Want to arrive in Thailand totally prepared for a tropical climate and a brand new culture – ready to avoid every mosquito in your path?
Here are seventeen ways to improve your trip to Thailand for under $100 total – whether by adding comfort or peace of mind, insurance against Murphy’s Law … or just a total determination that Thai mosquitoes bite someone else.
I’ve tried all of the following things personally and keep both my carry-on and day-bag stocked with a majority of them at all times. Consider it half “Oh Sh*T Kit” and half cunning plan to enjoy Thailand looking – and feeling – as fresh as Amal Clooney stepping off a yacht.
Links contain affiliates. Prices current on Amazon at time of writing.
$9.99 View on Amazon
These pop up as my top recommendation for Thailand on nearly every page of this site. Why? They idiot-proof your Mosquito Protection Plan. Pop one on to your wrist as you arrive in Thailand and you’re set for two weeks. (Multi-packs are available for longer trips). I never recommend DEET because of that time it melted flip-flops and much prefer natural options. This brand uses citronella while others favour geranium oil.
Assuming you sleep with hands vaguely near your head, you’ll be less likely to hear the world’s worst nocturnal noise: “bzzzzzz”, right beside your ear. Best of all, they’re waterproof – so you’re covered in any weather. Pair with some Incognito spray (#2) as often as you can remember are you are set.
$14.00 View on Amazon
I’ve said it before: I love this stuff so much I’d drink it. You can read the entire history of this one-sided liquid love-affair, or enjoy the brevity that follows: Used Incognito on every Thailand trip for 3+ years. Zero bites. DEET-free and totally natural. Love the smell. No animal testing. One bottle shared by two people = 7-14 days’ supply (depending where you’re going and how obsessively you apply it). Also deters house-flies!
I would sooner fly to Thailand without sunglasses than without a supply of Incognito.
$11.36 View on Amazon
Just a little more Incognito-Love, paired with a total quirk of nature. Apparently, something science-y happens when sweat combines with dead skin cells that makes mosquitoes go “oh, yum yum”. The theory behind the loofah, then, is that exfoliating makes you less of a Mozzie Meal. Paired with the citronella soap bar hidden within, the results are compelling – I’m hooked. Bug bites aside, from a pure vanity point-of-view, one of these used twice-daily through your trip will leave your skin incredibly soft, smooth and happy.
Travel bonus? As it’s a soap and loofah in one, there’s nothing to spill. Just chuck it in a Ziplock and you’re on your way.
$0.00 (free download) Download PDF
Thirty-six pages of stuff your mother wants you to know before going to Thailand. Covers everything that routinely hits the headlines when things go badly for tourists in Thailand: especially scooter safety and common scams, plus need-to-know details about Thai laws, dengue fever and more. Free, with instant download. If you skipped this part in Lonely Planet, read it here.
$9.21 View on Amazon
A new item in my “won’t leave home without” kit. These electrolyte drink tabs are made for athletes but I find them indispensable for my most un-athletic moments: doing nothing but melting in the hotter points of Thailand’s climate (on Koh Samui that’s March, April and May). I drink one on the plane in a bid to stay hydrated and avoid jet-lag, and then one per day in Thailand to make sure all my salty-electrolyte-y stuff stays in check in Thai heat. Totally not a doctor but, in my experience, I find it prevents me from feeling “wilty” in extreme heat.
(Totally “not” from personal experience? Add Nuun to a hangover, and be … not quite amazed, but certainly grateful).
Thailand tip? Fresh coconuts – abundant in Thailand – are similarly packed with electrolytes but are slightly less portable. You get ten Nuun tabs per tube: They easily split in two so it’s easy to add a half a tab to a regular water bottle, in the recommended Nuun/water ratio.
$5.99 View on Amazon
A two-part recommendation, depending on your itinerary in Thailand. Most of the time, these waterproof pouches are just great back-up from killing your phone around the ocean, pool or hotel bath-tub (or in a
“FRiEQ” freak rainstorm – of which Thailand has many). As well, Songkran celebrations and a less robust waterproof case have claimed at least one phone from our family inventory.
Part two? This case turns your phone into a waterproof camera – up to 100 feet – making it ideal for snorkel trips. In such case, you might consider adding a floating strap if you’re intending to take it swimming. There’s also a floating version of this case available at a fractionally higher cost.
$0.00 (Free with Audible trial) View on Amazon
The Audible book cover for Private Dancer looks racy indeed – but don’t be dissuaded. This work of fiction offers must-read insight into Thailand’s bar industry (Bangkok’s bars and bar girls especially). It’s by no means high-brow literature, but is an interesting peek into what goes on behind smiles and shiny lights. If going the audiobook route, pair with headphones (Bangkok’s bar scene is, unsurprisingly, NSFW).
