Thailand Packing List of Essential Items - Whether Backpacking or Visiting for a Few Days

Packing for Thailand might not be fun for everyone, but getting it right is essential. Over packing can be worse than packing too little. And, it is equally important to carry your stuff in the right backpack. Believe us – we learnt this the hard way.

Thailand Packing List: Important Things to Take for Your Thailand Holiday

Whether you plan to backpack across the country or treat yourself to a luxurious holiday, most items on your Thailand packing list should be the same.

Light, cotton, loose fitting clothes along with flip-flops will be most comfortable in Thailand’s tropical climate – in June (summer) and even in December (winter). Also, whenever you visit, you’ll need to protect yourself from the sun, rain, humidity and insects.

(Although this packing list is intended for those travelling to Thailand, it works just as well for any country in Southeast Asia.)

5 Essential Items to Pack for Thailand – Whether Backpacking or Visiting for a Few Days

1 – Insect repellent: Thailand’s tropical climate makes it a party destination for travellers – as well as insects. You need to be careful of Mosquitos in particular. Dengue and Malaria are common in Thailand, especially in the rainy season (mid May to Oct).  

2 – LifeStraw: Staying hydrated in a tropical climate is key. Drinking tap water in Thailand isn’t an option. You’ll have three options for clean drinking water:

– Plastic bottles: Bottled water in Thailand is not expensive, but it is a huge waste of plastic. Please try not to add to Thailand’s plastic problem.

– Boil water: Boiling water to drink is not particularly exciting and waiting for it to cool down can be a pain.

– LifeStraw: Investing in a LifeStraw bottle is the safest and most environmentally friendly option. We have used our bottles all over Asia and they have work perfectly.

3 – Activated Charcoal: If you are careful with what you eat and drink, you should be fine. However, if things go wrong, activated charcoal is a great option. These capsules absorb toxins from your system and stop diarrhoea and other illnesses, resulting from eating contaminated food.

While you can easily get basic medicines from any pharmacy in Thailand, consider carrying some emergency medications. Please take your doctor’s recommendation on medicines to take to Thailand. 

4 – Voltage Converter & Plug: Thailand uses 220-Volts AC electricity. If you are visiting from a country that is not compatible such as the US (where the standard voltage is 120-Volts), you will need a converter.

In any case, you will require plug adapters. Most power outlets in Thailand feature two-prong flat or round sockets.

5 – Lock: Remember to carry a small lock – preferably a number lock. You never know when you’ll need it. If you are backpacking, consider carrying 2 locks – one for your backpack, and the other to lock valuables in your hotel safe box or to lock your room.

7 Toiletries & Important Items to Include in Your Thailand Packing list

Don’t carry large size or too many toiletries. Simply take whatever will fit in the plastic bag that you get at the airport (before hand baggage scanning). Almost every product and brand that you use in your country will be available in Thailand. It might even be cheaper. Packing the below items (in addition to whatever fits in the small bag) should suffice. 

1 – Sunscreen: While you can find sunscreen in any departmental store, it should be part of your Thailand toiletry list. Carry sunscreen with the highest SPF (sun protect factor) for the best UVB protection.

2 – Hand Sanitizer: Adding hand sanitizer to your Thailand packing list is a good idea, especially if you plan to eat street food.

3 – Sunglasses: Like sunscreen, there are plenty of options to buy sunglasses in Thailand. In fact, you can even buy fancy sunglasses from a posh shopping mall and get a VAT refund from BKK Airport. However, it makes sense to pack sunglasses you are comfortable with.

4 – Earplugs: Thailand can be noisy. If you are living near a party area, you can expect to hear music throughout the night. Carrying earplugs can be a good idea.

5 – Thai Phrase book: While it’s great to learn a few Thailand greetings and words before you visit Thailand, you can take it a step further by carrying a pocket dictionary.

6 – Thailand Guide: For those of you who prefer to read a guidebook about the area you are visiting, DK Eyewitness is a great option.

7 – Travel Money Belt: Although we don’t use a travel money belt, you might want to consider carrying one. Knowing that your passport and cash is 100% secure helps.

Best Backpacks for Thailand:

Taking the wrong bags for a Thailand holiday can ruin it. First of all, if you plan to explore multiple destinations and don’t have a set itinerary, do not carry your stuff in suitcases.

