Feeding Elephants | Thailand Packing List

[SOLVED] What to Wear in Thailand? [+Printable Checklist]

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Beaches, mountains, and crazy Bangkok – Thailand is a fun country to visit. Whether you are island hopping or gap year stopping there’s something for every type of travel lover. However, with all the excitement of planning the trip of a lifetime, we often get carried away with what to take and end up packing too much. This Thailand packing list will detail what to wear in Thailand including the travel essentials, toiletries and electronics you can’t leave at home. We (Gemma and Craig) will also detail what to buy in Thailand!

Know Before You Go

Packing for Thailand shouldn’t be a stressful experience but we advise checking out the weather forecast and this list of the top Thailand activities to help you work out your travel gear.

Weather in Thailand

The Insta-perfect picture of Thailand would have you thinking that it is sunny all of the time but that is fake news, unfortunately!  The best time to visit Thailand depends on which areas you plan to visit.

  • May-late September/early October is bad for the west coast islands like Phuket and Krabi.
  • September-December is rainy season for the east coast islands like Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.
  • The north sees a drier season around November-May.

Top Things to do in Thailand

  • Rum buckets and scorpion snacks in Bangkok.
  • Waterfalls and hot springs in Pai.
  • Hiking, rafting and elephant washing in Chiang Mai.
  • Temple hunting in Chiang Rai.
  • Diving and snorkelling at Koh Phi Phi.
  • Full moon party Ko Pha-Ngan.
  • Expat life Koh Tao.

Thailand Packing List

Naturally, the number of items depends on your luggage size and duration. For two weeks, consider the following.

Clothes – Female/Ladies

  • Four vest tops (day).
  • Three cami/dress vest tops.
  • Shorts for a beach/city.
  • Skirts (I actually prefer skirts to shorts, dumpy thighs!)
  • Black gym/yoga pants – casual and disco pants in one item.
  • Dresses – little black dress is always a winner, match with flip-flops and a scarf/shirt for the perfect Thailand outfit.
  • Cardigan.
  • Hoody.
  • Shorts for hiking.
  • Overtrousers for downpours while hiking
  • A waterproof coat like my beloved Marmot which folds into its own pocket, great for hiking/saves space.
  • Merino wool base layer (keeps you cool in hot climates, warm in cold conditions). I love the Icebreaker range.

Hot Springs in Pai

Convertible Clothes

Hybrid clothing is on point. This convertible dress can be worn in twenty different ways. Saves space and looks unique in every photo you take!

This U.S equivalent isn’t quite as versitile but does convert from dress to skirt.

» » Pack travel detergent. We washed our clothes with shampoo during our travels and they stunk after a while.  Click here to see the range.

What to Pack for Thailand (Male/Men)

Guys, you’ll want to still look suave while fighting the sweat. Here’s our tried, tested and refined Thailand travel essentials for men.

» » Pro tip: You will need to cover up when visiting temples, some have clothes for you to hire there.

Thailand Shoes

Personally, I think the best shoes for Thailand come in a three-pack! Flip-flops for beach days, hiking boots or covered shoes for treks and fancier sandals for evening wear.

  • A sturdy pair of flip-flops (I swear by Havianias).
  • A fancier pair of sandals for partying.
  • Closed shoes like a pair of black trainers (go with everything) for scooter rides – don’t attempt mopeds in flip-flops you will scrape or burn your feet (Craig scraped, I burnt).
  • Gortex waterproof hiking shoes or boots (shoes are lighter, I wear Salomon), Craig wears Scarpa boots for treks and wading his way through monsoon roadblocks!

» » That’s it, don’t pack another pair. You are just wasting precious space.

How to Pack Your Travel Shoes for Thailand

Wear your heaviest pair of shoes during travel/transit(that’s why I like my Salomon, they look nice as well as support my awkward feet) and squeeze your other shoes down the sides of your suitcase or backpack.

Many backpacks open like suitcases now (front opening like a clamshell) so you can get to your shoes easily enough. It’s often worth popping your flip-flops in your day bag for accessibility. Hot feet are no fun!

Invest in a heavy-duty shoe bag for dirty hiking boots, you can double this bag up as a waterproof bag which is useful for watersports.

Scooter Rides Thailand

Underwear/Swimwear

When creating your checklist on what to bring to Thailand, pride of place should be a couple of swimwear options because let’s face it, we book a trip to Thailand to get those Instagram worthy shots of the palm trees and turquoise waters. So let’s dive in. 

