Complete Thailand Packing List : Top Guide for Backpackers

By on Published: March 2, 2020 | Last Updated: November 12, 2020 in Asia, THAILAND, Travel Gear & Packing with 0 Comments

Complete Thailand Packing List

The wonders of Thailand are a mecca for travellers with the country’s historic temples, delicious food, beautiful beaches and cultural vibrancy, it’s no wonder so many of us head there each year.

And due to its great prices and location at the heart of Southeast Asia (Bangkok is one of the cheapest places to fly into the region from further afield FYI), it’s no surprise that Thailand remains a haven for long term backpackers and budget travellers.

So if you’re joining the crew and head to this gem of a nation soon as part of a great adventure, here’s my complete Thailand packing list to get you ready for the journey of a lifetime.

Aimed at those travelling with a backpack – either as part of a short Thailand trip or a longer Southeast Asia escape – this complete guide on what to bring is aimed at you keeping things light and simple.

It embodies all the essentials of course, but as a fanatical backpacker myself, I know how to pack smart and light.

So read on to discover my ultimate checklist when it comes to backpacking Thailand, which will have you totally prepared without being weighed down!

Oh and if you want to download a copy of this too, check out the subscription box at the end of this article, which will provide you with a handy checklist you can take with you anywhere.


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What to Wear on a Flight to Thailand

Thailand, Chiang Mai, Market

Before we get started on what to pack for your time Thailand, it’s worth taking some time to think about what to wear on a flight to the country.

Dovetailing these items in with those on the checklist below will also help you keep your packing light as you won’t be doubling up on items or carrying unnecessary ones you won’t wear again until the flight home.

Given that most flights to Thailand from North America, Europe or Australia / New Zealand are long haul, I’d certainly advise wearing something light and comfortable on a flight to Thailand.

Layers are crucial as you simply never know how hot or cold a plane might be and if you want to get some sleep, comfy is king.

Ladies, I always wear leggings on long-haul flights and love these natural bamboo fibre ones from Boody, which I never travel without.

Pair these with a thin cotton top or dress (depending on how much coverage you want) and take a sweater and scarf on the plane for extra cosy layers.

The travel wraps from Sholdit, which have hidden security pockets are perfect for backpacking adventures and I love mine!

Compression flight socks are also a must in my book when it comes to long haul flying as they help you avoid the possibility of DVT and I pair these with a lovely eye mask and earplugs to ensure I get some good zzz’s.

A travel pillow will also help you here and I love this one from MLVOC, which I never fly long haul without. A travel pillow will also come in handy if you’re taking any long bus rides in Thailand too.

Gents, if leggings aren’t your thing, then loose-fitting jeans or comfy cargo pants might be a good option, with a t-shirt and thin sweater on top.

Shoes-wise, a good pair of runners / trainers / sneakers are your best option when travelling to Thailand – they’ll be the bulkiest footwear you’ll need when travelling in this country and wearing them on the flight will help keep your bag weight down.

Personally, I love these ones from New Balance which are ideal for both city-strolling in places like Bangkok, or for waterfall hiking in areas around Chiang Mai.

 

LEARN MORE: The 12 Long Flight Essentials… For Those on a Budget!

 

Packing Cubes and Backpacks

Thailand, Chiang Mai, Street Art Prison Tower

And now seems like as a good a time as any to tackle the notion of packing cubes and rucksacks, 2 key components in backpacking life and a definite must on any Thailand packing list!

First up, never take a backpack bigger than 45 litres.

Even if you are travelling for 6 months, there really is no need to take anything bigger and if you do, trust me, you’ll regret it.

Honestly, it’s so warm in Thailand most of the year that you can get away with fewer clothes, so consider an even smaller backpack in the 35l range if you can.

This 40l Farpoint backpack from Osprey makes a great option.

Everything on this packing list should fit in there easily.

And a key way to make sure this happens is to use packing cubes!

A godsend to disorganised packers everywhere, these handy, light, compressible fabric separators help condense the size of your clothes ensuring you can fit more into your backpack.

They also help you organise your stuff, so you’re not constantly routing through your bag for that one pair of clean socks.

I absolutely love these packing cubes from TravelWise and personally would never consider heading off to Southeast Asia, or indeed anywhere, without them.

 

What Female Travellers Should Wear in Thailand

Thailand, Black Temple, Me

Thailand is certainly a relaxed country and women should feel comfortable wearing almost anything.

That said, loose-fitting trousers or leggings are best for city days, while at the beach a sarong and swimsuit are fine.

Everywhere else, shorts with appropriate coverage should be ok.

