Heading to the Land of the Smiles and wondering what to wear in Thailand? Fear not: check out this complete Thailand packing list!
Packing for Thailand isn’t as simple as it might appear at first glance. There are several things to consider, such as the weather in specific parts of the country and cultural norms.
Check out this meticulous Thailand checklist with all the essentials for Thailand you can’t forget.
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Table of Contents
A Complete Thailand Packing List
⇒ The Best Backpack for Thailand
Trust me, you don’t wanna carry all around Thailand a huge 80l backpack. And a rolling suitcase? Forget it! The roads are not always paved, and even when they are, there are always plenty of obstacles and often there are no sidewalks.
After a few times of making such mistakes, I decided that the best solution for me was a 45l backpack, so I could take it with me on the plane and avoid all the extra fees. Also, I’m quite tiny, and carrying over 12 kilos on my back is really hard for me.
I came across the Setout backpack by Tortuga Backpacks and after having traveled extensively with it, I think it’s the best luggage for Thailand for multiple reasons.
• It’s a 45L backpack, meaning it’s carry-on size, and very light, weighing only 3.3 pounds (1.5 kg)
• It fits a TON of stuff! Like, for real! Check out my video below to see how I fit enough clothes for 10 days, 3 pairs of shoes, 4 bikinis and a lot more.
• It opens from the side like a suitcase, not from the top like the classic backpacks, which makes it so much easier to pack and find single items. It’s also very easy to keep your stuff organized thanks to the many zips and compartments + a specific compartment that fits a laptop, an e-reader and a tablet. If you also buy the packing cubes, which I highly recommend, they are made specifically to fit perfectly inside the backpack (the set include two small and one big cubes).
• It’s ergonomic, and the hip belt really helps taking the weight off your shoulders, which is what I was mostly worried about. It really does make a difference, and while I struggled with my previous backpack, I can carry this one for quite a while!
• The backpack is stylish and minimalist, and I love that it helps you to blend in and not look like the typical tourist (which also helps to stay safe).
• Great customer service. We had a problem with our shipping (totally independent of the company) and the company was extremely supportive and fixed the issue.
⇒ Clothing Essentials: Tops, Bottoms & Dresses
Let’s start with the best clothes to wear in Thailand. Packing the right clothes for Thailand is essential. After all, you’re going to be wearing the same clothes over and over if you’re on a long trip, so you want to make sure they are the right ones.
No matter the destination of your trip, I always recommend sticking to neutral colors for the tops and more colorful items for the bottoms, so it’s easier to mix and match.
Let’s start with the tops. In your Thailand backpacking list, include these 10 items:
• 2 tank tops such as these basic ones from Amazon;
• 1 nicer sleeveless blouse that I can either use for the day or that I can mix with jeans or leggings for a night outfit;
• 2 long-sleeve t-shirts or blouses: I usually mix a light, breathable one such as a linen blouse that is perfect for visiting temples with another heavier one (a cotton t-shirt or a thermal shirt if I know I will be visiting places where it’s colder at night);
• 1 fitness tank top that you can use for exercising, trekking or other active experiences.
When it comes to the best pants for Thailand, I recommend packing these 5 items:
• 1 pair of everyday shorts, preferably not too short. I travel with a very simple pair of linen, black shorts like these ones. They are my favorite pants to wear in Thailand.
• 1 pair of athletic shorts for any sporty activity (or to sleep in) such as these ones by Under Armour.
• 1 pair of breathable long pants. While you won’t wear pants all the time, you should still have at least one pair. They’re useful for when you want to cover up a bit and don’t want to sweat.
I actually recommend buying a pair of the very typical Thai pants that you can find anywhere in Thailand for less than $5 once you fly here. They are breathable, and comfy, and they’ll become your new best friend.
• 1 pair of leggings or jeans, depending on your itinerary. If you plan to spend a lot of time in cities, a pair of light jeans that don’t weigh too much such as jeggings can be very useful, otherwise a pair of leggings will suffice.