  • Pants/knickers/boxers – I pack extra because, well… sweat.
  • Cotton trainer socks.
  • Merino wool hiking socks (men and (women) – very important for hiking as they are breathable.
  • Bras.
  • Sports bra if top heavy.
  • Bikinis/costumes.
  • Kaftan, sarongs, cover-ups – don’t go wild on these. One is enough if you are going all inclusive or looking to book into a luxury hotel (they are economical!)
  • Swimming shorts.

»» Top tip for bikinis – pack dark bottom, a variety of bold coloured bikini tops for different looks.

Buy a snorkel there.

Travel Accessories

  • Sunglasses.
  • Headscarf/hat.
  • Large scarf – travel hack: scarves make great covers, blankets, bags and curtains for dorm beds (read our hilarious tips for dorm users post).
  • Day bag (I adore my Kanken).
  • Tote bag – stop the Thai plastic tide.
  • Leave the bling (including engagement rings) at home.
  • Glitter for Full Moon BUT don’t go in the sea with it – respect the Thai marine life.
  • Bamboo straw and cutlery kit.

Electronics

  • You definitely want to take headphones for bus/train/boat/plane journeys. They are also your best bet for when there’s a snorer in your company and great for hiding behind when you are too hungover to be social (like Harry Potter’s invisible cloak).
  • GoPro to document all the advnentures you are going to take and definitely splurge on the waterproof cover and floating hand grip.
  • These waterproof phone covers are great for keeping your phone alive but still available for selfies.
  • We love Anker battery pack for phone and GoPro charging on the go.
  • Craig never hikes without the JBL Clip. Superb sound, economically priced (makes for a great gift too).
  • Universal plugs with USB slots are space savers.

Travel Toiletries + Medication

  • Suntan lotion.
  • Nice high factor face moisturisers like La Roche Posay.
  • Cleanser.
  • Soap and solid shampoos save space, avoid spills and tend to be plastic free.
  • Razor.
  • Toothbrush.
  • Tooth tablets (no spill).
  • Make-up: keep this to a minimum. You’ll rarely wear it (even if you put it on, you can expect it to fall off your face in the heat!) I like a palette which covers all bases.
  • Mosquito repellent – you need to decide if you want DEET  (like Off!) or DEET-free products like Avon So Soft. We’ve used both, nothing works if mosquitoes like you.
  • You don’t need a mosquito net, just make sure you book accommodation with it.
  • Malaria tablets – I cheaped out and took the (free) budget malaria tablets for our trip to Southeast Asia. I definitely didn’t feel myself, I bruised easily and felt a bit paranoid. For South America, I paid for Malarone and felt better. Others have had different experiences on both! Share your experience in the comments below.
  • See your doctor for vaccinations.
  • Well stocked first aid kit with needles.
  • Tubigrip for strains.
  • Leukotape to cover heels during hikes (that stuff does not budge!)
  • Electrolytes for the hangovers (rum buckets, ‘nuf said).
  • Filtering/purifying water bottle like the Water 2 Go (15% off using TSA15 at checkout) or Life Straw.
  • Don’t forget your travel insurance. Our review of True Traveller and World Nomads can be read here.

Thailand Packing Checklist

Click here to download your checklist for things to pack for Thailand (you may need to log in to your Gmail account).

Thailand Packing List Checklist

Things To Buy In Thailand

You can pretty much buy anything in Thailand (7/11, Tesco, Pizza Hut) so don’t stress if you forget an item. It is a rite of passage to purchase:

  • Hareem elephant pants/trousers.
  • ‘Same same but different’ vesties.
  • Tiger balm.
  • Thai silk blankets.
  • Fakebans (no protection though).
  • Thai lanterns (don’t let them go/bad for the environment).
  • Massages (super cheap).
  • And for the most permanent souvenir – a Sak Yant tattoo!

» » All of the above can be purchased at Thai markets and along Kho San Road in Bangkok. I wish we had got a fake university card for cheap student discounts back home…

How to Pack for Thailand

One of the hardest parts of packing for Thailand is being strict on what you are taking. Pro tip – pack once then save time to re-pack because a third of what is in your bag/case should be left behind!

Backpack users – consider some kind of separation system like packing cubes or large ziplock bags. Roll your tops then place in the cube/bag. Do the same for your bottoms. Roll valuables like sunglasses up with an item of clothing.