(We did once – and we ended up getting so fed-up that we discarded our suitcases, donated our extra luggage, and bought backpacks).

– If your flights do not have check-in baggage, a 70-litre backpack is perfect to take as hand baggage. You can carry nearly twice the stuff in it compared to a suitcase that meets flight cabin baggage specifications.

We have carried our 70-litre backpack as hand luggage for over 300 holidays, and have never been told that it’s too big. It works every time.

– Along with the 70-litre bag, it is a good idea to bring a good quality 30 – 35 litre backpack. Good quality so that it is safe – the backpack can’t be slashed or ripped off your back – and comfortable. You can carry necessary stuff in it when you go on day trips.

(Bag snatching is becoming more common in all of Southeast Asia. Here are some scams in Thailand to watch out for). 

– Rucksacks for Thailand: We feel that the stuff you need to carry per person – even if you are spending 3 months in Thailand – should fit into a 70-litre backpack. However, if you are a heavy packer, consider limiting the size of your rucksack to 100-litres. A backpack over 100 litres will slow you down.

Remember that most of the stuff you require can be bought in Thailand. There is no point in lugging it around; you can buy what you need, if and when you require it.

7 Items to Carry for a Trek in Thailand

While the trekking company you select will supply you with basic equipment and a first aid kit, it is important to carry the below items. (We are assuming that you are already carrying the right clothes, a LifeStraw bottle, bug spray, sunscreen, sunglasses, and medicines in a comfortable backpack).

1 – Hiking Shoes: Wearing the wrong hiking or trekking shoes for a trek can be disastrous. It makes sense to buy your shoes in advance and try them out for a month before you use them for a trek. Comfortable, light, and waterproof shoes work best.

2 – Raincoat & Jacket: Carry a jacket that can double as a raincoat. You’ll probably be trekking in northern Thailand, where the temperature can fall below 10 degrees centigrade in the colder months.

3 – Torch: You can easily get by without a torch in big cities, but if you are trekking or visiting remote areas, carrying a torch is important.

4 – Power bank: Don’t forget a bring a power bank for your phone and other electrical devices.

5 – Waterproof Phone Case: If you don’t have a waterproof camera, remember to pack a waterproof cover for your phone.

6 – Go Pro / Waterproof Camera: Even if you are not keen on water sports, you will have plenty of opportunities to swim in Thailand’s warm waters. Carrying a waterproof camera for underwater photography is a good idea.

7 – Watch: If you are a serious trekker, it makes sense to invest in a good waterproof and shockproof watch with GPS. Also, if you plan to go on unguided treks wearing a proper watch is crucial.

Documents to Pack for Thailand

Documents to get a Thai Visa on Arrival: Don’t forget to carry your passport, two photographs, a pen, printout of hotel reservations, and outgoing flight ticket.

Driving licence valid for Thailand: Even if you don’t plan to rent a bike or car, chances are that you’ll end up doing so. Remember to carry your driving licence- there is a high chance that the traffic police will check your licence.

It is not absolutely clear what licences work in Thailand, however, if you have a card licence, with details entered in English, you should be fine. An international licence should work in any case.

Insurance: Remember to carry your insurance and a credit card in your pocket. In case of an emergency, you’ll need to display a credit card (so that they know you’ll be able to pay) to get admitted in a hospital.

Currency: Carry some emergency Thai currency when you land in Thailand. (If you can’t arrange for Thai Bahts, carry US Dollars, Euros or GBPs).

Most international airports in Thailand have ATMs and money exchanges, but you can’t be too sure. In 2013 the Krabi airport had no money exchange stalls or ATMs before the immigration counter. Luckily we were carrying enough Thai Bahts from our earlier visit to cover our visa-on-arrival fee.

ATM: Don’t forget your ATM cards and foreign currency. You could be asked for proof of funds at immigration.

Remember to inform your bank about the dates you will be in Thailand.

You can find information on changing your currency to Thai Bahts on our planning page.

Remember to pack light for Thailand. If you carry the items covered in this Thailand packing list, you should be fine. Most things can be bought from Thailand – so don’t over pack.

Happy packing!

More on planning for Thailand.

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