A packing list for Thailand depends hugely on the areas you plan to visit and what time of year you’ll be going.
If you’re not sure about the weather for the time of year of your trip, I recommend checking out Average Weather to get an idea of whether you’ll need to pack a rain jacket or not.
One thing you can be certain of: it’s going to be HOT. Thailand is hot and humid and sticky and so you’ll want to pack accordingly.
What you pack for Thailand also depends on what activities you’ll be doing while you’re there. What does your itinerary look like?
While shopping once you get to Thailand is often the cheaper and more fun way to dress on your trip, it’s good to know what to wear in Thailand before you arrive.
After spending a month traveling from bottom to top and back down again, here’s what I recommend.
1. Tank tops and t-shirts
Thailand is a hot country. You’re going to want to pack pieces that will keep you cool. I love picking up tank tops and t-shirts on my travels. Thailand is full of markets where you can buy these for super cheap. Lighter colors are always better in hot climates. If you don’t plan on doing laundry on your trip, be sure to have enough (because this heat does not allow for a second wear).
2. Shorts & Skirts
I love denim cutoff most. If you’re going to be in mostly touristed places like the beaches down south or in Chiang Mai and Pai, you don’t really have to worry too much about showing too much skin.
If you plan to go a bit further afield and off the beaten path, just be aware that showing that much skin may not be appropriate. Take cues from the local women. If they’re covering up their legs, the respectful thing would be to do the same.
3. Skirts and Dresses
I love loose, flowy skirts and dresses for Thailand and the rest of South East Asia. Sometimes shirts and shorts can just be too clingy when you’re hot and sweaty. A lovely cotton dress will keep you so much cooler. I went for a mixture of tank tops and short sleeve dresses as well as a few short (above the knee) and a few maxi dresses.
If you plan to go to temples or other religious sites, be aware women must cover up their legs and arms at least to the shoulder (some places ask you to cover your entire arms). Long dresses and skirts are perfect for this – they aren’t too hot, but remain very respectful at the same time.
4. Scarves or Sarongs
The best way to be respectful without putting on a sweater, is to cover your upper body with a scarf or sarong. They’re just so versatile. You can use them in the mornings if it’s a little bit cool. Or you can use them to sit on at the beach or a park. I also use them to cover my face when I’m trying to sleep on a bus or train or as a blanket. There are tons of places to buy scarves and sarongs in Thailand for super cheap. Simply pick one up when you arrive.
5. A Light Rain Jacket
Obviously this depends on what time of year you’re visiting and where you’ll be heading. If you will be spending time all over the country, it’s likely that it will be the rainy season in one part that you’re visiting. We visited Northern Thailand in July and it was really rainy. Although it still remains hot and sticky, I was glad to have a light rain jacket to keep me dry. It also served as a good way to cover up when visiting temples.
6. A Few Bathing Suits
I say a few because it’s totally up to you how many you want to pack. I always bring at least two, because if you wore one in the ocean the day before, chances are it won’t be dry. Nobody wants to put on a wet bathing suit, ick. All beach areas in Thailand are basically tourist zones and wearing a bikini is totally fine.
That being said, be sure to cover up if you are leaving the sand. It’s a bit disrespectful to walk around with just shorts and a bikini top in the villages. Also – no topless sunbathing. I’m all for women being able to do whatever they want, but please remember this is not your country or culture and as a visitor you should be respectful of the place you are visiting.
As always in hot countries, I lived in my Rainbow sandals. They are SO comfortable to walk in all day and they kept my feet cool. If you are just going to be at the beach and visiting a few different areas, a simple pair of comfortable flip flops is all you’ll need.
If you think you’ll be spending a bit of time on a motorbike or doing some hiking up in the Northern part of the country, you’ll want some sturdier shoes. In my opinion, a pair of sneakers should be more than enough. I personally like dainty ones like Converse or Keds. They look good with dresses, skirts, and shorts and aren’t too heavy to carry around in your bag.
Thailand is one of my favorite places for picking up funky accessories. Whether it’s jewelry, handbags, scarves, or cute sandals – you’ll find it all here. As for any concerns about it being unsafe to wear your jewelry, there’s no need to be afraid in my opinion.
Don’t forget sunglasses either. You’ll definitely need them! Mine broke halfway through my trip. There are market stalls that sell cheap sunglasses if you do forget them, but they probably won’t last you very long.
Thailand is a very safe country to travel and Thai people couldn’t be nicer. You already stand out as a tourist no matter how you dress. Wearing a ring or bracelet isn’t going to be the reason people suddenly notice you.
With the heat and humidity, I would avoid packing any concealers or foundations. Unless you don’t sweat, it will literally melt off your face. It’s the perfect weather for a bit of waterproof mascara and a bright colored lipstick.
What Not to Pack?
- Jeans. Do not pack denim. It is simply too hot. It takes too long to dry in the humid weather and you’ll end up not wearing them.
- Anything too heavy like sweaters or thick leggings. It’s simply too hot and you’ll just end up carrying it around. Opt for thin layers and scarves for warmth on cooler days.
Have any other questions about what to pack for Thailand? Head down the comments and ask away!