There are tons of packing lists available for the world traveler, but what do you include in your Thailand packing list if you have big plans to move there? Here’s a guide to packing not only the essentials, but things that are particularly helpful as you settle into your new home. You’ll be happy to learn what you can find in Thailand once you’re there, so you can pack (or not pack) what you see fit.
Clothing to Include in Your Thailand Packing List
Let’s be honest. Who’s really content with wearing the same few outfits? We’re not ashamed to admit that we like variety in our wardrobe. We also don’t like being obligated to do laundry every other day. We packed about ten shirts and five bottoms each, which worked well for us.
Men’s Thailand Packing List:
Women’s Thailand Packing List:
TIP: Stick to clothes that are lightweight, fast drying, and moisture wicking. Don’t bring anything that is (purposefully, or not) faded, stained, holey, forever wrinkly, or in general disarray.
Shoes to Include in Your Thailand Packing List
We recommend packing one pair each of the following:
- Lightweight tennis shoes (if you are active)
- Dress shoes (for evenings out)
- Flip flops or slip-on sandals (for everyday wear)
While you decide which everyday shoes to add to your Thailand packing list, it’s best to choose shoes that are waterproof, breathable, and easy to clean. We recommend leaving behind those that are made of cloth, or are white or light-colored. Since the heat will cause your feet to be puffier than normal, toss any shoes that are slightly snug or unable to stretch.
Bring a favorite bathing suit and a cover-up (sarongs are great) if you plan on going to the beach. Sunglasses are cheap and available anywhere, as are hats.
Thailand’s coldest months are in December and January. After months of scorching hot weather, 60 degree weather feels pretty chilly! Include at least one of each of these warm weather items in your Thailand packing list (you’ll thank us later!):
- Leggings or linen pants
- Pair of jeans
- Lightweight jacket or windbreaker
- Long sleeve cardigan or nice lightweight sweater
Where to Buy Clothing & Shoes in Thailand
In case you need to buy clothes or shoes in Thailand, a local outdoor market is the place to go. There are plenty of comfortable and stylish pieces of apparel for sale for under $10 USD. Keep in mind that market clothes are made for smaller, more slender frames.
The only downsides are that clothes can be cheaply sewn sometimes and it’s hard to find places with changing rooms.
For larger sizes (large busts, wide hips, large feet, long legs, big belly), there are reasonable clothing selections in shopping centers. Clothes here are more expensive ($10 to $20 USD per item). Trendy shopping areas and super malls have familiar brands like Oakley, Nike, and Guess, but expect to pay Western prices ($50+ USD).
If you are extremely tall, unusually broad-shouldered, or severely overweight, we recommend bringing your existing wardrobe with you. But just in case you need something, we’ve heard tailor shops can spin up affordable made-to-order outfits.
Important Papers to Bring
Many Thai offices require original paperwork to file for documents like visas, work permits, and Thai driver’s licenses. In most instances, a copy will not suffice, so bring originals of the following:
- Social Security Card (or equivalent)
- Drivers License and International Driver’s License (if possible)
- Birth Certificate
- Marriage Certificate
- Diploma/Transcript (if you plan to work)
Make sure to have your account numbers and passwords of bank, retirement, investment, and credit card accounts (particularly those that are overseas friendly).
If you have medical needs, bring any prescriptions you want filled (health, skin, or beauty) and a copy of your medical history. Thailand’s medical treatments are just as advanced as Western countries’.
Electronics to Include in Your Thailand Packing List
Contrary to what you may think, electronics aren’t usually cheaper in Thailand. Bring these items if you have them:
- Unlocked GSM phone (AT&T and T-Mobile carriers). CDMA phones (Verizon, Sprint, Cricket, and several other carriers) cannot be unlocked and, therefore, will not work abroad.
- Kindle, iPad, iPod
- Laptop/external drive/case/mouse
- Camera or video equipment
- Electric razor, hair dryer, hair straightener
- Plug adapter and converter
- All necessary chargers, batteries, memory cards, etc
TIP: You will not need a converter to charge your phone or computer. However, you will need a converter if you bring a hair dryer, electric razor or hair straightener. Of course, you can always toss your old grooming tools and buy Thailand-friendly replacements at an outdoor market. (They’re expensive at indoor stores.)
