Thailand could easily be ranked as every backpacker’s #1 bucket list destination. Gorgeous islands, pristine beaches, clear water, exotic temples, scrumptious food, an unbeatable party scene, loads of budget-friendly accommodations, and public transportation aplenty to get around – what’s not to love?
The best way to enjoy your Thailand backpacking adventure to the fullest is to pack smart. The riskiest – and the most exciting – part of third world travel is its unpredictability and sometimes not-so-cushy conditions. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide that includes a top 24-item packing list, what to wear in Thailand, special items for ladies and gents, and what not to pack – to make sure you’re prepared for any situation.
Once you’ve checked off all of your pre-travel packing essentials, you can rest assured you’re in for the trip of a lifetime!
The Ultimate Thailand Packing List
So what to pack for Thailand? In this guide we will run you through the essentials ranging from the best luggage for Thailand to what to wear in Thailand.
#1 – Nomatic Travel Bag
If you are packing for Thailand then you’re gonna need a bag! This is at the top of our Thailand packing list for a reason – you NEED a great travel backpack. That’s why we personally love the Nomatic Travel Bag. It’s made of durable waterproof material, equipped with compartments you never knew you needed (until now!), has a 40-liter capacity for a ton of space, yet is small enough to use as a carry-on. This bag has it all! Check out our in-depth review.
Alternative Luggage: AER Travel Pack 2
Our number two selection for an epic travel backpack is the AER Travel Pack 2. Like the Nomatic Travel Bag, this AER backpack is fully featured, big enough to hold an extended weekend of clothing, a short trip around Thailand and tough enough to last years of travel abuse.
I have taken the AER Travel Pack 2 on multiple trips and since then it has risen has in the ranks of my go-to travel backpacks.
Check out our AER Travel Pack 2 review to learn more.
A Suitcase: Nomatic Carry-On Pro
Backpacks not your thing? Probs no! Our friends at Nomatic are back again with a great alternative to their badass Travel Bag; the Nomatic Carry-On Pro.
This suitcase is ultra-durable, sleek, and comes with a handy tech compartment for transporting your laptop and other electronic bits. Nomatic has been an industry leader when it comes to travel gear and that reputation is reflected in the quality build design and functionality of the Carry-On Pro suitcase.
Whilst Thailand is a “backpacking” destination, there are no rules against bringing a suitcase!
Check out our Nomatic Carry-On Pro review to learn more about this epic suitcase.
The Camera: GoPro Hero9 Black
For most of us, our smartphones now feature cameras with stunning photo capabilities.
But… if you are an aspiring photographer who wants to take next-level photos and video beyond iPhone selfies, I recommend going with an action camera like the GoPro Hero9 Black.
It does deliver pro-quality video and gives you a bunch of a different angle options and shooting speeds to work with for photos (including a selfie-mode).
Think of a camera purchase like this as a long term investment that will have you capturing epic shots well beyond your time exploring here.
If you are looking for something cheaper for video specifically, check out these epic GoPro Alternatives.
What To Pack For Thailand: Personal Gear
Whatever time of year you visit Thailand, it is a hot country. You can expect warm to hot days and lovely nights pretty much whichever part you visit and whenever you go. However note that there is a monsoon rainy season which will require some thinking about.
Whilst beach and backpacker gear is perfectly suitable attire for much of Thailand, remember that you will need to dress respectfully in and around temples.
The aim of this guide isn’t to micro manage your packing for you. I mean, you probably know that you’ll need underwear right? Instead, we are going to suggest some awesome products as well as recommended some things to bring to Thailand that you may not have thought about.
Good Shoes – Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero
Yes, Thailand is a beach backpacker destination and you may be tempted to spend your whole trip wearing only flip flips or even going around barefoot (believe us, people do it). However, do not underestimate the case for wearing decent, comfortable dependable shoes – they are great for the sometimes uneven payments and ideal for driving around in mopeds.
I admit that most shoes that are also good for hiking are not the most attractive pieces of footwear. But they are some of the most comfortable and deliver good ankle support for a long day of walking about
Plus, there are some damned awesome hiking trails in Thailand that you would be silly to miss out on. So packing a pair of hiking shoes gives you the option (and eliminates excuses) to go head for the hills when the city becomes too much.
Check out the women’s Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero.
A Down Jacket: Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody
Granted, Thailand is warm. However, in the north the evenings can get cool so it is wise to bring some kind of light jacket.
It weighs just under a pound and provides an excellent weight to warmth ratio. If you don’t go for one of the super bright colors, it is pretty stylish and city-worthy also.
If visiting Thailand in the winter, this jacket is an absolute must.
Check out our best travel jackets article for more inspiration.
