Tieland to Thailand

Quit Your Job – Sell Your Stuff – Travel Abroad

..."We spent last year selling everything and paying off thousands in consumer debt, planning our wedding, and ultimately figuring a way out of the daily nine to five. Twelve months later here we are living a truly free and location-independent lifestyle, currently in Chiang Mai, Thailand"...

Thailand Packing List: Expats and Slow Travelers

Thailand Packing List

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:

  • Polos
  • Good quality t-shirts
  • Wrinkle-free dress shirts
  • Golf shorts
  • Lightweight cargo shorts

Women’s Thailand Packing List:

  • Summer dresses
  • Capris
  • Shorts and skirts
  • Good quality t-shirts
  • Wrinkle-free dress shirts
  • Lightweight cardigan or pashmina

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.

Additional Clothing

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
  • Socks
  • 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.

Men’s Sizes

  • Lean build up to 5’10” (1.8 m)
  • Shoes sizes up to US 11/Euro 45

Women’s Sizes

  • Slim build up to 5’6″ (1.7 m)
  • Shoe sizes up to US 8/Euro 38

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:

  • Passport
  • 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 You 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
  • Deodorant
  • 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
  • Poncho

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:

How to Make a Thailand Packing List

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!

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About 

Chris and Angela sold everything, paid off their debt, and ultimately figured a way out of the nine to five grind in the United States. Today they are living full time in Chiang Mai, Thailand, guiding and inspiring future expats towards amazing lives abroad! For more updates like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter and Instagram. For more posts check out the archives.

  • Lori says:

    Thanks for linking this article in your e-mail reply to me, Angela. Super helpful information and we already have practiced a lot of the tips above because like you said, the more you travel, the better you get at packing just what is needed. Looking into the Crocs ballet flats that you recommend….thanks again!

    August 20, 2014 at 7:01 PM
  • PSA says:

    BLU sells dual SIM unlocked quad band Android GSM phones (I got the Advance) in the US for under $100 so you can use one phone for both your US and Thai numbers.

    Also, of the US carriers, you can keep a T-Mobile number active for 1 year even if you don’t use it with their prepaid account at gold status (have paid $100 in refills). You don’t have to buy a monthly data plan for your smart phone like with the other carriers. No worries about losing your US number and no contract necessary.

    August 2, 2014 at 9:07 PM
  • Mike says:

    Thanks for the clarification. Checked baggage is definitely the way to go, or we’ll wait til a family member comes and have them bring a suitcase. Amazon has 5,000 watt transformers that run $160 – $200 USD and weigh 30 – 40 lbs. for anyone else that might be looking. Smaller are available but the risk is not worth the savings IMO.

    July 25, 2014 at 11:01 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Our first visitors from the US saved some room in their luggage and brought us a few things, which was awesome. We heard the more powerful voltage converters were heavy, but we didn’t know they weighed as much as a small kid!

      July 25, 2014 at 11:15 PM
  • Mike says:

    Hi all, I hope someone will have some insight. My wife and I will be departing for Thailand in 3 weeks. We will be staying in a local hotel for a couple months while we search for long term accommodations and we’d really like to bring a couple small kitchen appliances (Breville juicer and Ninja food processor) and a Sonos speaker system however I am concerned about power requirements, duties, etc. Is it realistic to bring these items or should we just sell them before departing? Would you recommend shipping them via a 3rd party or via extra luggage?

    Thank in advance

    July 24, 2014 at 3:00 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      You will need a step-down converter since American appliances run on 110V/120V and Thailand runs on 220V/240V.

      First check if your kitchen appliances are dual converting (100V~240V) or single volt (120V). If they are dual converting (our iPhone and laptop are) you can plug them directly into the wall with no problem. However, if they are single volt, like an electric razor, they need a voltage converter. You will need a powerful converter for kitchen appliances. This eBay Buyer’s Guide helps explain it a bit.

      Kitchen appliances are about the same price in Thailand as they are in the US. Depending on the price, size and weight of the voltage converter you want, you can figure out if it’s worth selling your kitchen appliances or bringing them with you. However, it may be difficult to find specialty brands here (and there’s no Amazon-equivalent in English to order online), so we’d recommend bringing your items if you’re staying here long term.

      We highly recommend shipping through your airline carrier (as excess checked luggage) than ship visa standard mail. We shipped a mere 5 pound package from Thailand to the US, 2 week shipping, and it cost us $60!

