What to Pack for Thailand: A Packing List for Travelers
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Packing for Thailand is like a carefully choreographed dance – you need to be mindful of the climate differences between the north and the south, the dietary and technical restrictions, and if you’re moving there to teach, you need to make sure to bring enough of the things that are hard to find here.
So, what do you bring to Thailand? This list is the result of a few trips to The Land of Smiles and was created to focus on items that don’t make it into the “10 Things to Pack for Your Thailand Beach Adventure” – there’s nothing wrong with those guides, but if you’re going to live or travel in Thailand for an extended amount of time, your needs are going to vary compared so someone only going for the Full Moon Party (though you should definitely check that out!).
Our Packing List for Thailand
Thailand makes it incredibly easy to buy a SIM card in all of their airports, but there is often a sizable line of other travelers with the same idea. The good news is that once you have one it’s quite simple to reload online, but if you want to plan ahead and skip the line then buy a SIM before you go!
Universal Travel Adaptor
This is the best travel adapter I’ve ever used – compact, flexible, and complete with 2 USB ports to support my devices. If you’re moving to Thailand you might opt for the bigger version with more plugs, but for most this will do just fine. Thailand uses 220 volts across 2 prongs (usually) so plan ahead!
Anker Portable Charger
Getting around Thailand is pretty simple given the abundance of busses and trains, but finding power outlets on all of these is not. These power banks have kept my phone from dying when I needed it for directions, helped me stave off boredom by keeping my Kindle charged, and even help me make some friends once in the Bangkok airport when there were no plugs to be found.
I know, I know – a GoPro isn’t exactly unheard of when packing for Thailand, but I wanted to add it because it’s added so much value to how I remember trips. Seriously, if you haven’t tried to capture any of your adventures in video, now is the time – such a great addition to photos – just check out YouTube for inspiration!
Most of Thailand can get pretty wet during monsoon season (July – October) and popup showers are common. Luckily, umbrellas are cheap and readily available, but you definitely get what you pay for. If you want to plan ahead, grab something that you know will keep you dry ahead of time.
LifeStraw Water Purifier
It’s still not safe to drink the water in Thailand and while it’s inevitable that you’ll end up carrying around bottles of water, having a LifeStraw for that suspect restaurant, hostel, or apartment will ensure your water is safe to consume.
Having a reliable bottle not only makes carrying water much easier, the large mouth on this Nalgene is perfect for the LifeStraw if you don’t quite trust the source. The benefits of traveling with a bottle are many and if you’ve ever gotten dehydrated on a plane, train, or bus then you know it’s better to plan ahead!
Lonely Planet Guide Book
Who doesn’t know what the Lonely Planet is by now? I know it’s easy to think you’ll rely on your phone when packing for Thailand – I thought the same thing – but after picking up a used LP I realized how much I enjoy having a physical book to browse, mark up with notes, and use to planning. Plus, it’s really enjoyable to pass along when you leave or move!
When packing for countries like Thailand that have such a consistent wet season I’ve started to prefer using dry bags instead of day packs – this decision has kept my stuff dry during sudden downpours and allowed me to bring anything I want to the beach or boat without hesitation.
Immodium is deservedly first on this list – while delicious and cheap, Thai food is often a gamble (especially street food) and Immodium has saved both me and my friends numerous time. Also worth noting is that if you go to a Thai pharmacy with stomach pains they will try and give you antibiotics, so Immodium saves you from taking those unnecessarily.
Even if you aren’t staying in hostels or hotels with paper-thin walls, earplugs are a necessity when packing for Thailand. From the flight there to silencing the fruit vendors hawking papaya at 6am, these things will pay for themselves 10x over.
It’s no secret that Thailand gets hot – but what you might notknow is that sunscreen is super expensive there as most locals opt to wear long sleeves and pants instead of using protection. Don’t make the same mistake I did and assume it’d be easy to SPF there – it’s very much a luxury item.
While not as hard to find as sunscreen, bug spray has taken a back seat to insense in Thailand. You’re not safe even in the city and having a can in your bag is much easier than running out and trying to buy some when you need it most.
Razors for both men and women are notoriously hard to find in Thailand and the selection is often poor. It’s obviously not feasible to bring a stash for the entire year but a few weeks worth will ensure you have the time to find a store that carries something decent.
Ahh, life on the road! When considering what to bring to Thailand, a device that makes it easier to pee might not be at the top of the list – but it’s my advice that you reconsider. The bathrooms in the Land of Smiles are often lacking or non-existent and it’s devices like these that make it easy to get around and see what you want to see without the fear of always needing to find a bathroom.
Sanitizer kind of goes hand in hand with the previous item – a lack of clean and available bathrooms means it’s going to be a lot easier to bring your own soap than to have to sniff it out each time. Plus, if you’re eating street food, it’s always a good idea to clean up before and after the meal.
Dry Fit Shirts for Men
It’s pretty much unavoidable that some of your clothes will never be the same after Thailand – the heat, humidity, and rain can all wreak havoc on most materials but having some dry-fit stuff will not only help you stay cool but also prolong the life of your gear. By the end of my stay (both here and in China), I had a dry fit shirt for every day of the week during summer.
Dry Fit Dresses for Women
Girls aren’t immune to the weather either! Having a few of these dresses from Columbia will make moving, working, and traveling so much more pleasant. A note to the teachers out there – make sure to get the ones with sleeves, it will present a better image to your school!
My entire footwear game changed when I was given a pair of Chacos nearly a 10 years ago – they are so versatile that I have worn them in nearly every situation you can think of. Seriously, if you’re going to be walking around town, hitting up the beach, or teaching in a classroom make sure bring a pair to Thailand – they will get so much use!
Swimwear seems like an obvious thing to bring to Thailand but it’s worth reiterating because I found most suits sold there to be of poor quality. I’m sure there are some good ones out there but if you’re planning on hitting up the pool or beach just save yourself the hassle and bring a few pairs of your own.
Not only are sarongs super practical for casual lounging in Thailand, but they are often a necessity as a few tourist sites require you to have your legs covered in order to enter. While they are super cheap to buy ahead of time, buying one outside of the Grand Palace because you forgot will cost you.
Hats are a bit of divisive item in my world – plenty of people find them unsightly but I consider them a huge asset when moving around a country that is notoriously hot and sunny. Even if you’ve applied the sunscreen liberally, a hat will shield your face and any places you may have missed – the trick finding one that doesn’t make you look too goofy.
Ready to Pack for Thailand?
No matter if you’re going for work or pleasure, Thailand will be an incredible trip. If you treat the packing and planning as part of the excitement you will be way ahead of the game in terms of enjoying yourself – safe travels!