So you’re going on a holiday to the gem of East Asia that is Thailand. A place that’s full of adventure, beauty, love and life. But what do you pack for such a place? With it being a vastly different culture, climate and geography to what you’d find in places like Australia, a lot of tourists find themselves packing either the wrong clothes, or things they don’t ever need in Thailand.
It goes without saying that you should be packing all of the usual things for a holiday in paradise; camera, swimwear, flip-flops, towel, sunglasses and a hat. But there are a few other things that you need to keep in mind when it comes to packing your wardrobe. Packing your suitcase with just the right contents is a crucial element to getting the most out of your incredible holiday in Thailand.
Depending on what time of year you’re travelling to Thailand, and moreover, which region you’re going to be spending most of your time, there are different elements of clothing which should be essential to pack. With its warm, sunny climate you’re going to want to spend most of your time in light, comfortable garments. However, if you’re planning on being there during the months of December through January, make sure you bring along something warm to wear at night - temperatures at this time of year can get a little lower than what you’d think and it’s better to be safe than sorry!
If you’re staying in a hotel in Bangkok, it can at times be easy to forget that you’re in a relatively conservative country, whose local population dress modestly and can be quite sensitive. Clothing in Thailand is an integral part of culture and isn’t simply a fashion statement as it is in the West. So if you’re planning on spending some time in bars, restaurants and other social spots, make sure you’ve packed neat and clean clothes to wear. This will be taken as a sign of respect by the locals. But that doesn’t mean that you should dress down when having meals in your hotel for instance. In fact, it’s customary that if you are dining within your hotel’s restaurant you dress more smartly than if you were walking out on the street. Which means that a nice shirt or dress and shoes is essential.
It’s also vitally important that you remember while in Bangkok, no matter how hot it gets, you shouldn’t wear a sleeveless top or show an excessive amount of cleavage when in public areas. Many Thai locals will see this as disrespectful to their culture. Bear in mind though, there are plenty of incredible tailors in Bangkok who will be able to cater to any clothing needs you’ve forgotten. The quality of their workmanship and silk is unparalleled and they’ll even deliver the clothes to your hotel for a reasonable price!
The Southern Islands
The key word to describe Thailand’s southern islands (including Phuket and Koh Samui) is ‘relaxed’. The balmy weather and beach lifestyle in these places have drawn flocks of tourists for many years, so it’s not uncommon to see all types and styles of clothing. Which means you can be a little less focused on how you scrub up. Pack a bikini, some board shorts, singlets, hat, t-shirts and flip-flops or whatever you’re going to feel most comfortable in. Just remember that there is quite a happening nightlife around some of the islands so you’ll want to have some ‘going out’ clothes handy.
Another good tip here is that with the weather being hot year-round, you’ll want to pack only light fabrics. And leave some room in your suitcase! There’s a lot of awesome shopping that can be done here for any of those last-minute items you may have forgotten.
Somewhat different to Bangkok and the southern islands, Thailand’s north experiences hot daytime temperatures year-round. However, during the evening times through October to March, you’ll find that temperatures can drop to much lower than what you’d find in the other regions. So it’s a good idea to pack a light jumper or cover up on top of your warm weather gear for when you’re venturing out at night.
With the north of Thailand being home to many temples and places of worship, you’ll probably find yourself wanting to visit one or two in your time there. As with temples and places of worship anywhere else in the country, your clothing needs to be a considerate and conscious of the local customs. Wearing a shirt or blouse with sleeves and carrying a sarong or long skirt is advised and with the humidity, we’d recommend wearing either lightweight trousers. It’s also important to remember that in these places you’ll be asked to remove your shoes, so make sure you’ve got a pair that are easy to take off and put back on. If running or walking shoes aren’t going to be in your suitcase, then make sure you’ve got a nice pair of comfortable flip flops or sandals.
Overall, Thailand is a fairly easy place to pack clothing for. The locals are friendly and open to foreign cultures, so you don’t need to overly stress about being too conservative with your dress. However, it is important that you observe the outlines we’ve given above, particularly regarding visits to temples.
What Else to Pack?
Everyone’s different and wants to pack their own things for making that holiday in Thailand just perfect. But if you’ve got the clothing part sorted, then it will be helpful for you to go through the following as a checklist of extra essentials that you might like to bring along.
- Water Bladder - Even though you’ll be able to buy bottled water at a relatively cheap price in most places around Thailand, it can never hurt to carry an extra-large bladder of water. With the high temperatures and humidity, getting dehydrated can be easily achieved if you aren’t regularly hydrating yourself. Just be cautious of where you fill it up over there!
- Sunscreen - This one should go without saying, but the harsh rays of Thailand’s sun can be seriously damaging to the skin. So pack some sunscreen (at least SPF 30) and make sure you slap it on every day.
- Insect Repellant - Being a tropical place, Thailand is not only home to beautiful beaches and scenery, but also a fair population of mosquitos and other insects. While diseases transmitted through insect bites aren’t as common now as they once were, it’s still a good idea to regularly apply repellant and keep those bugs away.
- Rain Jacket - This is going to be dependant on what time of year you’re travelling to Thailand. But during the ‘wetter’ months, rain can often be sporadic and random, and there’s nothing worse than being caught out in the humidity with wet clothes!
- Backpack - On top of your suitcase, we’d recommend you also bring along a reliable backpack that you can carry on a daily basis. If you’re planning on doing some walking or exploring, it’s always a good idea to have a bag to store your money, sunscreen and anything else you might pick up along the way.
- Power Adapter - Thailand’s power outlets are different to what you’ll find in Australia and New Zealand. The wall-sockets are the circular type which accept twin prongs. Before heading over to Thailand make sure you get to an electrical goods store and buy yourself a wall adapter or you may find yourself unable to charge things like mobile phones and laptops until you find an adapter over there.
As a bonus, you might also want to have a look at these apps which can be helpful to have on your mobile phone or device when in Thailand:
iTranslate - This one is awesome when it comes to deciphering road signs or menus when the words are written in Thai script!
GrabTaxi - GrabTaxi lets you hail taxis and pay a regulated price. It’s a game changer for a place that used to be rife with overpriced taxi rides.
Next Station - This app lets you map out and plan your travel on Bangkok’s train services.