Suitcase users – roll or fold your items, the decision is yours. I do believe that rolling creates more space though. Roll valuables like sunglasses up with an item of clothing.

For both – place shoes down the sides of the bag or make the shoes fit into each other and pack them first. Place items like socks, head scarves etc in the shoes.

Keep your flip-flops in your day bag. Pack a clean pair of underwear, top and swimwear in your carry-on bag too just in case your luggage goes missing. Tripping with your partner? Pack half of a bag each that way if one case goes missing you still have half of your Thailand essentials.

I pack my underwear and swimwear in a separate make-up bag. I also store my toiletries in a second make-up bag (waterproof).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is wearing shorts in Thailand acceptable?

Sure! But if you plan to visit any temples you might want to pack a long pair of pants and a long sleeved top.

2. Colors not to wear in Thailand?

Nothing is off limits but research states that mosquitos prefer darker shades. On the flipside, laundry store washing machines really don’t like white so expect your gear to come back looking a little on the yellow side.

P2o suntan lotion definitely does like white, it stains it.

3. What medications can I take to Thailand?

I took malaria tablets and the pill with me to Thailand with no issues. It is wise to carry your prescription receipt with you in case you are questioned.

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This Thailand packing list details the essential travel gear for your Thailand itinerary. Free downloadable checklist included.

Final Thoughts

Thailand is honestly a care-free country with an infrastructure set up for tourists and backpackers. As long as you have your passport, visa, vaccinations and the correct meds you don’t have to overthink packing for Thailand because this country has everything ‘same same but different’! Whether you are backpacking Thailand for a month or flashpacking to one or two destinations you are in for a fun time. Do remember the hangover hydration tablets!

What have we missed, tell us in the comments below?

Gemma and Craig are full-time workers with a life-long travel habit. Flirting with 30 and let loose on the world! Gemma writes, Craig looks good in the photos.

Comments 10

  1. Chang Mai is on my bucket list on my travels to Asia! Hopefully I get to go very very soon. I’ve mainly traveled to eastern Asia and never the southern parts (I love China, especially Sichuan).

    Don’t know if you know anything about this, but what are some of the best cuisines to eat in Phuket? I heard that the food is very unique to each city so I was looking for more details!

    Thanks and best wishes!

    – Jackie

    1. Post
      Author

      I absolutely love Thai food – highly recommend the cooking class. You get heaps of courses and the sticky rice with mango is a dream. I’m not familiar with what is special to Phuket unfortunately. I had Pad Thai and Massaman curry in most locations. Now I am salivating!

  2. Thanks, this was really useful! I always overpack! Loved what you said about the Harem pants being a rite of passage 😂

    1. Post
      Author

      Just back from overpacking for Iceland! Hahaha, it’s what makes writing these guides so easy – others can learn from my mistakes.

    1. Post
      Author

      Just back from Iceland and I definitely overpacked. Didn’t need the padded winter trousers for September! Lesson learned.

  3. I’ve visited Bangkok before but it was such a short visit I didn’t get to see anything outside of Bangkok. So Chang Mai is the next part of Thailand on my list and the fact they have a Tesco!! enough said

    1. Post
      Author
  4. This is a great post. We also overpacked for our 8-month journey around SE Asia. We realised early on that we didn’t need so much stuff so left some of our clean and neatly folded clothes behind (in hope that someone else can use them) and travelled with just 40l backpacks (around 8kg) for the rest of the trip. And even then we felt we had too much stuff. And we also left our mosquito net behind because everywhere we stayed throughout SE Asia, there was one.

    Recently I travelled to Cancun for a work trip and my colleagues couldn’t believe when I rocked to the airport with just a rucksack when they all struggled with 20 kg luggages stuffed with clothes they probably didn’t even wear. We were only there for a week! Some of them told me they wish they knew how to pack light.

    Travel can teach you a lot of life lessons 😀
    Kristina x

    1. Post
      Author

      That’s a really nice way to get rid of stuff. I did similar in Austin (party, festival clothes before moving on to South America) but I’m not confident they were picked up! Agree, we never needed our moz nets either. Our electronics seem to take up so much room though. Laughing at your Mexico trip! My Mum is a terrible packer for those kind of trips too. You really don’t need that many shoes when your feet bloat up in the heat!

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