Thailand Packing List (Advice After 8 Months of Travel)

packing list thailand

So you’re heading to Thailand and need some advice on a packing list? You’re in the right place. After traveling as a couple for 8 months around Southeast Asia, we’ve picked up a few tips that we’ll share with you in this article. In this article, we’ll show you exactly what we packed for our entire 8-month travel; give a packing checklist for both men and women; give tips on what we used to save space and weight; tips on saving money on baggage fees at the airport; and advice we wished we had known before traveling in a minimalist way.

In our 8 month travel we did a load of motorcycle journeys to rural locations and adventure travel with minimal packing!

Don’t Overpack!

If there’s one thing you need to know before going, don’t overpack. Many travelers arrive in Thailand with huge backpacks (60-80L) and pack everything they think they might need under the sun. Don’t be this guy or girl. All you need for a trip in Thailand is a 40L backpack (or less) that fits carry-on size requirements, a couple of changes of clothes, and some toiletries.

Carrying around a huge backpack that weighs over 10kg in the crazy heat, and rainfall that you’ll get here is not something you want to be doing. We packed a 40L backpack to the brim the first time we went, even though that was too much and we ended up getting rid of some things on the way due to the weight.

To learn more about optimising space in your bag, check this article we wrote on living out of a backpack for 8 months.

You can do your laundry anywhere in Thailand, for about 30-50 baht (if done by yourself) or 40 baht/kg (if done by service or hotel). 7/11’s (convenience shops) are everywhere and you’ll be able to get all the toiletries you need, umbrellas, raincoats etc. in these shops very cheaply! Soap costs about 20-40 baht ($0.5-$1), toothpaste 20-40 baht, deodorants about 40-50 baht etc.

Most people think they might need to take sunscreen before going because *commonly* sunscreen is more expensive in other countries. It’s very cheap here. The only thing to watch out for is the whitening sunscreen. If you don’t want to whiten your skin, you can ask the shop assistant to show you to one that doesn’t have those ingredients, but probably best to pack your own in this instance, because it’s quite hard to find ones that don’t have whitening products.

Honestly, that’s about all the advice you need and you can likely leave the article here. But if you need some refreshers on what to pack so you don’t forget, read on.

Our Thailand Packing List for 8 Months of Travel in SEA & 4 Months in The Kingdom

This is what we initially took for our 8-month travel. We ended up losing the metal water bottle, the tripod, two of the notebooks taken, and the extra pair of shoes. We additionally picked up a few items of clothing while there. A few extra pairs of shorts, some new T-shirts, and a pair of Crocs.

I’d suggest taking less than you think you need, and buying things while you’re there. It’s so cheap and you won’t run the risk of ruining your nice, designer stuff, or losing it, and you won’t care either because of the price. Most people lose nice clothes at the laundry services, and or ruin them because of the delicate washing needed, and on top of that, most people just wear shorts and a shirt in the holiday destinations you’ll be going to.

HOWEVER, if you’re a pretty big person (height, weight, muscle, feet) it’s extremely hard to find clothes that fit, so in this case take everything with you. I sold an entire mall out of their 2XL shirts when arriving in Thailand for Vipassana thinking it would be a good idea to buy clothes when I got here. For reference, I’m 5ft11 and 80kg.

If you’d like to dress up nice for a fancy dinner out somewhere, by all means take some smart clothing, but do you really want to be wearing smart clothing in 30-40 degree heat?

In the instance of wanting to look smarter, I’d suggest taking some hybrid gym clothing. You can pick up some really nice gym polo shirts that are light, and breathable, but look smart. This way you won’t be drenched with sweat, and you’ll look smart.

