Our favourite travel sentence we’ve ever read: There’s no such thing as bad weather. Just people wearing the wrong clothes. Brilliant. So that’s our take on what to wear during Thailand’s rainy season – pack the right things and even “big, old, fat rain” needn’t slow you down.
What to wear in rainy season?
Are you wondering what to wear in Thailand’s rainy season? We can definitely help you to dress properly to meet the elements and have a great time but first –
Get your basics for Thailand sorted: Use the rest of the What to Wear in Thailand series to make sure you’re ready to get PhD-levels of prepared. Find out:
→ Thailand’s dress code (cultural suitability + FAQs)
→ What to wear at night
→ What shoes to wear
Find out what’s in store: If you have only vague ideas of what rainy season or rain in Thailand involves, first acquaint yourself with what a wet day in the tropics is like, plus a very honest account of Koh Samui in November – its rainiest month. Also note that rainy season occurs at different times of the year in different parts of Thailand (on Koh Samui it’s roughly October/November/December).
The best jacket for rainy season
First order of business: your rain jacket. Leave your sissy water-repellancy at home. Thailand’s rainy season will not be repelled. You need waterPROOF. Ideally, you want a lightweight but sturdy, and properly waterproof rain jacket (with a big hood). These Columbia jackets get our vote for their taped seams, adjustable hoods and lightweight/breathable fabric for steamy weather. Better still, they pack down to nothing and have tons of reviews to back up the waterproof promise.
Can you get rain jackets in Thailand? Easiest to find are disposable plastic ponchos – they’re available all over Thailand, but they don’t last long and don’t feel nice to wear – you start to feel like a goldfish swimming in a plastic bag. If you prefer to pack your own quality control, bring along a Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite poncho – it will last for years. Outside of Bangkok (where shopping successes are easy), large chain supermarket stores like Tesco, Big C and Makro more than likely sell rain jackets of dubious quality (the cheap made-in-China kind that smell plastic) and, possibly, name-brand jackets for Thai-sized people (S to XS). If you’re bigger than that, plan to bring one from home.
The best shoes to wear in rainy season
What not to wear: Although flip-flops are a perfect choice in Thailand the rest of the year, during rainy season, the entire country becomes a slippery banana peel. Flip-flops can be downright dangerous. You don’t want to mince about in a scared-to-slip-shuffle, you want to enjoy your holiday.
Best shoes for rainy season? Instead – our no-contest, #1 vote for a rainy season shoe – Crocs Beach Line boat shoes. They have great traction on slippery surfaces, are comfortable for walking long distances and are absolutely ideal for wet weather. While Crocs shoes in general are a perfect rainy season choice, these are “Crocs in disguise” and work well in dressier situations, for travel and in cities, too.
Best rainy season sandals? Avoid flip-flops at all costs (as we explain above). Yet sturdier sandals are great options – all of the sandals below are made to get wet. Above all, choose sandals that have great grip and will stay on your feet (rather than committing acts of slippery treachery). We wouldn’t recommend wearing these to dinner at a nice resort, but they’ll get you through days of sight-seeing, exploring and activities in comfort and safety.
Can sports shoes be worn in rainy season? Running shoes/trainers will get wet, but they’re much safer than flip-flops. Also leave canvas sneakers behind – they’ll get wet, then muddy and will never dry. A light-weight, thin fabric style of mesh sports shoe – like the Aleader water shoes, above – will dry more quickly than traditional leather-uppers gym shoes. (However, if you’re stuck with regular running shoes and get soaked, set to them with a hotel hair dryer and stuff them with balled-up newspaper overnight).
The best fabric for rainy season
The rest of the year, when Thailand’s sunny and not quite as humid, your best fabrics include linen and very light-weight cotton, rayon and silk. And we chanted white-white-white! For rainy season, erase all notes to date and start over. When wet, cotton is undesirable as it takes ages to dry (both while you’re wearing it and after washing). Instead, pack quicker-drying fabrics.
- Good fabrics for rainy season: synthetics with wicking and/or quick-dry properties like polyester and nylon, and linen (our favourite fabric for the tropics, year-round)
- Fabrics to avoid in rainy season: denim, cotton (especially if it’s thick), and anything absorbent including rayon, lyocell, tencel, etc.
As a test, the next time you take a load of clothes out of the washing machine, consider which you’d rather put on right then and there. It won’t be your jeans!
The best clothes for rainy season
What colour clothing for rainy season? Can you wear a white outfit? Sure … if you’re planning to win a wet T-shirt contest. Otherwise, no matter how much you associate white linen trousers with vacation, white clothes aren’t much use to one’s modesty when wet. As such, all our clothing recommended here is in dark colours.
Are pants/trousers or shorts better for rainy season? In terms of bottoms, try to strike a clever balance with the length of your clothes’ hems. Longer clothes will offer you more protection against Thailand’s mosquitoes (kept very happy in rainy season), while shorter ones won’t get wet in puddles. As such, a mixture of shorts and pants (and skirts/dresses of varying lengths) are great to pack. You’ll then have choices depending on the day’s itinerary.
*Find out how to stay safe from mosquitoes in rainy season
What tops are best for rainy season? For tops, pack shirts with different sleeve-lengths, including a long-sleeve option. While it doesn’t get cold (low twenties Celsius / seventies Fahrenheit), it can be breezy in rainy season and times it’s properly windy. Light layers will help you to easily adjust if a hot day turns into a cooler, windier one. In addition to your light-weight rain jacket, a pashmina or a light sweater or cardigan are nice to have, especially early in the morning and at night.
What not to wear in rainy season? Jeans. No, no, no, no. Yuck. When was the last time you tried to peel off soaking wet skinny jeans? You can’t.
Men’s rainy season clothing
Shorts and pants made of a quick-dry material are ideal. If you can’t quit the zip-off pants-into-shorts magic trick, they come in every colour (and would – we admit – be very useful in rainy season). However … hopefully, we can convince you that there’s a future out there where travel pants don’t look like travel pants – shorts, too. Some great options:
Women’s rainy season clothing
Can you wear skirts and dresses in rainy season? Yes, certainly – once they’ve passed two tests. First, the ‘Marilyn Test’. It can be very windy during rainy season! Next, consider its silhouette when it’s drenched and sticking to you – some options will fare better than others.
Leggings or yoga pants/crops are a great rainy season option, as they dry quickly and – as you won’t be sun-tanning – much of your activity will include lounging, massages, yoga and eating.
Packing checklist for Thailand’s rainy season
Before locking shut your suitcase, make sure to run your shoe and clothing selections through a 6-point “worst case” rainy season check list:
(1) Best case, what if it’s actually hot and sunny? Not to get your hopes up, but who knows. Can your suitcase adjust for nice weather surprises?
(2) Do you have shoes or sandals that can wade through big puddles and survive to see another day?
(3) Do you have shoes or sandals that can safely handle slippery tiled surfaces?
(4) Will your clothes hold up in a wind tunnel?
(5) Can your shoes and clothes withstand getting caught in a torrential downpour without endangering you (or getting ruined)?
(6) Will your clothes accidentally feature you in a Wet T-shirt Contest? (Avoid white, girls!)
Above all else, make sure you’re prepared against Thailand’s mosquitoes – an inevitability when the humidity rises. Find out how we visit Thailand with the world’s best natural repellent. Other than that, we have plenty more tips to help your perfect trip-prep: How to prepare for Thailand. Enjoy!