      July 25, 2014 at 2:29 PM
  • Chris and Angela says:

    Yes, Verizon 4G LTE phones that have recently appeared on the market come unlocked. Some (but not all) with working GSM, can be used in Thailand with GSM simcards. However, older Verizon phones (models before 2014) are limited to CDMA capabilities, and so they cannot be unlocked and used in Thailand. It’s good to see Verizon is finally offering this option! A great summary can be found here.

    July 23, 2014 at 11:43 AM
    • robbiedykeslmt says:

      I have a 2012 Verizon iphone 4s, cdma, which has been global unlocked by Verizon and works with overseas GSM sim cards. Used it in Chiang Mai.

      July 23, 2014 at 11:52 AM
      • Chris and Angela says:

        That’s good news for a lot of folks. As long as it’s dual GSM-CDMA, then yup, it should work!

        July 23, 2014 at 12:01 PM
  • Robbie says:

    Maybe time to update this. Verizon phones can indeed be unlocked to be used with GSM sim cards overseas.

    July 23, 2014 at 8:52 AM
  • Terry Vierra says:

    I just reread this entry and the subject of spices caught my eye. Were there any spices that you simply could not find? How about sauces and such? We like to cook and while we like to eat out, we would probably want to cook some home favorites from time to time :)

    June 24, 2014 at 11:30 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      In Chiang Mai there is a chain called Rimping, which is much like a Whole Foods in the US (we assume there’s one in Bangkok but have never been). It has great cuts of imported meats and sausages, pastas, jarred sauces, canned beans, dairy foods, and spices! Although there are huge chains (Tesco Lotus, Big C, Makro) that carry a good amount of western foods, Rimping is by far the best and carries the more unusual items (like apple cider vinegar with the “mother”, or quinoa). We found spices such as cajun seasoning, bay leaves, and even rosemary and dill at Rimping…these were not at the other stores. We treat ourselves to Rimping every once in a while, but we don’t recommend going too crazy in there because it’s comparable to Whole Foods prices!

      June 26, 2014 at 12:49 AM
  • wesley travels says:

    It’s definitely very helpful and these packing tips can be used for any Asian country

    June 10, 2014 at 5:15 PM
  • rsheffer says:

    Don’t know about Thailand but something I couldn’t find in China in my first year and I bought with me after I went back to visit was contact lens solution.It was impossible as most Chinese like to wear glasses…I brought lots of unnecessary deodorant as people had told me it was hard to find,and it was available everywhere very cheaply.

    May 17, 2014 at 1:13 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      We were able to find contact solution at a pharmacy. Non-whitening deodorant can be found at the international store we mentioned called Boots. I think we’re really lucky in Chiang Mai because we have several international stores (even a grocery store) that carries a lot of the same products as back home. The brands might be a little different, but I think we’ve eventually found everything we’ve needed. We can’t say the same about the small cities in Thailand. We can imagine it’s harder to come across certain “must haves”.

      May 18, 2014 at 7:17 PM
  • dragonseeker says:

    Cannot get better than this. It’s always great to read what you guys have to say and I can see you know your stuff really well. Keep up the good work guys

    May 12, 2014 at 2:36 PM
  • Dennis KoppDennis Kopp says:

    That is a great list Angela and Chris! Every time I went to Thailand I did so during a world trip and the result was that I had way too many heavy, warm clothes on me that I had to carry around. It seems you also like to bring a few more clothes than absolutely necessary, even if Thailand is the perfect place to buy clothing. Especially some of the t-shirts I bought were cheap, light weight and lasted forever… :)

    May 11, 2014 at 6:35 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Thanks, Dennis. Certainly if you don’t have much hot weather clothing, you can definitely find lightweight clothing here. As for the heavy, warm clothes, we wish we had some during last winter’s 8 degree cold spell!! Brrr! It really depends on the time of year you visit, and that kind of apparel is hard to find!

      May 18, 2014 at 7:04 PM
  • acajudi (@acajudi) says:

    Thank you. Excellent.

    May 9, 2014 at 11:21 PM
  • larry747beck says:

    I always bring lots of raw almonds and or some cashews as the prices here are terrible and the nuts last a long time, also disposable razors from the $ store in the states much cheaper there than here and larger size clothes r hard to find here. Good info thanks.

