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What to Wear in Thailand: Packing List for Thailand

What to Wear in Thailand: Packing List for Thailand

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If you’re wondering what to wear in Thailand, this post has you covered. 

Packing for Thailand will depend on the region(s) you intend on visiting, the time of year you visit, and the types of activities you have planned.

Thailand has a tropical climate with hot and humid conditions year-round. However, you need to factor in how the seasons affect the weather as well as slight temperature variations depending on your selected destinations. 

This guide will explain the weather, climate, and what to include on a typical Thailand travel packing list. 

What’s the weather like in Thailand?

Northern Thailand is defined by three seasons: 

  • Hot season from March to mid-May 
  • Rainy season from mid-May to October
  • Dry season from November to February with less rain and cooler temperatures 

While Southern Thailand mimics these three seasons, it’s generally considered to have only two predominant seasons:

  • Rainy season
  • Dry season

On the western coast (that’s Phuket, Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi, and Koh Lipe) the southwest monsoon brings rain and often heavy storms from May until October. 

Meanwhile, the eastern islands (Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao) experience the most rainfall between September and December – peaking in October and November. Rain can occur at any time from May onwards but it tends to be more sporadic than on the western coast. 

The temperature in Bangkok sits consistently around 86°F (30°C) throughout the year. 

In regard to what to wear in Thailand, you will need lightweight clothes for all locations plus a warmer layer for the evenings in mountainous Northern Thailand.

woman sitting on a swing on the beach in thailand what to wear in thailand

I picked up plenty of tank tops along the way as souvenirs (and so that I didn’t have to do more laundry).

What to wear in Thailand

Overall, your Thailand packing list will work out fairly similarly whether you visit the north or the south. Across the country, daytime temperatures are hot while evenings in the south remain warm. 

However, slight differences in climate and weather across the regions will impact what to wear in Thailand.

1. Swimwear 

Swimwear is an absolute must for your Thailand travel packing list. 

This is obvious if you’re visiting the islands but you’ll also need swimming gear for the cities and Northern Thailand. Many resorts have pools and you might want to add activities like bathing elephants, swimming in waterfalls, and visiting hot springs (some of the best things to do in Pai!) to your itinerary. 

Swimwear dries quickly in Thailand due to the intense sunshine. However, humid areas or travel during the wet season can slow the process down. In that case, plan to pack 2-3 bikinis or swimming costumes.

At least one one-piece is always handy in case you want to go snorkeling or scuba diving. You may appreciate a rashguard or even just an old t-shirt to protect your shoulders and back from sunburn (essential for kids!). 

Naturally, a beach cover-up is useful for wandering back to your hotel or when the breeze picks up. 

man and woman looking at each other at a view point while hiking

I used my sarong as a scarf, a blanket at the beach, a towel to wipe sweat on a hike, a skirt while visiting temples. It is an absolute must when planning what to pack for Thailand.

2. Sarong

Choose a versatile sarong and it’ll soon earn its place on your Thailand packing list. 

As well as working as a beach cover-up in place of a kaftan, you can throw your sarong around your waist or over your shoulders when visiting temples or other places where you need to dress modestly. 

If you eat in an air-conditioned restaurant or encounter chillier weather in the evening, it works as a shawl.

Furthermore, sarongs work as a beach towel and as a blanket while traveling on intercity buses. Long-distance buses in Thailand always have air-con so they can get nippy onboard.

3. Shorts

For your day-to-day in Thailand, you’ll probably end up living in shorts. Therefore, pack a couple of different styles subject to your itinerary and how long you’re traveling for. 

Choose materials that pack down light and are looser fitting. Due to the high temperatures, you’ll appreciate clothing made from natural fibers such as cotton, linen, and silk – or breathable semi-synthetics.

These tie waist pull-on shorts or white cotton shorts will be perfect for Thailand’s balmy temperatures. Furthermore, they’ll customize easily with a range of tops. 

Try to avoid denim shorts and jeans when packing for Thailand. In reality, it doesn’t work well with the climate, takes ages to dry, and uses up valuable luggage weight. Opt for lightweight shorts and trousers rather than cut-offs and jeans.

woman in a sarong in a temple in Thailand

Some temples have sarongs that you can borrow or buy, especially in busy tourist places like Bangkok.