Thailand Clohes Packing List for Women

  • Gym shorts x2 & Gym leggings x1
  • Dresses x3 (don’t need that many)
  • Jeans x1 & Skirt x1 & Belt x1
  • Long flow trousers x1 (best trousers for hot weather)
  • Tops x5 (2 playsuit tops, 2 T-shirts, 1 long sleeve & 1 gym top)
  • Bikinis x2 & Swimsuit x1 (for pool areas)
  • Underwear and Socks x8

Thailand Clothes Packing List for Men

  • Jeans x1
  • Joggers x1
  • Shorts x3 & Swim shorts x1
  • Tops x5 (2 polos, 2 T-shirt & 1 long sleeve)
  • Belt x1
  • Boxer shorts and Socks x8

Electronics & Toiletries for Women

  • 2 clothes cubes (In the end took only the big one with everything)
  • First Aid Kit (Homemade)
  • Medium Travel Towel
  • Beauty Bag & Wipes
  • Tripod
  • Few books and pens
  • Laptop, Ipad, Chargers
  • Two shoes (Wear trainers on travels)
  • Electric compartment case
  • Water bottle (Not displayed)

Electronics & Toiletries for Men

  • 2 clothes cubes
  • Water bottle
  • GoPro compartment box
  • Macbook, Charger & Extended Hard Drive
  • Few books and pens
  • Beauty bag
  • Sliders & One pair of shoes (Goretex waterproof shoes)
  • Resistance band
  • Medium Travel Towel
  • First Aid Kit (too, in his bag, not displayed)

First Aid Kit (Homemade)

  • Variety of pills
  • Gloves
  • Antiseptic Wipes
  • Anti Bacterial Wipes
  • Wrist band
  • Vaporub
  • Cough Sweets
  • Variety plasters & Blister plasters
  • Deep heat cream
  • Bungy cord

Beauty Bag & Tolietries (Hers)

  • Soap
  • Deodorant roll on
  • Skin products
  • Plastic cutlery
  • Minimum make-up
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste
  • Inhaler
  • Tweezers x2
  • Nail clippers
  • Headbands
  • Needle and Thread
  • Shaver

Packing Checklist Reminders for Travel to Thailand

This list is to act as a reminder in case you are forgetting something important. You do not need to take everything listed in this checklist for Thailand.

Clothing

  • 2-3 shirts
  • 7 pairs socks
  • 7 pairs underwear
  • 1 swimsuit/trunks
  • 2 pairs shorts/skirt
  • 1 pair jeans
  • 1 pair sweatpants
  • 1 jumper
  • 1 waterproof jacket (or purchase poncho when here)
  • 1 pair sliders OR flip flops OR sandals
  • 1 pair all purpose shows, good grip, plain colour, stylish for all
  • 1 sun cap
  • 1 pair sunglasses
  • 2 upper thermal tops (for layering in cold)
  • 1 pair gloves (waterproof, warm) – sealskinz are great
  • 1 belt
  • 1 set pyjamas

Important Documents

  • Passport
  • Tickets printed
  • Visa printed (if needed, most countries get Visa On Arrival)
  • Extra passport photos
  • Digital scan passport
  • Printed scan passport
  • Vaccine certificates
  • Drivers license or IDP
  • Health insurance
  • List of medications
  • Medical information
  • Hotel booking info/code to get in

Toiletries

  • Toilet paper
  • Wet wipes
  • Shampoo & conditioner bars
  • Toothpaste (no travel size, normal tube 100ml)
  • Toothbrush, floss, mouthwash
  • Deodorant (roll on 50ml lasts forver)
  • Microfibre towel (travel towel)
  • Makeup bag/items
  • Tissues
  • Nailclippers, nail file
  • Shaving cream, shavers
  • Moisturiser, creams
  • Perfume/after shave
  • Brush, comb
  • Contact lenses

Staying fit

  • Resistance band(s)
  • Yoga mat
  • Push-up bars
  • Gym rings
  • -OR- TRX System
  • Workout shoes
  • Jump rope

See our article for workouts to stay fit while on vacation.

