Musthave travel gear for backpacking Thailand
Thailand is a must-visit destination for round-the-world travelers, especially for the cheap prices and beautiful beaches. Even if you don’t pack enough, there are always knockoffs available on Bangkok’s Khao San Road (read more here). While most people imagine the humidity of the beaches around Phuket and Ko Phi Phi, the mountains near Chiang Mai bring a totally different experience for travelers. Be sure to plan your trip around Songkran in April, where locals and tourists alike have water fights in the street.
The temperatures soar to the high 90s Fahrenheit in the summer and April is the hottest month of the year in Thailand. If you wait until July to visit, the rainy season begins, which can often derail your travel plans. As stubborn as I am, we are going to Thailand anyhow raining season or not!
First things first, suitcases are incredibly impractical when traveling to the Island of Thailand and you shouldn’t even consider taking one. The streets are frequently unpaved, full of potholes and many of the islands don’t even have roads. You’ll need to bring a backpack, and the smaller the better. You should aim for a size between 40 and 60 liters and definitely no larger. While it may seem that bigger is better, remember that you’ll need to carry it on your back, sometimes for an hour or more, in an extremely hot and humid climate.
- 3 dresses – For nice dinners and using as swimsuit cover ups.
- 2 pairs of shorts – Better suited for hiking and more adventurous activities. I would leave the jeans at home.
- 2 tank tops or T-shirts – Those sweltering days will be best spent in light shirts.
- 2 bras – I usually pack one nude bra and one black bra and it seems to fit my wardrobe well.
- 5 pairs of underwear – Maybe less if you have access to laundry facilities.
- 1 light jacket – If you’re visiting the mountains, it can get a little chilly at night.
- 1 windbreaker/rain jacket – If you visit in July, the monsoon season begins.
- 2 swimsuits – Following the wear one, wash one pattern, two should last you the entire trip.
- Towel – If you’re going to be visiting the beaches around Phuket, be sure to bring a towel or buy one when you get there.
- Sarong – Good to use as a beach cover up or towel or to cover your shoulders in temples.
- Closed toed shoes – If you wear flip flops at the Full Moon Party you will only wake up with one!
- Flip flops – For a day at the beach or for hostel dorms.
- Nice heels or sandals – For a night out when flip flops won’t do.
2. Protection from the Elements
- Sunscreen – The sun in Thailand is relentless, so don’t forget to pack sunscreen with high SPF.
- Hat – Keep yourself from getting sunburned and spending the day inside!
- Sunglasses – I brought 1 pair, if you lose them you can find buy lots of cheap sunglasses in Thailand
- Bug Spray – To prevent getting bitten by a malaria-carrying mosquito, pack a strong insect repellent, Insect Repellent with Deet.
- Most medicines can be bought over the counter in Southeast Asia – including antibiotics and birth control pills, so you don’t need to worry about bringing an enormous first aid kit.
4. Tech and gears
- Laptop – Thailand has plenty of cafes with WiFi for those digital nomads who need to get work done
- Camera and travel tripod – Show off all the great scenery of Thailand.
- Underwater case – This keeps you from worrying about your camera getting wet on a trip to the beach.
- Chargers – Don’t forget the necessary converters for your electronics.
- Lock – If you’re staying in a hostel, it’s always a good idea to have a lock for your backpack.
- E-reader – Necessary lounging on the beach and long bus rides.
- SmartPhone – Pick up an local prepaid SIM cards as you travel. These SIM cards are the cheapest option for calls, texts and cellular data and are available in most grocery stores.
- Selfiestick – It is in the last year or two however that they seem to have really exploded in popularity, to the point where they are starting to become an unofficial uniform for every backpacker and world traveller.
- Water bottle – Stay hydrated, especially if you plan on consuming a few buckets.
- Ear Plugs – If you’re a light sleeper and are staying in Bangkok’s backpacker district, you may want some good foam ear plugs to drown out the drunken antics of your fellow travelers.
- Eye Mask – The long-haul flight can be rough, so get some shuteye on the way.
- Passport and necessary visas – Visas are not necessary for EU citizens if you’re staying for one month if you arrive by air and fifteen days if you arrive by land.
- Deck of cards – What better way to make friends at your hostel than over a drinking game?
- Travel insurance – Between Bangkok’s floods of this year and the Red Shirt protests of 2008 and 2010, you never know what’s going to happen, so it pays to be prepared.
- ATMs that accept foreign cards are plentiful in the bigger cities, so it’s easy enough to take out baht directly. However, if you feel more comfortable changing over money beforehand, check the current exchange rates to make sure you are getting a good deal. Just be sure to let your bank know you will be overseas.
- The further you go from the “tourist” spots, the less likely you are to find English speakers. However, you shouldn’t have any problems communicating in bigger cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Phuket.
Travel tip: Remember, don’t pack just in case items, anything you need you can buy here for a low price!