This one is probably a no-brainer. Thailand offers some of the most amazing, beautiful, bountiful beaches in the world. You will get some serious use out of your swimwear, so don’t forget to pack it!
We are not going to tell you what to wear in Thailand, but swimwear is good call. In fact, it may even be worth investing in a few sets in case you ever decide to wash one.
Travel First Aid Kit
You don’t need to tote around half a pharmacy, but a well-stocked first aid kit should be in all our backpacks. Stuff happens on the road and it’s inconvenient and embarrassing when you can’t manage small situations like a cut finger or hangover migraine.
You can tuck this lifesaver away in a forgotten pocket – and it’ll be there when you need it.
Tip: Add a few bits and pieces to the first aid kit after you purchase it, like extra headache medicine, any personal meds you need (like allergy pills), whatever you take to calm your stomach and a few more plasters.
Travel Insurance From World Nomads
Ok, you can’t pack travel insurance in your backpack, but you can take out a cheap policy to insure yourself against theft, flight cancellations, accidents, etc.
I admit I traveled for many years without having travel insurance. Because of it, I paid the price a few times in foreign hospitals. Especially in an expensive country like the USA, you NEED to have insurance in order to avoid unimaginably high hospital bills. I have countless stories of friends who have been injured while traveling in the USA – and in one case – the bill was over 50k USD.
Thailand is by and large a safe destination but things can go wrong. You can lose your passport, get sick or get involved in a traffic accident. We don’t wish to scaremonger, but every year, backpackers do get caught out in Thailand not having insurance – do not let it happen to you.
We use either World Nomads or SafetyWing. You’ll be happy you did if the time ever comes to use it.
Keeping a journal is one of the best things to do when traveling. The Drifter Leather Journal by Kodiak is our favorite, it works great for digital nomads and organized backpackers and can be used as planner or a dream diary – whatever you want!
Keep on track with your goals, travels and save those precious memories, especially the ones you do not want to share online. This one is bound in beautiful leather so it looks beautiful and will withstand life on the road.
They’re built tough with triple-layer scratch-resistant lenses and trademarked Adventure-proof Frame Material. You can also customize them with your choice of lens and frame colors to reflect your own style.
Suncream: Thinksport Safe SPF 50+
By now, all of us are as pasty as the driven snow from sheltering in place for the last six months. Am I right? This means we are even more vulnerable than usual to the sun’s fierce rays. Packing sunscreen for Thailand may seem like a no brainer, but you would be amazed how many sun-burned beer belching backpackers you see wandering around.
The sun can do serious, long term damage to our skin. Protect it adequately by packing the right sunscreen for your Thailand trip.
Thinksport Safe SPF 50+ sunscreen gives folks strong sun protection in a non-oily formula that’s free of gluten, paraben, phthalates and biologically harmful chemicals.
These are GODSEND for those of us who move around hostels a lot. Ye, another Thailand backpacker/traveler favorite for staying organized is a hanging toiletry bag. It’s extremely helpful to have all of your accessories neatly gathered in one bag that you can hang for easy accessibility, especially when counter space isn’t plentiful or even available.
A well-organized bag is worth having whether you’re tree whilst camping or a hook in the wall – it helps to have quick access to all your stuff.
Historically, I have been the guy who has my stuff all over the bathroom, so getting one of these things really changed the toiletry game for me. Plus they are not too expensive either. A no-brainer essential.
Money Belt – By Active Roots
Whilst Thailand is not particularly dangerous, crime can still happen and tourists are sometimes targeted.
Therefore it is always a good idea to use a money belt to hide your cash just in case something does go wrong.
Sandals: OluKai ‘Ohana Flip-Flops
We already mentioned flip flop/sandals earlier on. It is true that they come in very useful for Thailand and are popular amongst many visitors. However, if you invest in cheap ones, you can expect them to fall apart pretty quickly.
Do yourself a favor and pack some high quality sandals and give your feet some well-deserved cushion and fresh air. These Olukai flip flops are ultra-comfortable, well-made, and come in a variety of colors.
Check out the women’s OluKai ‘Ohana Flip-Flops.
Your Passport or Other Government ID
Wondering what what to bring to Thailand? Well a passport os good start! You will need a passport to enter Thailand. Your trip will end pretty abruptly if you don’t bring it, and if you don’t ensure that it is up to date.
You will also need it to check into hostels and possibly even to buy alcohol (although probably not…)
We also suggest bringing a few photocopies and keeping one on you at all times.
When moving from place to place, you shouldn’t store travel documents in a bag, even if it’s under your seat or overhead.
A full-sized money belt that stays tucked under your clothes keeps your documents and cash organized during your travels and assures nothing critical gets left behind or stolen.