Travel aids

  • Pencil case to hold docs
  • OR paper sleeve
  • Shoulder bag
  • Bum bag/fanny pack
  • Travel pillow, eye mask, earplugs
  • Headphones
  • Medical bag
  • Elecrics bag (see article)
  • Bungee cords/rope
  • Language guide/phrasebook
  • Maps/directions
  • Metal clips
  • Compression socks
  • Travel clothes line
  • Travel fork, spoon & knife (plastic)
  • Thermos bottle for cold & hot
  • Water filters
  • Stationary (filling out on arrival visa)
  • Locks
  • Money belt
  • Fake wallet with expired cards & cash
  • Compass
  • Whistle
  • Pocket tool/knife (not carry on)
  • Lighter (not carry on)
  • Roll up/foldable backpack

Medical

  • Insect repellent
  • Bite cream
  • Throat sweets
  • Paracetamol
  • Ibuprofen
  • Plasters
  • Latex gloves
  • Anti-septic
  • Vapour rub
  • Deep heat
  • Blister plasters
  • Painkillers
  • Vitamins
  • Your medications
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Masks
  • Tweezers
  • Diarrhea medication
  • Sun cream
  • After-sun
  • Condoms/birth control

Electrics & Entertainment

  • Laptop, phone, tablets
  • Headphones
  • Headphone splitter
  • Travel adapter plugs
  • Charging cables
  • USB plugs
  • Travel multi plug
  • 25000mAH power pack
  • Camera, memory card, charger
  • Flash light
  • Alarm clock w batteries
  • Batteries
  • Elecrics bag (see article)
  • USB/External drives
  • Phone/tablet holder
  • Travel kettle (foldable)
  • Books

Finances

  • Foreign currency
  • Home currency
  • Debit and credit cards
  • Emergency money
  • Revolut travel card

Misc

  • Flat sink stopper
  • Detergent
  • Dish soap
  • Inflatable hanger
  • Hand pumped vacuum bags (for tighter storage)

Seasonal Packing Advice

Thailand has 3 seasons:

  • Ru du fon (ฤดูฝน) – rainy season where you will get extremely heavy rain almost every day, and temperatures from 20-30 degrees. This is probably unlike any rain you’ve seen before unless you’ve experienced monsoon season in another country, so pack accordingly!
  • Ru du rorn (ฤดูร้อน) – summer where you can expect 30-40 degree heat everyday and, if in Bangkok, 30-degree heat even when it’s dark outside. Pack lightly!
  • Ru du nao (ฤดูหนาว) – winter where you can expect 16-20 degree heat. It’s not very cold at all, but pack a jumper in case.

In the rainy season, you still want to pack light. It’s still very warm during this time of year and the rain isn’t cold. However, if you are coming this time of year pack waterproof shoes. A pair of Goretex trail running shoes will be perfect for all scenarios. The rain gets so bad you will see a lot of flooding that sometimes comes up to your knees! Ponchos and umbrellas are readily available in Thailand. If it’s raining heavily, just grab a poncho from 7/11. There’s no real need to take a waterproof jacket. Most waterproof jackets will be too hot to wear during this time of year.

In the hot season pack very lightly. It can be unbearably hot during these times and humid too, so pack loose-fitting, flowy clothes that are breathable.

In the cold season, it isn’t cold at all. You might need a jumper or light jacket if you go hiking up mountains in the early morning. The best thing to do in this situation is to layer your clothing to stay warm. Make sure you bring a pair of joggers, a jumper, and something like a fleece for times when it gets cold.

A Word on Travel Fabrics

The basic rule of thumb for fabrics is – don’t pack heavy cotton clothing, and opt for fabrics like nylon, polyester, or merino wool. Nylon and polyester are the best choices for the price – they’re lightweight, dry quickly, don’t feel horrible to wear, don’t crease, and don’t absorb smells. They’re also very durable in washing machines and dryers, which you’ll likely be using a lot of here, and most laundry services will use on your clothes.

Nylon and Polyester are quite bad for the environment though, so if you’re environmentally conscious, choose merino wool. It’s far, far, far more expensive and more likely to be damaged during washing, but virtually has the same properties as nylon and polyester clothing, but offers more warmth. Merino wool is perfect for layering to keep warm on harsher days.

Packing Advice for Motorbike Journeys & Mountain Excursions

If you are riding a motorbike around, or hiking up mountains you 100% need to pack warm clothing. If you get caught in heavy rain while up a mountain, and you don’t have a fleece, waterproof and some joggers to layer, with the wind chill from driving, you will get incredibly cold (trust me from experience). You would not believe how cold it can feel driving upwards of 50mph through the wind and rain (even if it’s a hot day).

