Check out my Thailand packing must haves below.
When I was planning my move to Thailand last year, most of my biggest questions revolved around packing. Maybe my priorities were out of order (hello, visa application), or maybe I’m just shallow, but I was so stressed about packing all the rights things without overpacking.
What I quickly learned was that almost anything you need, you can find somewhere in Thailand. Tabasco sauce? Check. Pantene? Check. Sunglasses, bug spray, bathing suit? Check, check, and check. Between Tesco, Big C, and Bangkok’s bazillion shopping malls and night markets, you don’t have to go without.
However, there are some things that you’re better off bringing with you from home.
Below are my three Thailand packing must haves.
If I had to bring only one thing with me to Thailand, this would be it. For whatever reason, Thai women don’t use tampons, and so they’re nearly impossible to find. The one and only time I did see tampons in a store, it was a box of 4 (!!) for around $5 USD.
If you use tampons, bring as many as you think you’ll need for the duration of your stay in Thailand. Running out of tampons is not a problem you ever want to have. I dumped a couple of giant boxes into gallon-sized ziploc bags so they packed flat and they lasted me my entire trip.
When the weather is always above 90 degrees with humidity around 85%, you won’t catch me dead in closed-toe shoes. However, while living in Thailand I walk pretty much everywhere, and so just a basic pair of flip flops won’t cut it. It’s so important to have a solid pair of open-toed shoes that protect your feet from the often-dirty streets, are comfortable enough to walk around in all day, and won’t fall apart. You can find plenty of cute sandals in Thailand, but I have yet to encounter a pair of high-quality ones, or any shoes at all over a U.S. size 8.
I wasn’t too thrilled about buying a pair of less-than-fabulous hiking sandals when I first moved to Thailand, but I took the plunge and bought a pair of plain black Tevas. I thought the plain black would make them less noticeably ugly. That was not true.
Hideous as they were, though, they ended up being one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. They’re an absolute Thailand packing must have. I wore them every single day, from walking around the streets of my rural town to hiking slippery trails in Chiang Mai. They’re comfortable, durable, and have great traction. (Plus, if you take them off at a beach party, no one will want to steal them.)
I plan to buy another pair, but will DEFINITELY be choosing a fun color or pattern, some of which are actually quite cute. I have also heard great things about Chacos, but ultimately chose Tevas because they were $40 less on Amazon at the time. Priorities, people.
When I packed for my first move to Thailand, I packed work clothes, lots of pretty sundresses, and reserved only a tiny portion of my suitcase for “normal clothes” like comfy tees and leggings. I ended up wearing them nearly every day, and wished almost immediately that I had brought more.
While Thailand night market fare is chock-full of inexpensive sundresses and crazy printed pants, coming across basics is rare. If you do find them, expect poor quality fabrics and awkward fits. You can always find them in mall stores like H&M, but expect to pay higher-than-Western prices. (A $30 plain t-shirt was certainly not in my teeny Thai budget when $30 could feed me for over a week!)
Stock up on tees, tanks, and leggings before you leave home. They’re cheaper, you have a better selection, and the quality is far superior.
I hope this post helps you in your Thailand packing quest! If you have any questions, I’m here to help! Let me know in the comments if you liked this post, share on social media, or sign up for my email list to get more travel tips & tricks. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram.