After hearing about the amazing beaches, full moon parties, and beautiful nature and wildlife that Thailand has to oﬀer, you’ve ﬁnally booked your backpacking trip. With limited space, you need to be strategic about what to bring with you. You want to be as comfortable as possible, well prepared, and ready for anything; however, since Thailand is a hot spot for tourists and expats alike, you know that there’s some stuﬀ you can get upon arrival. Plus you’ll want to leave some room for souvenirs anyways. With that in mind, here is the ultimate Thailand packing list for your backpacking trip.
What to Bring with you
Clothing & Accessories
You’ll want to bring clothes that are comfortable, made of breathable fabrics and lightweight for packing. It’s incredibly hot and humid all year round in Thailand so you don’t need anything too heavy. Look for quick dry fabrics as you’ll sure to be wet and sweaty. Don’t worry about packing too much in terms of clothes – they’re incredibly cheap to purchase and make great souvenirs, so just bring the essentials listed below.
It’s expected that you be dressed fairly modestly when outside of the beaches and major tourist zones; shoulders covered, limited/no cleavage, coverage to about the knee, etc. If you’re visiting temples, you may not even be let in if you’re not covered up enough!
It’s better to bring T-shirts over tank tops as they are acceptable everywhere (beach, temples, clubs, etc!).
2. Long sleeve shirt
For cooler nights and constantly changing temperature on travel days. No one likes being cold!
3. Fleece sweater
A/C on trains/buses and in cafes can be FREEZING! It can also be nice to have once the sun goes down.
4. Lightweight yoga/sweatpants
Thailand is a haven for yoga lovers (plus they’re comfy)!
You’ll mostly be wearing shorts/skirts in the Thai heat, but try to avoid the super short ones for some more versatility.
Even if one’s wet, you’ll have another ready to go!
Bring enough to last a few days. Laundry is cheap and easy to ﬁnd, often with 1 day turnaround for full service. Hostels often have laundry services too!
8. Comfortable walking shoes
Thailand is a beautiful country to explore by foot! The cities are walkable and there plenty of hiking trails around the country so you’ll definitely be putting on some miles. Make sure your footwear is breathable so no one at your hostel has to deal with your smelly shoes!
9. Fanny Pack/Secure Cross Body Bag
You’ll want something hands free but secure (you’ll need your hands to take photos and eat great street food!). If it’s more your style, a money belt under the clothing would also suﬃce, but is less accessible. As with most major tourist destinations, pickpocketing can be an issue so pick what feels most comfortable and secure for you.
10. Backpack with day pack
There are plenty of great day trips from the main cities. A day pack lets you bring what you need without lugging your main bag around. Work smart for hard!
11. Flip ﬂops/slip on sandals
These are an absolute MUST! It’s common practice to take oﬀ your shoes before entering a home, temple, or even a restaurant in Thailand. Plus, did you really go to Thailand if you don’t come back with a weird foot tan?
Have a tailor-made suit & shirts for much less than you’d pay at home. While not necessary when backpacking you can always get them ﬁtted during your trip and bring them back at the end or mail them!
While you can get most of what you need in Thailand, some brands for toiletries and other items may be unfamiliar or the quality may be diﬀerent than what you’re used to. You’ll still want to consider bringing some items from home on your backpacking adventure.
1. The basics
Toothbrush, toothpaste, hair brush, face/body wash, shampoo, deodorant. Bring the mini travel versions so they can go in your backpack. You’ll be able to top up in local stores or at your hostel.
2. Medication & First Aid
Bandages, ibuprofen, anti-itch cream, Imodium, hydration tablets, gravol, and any required prescriptions. Small issues can become big ones if you don’t take care of them. Keep your trip fun and treat any issues like hangovers, food poisoning, cuts and scrapes immediately.
3. Sunscreen & Bug spray
Get a mix and save on space! You can buy it in Thailand but it’s sold mostly to tourists, which mean tourist prices as well.
4. For the ladies
Basic makeup and tampons.
In Thailand’s heat & humidity, less is more when it comes to makeup or it will melt right oﬀ your face. You can get tampons in Thailand, but options are limited. If you’re particular about your brand, bring enough with you.
Many deodorants and lotions sold in Thailand often contain skin whiteners so unless you want armpits to be more pale compared to everywhere else, read ingredients (if you can!), ask the store clerk, or just bring enough with you!
The type will depend on your trip style. GoPros are always a good bet as you can take them to the beach, climbing, and pretty much anywhere else without worrying about ruing them. They’re also small and very easy to pack!
2. Luggage Lock
Between buses, ferries, and people coming and going, it’s best to keep your bag locked with a simple combination lock.
3. Portable phone charger
An external battery is a tiny, genius way to keep your phone charged up if you’re planning on having some long days or will be without safe or convenient places to charge for a couple days.
4. Travel Adaptor
While the outlets are often North American, you’ll occasionally come across the European style outlets, so having a multi-country adaptor is helpful.
5. Travel insurance
Between the possibility of scooter accidents, bug bites, and food poisoning; you’ll be wanting some travel insurance. While it’s more than likely you’ll be ﬁne, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
What to Buy There
Go ahead and bring these things if you have the space, but instead of bringing your nice sunglasses, sandals and the like from home, get cheap ones in Thailand and help out the local economy. Here are some things you’ll have no issues ﬁnding and can make great souvenirs.
– A few more fun shirts
– Waterproof phone/money case or dry bag
– Sarong: Makes a great beach blanket, beach cover up, shoulder cover up for temples, or scarf.
– Reusable water bottle
One of the best places for shopping is Bangkok, but you’ll ﬁnd amazing hand crafts and souvenirs in the north (especially Chiang Mai), and anything you’ll need for the beach on the islands in the south.
About the author:
Ashley is originally from Canada, but has been living abroad and travelling the globe since 2014. Through her blog, Wanderdolls, she helps others implement more travel in their lives by giving them the tools to start working remotely and abroad. Keep up to date with her adventures on Instagram and Facebook.