Love audiobooks? Other Thailand novels available for free listening with an Audible trial:
- Bangkok 8
- The Narrow Road to the Deep North
- Fieldwork: A Novel
- The Beach
- Deep Blue Sea
- Bangkok Bob and The Missing Mormon
$3.99 View on Amazon
Sunburn on your lips hurts twice as much (and this stuff tastes good). No animal testing.
$5.99 View on Amazon
I’m encouraging prudence here, not paranoia, but let’s figure a luggage lock is the suitcase equivalent of a dog bowl at your back door: “No thank you, Baddies! You’ll find easier pickings elsewhere, move along please…”
Travel tip: Because these locks always seem to vanish the minute before departure, I recommend the following: Buy a four-pack of locks and, when it arrives, set all the locks’ codes to the same thing (not 1-2-3-4!). Then, grab your luggage and carry-on bags and tuck one or two locks in the outside pockets so they’re there when you need them. While you’re at it, add a corkscrew, some Ziplocks and a roll of Scotch tape to your suitcase exterior pocket and you’re officially Eagle Scout Prepared.
$8.24 View on Amazon
The less said the better. (But one day, when we’re all a few drinks in, I’ll tell you about the time I starred in
Dirty Dancing Amoebic Dysentery: Havana Nights).
$8.39 View on Amazon
No way will this book teach you Thai (for that, see #17 – it’s free!). But it’s interesting to flip through: you’ll get a good idea of Thai sentence structure and can then try out phonetic phrases on real live Thai people (then jot furious notes as they correct, and recorrect, your pronunciation). Great for visual learners to learn Thai language basics: counting to ten, colours, hello, how are you, etc.
$10.99 View on Amazon
Why? At time of writing it’s 27°C/80°F (plus 78% humidity) in Koh Samui. Cleanliness is extremely important in Thai culture, so I encourage you to further diplomatic relations with a discreet ShowerPill Session in an airplane or airport bathroom following a presumably long flight to Thailand. Thereafter, it’s a hot and humid country and these little beauties are an instant fix.
Strange-but-true real life application? When the power goes out in your hotel – cutting the entire water supply as well. Luckily, you’ve brought your own shower.
$4.13 View on Amazon
See #10. Apply liberally.
$4.01 View on Amazon
Things that make noise at night in Thailand: Frogs. Bats. Crickets. No, but seriously, the frogs. Temple parties. Fireworks. Firecrackers. Your neighbours. Air-conditioning. Dog politics. Geckos. Lizards. Other people’s kids. The guys that bring their own speakers on vacation and play music that goes ‘douche-douche-douche’. This composite list paints a pessimistic picture of Thailand by night and, most likely, you’ll never hear any of the above – certainly not at high-end hotels.
However, if you’re a light sleeper and plan to find accommodation as you go (travelling towards the budget end of the spectrum especially), a pair of noise-cancelling earplugs safeguards your sleep in all circumstances. Let the frogs sing the song of their people – you’ll have no idea.
$1.99 (secondhand copy) View on Amazon
Pop quiz: What’s the rudest thing you can do with your feet in Thailand? Get reading! Grab a used copy of this helpful book for under $2 and flick through it while you half-watch Netflix. Any attention paid to Thai etiquette raises your Good Citizen Points on a minute-by-minute basis.
$1.31 View on Amazon
If you’re devoted to steps #1, #2 and #3 your chances of avoiding mosquito bites in Thailand are as good as can be. However, should they find a chink in your armour (likely on a Bangkok canal tour where they wait in full phalanx formation), hydrocortisone comes to the rescue quickly. It isn’t easy to find this stuff in Thailand but it works wonders to reduce red bug bites and stop any itch.
$0.00 (free download) Download Podcast
Good morning. Nice to meet you. Can I have the bill? Turn left at the next street. I’m thirsty. Learn to say this – and much more – in Thai, for free! Download 11 free Thai language podcasts, with correlating PDF transcripts, for an easy way to arrive in Thailand nearly able to hold a basic conversation. Any foreigner that can say more than ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ is an instant super-star on Koh Samui.
Grand total: $99.57
Drumroll … The grand total of your Thailand travel kit: $99.57 (at time of writing) – and everything on Amazon has free Prime shipping!
Bonus! Have $10 left to spare?
One last thing
Finally, make sure to leave room in your travel budget (and time on your to-do list) to buy travel insurance before your departure. Your exact policy will depend on things like trip length, whether you’re going to Thailand only or other countries as well, and what your adventures will include. (No surprise, extreme sports cost more to insure). As a vague idea, travel insurance for Thailand through World Nomads can range from approximately US$26 up to $389+ for a long trip – but it’s quick to get a quote for your exact dates once you have them.