Strappy tops are ok too, but you may want to consider t-shirts that cover your shoulders more as they offer better protection from the sun.

The one exception is when visiting temples, where you will need to cover to the knees, as well as the shoulders and chest.

Here, fisherman pants or other loose, thin trousers are a great option.

Ensure you have at least one outfit that allows for this, as well as 1-2 sarongs or thin scarves which you can cover up with as they are so versatile, compact and light.

For more specific ideas about exactly what to wear in Thailand, check out my ultimate backpacking checklist below…

 

LEARN MORE: The Perfect Iitnerary for Chiang Rai, Thailand

 

Shoes & Clothes for Your Thailand Packing List

Thailand, Bangkok, Railway Market
1x Thin Rain Jacket

While Thailand is certainly warm for most of the year, the tropical rainy season, which largely between June and November, can bring heavy downpours.

In this instance, it’s a great idea to bring a thin rain jacket to Thailand.

But thin is the keyword here, because even when rains it’s hot and you definitely want to avoid any sort humid, sweat-fest!

As such, something light is best when it comes to your Thailand packing list and this North Face Venture 2 is perfect for the job.

And as it’s black, it goes with anything!

 

2x Thin Cotton Long-Sleeved Tops / Sweaters / Cardigans

Thailand is not a hugely conservative country and while women travellers aren’t expected to cover up, I’d definitely advise at least taking a few tops that cover your arms.

Not only are these great for sun protection, cooler evening or if visiting any temples, they also make a good option for travel days – either flights or buses.

Sometimes, they crank the aircon so much in Thailand you need them indoors too!

Given the tropical climate in Thailand, thin layers are best here and cotton (or other natural fibres) are a great way to go if you want to stay cool and sweat-free.

Make sure none of these tops expose your cleavage or stomach.

 

6x Singlets / T-Shirts

Choose a range of colours and styles that match the trousers / shorts you’ll select, including more t-shirts which cover your shoulders for sun protection or are good when heading into religious buildings.

6 is a good number of tops to take for your Thailand packing list as they balance backpack weight with washing needs!

 

2x Sun Dresses

A great item if you choose to go to the islands of Thailand.. and why wouldn’t you?!

I suggest packing 1-2 light thin sundresses for your travels in Thailand for those beachy days and fun evenings!

 

2x Pairs of Shorts

Like the dresses, but a bit more comfortable for moving around in, a couple of pairs of shorts for your Thailand packing list are a must.

They’re likely to be what you spend most of your time in!

Perfect for the islands, steamy south and even wandering around some towns used to tourists such as Chiang Mai, shorts that offer reasonable coverage are ideal for the hot days here.

Personally I always go for denim shorts as they are hardy, versatile and go with most things.

1 pair of blue denim and 1 pair of black denim usually make up my backpacking short selection.

 

2x Pairs of Loose Pants / Trousers

While shorts may be ok to wear in many places in Thailand, I certainly didn’t feel comfortable wearing anything above the knee in major cities like Bangkok and, as such, I certainly recommend bringing 2 pairs of trousers when considering what to wear in Thailand.

I’d suggest more loose-fitting trousers like fisherman pants or hareem trousers as a great option because they are light and thin, which means they keep you cool, dry quickly and don’t take up a lot of weight or room in your bag.

Don’t forget these sorts of pants can be bought by the bucket load when you are in Thailand, but if you want to get some in advance of your trip, I love these ones.

NB. You may want to supplement the below pair of leggings for a third pair of trousers.

Steer clear of skinny jeans or anything thick or heavy in my opinion when travelling Thailand.

 

1x Pair Leggings

One of my travel essentials, especially ideal when you’re exploring out in the beautiful nature of northern Thailand, such as hiking around Chiang Mai.

Leggings are also good for travellers on journey days because they can be worn under a casual dress – see the information about what to wear on a flight to Thailand above – or of an evening if you need to feel a bit smarter!

A thin black pair of leggings will easily match most things and going for a natural bamboo fibre like these from Boody will help keep you cool.

 

1-2x Sarongs

You should never travel anywhere without a sarong in my opinion, especially as they are so light and versatile.

Perfect for using as a beach towel, a shoulder wrap in a temple, a sheet on a bus ride or a dress by the pool … the list goes on.

Take a look at my post about the 20 reasons why you should always take a sarong travelling for more ideas about why a sarong is certainly on my list of what to pack for Thailand.

Consider bringing 2 if you have the space, or swapping 1 out for a large thin scarf or wrap that can be worn around the neck or across the shoulders.