• 1 over-the-knee skirt (not a tight one): you can buy one directly in Thailand or choose one like this.
You should also pack 3 dresses:
• 1 simple knee-length dress. I travel with a dress that’s very similar to this one.
• 1 simple black dress that is both the perfect Thailand outfit for a night out, or you can accessorize it for your day to day activities. Check out this one.
• 1 long dress in linen or cotton like this one.
Of course, you can add more if you want and have space. I travel with 7 dresses (yes, 7!) and they all fit in my 45L backpack – if you don’t believe me, check the video at the beginning of this post!
⇒ Underwear To Bring to Thailand
In your Asia packing list (for anywhere, really), underwear cannot miss. Bring enough underwear for a week, but don’t overpack. You can always wash it by hand in case you can’t find a washing machine! In your things to pack for Thailand include:
• 3 pairs of socks;
• 3 bras, of which 1 strapless if you are going to pack racerback t-shirts or dresses for which you can’t show a bra strap. Again, I buy all my bras from Intimssimi, they are the comfiest and super stylish!
⇒ What Shoes to Wear in Thailand?
When it comes to the best shoes for Thailand, it’s a little subjective. Some people almost sleep in their flip flops, other prefer to wear sandals or sneakers. In my opinion, you should bring these 3 pairs of footwear in Thailand.
• 1 pair of Flip Flops – trust me, you don’t want to wear shoes all the time when you’re in Thailand. Flip-flops are an ideal and casual solution for Thailand. You’re pretty much expected to wear them, otherwise are you a real backpacker?
Havaianas are my favorites as they are durable and cute, and the ones with ankle straps also look great with a dress for a night out.
• 1 pair of Sneakers that you can use when it rains, for some light hiking or exercising. I’m a fan of and travel with Skechers, their memory foam insole is as comfortable as it gets!
• 1 pair of Sandals – I’m not talking about some jewel, cute sandals, but some sturdy sandals that you can use as your everyday walking shoes.
If you’re looking for something functional and really comfortable even for long hikes, to me the best sandals for Thailand are Birkenstock sandals (I have them currently in my luggage).
Another great option I used in the past were these Clarks sandals that proved to be very comfortable, and they are more elegant and feminine than the Birkenstock.
⇒ What to Take to Thailand: Toiletries
• Toothbrush + Toothpaste
• Shampoo + Conditioner: you can buy travel-sized items or save money by buying a set of refillable travel bottles, which is a more sustainable option and you get to bring your favorite products you already have at home.
• Travel Size Deodorant (choose a stick one instead of a spray one to keep your liquids to a minimum).
• Hair Brush like this one.
• Batiste Travel Size Dry Shampoo: this is going to be your beauty secret for those bad hair mornings and for the days you were too busy partying to wash it. Find it here.
• Tampons and pads – you can easily find pads in Thailand, but tampons are more difficult to find (you can find them at Boot’s but they are more expensive than in Europe or the US), so stock up before you leave.
• Sunscreen – protecting your skin from the often-vicious sun is a must. The tropical heat and temperatures can be harmful, so do not forget to bring high SPF defense sunscreen!
• Mosquito Repellent – a mosquito repellent will definitely come in handy in Thailand. There is no malaria in Thailand, but mosquitoes abound and they can be really annoying, so protect yourself with a good mosquito repellent, especially if you are traveling to remote and jungle areas.
⇒ Make Up Essentials for your Thailand Travel Packing List
You probably won’t want make up on a daily basis in Thailand, as it’s hot and sweaty and the last thing you want on your face is a layer of sticky foundation. However, it’s nice to have a few makeup essentials for your nights out.
Try and keep your liquid makeup to a minimum if you are traveling carry-on only like I do. I usually pack:
• A compact Make Up Pouch like this one.
• BB cream instead of foundation for a lighter feel. I like these ones from Neutrogena and bareMinerals – remember that a foundation or BB cream will stay on your face for many hours, so avoid choosing low-quality products that don’t let your skin breathe.