Make sure you pack a windbreaker/waterproof jacket, fleece, and some clothes to layer while riding. When you get to Thailand invest in a good poncho that has a button-up design. They’re more expensive than the plastic, binbag-style ones, but they will provide great protection from the wind which will keep you warm (pictured below).

Availability of Toiletries in Thailand

You can get anything you need in Thailand very easily. Toothpaste, soap, shampoo, conditioner, face creams, hair dye, sunscreen etc.

I know my partner was worried about sanitary pads before coming, but you can find them extremely cheaply here in Thailand. They cost around 20-50 baht ($0.50-$1.5) for a pack. One word of advice, avoid the cooling ones (blue coloured and don’t always say “cooling”) if you don’t want a peppermint oil feeling on your skin down there (my partner learned this the hard way).

Important note: most sunscreens have whitening technology in them. This means they will whiten your skin. If you don’t want these effects, do not get sunscreen in Thailand, bring it beforehand. If you run out, ask the shop assistant to direct you to one that doesn’t have whitening cream in it. They are quite hard to find so you might have to shop around.

A Word on Mosquito Spray

Most guides recommend you to buy some mosquito spray with the harmful chemical deet in the ingredients, before heading to Thailand or other countries because it’s harder to find there and roughly the same price. We did this, and honestly, it was one of the least effective things used to keep the mosquitos at bay.

Ditch the DEET spray and buy the mosquito repellent that the locals use. We found that the best thing to use was eucalyptus oil. However, be pre-warned that this will make your skin cold and tingle, so on a hot day, when you use it you can feel cold. This can be nice if you’re outside on the beach all day, but if you’re about shopping in the malls or traveling, the aircon has no chill in Thailand and is extremely cold in most places you go.

(sorry the image is bad for eucalyptus it’s the only one I could find, I will update this article with original images when I return to Thailand)

Aircon combined with eucalyptus oil is a big NO!

Another great insect repellent is sold in all 7/11’s. It’s a pink bottle and you can pick it up very cheap, but it’s not as effective as eucalyptus oil in our own findings travelling in SEA for 8 months.

Going Hiking?

If you’re going hiking in Thailand, your packing list will of course be entirely different. In this instance, you still want to take light, breathable clothing, but you’ll want more long-sleeved tops and trousers over shorts. This is due to the mosquitos and leeches in the jungle. It’s best to cover your body entirely and use mosquito spray on your clothing to prevent any bugs from biting you.

Some essentials to take in your packing if going hiking in Thailand are:

  • Sun hat
  • Drinking water tablets
  • Flashlight
  • Good hiking shoes (preferably waterproof and lightweight, trail running shoes are great for this)
  • Mosquito spray
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof bag cover
  • Tiger balm or other insect bite soothing cream
  • Sunscreen
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle

Pollution and Mask Wearing in Thailand

Since the big C word travel ban was lifted, many Thais have opted to continue wearing masks while using public transport and in enclosed areas. You should respect that this is part of their way of life and follow along when enclosed in public transport or a public space with other Thai citizens. If you don’t, people will call you out on it and ask you to put your mask on.

However, most Thai people have continued to wear masks due to air pollution, rather than disease. While you are outside, you do not need to wear a mask, but you will see many locals wearing them.

To Change Money Beforehand or While There?

The fees for the ATMs in Thailand are pretty high. Almost every ATM will require you to pay a $5-7 fee for withdrawals using a foreign card. Some banks, like Krungsai, offer higher withdrawal limits of 30,000 baht instead of 10,000 – you can use this to your advantage to pay less fees if withdrawing large amounts. However, it’s most likely a lot more cost-effective to change money at a foreign exchange before you come, or when you get here.

The rates at foreign exchanges outside the airport, generally tend to be better than the ones you will find at home.

You cannot use a travel card to avoid fees in Thailand. If you have a friend who you trust, you can make a fee-free transfer from something like Wise or Revolut, and then get your friend to withdraw the money. This takes 1-3 days to arrive, then your friend will be able to withdraw this money for you.

Please only do this with someone you know and genuinely trust!

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