Need help deciding what to pack for Thailand? If you are planning a backpacking trip to Thailand you are going to need to pack smart! For anyone planning on Island hopping you will be getting on and off boats with your backpack. So you need to keep it as light as possible. Although clothes are very cheap in Thailand, and some things are more difficult to get hold of, especially if you are 5f8in like me! In this guide, I’m going to share my top tips to help with your packing for Thailand.
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What to wear in Thailand
Mix and Match Your Clothes
This is rule number one when packing for Thailand and it’s an important one. You need to make sure that you don’t have any single wear items packed. Everything in your bag should be mix and match. I normally include only 1 patterned top and 1 patterned bottoms so that everything else will match. If you pack lots of patterned tops and bottoms you are going to be limited to what you can wear together. Before packing lay everything out and do a practice mix and match just to make sure everything goes well together.
Always use Packing Cubes
Want to pack more but you don’t have space? Don’t worry just get yourself some packing cubes. Problem solved! These are the ones I use and love, I wrote a post on using them which you can read here. Alternatively get a backpack with built in packing sections like this one. It hangs like a mini wardrobe too which can be helpful instead of using hotel storage.
Only bring easy wash and quick dry clothes
When choosing clothes I always try and choose things that wash easily (leave the dry clean only at home), don’t need ironing, are lightweight and will dry quickly. I also try not to bring anything heavy as it will also take up more space. I prefer to pick thin light clothing so I can squeeze a few more things in rather than larger heavier material that takes up space. Laundry is pretty cheap in Thailand so pack less and wash more.
Thailand Travel essentials
First things first, you are going to need some solid insurance. If you don’t believe me then read this. I personally use SafetyWing Digital Nomads Insurance which is an ongoing policy that just renews each month. But before that, I used World Nomads who are the company I would highly recommend if you are backpacking. Both also cover COVID 19 now which is great news for safe travel during the pandemic!
If you just need basic insurance for a shorter vacation then I’d recommend doing a search on Travel Insurance Master.
Does anyone actually leave home without sunglasses? I personally always travel with 2 pairs. One for day to day use that I normally just throw in my bag. Then a second pair that are a bit nicer which I wear when I want to take some nice pics for the gram. I always get my sunglasses from Blenders, Glassesshop, or Knockaround as they are good quality, have UV protection, and are really reasonably priced.
Reusable Water Bottle
Don’t always assume you can drink the water especially when somewhere off the beaten path. However, most places have places where you can get drinking water so you don’t need to keep buying small plastic bottles. So having. a good reusable water bottle is essential. If you are still a little worried then get a water bottle with a filter like this for peace of mind. For a bottle with extra tech this one is self-cleaning via UVC light, is USB rechargeable, and turns any water into drinkable freshwater. It is also vacuum insulated to keep your water cold for up to 12 hours.
Let’s face it, 2020 changed the way we travel, and there is no going back. Hand sanitizer is something you can no longer travel without and I’m obsessed with this hand sanitizer holder my friend designed. You can buy them in a pack of 2 and the bottles come with it so you can top them up. Not only are they super practical so they clip on o your purse, or luggage but you can also clip your mask on there too, save throwing it into your backpack! It’s vegan leather and you can choose the cute florals (which I have) or a brown and black combo.
You may need to prove you have had any specific vaccines and for some places you may need malaria pills. There are many vaccines that are strongly advised for travel depending on your location. So a few months before you travel to speak to a medical professional and make sure you were immunized with all of the suggested vaccines.
Please never take medical advice like this from a blogger! Go see a medical professional…
Download my packing list
Luggage for Thailand
It is really up to you what luggage to pack for Thailand but I would strongly recommend a good backpack… getting on and off all those boats and buses, is just so much easier with a backpack!
I’ve added images and links for the luggage I have tried and tested in Thailand below.
