Packing for a trip to Thailand is no easy feat. While it is extremely hot there, you have to think about the culture before you go. In general, you want to dress modestly. Forget jean shorts and spaghetti straps. P.S. You should also read my article on top mistakes travelers make when in Thailand.
A quick note: Thailand pretty much ignores tourist clothing choices, so don't stress too much. No one is going to call you out for dressing inappropriately. But, you should try to respect their culture while you are there.
Here is my complete packing guide to help you get started...
P.S. Click on any of the pictures for more options in that style
Clothing to Pack for Thailand
Thailand is hot and more importantly, super humid. You definitely want clothes that wick away sweat and are cooling. Don't bring: Jeans. They are just too heavy and bulky for the heat.
Ladies, pack skirts, shorts (not jean booty shorts), dresses, and tops that cover your shoulders. Don't wear anything too low cut, or too tight. You can wear a sheer top as long as you pair a camisole underneath.
Obviously, don't forget essentials like socks and undergarments. You may want to pack some yoga pants or leggings to lounge in. I would also bring a lightweight cardigan just in case it gets chilly one night.
Shoes to Pack for Thailand
You will definitely find yourself walking a fair bit so make sure you invest in a good pair of shoes. But, Thailand is also dusty and dirty at times so don't splurge too much. These shoes will get dirty.
Flip flops are totally acceptable, but I suggest something that covers and protects your foot a bit more. Also remember, you will be going in and out of a lot of temples. You have to take off your shoes for all of them. This is why I highly suggest something that is easily slipped on and off.
My favorite travel shoe for just about anywhere are a Keds slip on. They come in tons of styles for both men and women (I mean how cute are the ones above). Keds are super comfortable to walk in, plus they protect your feet. Also, since they are so cheap I usually wear them for a trip and then donate them once I return home.
You will also want to pack rubber flip flops for the beach (and showering in hostels). I would leave any heels or wedges at home. Dress shoes for men and fancy sandals for women are perfectly appropriate for a fancy dinner.
Packing for the Thailand Islands
You may see that some Thailanders are fully covered at the beach. Don't worry too much, bathing suits are totally acceptable for tourists and no one will judge you. The biggest thing to remember is make sure you are wearing suits at the beach and never in town. Always throw a cover up on when you are leaving the sand. Again, don't walk around in town in your suit. (This goes for men and women!!)
I would go so far as to say, don't worry too much about buying cover-ups beforehand. Every beach town has a million and one shops selling the same sarongs and cover-ups. They are usually extremely cheap and perfect for the hot weather.
Never tan topless in Thailand.
What to Pack for the Temples in Thailand
If you are heading into temples for the day, try and wear your most conservative outfits. Cover all the way to your knees and cover your shoulders. Although do remember that most temples have sheets you can use to cover up while you enter.
Keep in mind, some temples will charge you for renting the sheets or robe to cover yourself. Expect to see prices around $2-$3.
Other Essentials to Pack for Thailand
Backpack - for carrying essentials like water, camera, external batteries...ect for the day. I really like the Hershel bag linked above.
Converter - I suggest bringing an all in one converter that has USB outlets on the side. This way, you can charge multiple things at once. The one I use is linked above.
External battery - I never leave home without my external battery. I good option is linked above.
Sunscreen - Pack a ton of this! Sunscreen is so expensive everywhere in Thailand because they know we need it.
Insect Repellent - bugs are no joke. Bring some good stuff with you.
An unlocked phone - if you have a phone that is unlocked you can buy a SIM card in Thailand and stay connected!
Camera - You are going on a trip of a lifetime! Invest in a nice camera! Here is a full list of all camera equipment I take on every trip.
Guide Book - I have linked my favorite ones below!
Passport - also don't forget to look up if you need a visa for Thailand.
If you are from the US you do not need one BUT your passport must have at least 6 months left till expiration.
Don't forget that anything you forget to bring can be bought abroad (and sometimes for cheaper). If you noticed I didn't mention packing toiletries that is because unless you have travel sized toiletries it is much cheaper just to grab them once you get there. 7 Elevens are EVERYWHERE - I seriously mean it they are on every corner in big cities. Don't worry too much about forgetting something small.
Last thing... even though researching ahead of time is great, I definitely recommend bringing a guidebook along with you. I always use Lonely Planet's pocket guides since they fit in my ...... pocket.
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