• Eyeliner or eye pencil. My favorite brand for eye makeup is Dior – the products last a very long time and they are great quality, but also eyeliners by NARS are very good.
• Concealer to cover a blemish or those dark circles after a night out. I’ve been using for 3 years this concealer by KIKO and will never change it for anything else.
• Mini Polish Nail – I love these ones by Mavala.
• Make up remover towelettes (find them here).
⇒ Accessories, Beach Essentials & Other Items
• 2 bikinis (or more!) or other swimwear. Thailand’s beaches are perfection. It’d be a shame not to pack swimwear and miss out on those slices of heaven! I usually shop for bikinis on Asos.
• Bring a hat, trust me! A hat makes for the perfect accessory for all those Instagram photos and it will keep you repaired from the sun, which is quite strong in Thailand. I’m a big fan of straw boater hats like this one.
• A few accessories (bangles, a necklace, and so on). Accessories can really spice up any look! Even better, don’t bring any from home, just stop at a local market and get some gorgeous ones there (and contribute to the local economy too).
• Sarong or scarf to cover up when it’s needed or, again, to transform any plain outfit in just one second. Don’t forget that plenty of temples in Thailand have very strict codes. Using a sarong is a very easy and effective solution for that. Just slip it on and you’ll be able to go to any temple without a hitch.
• A rain jacket like this one that can be packed in a small pouch, especially useful if you’re visiting Thailand in August or July or other times during the rainy season (which varies for different islands).
• Documents (remember to make a copy of all important documents and store the copy in a different place than the original ones).
• A lock if you’re going to stay in hostels to keep your things safe.
• Earplugs + Eye Mask for those bus and plane rides.
• Tissues: a lot of the places you will stop for a bathroom break won’t have toilet paper, so bring some with you!
• A large microfiber towel: whether for drying off after the beach or after a hike, or as a daily you’ll always find use for a fast dry towel. They’re very effective at what they do, and should be an essential for any trip.
⇒ What to Bring to Thailand: Electronics
• Universal Travel Adapter – it shouldn’t be missing in your Thailand kit. Better choose one that lets you use simultaneously the AC Power Socket and two USB ports like this one.
• Mirrorless Camera -this might not be necessary if you have a smartphone that takes good photos. However, if you want to step up your game, I recommend a mirror less camera that’s easily transportable, not as bulky as a DSLR, and can still take great videos and photos. I personally have a Sony Alpha a6000 and I love it.
• Go Pro or other action camera, cause it would be a shame not to be able to capture what’s below that turquoise water. I use a GoPro HERO7 Black and the quality of the photos and videos is very good.
• Laptop – not everyone decides to bring a laptop, but if you’re a digital nomad like me, or you plan to travel for a very long time, having a laptop will make your life easier (and you can watch Netflix on a bigger screen!). I’m in love with my 14″ ASUS VivoBook S14 that’s perfect for traveling: it weighs only 3,2 pounds (1,45 kg) and the battery lasts up to 8 hours!
• Power bank to survive those long bus rides – check out this super slim portable charger that’s perfect for travel.
• Waterproof pouch for your phone (this universal case is the bestseller on Amazon).
• Hair dryer – not a necessity, but if you like to dry your hair I recommend this mini hair dryer from Conair.
⇒ What Medications Can I Take to Thailand?
When it comes to whether bringing medicines or not, it’s really a personal choice. In Thailand if you stick to the most touristy places and the cities, you’ll find pharmacies at every corner selling everything you need for cheaper than at home. If you’re bringing prescription medications, you should bring your prescription with you just in case.
