Since its first draft in 2008, my “What to Pack for Thailand” advice has been amongst the most popular posts on this site – shared 23,000 times and counting. Its popularity makes perfect sense. While hotels, activities and restaurants are subjective choices, packing the wrong shoes will be wrong on every pair of feet. Given the huge demand for packing help, I’ve spruced up and fine-tuned my Thailand packing tips into a tidy A-to-Z. Enjoy!
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If, like me, you rely on your phone for most of your vacation pics, this portable charger is fantastic back-up. Ensure that you’ll have a functional phone after long days out, or adventures that don’t include reliable access to plugs. It weighs nothing and fits easily in a pocket or small bag. (For iPhone, Samsung, HTC and more).
Do you try to avoid chemicals wherever possible? If so, this natural brand of mosquito repellent gets consistent rave reviews. I myself never use DEET products as my mosquito repellent for Thailand – find out why – but you should choose a level of mosquito protection that you’re comfortable with. This will depend on your travel plans for Thailand.
Unlike elsewhere in Thailand, Koh Samui is malaria-free, so it’s an easier choice for my usual itinerary. Whatever the product you choose, you’ll want to bring some bug spray with you. Repellent brands like OFF! are readily available in Thailand, but ‘bug spray shopping’ seems like a waste of your vacation.
With OCD levels of application, expect one 2 oz bottle to last one person about a week. For longer trips or with a family, an 8 oz bottle is also available.
C is for Crocs
Crocs?!? But indeed. They aren’t what they used to be and they’re THE perfect shoe for Thailand’s shoes on/off culture. These slip-on shoes (aka “Crocs in disguise”) do triple duty:
- They don’t have laces or buckles (crucial!)
- They’re appropriate footwear to visit temples
- They’ll keep you safe on rocky beaches and slippery surfaces, and;
- They can handle torrential rain without consequences
Better still, they’re very light-weight for packing and they’ll keep your feet cool in Thailand’s hot climate.
D is for Dos & Don’ts in Thailand
Is this your first time to Thailand? If so, consider this book crucial reading. It’s especially useful if you hope to venture into ‘real’ Thailand, visit temples or make new friends. It teaches you how to put your best foot forward (but never upwards – learn why in the book). Fantastic cultural tips for any ‘farang‘ (foreigner) visiting Thailand. Available for Kindles or in used paperback.
E is for eBags Packing Cubes
Whether you like to keep everything in its place or have an expensive habit of losing clothing on vacation, I think packing cubes should earn a deserved place in every suitcase. Do you fight slightly compulsive tendencies? eBags offer the chance to colour code the contents of your suitcase. I know, I know … deep breaths.
FRiEQ Universal Waterproof Case (fits all large phones)
Remember when the annoying cell phone store guy asked a thousand times if you wanted the warranty and you said “no, no, no, go away”? Now you’re heading to a country where you’ll sit by the pool, go snorkelling, ride on boats and possibly experience torrential, tropical rain. Bring back-up for your little buddy! (Fits all large smartphones – Apple iPhone 6, 5s, 5, Galaxy S5, S4 S3, HTC One, Galaxy Note 3 and more)
G is for Germ-X Hand Sanitizer
Well it can’t hurt, right? I’m one of those people who wipe down the plane tray table and arm rests with antiseptic wipes – find out why – and the habit continues with a dose of hand sanitizer whenever I sit down to eat. Slightly non-scientific theory? The germs are out there. Brand new Thai germs we aren’t used to. Wouldn’t you rather they get someone else? Exactly.
H is for Havaianas Top Flip Flops
My favourite pair of Havaianas lasted seven years. Seven! These little beauties are quality stuff. While Koh Samui’s bright red dirt can colour light flip-flops pretty quickly –when you get home you can instantly bring them back to life with a power-washer. They’ll look like brand new in 5 seconds… ready for the next decade of their life.
I really prefer to use natural mosquito repellent for Thailand and these bands go one better: you don’t have to remember to re-apply bug spray. They work just as well while you’re sleeping at night and won’t run out at a crucial time – as a bottled spray might do. Add strong product guarantees, natural ingredients and fantastic reviews? Dancing lady emoji.
J is for J Pillow travel pillow
Bare minimum, it’s a 20-hour journey from JFK, LAX or O’Hare to Bangkok. Add an eye mask and some ear plugs to triply guarantee that you’ll arrive happy and well-rested. Cheaper than business class!
K is for (what else?) The Koh Samui Guide
No matter what stage of holiday planning you’re in (whether you’re deciding on Koh Samui as a destination or are sitting on packed suitcases), this island travel guide puts everything you need to know in one tidy place.
L is for Lonely Planet Thai Phrasebook
When I last checked, this Thai phrasebook was the most popular book that my readers buy before Thailand travel. Weirdly, it’s often #1 on Amazon for Vietnam travel, too.
M is for Master Lock TSA Luggage Lock
With a much longer locking cable loop than other luggage locks, this guy makes it easy to secure just about anything. Keep your precious bits locked shut, whether during your flight or in your hotel room.
N is for Nancy Chandler’s Map of Bangkok
I know how much work I’ve put into five editions of The Koh Samui Guide. Meanwhile, the Nancy Chandler team are on their 27th edition of this fantastic, hand-drawn pocket map. Cheers to that! It’s truly your insider’s guide to Bangkok and has no equal.
The Chiang Mai map is also excellent, and a great resource for shopping trips.
Packing tips part 2: Thailand packing tips (O to Z)
Obviously packing all 26 suggestions would leave no room at all for clothes or souvenirs. I intend the list as an exercise in Thailand travel logic and to jog your memory for things you’d perhaps have forgotten (or might be excited to now include). Enjoy!