The Many Uses of the Simple Sarong

Written By: The Planet D

There is one item that I swear by whenever we are traveling. The Sarong. We always bring 4 Sarongs with us when traveling. Two for Dave and two for Me. Why four do you ask? Well they are the most useful piece of clothing that you could possibly pack.

Here is a list to show you just how versatile a sarong can be and how you can use a sarong in many different ways on your travels.

Sarong Uses for Travel

What is a Sarong?

A Sarong is a long flowing piece of fabric that is typically wrapped around the waste. It is soft and comfortable and often has colourful patterns.

1. Sarongs Can Be Used as Sheets

uses of a sarong
Our bed feels more at home when draped with sarongs

Some Places don’t supply sheets believe it or not. And other places, well let’s just say that I would rather have something between me and the sheets.  Put two sarongs down on the mattress, voila, instant sheets.

2. Use a Sarong to Cover Up at Temples

sarong wrap for men
Use a Sarong for entering templs

Be prepared to visit any temple no matter what you are wearing. Always carry a sarong with you when you travel for a quick cover-up. If you happen to be in shorts and spaghetti straps, you can use a sarong as a shawl to cover your shoulders or wrap it around your waist to cover your bare legs. It is very versatile.

How to Tie a Sarong

sarongs in africa
It all started in Africa
  • There is really no wrong way to tie a sarong.
  • You can wrap it, tie it in a knot or wear it loose with just one fold.
  • Don’t be shy when wearing a sarong, put it on any way you want.

3. Wear a Sarong as a Headscarf

how to wear a sarong

In Countries that Require a lady to have her head covered, you don’t have to go out and buy a headscarf, use your sarong. If you have a neutral colour, it will look almost like the real deal. You will be showing respect for the culture without having to buy a new piece of clothing.

4. Use a Sarong After You Shower

Dave enjoys the Water Spa at Sir sam's
Dave enjoys the Water Spa

If you are staying in a place with a shared shower, you don’t have to walk to the bathroom fully clothed, just wear your sarong.  You not only use it as a towel but a robe as well.

5. Sunburn Protection  – Sarong Dress

sarong top

There have been times when my sunburn has been so bad, that I can’t get anything on. Sarongs are soft and comfortable and I can wear a couple of them as clothing until I heal. Twisting it around my neck turns it into a halter top and as usual, wrapping it around my waste to use it as a skirt. I can use another as a shawl to drape over my shoulders and I am instantly covered to visit temples.

6. Use them for Privacy

You may need this more than you think, but if you are ever in a place where you have to go to the bathroom in a public area, you can have your friend or loved one hold up the sarong.

When we were cycling Africa, there were few options for bathroom breaks on the road. It seemed that even if there was nobody in sight, the moment you started to “do your business, a crowd of kids would turn up from out of nowhere!

Use your sarong to shield in an emergency. I have Dave hold it up like a curtain for those “just in case moments.”

Or if you have to change in a not so private area, it can be used for the same thing.

7. Skirt

sarong dress or skirt
Deb wears a sarong on the Bridge on the River Kway

Buy a sarong with a nice neutral pattern or better yet, one solid colour and you can wrap it around and wear it as a nice skirt for an evening out.

8.  Shawl

deb at golden temple india
Deb washes before entering the Golden Temple

Nights can sometimes get a bit breezy in tropical climates, but you don’t want to be packing sweaters. Many sarongs have beautiful patterns that look just like a designer silk scarf. Wear your Sarong as around your shoulders as a shawl. You will instantly warm yourself up in the night air. Or like I said earlier, use it to cover your bare shoulders when visiting a temple or to be more conservative.

9. Towel

sarong as a towel

You are traveling to a hot climate. Do you really need to bring a thick and heavy towel with you? Use a sarong instead, it works great to dry yourself off and it dries quickly.

10. Sarongs at the Beach

sarong for men sun

Put a couple of sarongs down on the sand and you can lay comfortably on the beach. Give it a shake after use, and it is instantly clean.  What you just used as a beach towel is now your wardrobe back to your bungalow.

Sarong Uses Wrap Up

deb drinking kava wearing a Fijian sarong
Deb drinking Kava

So there you have it. There are our many sarong uses for this simple piece of fabric. This is why I make sure to bring sarongs with me whenever I go away.

You can buy them at any market for cheap, cheap, cheap. I have several sarongs and I buy them wherever I go. I use them for anything I can imagine and I am always finding new ways to use my beloved sarong.

Do you have some other sarong uses? I would love to hear them.  How have you used a sarong on your travels?