A Hat – Patagonia Fitz Roy Trucker
As you should know by now, the sun in Thailand can be very strong and you will undoubtedly be spending a lot of time outside. Having a hat on your Thailand packing list is a good way to ensure your face is protected from the sun throughout the day. They are also good for hiding that messy beach hair!
Patagonia makes great hats. I have probably bought three or four of these over the last five years. Simple. Practical. Comfortable. That is what you are after.
Let’s face it; for the foreseeable future, COVID 19 related restrictions are just going to be a part of travel. How do we do our best to mitigate the risk while still traveling and experience life’s pleasures? Pack the right PPE gear.
Thailand shut its borders for some time due to Covid and takes the virus very seriously. Respect locals by doing your bit to at least look like you care by wearing a mask.
It is absolutely essential that you pack the following items for your trip to Thailand to ensure you keep yourself and the people you will be coming into contact with safe from spreading COVID around like wildfire.
- Bring a Mask.
- Bring Hand sanitizer and wash your hands often.
- Consider disposable gloves for slot machines or other when touching other stuff that hundreds of other people have also touched that day. From an environmental point of view, these types of gloves are fuc**** awful. Use these only when necessary and keep in mind these things are very polluting and will end up in a landfill after one use.
Single-use plastic bottles are a huge threat to Marine Life – Be a part of the solution and travel with a filter water bottle.
The GRAYL GEOPRESS water bottle is the ONLY all-in-one filter water bottle setup you’ll need. Whether you need to purify the water from a hostel sink in Kathmandu or a stream trickle in the Andes, the Geopress has got you covered.
The tap water is generally NOT safe to drink in Thailand so having a bottle with a built in purifier is smart, and environmentally sound!
Read our full review of the GRAYL GEOPRESS!
A Good Daypack for Hiking – Osprey Daylite Plus
If you intend on doing any hiking, or bussing around the country then you will need a daypack. They are great for carrying water, hat’s and gloves and for packing sandwiches for lunch. We love Osprey products and this daypack is our personal pick. They are also great for day trips to the beach and can hold your towels, speakers, and a few beers (drink them fast or they will get warm though!)
The Osprey Daylite Plus has a mesh-covered panel to keep your back cool and fresh by minimizing contact with the back of the pack itself and allowing air to get between you and the pack.
Check out our full review of the Osprey Daylite plus for more details.
Additionally, you can attach it to other Osprey packs in case you want to add more capacity and carry just one piece of luggage… but the reviews on this feature are mixed.
Thailand uses the standard, 2 pronged Asian style outlets and western electrical will not work in them.
One of the best investments you can make is a worldwide travel adapter that will work anywhere! The one featured here is tough, reliable and a solid buy – Don’t leave home without one.
Buy your travel adapter on Amazon now.
The Basic Stuff To Pack For Thailand
On top of the essential items listed above, here is an additional suggested checklist of what to pack for a trip to Thailand;
- 1-2 pairs of comfortable pants/jeans
- 1-2 pairs of shorts (summer/late spring)
- A few pairs of socks
- (Sexy) underwear x 2/3
- Ladies: a few dresses, pants, outfits, or desired lady apparel for a night on the town. Whatever makes you comfy!
- Dudes: A few collard shirts or something half-way decent for a night on the town. You can’t ALWAYS wear vests can you now?!
- Smartphone with a good camera for photos if you are not bringing an actual camera
- Portable power bank for charging your phone on the go
- Phone charger
- Amazon Kindle for reading by the pool
- Copy of your passport just in case
- Cash (not too much, there are ATM machines in all tourist areas)
- Packable Towel
Final Thoughts on What to Pack for Thailand
Well, that’s it, folks! Now you know what to bring to Thailand. Your ultimate packing guide complete with the top-24 needs for Thailand: what to wear that’s practical and culturally appropriate, a breakdown of the weather in Thailand by season with wardrobe suggestions, what not to pack that you won’t need and will just weigh you down, and our all-time favorite travel bag.
As with all minimalist budget travel, just remember to adhere to the backpacker’s cardinal rule – less is more. Stick to the essentials that will keep your travels safe and as comfortable as possible, and you can’t go wrong. Now get out there – your Thailand backpacking adventure awaits!
Also – don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
Find out how YOU can support the site.
We work hard to put out the best backpacker resources on the web for free! It’s all about helping out our tribe of awesome backpacker readers (that’s you!). Please visit the link to find out how you can help keep the site going 🙂
For the sake of transparency, some of the links in our content are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation, buy a piece of gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. We only link to stuff that members of the Broke Backpacker team has actually used and never endorse products or services that are not up to scratch. Thanks for your support!