If security is a concern for you then I highly recommend getting in Pacsafe backpack for added security and peace of mind. I also wrote this blog post on the best digital nomad backpacks and this one about carry on luggage, just in case they are useful to you. The KnackPack is great for digital nomads with specific space for your tech and all your essentials.
You are also going to need some packing cubes to help keep all of your things organized (and squeeze in a few extra items of clothing). Plus a good laundry bag, toiletry bag, and of course a shopping bag. Alternatively, get a backpack with built-in packing sections like this one. It hangs like a mini wardrobe too which can be helpful instead of using hotel storage. It’s what I’m personally traveling with these days.
Other Useful Things to Pack for Thailand
Over the years backpacking the world I’ve got packing down to a fine art and I have some essential items in my backpack that you might not think of. So here are some things you are going to need that you might not think of!
Laundry Soap and a Nail Brush – Unless you want to be doing laundry every few days, it’s best to just wash out your underwater in the shower each night. To do this I always travel with a bar of laundry soap and a nail brush. It also comes in handy to clean off marks and stains from clothes you are washing.
A Travel Washing Line – I love mine, it’s so handy and takes up no room at all.
A Sewing Kit – When you are traveling sometimes you need to make-do-and-mend.
Carabiner clips – So useful for attaching things to your backpack!
Head torch – Equally as useful for camping as it is for reading in bed, or trying to find your way home in the dark.
Ear Plugs – If you are planning on staying in hostels you are going to need these!
A Whistle – I know many people worry about safety and want to protect themselves. I like to carry a whistle just in case I need to pull attention. It might not be as effective as pepper spray, but as that is illegal to fly with too many countries, this is a good alternative.
Silk Sleeping Bag Liner – Another thing that doesn’t take up so much room, but will give you a lot of peace of mind if you need it. Sometimes you might either find yourself chilly or just not wanting to sleep in the bedsheets. So hopping inside a sleeping bag liner helps you get a good night’s sleep, wherever you are…
Umbrella – If you are traveling somewhere tropical it’s likely to rain, but still be hot. Having an umbrella in your bag will keep you dry without making you feel like you will collapse from heat exhaustion!
A padlock – I recommend getting one of these locks so you don’t need to worry about keys. They are TSA approved so you can use them to lock your luggage when flying as well as using it to lock your locker at the hostel.
USD – I always keep an emergency $50 USD hidden somewhere, just in case. USD is the most widely accepted currency, but you will need to ensure the notes are clean and crisp. Many places won’t accept them if they are marked at all.
A sarong – I never travel anywhere without at lease 2 sarongs. I use them to replace my towel, hang over my bed in a hostel for privacy. Wrap around my hair when it’s wet, sunbathe on… I could go on and on. I even make a dress out of mine when I’m at the beach.
Spice Bag – If you are planning to do some cooking then I recommend making a spice bag so you don’t end up wasting lots of money or herbs and spices, or eating bland food for the whole of your trip. I put my spices into ziplock bags and then keep them in one of these clear bags.
Ziplock Bags – I know, I know, more plastic. But they do come in really handy when traveling and you can wash and reuse them so you aren’t throwing them away.
Coffee Flask – Great for keeping hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. It also saves you having to use disposable cups when you buy a takeaway coffee.
Clothing to Pack for Thailand
You can see my full Thailand packing list here on Amazon, and you can also download my free Thailand packing list here. So I’m going to try and keep this section brief.
1 Pair Of Black Leggings
Love them or hate them, they are comfortable and perfect for traveling or going for a run. I can’t get enough of Girlfriend Collective Leggings, they are so comfortable! They are also lined but breathable so perfect for summer and winter. They have a super high waistband and a hidden pocket at the back where I like to keep some money and my bank card. Oh, and as they are made from recycled water bottles they are also good for the environment!
1 Or 2 Pairs Of Light Weight Trousers
I took two pairs and I wore them a lot! If you are planning on visiting any temples you won’t be able to go in wearing shorts. I did also buy 3 pairs of elephant style pants out there, so don’t worry about packing these and get them out there.
