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.
What to pack for Thailand
My Golden Rules When packing for a backpacking trip around 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.
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.
What to Pack for Backpacking in Thailand
Right now I personally travel with a Mountaintop 70L because I was on a pretty tight budget and it was only $75. It is still going strong after a year and a half, although you can tell that it isn’t great quality so if you can stretch your budget my next buy will be an Osprey Women’s Aura. As well as my backpack I have also added a Chester Suitcase to my luggage… it’s been a life saver for my back, and I love the builtin lock to keep all my gear safe!
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.
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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!
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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.
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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.
If you will be there during rainy season make sure you have a waterproof jacket and an umbrella. Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean it will be cold so often an umbrella is the best option.
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 Flipflops.
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 flipflops 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.
I have two and I use them all the time! They aren’t just great to cover up at the beach they are also perfect to replace your towel. I don’t have a microfiber towel anymore I just use my sarong. I also take them to the beach to lay on and I even use them to tuck under the top bunk bed to give myself some privacy while sleeping in dorm rooms.
I have both! I love my tan crossover bag but I can’t travel without my Kanken backpack. It folds up small so it doesn’t take up much space and it looks good with everything.
If you prefer a towel to a sarong then make sure it’s a quick dry space saving microfiber towel. I’m pretty obsessed with my towels from MinnxNY.
Or if you prefer a little more luxury I’m a huge fan of Batini Bay towels. They take up a little more space but totally worth it!
Make sure you have a lock for the lockers in the hostel. Most hostels with let you rent one or buy one but it’s always better to get your own.
I’m an adventurous girl, so I never travel without my head torch. If nothing else it’s good for getting home at night and reading in bed! But if you do decide to go in any caves or hike up any mountains then you will be glad you have it.
If you are staying in hostels you need earplugs….that is all!
You will find water filters in most places so make sure you take a good BPA free water bottle. Less plastic people, save the planet! I love this stainless steel one as it keeps my water nice and cool no matter how hot it is.
Swiss Army knife
I don’t go anywhere without mine! You have no idea how many showers, plug sockets, and doors I’ve fixed using it! Plus you never know when you might need a knife (or a bottle opener). Be the kind of girl who carries a Swiss Army Knife.
Bamboo cutlery and copper straw
I’ll say it again. Less plastic, save the planet! Single-use plastic is the devil and should be avoided at all costs haha. No, but really lots of places are now banning single-use plastic (hurray) so do yourself a favor and get ahead of the game by getting a bamboo set and a copper straw for your mojitos.
See above. Always carry a foldaway shopping bag. Great for shopping and laundry.
They come in handy for everything from storing food to protecting your toiletries from leakage. Make sure you wash and reuse though!
Depending on what country you are traveling from make sure you have a multipurpose travel plug adaptor. Make sure you check this out.
Hanging Toiletry Bag
It’s always good to have a hanging one so you don’t have to put your bag down in communal bathrooms.
First Aid Kit
Make sure it’s stocked up with bandages, mini scissors a small bandage, steri strips, paracetamol, ibuprofen, diarrhea tablets, constipation relief and rehydration sachets. If you prefer more natural remedies then take a read of this post I wrote on essential oils. Also always carry Activated Charcoal with you, if you want to know why read this.
You can make your own or buy one with a decent amount of DEET in it.
I always like to keep a little pack in my bag, just in case.
Again just in case!
Soap bar for washing clothes
A bar of laundry soap is less likely to leak and saves on your liquid allowance. I also like to pack a fingernail scrubbing brush for washing clothes. I use this for scrubbing the areas of my clothes more prone to soaking up smells.
I’m a total hippy and don’t like to use anything with too many chemicals in. If you like going natural like me, here is a list of my favorite products you can find on Amazon.
If you are more into DIY then take a read of this post on Natural Products for travelers.
If you are staying in hostels it’s worth bringing one of these with you just in case. I actually used mine quite a lot because I was cold at night rather than the bed being dirty.
Photocopies of passport
I am obsessed with this. I have photos on all of my devices and photocopies in each bag. You never know when you will be asked for this and if you lose your passport having a photocopy makes it much easier to get a replacement.
I like to carry a fake wallet with some old bank cards and a small amount of money that I can hand over in case of an emergency. I always keep my cash and bank card separate. When possible I leave my bank card safely locked up.
I never travel without at least 2 carabiner clips – 1 big one and a few smaller ones. They come in so handy for everything from attaching my sandals to my backpack to clipping on my GoPro.
Don’t forget insurance!
Whatever you do, don’t forget about insurance. I personally use Safetywing insurance for Digital Nomads. But that will only cover your medical expenses. So if you need something more comprehensive then it’s World Nomads all the way!
Mobile wifi hotspot
I never leave home without my TEPPY. It’s amazing for times on the road, sketchy hotel wifi issues, and as an emergency back up.
If you want to get your own then use CLAIRESITCHYFEET for a 10% discount on sales and rental, (only valid for 100 uses so be quick).
Thailand is one of my favorite places on earth and I hope you have the best time there. If you used this list to help you pack and it was helpful please let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to give it a share! If I’ve missed anything off this list let me know. I update the list each year so I’m always adding to it.
Planning a trip to Thailand? Check out my other posts:
How to Eat in Thailand for under £5 a day
Top Tips for First Time Visitors to Thailand
How to Plan the Perfect Trip to Thailand
How to get to Ayutthaya from Bangkok
6 Ways to Avoid Hating Bangkok
This post was proofread by Grammarly