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

27 thoughts on “The Many Uses of the Simple Sarong”

  1. hello i’m Scott from Australia and i love the pics of you wearing your beautiful sarongs i too Absolutely LOVE wearing sarongs i wear them in summer and spring time here in Australia my sarongs are from Bali and java i collect them have done so since i was 16yo now 56yo i still love wearing my much loved sarongs my fave fabric is my soft woven balinese ikat cotton sarongs i also have fringe sarongs and java wax batik sarongs all up i own 169 sarongs in my collection and i hope to buy more soon ….

  2. Great article. Thank you. Another use is as gift wrapping. When my friend started her vanlife experience I wrapped her gift in a sarong as an extra gift. I think she likes the sarong more than the gift it was wrapping!

  3. i have always used ‘sarongs’ and ‘malongs’ (this, a longer version of the ‘sarong’) … single ones, doubles … they’re very useful. i have also seen a “dance” showing all the wonderful ways to tie them up.

  4. Great post! I agree, sarongs are an awesome travel item and are very versatile. I bought one here in Cambodia and I couldn’t believe that I had traveled for so long without one.

  5. Bring a sarong/pareo, it can be wrapped around you to as a beach wrap/cover-up, or keep you warm as a shawl/scarf. You can lie on it at the beach or park, You can sleep under it as a blanket. You can wet it for use in hand-to-hand combat. You can cover your noise to shield against noxious vapors. You can wave it as a distress signal in emergencies, and of course, you can dry yourself off with it, if it seems to be clean enough. It’s lightweight and travels well.

  6. This is an awesome post!

    As a business owner who sells custom sarongs, you nailed pretty much all the major benefits of a sarong!

    One thing that I also like about a travel sarong is that you can show it off and people ask you where you got it. It’s a conversation starter and if you have a cool design that’s unique to you; then it represents who you are!


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  9. Great photos and tips. I have used a sarong for every one of those situations. I also use a sarong as a “bag” to carry food from the market. If needed they also make a great bandage. That’s why I like the cotton so well. Enjoy your travels!

  10. Thanks everyone for your suggestions for the many uses of the Sarong. There are some great ideas that I had never thought of. I love the idea of using it as a sun shade, plus the cooling down idea is great. Sarongs are so comfortable even when wet.
    Someone on twitter suggested a table cloth also. See the list for uses is never ending!

  11. Great post! I too love sarongs, and never go travelling without a couple of cotton ones. I’m very lucky to be able to paint on silk as a living, so I’ve also made myself a couple of silk ones which are perfect for when you really need to look gorgeous … without lugging too many clothes with you 🙂

    Love the tips AND the photos!


  12. Genius, Deb! (And Daniel, too!) This clinches it — when I’m in the Cook Islands next month, I’m buying several sarongs and wrapping myself and my husband in them from head to toe. More of a fashion statement than, say, covering ourselves in 55 SPF.

  13. when I traveled for 1.5 years, i was robbed of everythign. I mean everything!!!!!!!!!!!!! my mom had to come and help me get my passport, becasue my embassy didn’t believe who I was. And the one thing I requested first, was a sarong. I lived in my sarongs. i’m sure you’ve been to some sleezy hotels, what do you do, sarong around your body and a quick prayer that you don’t catch anything:)

    • Very handy- yes, but: not as versatile as a sarong, more bulky and more weight ;)!

      I don’t use Sarongs for the very simple reason, that the “Shawls or Foulards”, which come along with the Pakistani Shalwar suits, usually survive longer (less wear ad tear) and with their generous measurements, they come in handy just like Sarongs. They can be light weight (cottons, chiffons) or heavier and warmer stuff. Thus I pack always one light and one rather warmer one, usually one going on air with me, to protect me from A/C!

      Great Post!

  14. Love the sarong — used extensively while travelling through Asia. One of the best uses I found for it—on oppressively hot nights (think 50c in Delhi) I would soak the sarong in the sink and then lay it over top of me as a sheet — still wet. It was a great way to keep cool. And a fan would have you dry by morning!

  15. Sarongs are so versatile! You’ve pretty much covered all the uses for sarongs. Glad to see your husband finds them useful as well!

  16. Nice sum up with the pictures too. My cousin is traveling with me rtw right now and she brought a sarong along and I have been jealous! Love the tips and her sarong has come in handy for ALL of the above tips 🙂 It will definitely be in my bag next time I leave.

  17. This is a wonderful post. Such a great idea. I have never thought about using it as bedsheet before. Brilliant! I love sarong.. I even have one that customized with my name in Thai. 🙂 My mom bought one for me when she went to Bali. They are not only versatile but very beautiful!