Check out this lovely sarong for some ideas.

 

7x Pairs Underwear

Small and compact, 7 pairs of underwear is a good number if you’re thinking about packing light for Thailand and save on washing duties during your trip!

 

2x Bras + 1x Sports Bra

I’d advise a sports bra for any hiking or rock climbing you may be doing.

 

2x Bikini / Swimwear

Well you need something to wear while diving or enjoying the amazing coastline of Thailand!

 

3x Pairs Socks

1x normal length pair for outdoors stuff, 2x ankle-length pairs for city / sightseeing days.

 

1x Sun Hat

Whether you want to bring a cap or a floppy, large number, the choice is yours.

Just make sure you bring a sun hat of some description because the heat and UV rays in Thailand are fierce!

This black cap from Nike makes for a good, versatile choice for thinking about your Thailand packing list.

 

1x Pair Sunglasses

A must for those strong sunny rays… ahhh I can feel them now!

Definitely get a UV-protection pair.

 

1x Pair Trainers / Runners

Versatile, comfortable and essential if you want to see all the natural sights in this epic country.

I highly recommend New Balance who create stylish city runners that you can still wear when doing your outdoors stuff too like hiking or rock climbing.

Just make sure the grip and support are adequate.

As I outlined in my ‘what to wear when flying to Thailand’ section above, a pair of trainers are good for journey days too.

 

1x Pair Flip Flops / Sandals

Personally I love my Arizona Birkenstocks, which I basically lived in during my time in Thailand.

Super easy to kick on and off (which you need to do a lot in this country, aka every time you enter a building), Birks also offer great support meaning you can sightsee in them to your heart’s content and never get sore soles.

Alternatively, a pair of cheaper flip flops are good for beach days.

You’re unlikely to wear anything else!

 

DISCOVER MORE: How to Travel from Chiang Rai in Thailand to Luang Prabang in Laos

 

Toiletries & Medical Supplies to Pack for Thailand

Thin Wash Bag with Hook

Washbags with hooks are great for use in hostels as you can hang up your wash bag when you’re in shower and not leave it on the floor to get wet and dirty.

A light and thin wash bag is also essential for keeping the weight in your backpack down.

 

Shampoo & Conditioner Bars

I always go for shampoo and conditioner bars when I travel to save the plastic and keep the space down!

Although they are a bit pricey, they last for ages.

Say goodbye to mid-travel spillages and bulky bottles people, this is the eco-friendly future!

 

Anti-Bacterial Soap

Keep in a ziplock bag to prevent from getting soap slime on everything you own!

I suggest an anti-bacterial bar as they are great for keeping you clean in tropical climates where you’re likely to be sweating a bit!

 

Deodorant

I always pack a natural crystal deodorant as they last forever (great if you’re travelling for a few months) and are free from many nasty chemicals.

They are also the only thing that stops me sweating in the Thai heat!

 

Face Cleanser, Toner & Moisturiser

Great for bringing your skin back to life after days in the strong sun!

 

Natural Sunscreen

Choose a 30 SPF or higher for those fierce rays in Thailand and go natural so you can keep the chemicals out of your skin.

 

Aloe Vera

This doubles as a great moisturiser, soother and aftersun.

 

SPF Lip Salve

Very important for those strong UV conditions and keeping your lips healthy and happy.

Burt Bees are always my go-to as they never dry out my lips and are water-resistant.

 

Tea-Tree Essential Oil

A powerful antiseptic, anti-mould, anti-fungal treatment.

Also great to throw in a few drops with your washing and ideal for freshening up smelly bags / laundry etc.

Get an organic tea-tree oil if you can.

 

Tiger Balm

An ideal remedy for headaches, sore muscles and insect bites, tiger balm is super versatile and a must on my Thailand packing list for backpackers.

 

Paracetamol, Anti-Septic Cream & Band-Aids

The only medicine you need to take!

Honestly, there are so many pharmacies in this country you’ll be able to get almost anything you need out here!

If you’re concerned about travel health issues in Thailand, then take a look at this helpful article.

 

Menstrual Cup

The best way to deal with your time of the month when travelling ladies.

Check out the best prices for them here.

 

Insect Repellent
Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Floss
Razor & Spare Blades
Nail Scissors & Nail File
Tweezers
Cotton Buds / Pads
Hair Bands
Safety Pins
Glasses / Contact Lenses if you wear them

 

READ MORE: Guide on Getting from Bangkok to Siem Reap by Bus

 

Other Useful Things for Your Backpack Thailand List

Thailand, North, Temple
Eye Mask & Earplugs

Key for sleeping in hostels and long bus rides.

