What to Wear in Malawi

A Message From Helen



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General Style Tips

  • Malawi is said to be the next big destination. It's known as the warm heart of Africa, so expect a very friendly welcome.
  • With so much to see including beaches, safaris, mountains and lakes be sure to pack to meet all your needs - but it still needs to be lightweight.
  • Loose clothing will keep you cooler; a long-sleeved top with long pants is a must for the evenings when the mosquitoes will be out in force.
  • Malaria must be taken seriously - make sure you take the right medication and plenty of insect/mosquito repellent.
  • Avoid blue or black clothing - the tsetse flies are drawn to these colors, and their bite can give you African sleeping sickness.
  • During the day it is hot so pack lightweight layers in natural fabrics, such as linen, bamboo and cotton that will keep you cool and are easier to wash and dry. Keep to light colors but not white, as it will get dirty and dusty very quickly.
  • Wear plenty of sunscreen (we love the Riemann P20 range for 10 hour protection) and sunglasses. And don't forget a safari hat or cap to protect you from the sun.
  • On safari you'll need a fleece too; the early mornings and evenings are cooler.
  • If you are visiting the beaches pack your swimwear but keep it strictly to the beach or pool area, otherwise cover up with a kaftan or t-shirt/shorts. You'll cause offence otherwise.

What Shoes To Pack

  • Pack comfortable sneakers or walking shoes if you plan on exploring markets or uplands (we love Hotter shoes, for comfort with style).

Clothing Tips for Women

  • Leave your valuables and jewelry at home, you really won't need them.
  • A skirt or loose-fitting pants are good in the heat and will protect you from the sun.
  • Pack a colorful sarong or pashmina which can be worn over your shorts or short skirt if going out into a village. It can also be used to keep off the sun or add a bit of style for the evening.
  • If you are here on business bear in mind that Malawians are very particular about dress formalities; pack a formal but light skirt-suit below the knee, or trouser suit.

Clothing Tips for Men

  • For versatile and stylish beachwear, try the Madda Fella range of shirts, shorts, polos and swimwear.
  • If you are here on business bear in mind that Malawians are very particular about dress formalities, and you will never see a Malawian civil servant or businessman in shorts or without a tie.
  • For great versatile travel jackets with multiple pockets including RFID security options, we love the SCOTTeVEST range.

Pack for the Weather

  • The months of April, May, June, July, August, September, October and November are a popular time to visit. The evenings can be cooler in the uplands so pack a fleece or sweater.
  • We love the Weather+ app - it gives an accurate 6 day forecast for day and night, which when you're planning from home is really helpful. You can keep all the places you've been to too - a nice way to remember your trip :) Download for iPad/iPhone or Android

Regions of Malawi

  • The southern lake is a Muslim area and shorts and t-shirts can be frowned upon. Our advice is for ladies to wear pants or knee-length or longer skirts, and tops which cover your shoulders. For men, long pants are a good idea. We would say the same applies to rural areas.

Other Things To Pack

  • If you are using internal flights to see the country bear in mind that the luggage allowance is usually lower than for international flights and may be just 10-12 kilos. Use an accurate luggage scale to ensure you keep within the weight allowance.
  • A soft-sided rucksack will be more practical than a hard suitcase, and using packing cubes can help to keep your belongings tidy whilst compressing the volume too.
  • Pack a sling bag or lightweight day sack for sightseeing trips and game drives.
  • Look after your mobile phone with a phone bunjee - it protects against loss, theft and damage. You may like to carry a solar powered charger too, to boost your battery when out and about - you don't want to miss that great photo opportunity!
  • To use electrical gadgets you may need a travel adapter plug, and also a step down voltage converter if your devices are not designed for the local voltage (230V).
  • Don’t drink or even brush your teeth in tap water. Consider taking a Water-to-Go Filtration Water Bottle.
  • Don't forget to leave room for souvenirs on the way home... basket work and wooden carvings are popular buys, and are readily available in towns and from roadside stalls. Haggling is expected!

Last updated 16 December 2016.

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Pack Light

  • Less luggage to carry
  • Save time packing and unpacking
  • Save money on baggage fees

Pack Right

  • Respect local cultures
  • Feel comfortable and confident
  • Suitable outfits for all occasions

A Message From Helen



I want you to have an amazing vacation. That's why I started WhatToWearOnVacation.com,
to help you pack with confidence and stay safe, secure and comfortable.