    May 9, 2014 at 10:46 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Haha, we’ll be looking at razor prices back in the US too, and possibly stocking up! We’ve gotten some good deals on peanuts and cashews at the outdoor markets (non-special packaging). But you’re right, they’re expensive in the stores!

      May 9, 2014 at 11:42 AM
  • agnesstramp says:

    It’s definitely very helpful and these packing tips can be used for any Asian country I guess, especially China. To be honest, I am hopeless at packing and if I could, I would take my fridge and microwave with me, but I’m learning to pack as lite as possible when heading to a new country!

    May 9, 2014 at 9:11 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      You, hopeless at packing?! We don’t believe it :) The bottom line is that Asian countries are pretty well connected to the western world and in most cases you can find what you need or a really good substitute.

      May 10, 2014 at 6:17 PM
  • David says:

    This is so helpful, thanks! Would you fully recommend your SwissGear Spinner Luggage? Or are there things you don’t like about it?

    May 9, 2014 at 1:16 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      I’ve had this piece of luggage for years, actually. I had to travel frequently for my old job and it’s held up great – minimal wear and tear, great zippers, expandable, the retractable handle works smoothly. It even comes with a small lock and key to deter prying fingers, and a bag strap if you want to clip a second small item to it. Overall, very happy! I would recommend buying in color other than black, or in my case red, as those seem to be the most popular!

      May 9, 2014 at 11:27 AM
  • rogerlucr says:

    I bought my bath towel at Lotus and it was $10. That’s too much. $30 for a bed set with pillows but no sheet. If you wear reading glasses buy several at the dollar store. I could not find cheap ones here and it cost me $90 at the optical store (they saw me coming).
    For photo buffs you can have pics developed in minutes for 2-5 baht depending on the store.
    Bug spray is a must.

    May 8, 2014 at 3:14 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Yes, in all honesty we were quite shocked by the prices at Tesco Lotus. We have since learned that you can have bed sets made at Warrorot Market for cheaper. We are still on the hunt for quality towels though! We didn’t want to deal with eye glasses or contacts abroad, so we opted for a good deal on Lasik Surgery back in the States before we moved. Thanks so much for the great info, Roger!

      May 8, 2014 at 3:52 PM
  • Hourlay says:

    Great list for a long term installation. For a small trip (7-45days) , the challenge is to avoid buying too much in Thailand. Thus I recommend to just spare some money the months before your travel and carry an empty suitcase. You will be able to buy clothes of the highest quality for a third of the Western price. Take into account that Thai won’t have any winter clothes as there is no need. T-shirt 4-7 USD , Girl shoe 7-15 USD , Shorts 5-12 USD… My advice is to take the good quality if there are t-shirt at 4 and 7 usd, maybe the quality is different. In your country you will choose the good stuff do the same in Thailand. I hear so many friends saying in Thai clothes are not of good quality because on their first trip they took the worst ones. Usually on the second trip they choose more carefully and can keep their favorite t-shirt/polo/suits/shorts/… for to many years.

    May 8, 2014 at 2:20 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      You’re right – being more choosey about what you buy and go for the higher quality will always end up with better results, even in a place as affordable as Thailand. Don’t go gaga over the $2 shirt… just because it’s $2! Bringing an empty suitcase is also a great tip that we practice whenever we travel. Thanks!

      May 8, 2014 at 2:25 PM
      • Terry Vierra says:

        Only problem is when you have US size 14 feet and 36 inch inseam for pants! Nothing like that in Thailand right? Best to bring along per your original post…

        May 9, 2014 at 12:11 PM
        • Chris and Angela says:

          Now that’s a challenge. At least amazon.com delivers to Thailand!

          May 10, 2014 at 6:19 PM
  • Alana - Paper Planes says:

    and peanut butter…

    May 8, 2014 at 12:42 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Hah, yes! $3 for 6oz of Jiffy is outrageous. We need to invest in a food processor to make it at home for cheap cheap. PS, is this an issue with peanut butter worldwide?

      May 8, 2014 at 1:05 PM
  • Terry Vierra says:

    Another great post. Comprehensive and thoughtful! We always overpack on trips, but we learn more every time and posts like this help get our minds together. Thanks for that!

    May 8, 2014 at 12:41 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      You’re welcome! It’s hard not to over pack, even with things like clothes. And you’re right, the more you travel, the more you learn what’s truly useful and what you could have left behind.

      May 8, 2014 at 12:56 PM

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