This eye mask from Alaska Bear is super comfy.

Talking of bus rides, check out Bookaway if you’re looking for some great deals on transport in Thailand including local buses and flights.

 

Travel Towel

I recommend Latrek when it comes to the best travel towel, because they are cheap, compact, soft and don’t smell.

Love, love, love mine.

Read a full review here.

 

Day Pack

Definitely needed for hiking, sightseeing and beach adventure days, this one from Osprey is perfect for the job.

 

Combination Padlock

Very useful for locking up bags and valuables when staying in hostels, these don’t have to be expensive, just reliable!

Best to get a TSA-approved one in case of any hassle at the airport.

 

Filter Water Bottle

Seeing the amount of plastic bottles in Thailand is disheartening at best.

Try not to add to the problem and consider travelling with a filter water bottle like this one from LifeStraw.

Not only does this mean you can safely and easily drink the tap water, but it will also save you the money and hassle of having to buy bottled water.

Much cheaper and more environmentally friendly, the LifeStraw Filter Bottles have an amazing technology that filters out 99.9% of bacteria and the filter lasts for 4000 litres, which means you’ll likely only have to replace it once a year!

 

Travel Handwash

Great for doing emergency washing, such as underwear in a sink, travel handwash is always a must when I backpack anywhere.

A good idea on this Thailand packing list, travel handwash is ideal when it comes to rinsing your swimwear at the end of a busy beach day!

 

Dry Bag

So useful in Thailand, I bought one when I was there!

These small and compact guys are great for keeping your electricals dry in case of boat rides, tropical rains or beachy fun!

Check out this top-rated one for ideas.

 

Smartphone & Headphones

Taking your smartphone to stay in touch with those at home, checking maps, booking accommodation and uploading some pics while you’re in Thailand is a great idea.

Also download some audiobooks and music onto your phone before you leave home – a great idea for journey days.

I recommend Amazon Audible and Spotify Premium for these purposes and wouldn’t travel without either these days.

You may want to consider a waterproof phone case if you’re backpacking Thailand or Southeast Asia for a while too!

And don’t forget to pick up a local SIM when you get to Thailand, it’s cheap, easy and you get so much data it’s crazy!

 

Portable Power Pack

Portable power packs are great when travelling, especially if you’re out sightseeing all day and worried about your phone or camera battery lasting.

I recommend the Anker Powercore, it’s light and can charge my iPhone 7 around 5 times!

 

Camera, Lens, Spare Battery, Memory Card & Charger

I love my Sony A600 mirrorless camera, which I’ve used across Thailand and beyond.

Light, compact and sturdy, it’s perfect for travelling.

A GoPro Hero 7 is also a great idea to help capture the more active adventures you might have in this country such as hiking or snorkelling.

 

Adapter

How are you going to charge otherwise?

Thailand uses a mix of outlets, but mostly the British or European style ones, so get a Skross World Adapter that won’t fail you!

 

Headlamp & Spare Batteries

I never travel anywhere without a headlamp and Thailand is no exception.

Try to choose a product that uses commonly found batteries and has a red night light function to avoid the bugs.

I love my Black Diamond Storm, which served me very well in Southeast Asia!

 

Important Bits!

Thailand, National Park, Views
Passport & Photocopies

Definitely take a colour copy of your passport with you to Thailand and keep it with you at all times.

Taking a photo of your passport and storing it safely in your email account is also a good idea.

 

Visa Documentation

Depending where you’re from, you may or may not require this.

Check with your Foreign Office for further details.

 

Immunisation Documentation

Always good to have with you wherever you travel.

 

Travel Insurance Policy

Can’t go wrong with the excellent travel insurance from travel insurance from World Nomads in my opinion.

I’ve used them during my travels in Thailand and across Southeast Asia and love their great policies which give excellent coverage and peace of mind!

 

Credit Cards and Debit Cards

If you’re from the UK, the Starling Banking app can provide you with a current account and debit card that doesn’t charge you for transactions or ATM withdrawals abroad.

 

Flight Information
Hidden Cash in Small Thin Purse

 

PIN IT TO PINTEREST!

 

So that’s it, my complete Thailand packing list for backpackers, designed to be practical while keeping things light, I hope I’ve covered all bases!

Have you got any questions about my list?

Did I miss anything out?

Please drop your ideas into the comments box below…

 

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About the Author

About the Author: Creator of Big World Small Pockets, Stephanie Parker is a budget travel addict! Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, Stephanie backpacks the world collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile .

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