Pack Your Favorite Toiletries…
Pack your favorite toiletries but put them in smaller, travel friendly containers if possible. There’s no use in tossing it if you know you’re going to use it.
- Face wash, SPF face lotion
- Body lotion, sun lotion
- Small shampoo, conditioner, and body wash
- Toothpaste, small mouthwash, floss
- Small shaving cream, aftershave, hair oil
… But You’ll Still Find What You Need in Thailand
We eventually found appropriate substitutes for our skin and hair care products after we moved to Thailand. Thailand’s Wal-Mart-like super stores carry a few familiar brands like Colgate, Herbal Essence, and Neutrogena. They have a great variety of soaps, lotion, sun block, face powder, and deodorant, but many are laced with skin whiteners.
There’s a nationwide health and beauty store, Boots, that carries many more popular Western brands (Burt’s Bees, Clinique, Banana Boat) and products without skin whiteners. High end beauty items (MAC, Lacôme, Estée Lauder) can be found at trendy malls in their individual stores. All products cost around the same as they do in the States, if not a bit more.
If you use a very particular product (organic, boutique), we suggest packing a big bottle of it in your checked luggage until you find a replacement. The good news is that Thailand has tons of organic and natural healthcare products available at outdoor markets and organic cafés. Boots also has a line of organic products.
Things you can get for cheap in Thailand, but may still need immediately:
- Insect repellant
- Bar and Hand Soap
- Hand sanitizer, wet wipes
- Over-the counter medication
- Small padlock
- Dry bag
Should I Pack Heirlooms and Keep-Sake Items?
We didn’t bring keep-sake items with us. We kept whatever fit into a plastic box measuring roughly 1 ft x 1 ft x 2 ft and left it with our parents, but any close friend or relative would have worked. We recommend you doing the same.
Organized Packing and Travel Kits
Things can get quickly disorganized after tossing everything into one big piece of luggage. We found that by investing in travel cubes (we used eBags Packing Cubes) we were able to keep our belongings organized and easily accessible. We also grouped smaller items together into kits. Of course this is optional, but we still used these kits at home and whenever we travel around Thailand.
- Grooming Kit (travel-size brush, comb, razor, electric razor, tweezers)
- Nail Care Kit (nail and cuticle clippers, nail file, two bottles of favorite polish)
- Medical Kit (ibuprofen, sleep aid, band-aids, pepto chews, throat lozenges, anti-itch cream, antibiotic cream)
- Mini Sewing Kit (seam cutter, travel scissors, thimble, thread, needles)
- Travel Kit (earplugs, headphones, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, oil strips, tissues, gum, chapstick)
- Jewelry & Hair Accessories Kit (earrings, bracelets, hair ties, bobby pins, clips, dry shampoo)
- Make-Up Kit (eye liner, mascara, concealer, blush, powder, brushes)
Thailand Packing List Items That Make Settling in Easier
Inevitably, there will be a few items that you don’t know what to do with. While purging your place and deciding what items to add to you Thailand packing list, think about this:
We kept a West Elm duvet cover ($120) with a small tear, near-full bottles of cologne and perfume ($150), and bamboo-cotton blend hand towels and wash cloths ($30). Could we buy these in Thailand? Similar items, yes. But why get rid of them for pennies only to buy them again at full price?
Here are a few more things included in our Thailand packing list that were particularly helpful as we settled in:
- Double Hinged Wine Key (for opening all types of bottles)
- Spices (because we suspected there would be no Old Bay in Thailand)
- Small Toiletry Rack (a great alternative to putting your razor on the shower floor)
- Crocs (fit into the category of “comfortable and easily cleanable shoes”)
- Small Backpack (more practical for travel than lugging around a big purse)
- Collapsible Laundry Bag (better than plastic bags)
- Towels (because you need them on day #1)
- Laundry Drying Line (conveniently required no clothes pins, it’s too hot to use a dryer)
- Hanging Shelf (dressers aren’t common in Thailand, but wardrobes are)
That about sums it up! We packed more than just the bare necessities, but we were still able fit everything into one checked luggage (SwissGear Spinner Luggage) and two carry-ons (Osprey Meridian Wheeled Luggage) each.
What Else Would Your Thailand Packing List?
Are you curious if something in particular is worth packing? Ask! Also, what are some items that you are absolutely unable to live without? We want to know!