Shorts – 1 Denim And 3 Lightweight Pairs
I can’t travel without my denim shorts, I don’t care that they take up space and are heavy. If it’s hot they are perfect for every occasion. I can dress them up with a nice top and some nice jewelry and sandals. Or during the day I can wear with a plain top and sneakers. As well as a pair of denim shorts you should pack 3 pairs of lightweight shorts. Or don’t and buy them there. You will see elephant shorts everywhere so maybe just pack one pair.
I like to pack 1 lightweight mid-length skirt suitable for wearing during the day but can be dressed up in case I go anywhere. Again this is something you can easily by very cheaply in Thailand.
5 Or 6 Lightweight Tops
I always have 6: 4 plane T-Shirts and 2 more dressy/ stylish tops. This gives me plenty of options. Although I always have 2 nicer tops I make sure they match with most if not all of my bottoms. Make sure you buy tops that will wash well and are good quality. You will be wearing and washing them a lot. I often wore more than one top a day because of the heat.
2 Shirts Or A Cardigan
It doesn’t get cold often but there were a few times in the evening or when we were traveling on the AC busses I needed them! Make sure whatever you have is lightweight and will go with (almost) everything you have. I travel with a denim shirt and a checked shirt which I live in when it’s chilly.
1 Or 2 Dresses
I like to make sure both dresses are lightweight and can be worn in the day and the evening. I personally have 2 short dresses just because longer dresses take up too much room. But if you can find a lightweight maxi dress grab it! Dresses you will easily pick up in Thailand very cheaply.
If you wear them you will want 1 or 2 bras and a sports bra. I personally don’t bother anymore. I prefer something a little boob friendlier than having metal jabbed into my ribcage
8 Pairs Panties/ Knickers
I know a lot of people say 5 but I like to just do laundry once a week so I always have enough for a week and a spare pair. They don’t take up much room and it saves me washing my panties in the sink each night!
I like to have 4 tops and 2 pairs of black bottoms plus a swimsuit. If you want to save space ditch the bras and just pack a few extra bikinis. I wore mine every day anyway because of the heat even if I wasn;t at the beach.
I sleep in old clothes most of the time to save space. But if you prefer to bring sleepwear you are going to need something lightweight.
The most important thing about footwear is that it is, comfortable! If you are backpacking you are going likely to be doing some walking. For Thailand I took three pairs of shoes:
Hiking Sandals, a good pair of sandals suitable for walking and Flip-flops.
The hiking sandals were perfect for traveling around and getting on and off boats, The sandles I wore for exploring away from the water, and the flip-flops I wore for everything else.
Depending on how stylish you are feeling pack something more in fashion or a simple baseball cap to keep the sun out of your eyes and your face. I have no room for a fancy hat so I just have a simple black baseball cap.
Always check the UV protection even if you get a cheap pair. I travel with a nice (expensive) pair for walking around the city and a cheap pair for the beach.
Toiletries to Pack for Thailand
You can very all of the travel toiletries I recommend here on this Amazon list. Many things you can actually buy in Thailand easily, so I wouldn’t stress too much about buying a lot of toiletries to travel with. But there are some things that are harder to get hold of and expensive in Thailand.
Technology to take to Thailand
If you are stressing about taking your smartphone to Thailand, don’t. Most Thai people do have smartphones, so you aren’t going to stand out having one too. You will need to be careful about flashing your expensive digital gear around Thailand though. Take a read of these posts to help you prepare if you are worried.
Here are some digital things I’d recommend packing for Thailand.
Smart Phone – If you don’t want to take your fancy iPhone traveling, then this is a great phone with a very good camera for under $300. It’s what I personally have and shoot a lot of my vlogs on.
Camera and Tripod – I travel with this DSLR but I also have this mirrorless camera which I often take if I want to use something more discreet. I also love this tripod as I can use it with all of my cameras (even my phone), plus it’s small and light enough to fit in my daypack.