However, if you prefer to have the peace of mind or you are planning to visit more remote areas, a good basic kit to bring around should include these medications to take to Thailand:
• Ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory drug
• Imodium or other over-the-counter medication for diarrhea in case of light food poisoning
• Plasters and antiseptic wound cleaner in case you get cut
• Dramamine for motion sickness (trust me, you might need it for the ferry and bus rides)
• 1% hydrocortisone cream for insect bites
• Travelers’ diarrhea antibiotic or a general antibiotic (ask your doctor for a prescription)
• Gyno Canesten or other medication for yeast infections for girls (yeast infections are unfortunately common when you spend a lot of time in your wet bikini)
• Condoms and/or birth control
What to Wear in Thailand: Tips & Tricks
⇒ What to Wear in Bangkok
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Bangkok is slightly peculiar when it comes to a dress code because you want to dress both light and appropriate. So, what to pack for Bangkok?
During the day, soft linens can make all the difference in the world. Thailand has a strong tropical climate – that means it’s hot and very humid. However, Bangkok is also a fashionable place, where well-dressed tourists blend in more than those that just let loose.
While shorts might seem like the best idea, it’s not always the case. Wearing shorts in Thailand is OK, and as long as you’re at least decently covered, you shouldn’t run into any troubles.
Wondering what to wear in Thailand temples? If you plan on visiting temples (and why wouldn’t you?!), then you should know that almost all of them have strict dress codes. Shoulders and knees, and, in some cases, ankles should always be covered up. So, pants and shirts are a must in your Thailand travel checklist.
For women that prefer to wear dresses, scarves and leggings are probably the ideal solution. Thin and light scarves work wonders when the sun is high, and leggings are a quick solution for temples if you plan on wearing the dress as a tunic. Don’t forget to add them to your Bangkok packing list!
⇒ What to Wear in Phuket, Koh Samui, and all the Other Thai Islands
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If you’re wondering specifically what to pack for Phuket, Koh Tao, Phi Phi Island, or other islands, know that Thailand’s islands are not that different from the mainland but they’re generally considered looser when it comes to cultural norms. Since the islands are generally where most tourists go when they visit Thailand, shorts are totally ok but please don’t show your booty! Decency is still very much appreciated.
However, items like linen clothes and soft fabrics are still absolutely necessary. You’ll be spending a lot of your time on the beaches, so in addition to your Thailand beach wear, make sure that you have something to cover yourself up afterwards. It is frowned upon to go to a cafe or restaurant in your swimwear.
Whatever the case, make sure not to forget bringing quick-dry fabrics. That goes double if you plan on hiking or trekking through Thailand’s stunning scenery. The country is in the tropical zone, so going anywhere is a sweaty affair. You’ll also have to keep yourself decently covered up at the same time to protect from mosquitoes, so choose breathable fabrics.
READ ALSO: A Complete Travel Guide to Koh Samui
⇒ What to Wear in Chiang Mai & Northern Thailand
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Chiang Mai, the most popular destination in Northern Thailand, is a city filled with hipster cafes, lots of incredible temples, and incredible landscapes all around. For the city, the same rules of Bangkok apply, although at night in the winter it gets a little chilly, so bring a sweater with you and long pants.
READ ALSO: The Perfect 3 Days in Chiang Mai Itinerary
When deciding what to pack for Thailand, remember that if you’re heading to more remote areas, the jungle in Thailand may be a lot of fun to trek through but it takes extra preparations.
For your jungle / Northern Thailand essentials, you definitely need good shoes, so good hiking and water shoes are a must (you don’t want to ruin your hiking shoes if you have to pass through a river or stream). Thick socks are also incredibly important because getting blisters on a jungle trek is pretty common.
• When it comes to choosing the perfect hiking shoes, you’ll probably have to do a bit of research. In my personal experience, Columbia hiking boots are great quality and offer great price value.
• For water sandals, I recommend Teva sandals that can replace hiking shoes all together, since they are durable and comfortable also for long walks.
Good body coverage is really important, especially for your head, hats and scarves generally do the trick. Active-wear clothes are essential, considering that you need to let your skin breathe. Don’t forget to include something with longer sleeves in case it gets cold.
There you go! As you can see, it’s not so difficult to pack for Thailand. You just have to take a few extra precautions so that you’ll have the perfect trip. Have a great time in Thailand!
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