naked. I would imagine that if entire villages can come out to meet the sadhu and to worship him (as I have seen in documentaries), people would be naturally more accepting of nudity. India is a huge subcontinent with all kinds of diverse cultures. I'm inclined to think it's more accepting of nudity (and the same applies to Sri Lanka with its large Buddhist population and Buddhists are such wonderfully tolerant people). At least India and Sri Lanka should be more accepting of nudity than my culture in which nudity is an absolute no no. And I can't blame the Brits or anyone else for our prudishness. It comes entirely from our own home-grown Confucian culture that predates Western civilisation. But I suppose nudity is frowned upon in the whole of Asia. There are encouraging exceptions in Taiwan (with an active Taiwan Naturist Association) and also in Bali which is tolerant because it's Hindu as opposed to the rest of Indonesia which is Muslim. But it's great that you can hold the torch for naturism in your country. We must all do our part.

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    • No, it's a common mistake many people seem to make. But Sri Lankan culture, although influenced by India, is very unique. Indian "sub-continent" does not equal "India" alone. There are no sadhus walking around nude here.. you are thinking about the Digambaras, who have nothing to to do with Buddhism. It's true that they are in India, so yes, some parts of India are a bit more tolerant than us in that regard.. just a little bit. But their tolerance too, only goes far as those small religious sects in those designated places where it's practiced.

      Buddhist monks do not walk around nude anywhere.. they have an extremely disciplined set of traditions which consists of a uniform (the robes), as well as a clear-set of rules about maintaining them. It's true that we Buddhists are in general more tolerant about a lot of things (as we should) but unfortunately, nudism is not really one of them, especially in modern times.

      Sri Lanka in particular is one the largest countries where "Theravada" Buddhism is practiced (70% of the population). This's considered as one of the more original versions of Buddhism and is considered to be more of a life philosophy than a religion. You say of Confucian culture, it's kinda the same here.. the religious charisma of the monks have overpowered the philosophical astuteness and replaced it with an institutionalized power sect, more political than religious really, influencing and controlling culture and lifestyles alike, much more powerfully than in other Theravada countries really. That's why I said that the Brits were only one of the problems here lol.

      Our people in general, are far more conservative than many Indians, so much so that even an actress briefly appearing nude in a mainstream film becomes a topic of controversy each time it happens here (which is rare in itself, only happens once or twice every two years or so lol), sometimes even leading to bans of the film itself.

      Thanks for your wishes, we Asians have to do our best to popularize nudism where we live! 🙂

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  5. It is a very interesting blog and well written. The Victorian era has had a major influence on attitudes here in the UK also. Fortunately we have become more tolerable & susceptible to influences of more progressive & 'liberal' places. Nudity is not illegal in the UK but because of public & police attitudes it is not easy to have a naked social life or a leisure life in your own home.
    Fortunately my wife & I are strong willed people & we do practice naked day by day living in our own home, people who visit us have a choice, accept me naked or go away!

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  6. Very well written and an interesting insight into life in a different part of the world.Here too it's also a bit of a taboo, but for the most part it's tolerated. You get the occasional a**hole but like everything in life "there's always one". My motto has always been live your life your way.

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