4. Long skirts and dresses 

In general, you can get away with shorts, short skirts, and dresses when packing for Thailand. 

But, when visiting temples and other cultural places, you will need to cover up your shoulders and knees. Try and include at least one pair of long pants, a long skirt, a maxi dress, or a romper. At the same time, this will work if you spend an evening at a fancier restaurant or sky bar. 

However, if you are out and about wearing something shorter, you can just slip a sarong over yourself before visiting a temple. In fact, a lot of places have a stash of shawls available for tourists to borrow. 

In order to keep your luggage light, choose materials that’ll dry quickly between wear. If you don’t have anything suitable, you can even just buy some long clothing in Thailand – it’s not expensive and you can find unique styles. 

5. Tank Tops and t-shirts

Chuck a couple of simple tank tops and t-shirts in your bag when you’re packing for Thailand. Make sure these coordinate with your selected shorts and skirts and you can mix and match during your trip. 

Having at least one t-shirt with capped shoulders on your Thailand packing list is useful for cultural attractions or snorkeling. However, you’ll likely default to vests and tank tops due to the heat.

Opt for white, stone, gray, and pale colors as dark ones will only make you feel hotter. 

In addition, choose fabrics and styles that you can roll in your main baggage to preserve luggage space. Choosing ones that you can freshen with a wash in the sink will come in useful.

two people in front of a lake in Thailand with green mountains in the background.

I wore tons of lightweight dresses on my trip around Thailand.

6. Walking sandals

In terms of what to wear in Thailand on your feet, you might not want to wear closed-toe sneakers much in Thailand. 

Flipflops are handy for pottering around markets and hitting the beach but tend not to cut it when you’ve got a whole day on your feet. We absolutely love Rainbow Sandals and use them for almost all of our trips.

That’s where walking sandals have your back. You can wear these for wandering around cities and temples and they even work for lighter hikes. Walking sandals have come a long way, and you can now take your pick from comfortable designs by the likes of Hoka and Teva that are supportive yet stylish. 

A good pair of walking sandals are a great choice for men as well as women. Plus, they’re great for water-based activities such as kayaking or snorkeling excursions – some of the best things to do in Koh Lanta and the islands. Additionally, you can slip them on and off easily when visiting temples where you’ll need to go barefoot. 

For evenings, you could wear regular flip-flops (or sandals) or slip a small pair of pumps into your main bag if you have space. Thailand is pretty laid-back on the whole but if you’re planning on visiting the rooftop bars as part of your Bangkok itinerary, you will need something smarter.

7. Sneakers 

Unless you do have some more serious trekking activities planned, you will not need hiking boots in Thailand. 

However, running sneakers are handy in case you plan any light or moderate hikes and would prefer to have your toes fully enclosed rather than wear hiking sandals. Invest in a decent brand and they’ll last you for years of traveling. 

The Puma Softride running shoes are designed for comfort with a breathable, soft-knitted exterior and foam heel that aids mobility. 

statue of a buddha inside a temple in Thailand.

Make sure to pack well for Thailand so that you don’t miss out on the incredible temples here.

8. Sunhat 

With that fierce sun beaming down on your scalp, a hat is essential for your Thailand travel packing list. 

Pick a hat you feel comfortable in –go with a baseball cap if this suits your usual dress sense or go all out with a wide-brim sun hat. Alternatively, a lightweight Panama hat is handy for all activities and goes with most outfits. 

If you forget your hat, you can find a variety of styles at markets and shops for a couple of dollars.

9. Waterproof jacket (for rainy season)

An extremely lightweight, waterproof jacket is essential when packing for Thailand in the rainy season! This doesn’t necessarily need to be a proper hiking jacket; even a decent rain poncho will do the trick. 

However, if you are planning on getting around Thailand via motorbike, you will appreciate having a more substantial layer. It gets a little chilly while driving (or riding pavilion), especially on the highways, mountain roads, and in the evenings. 

If you’re not visiting Thailand in the wet season, you could take a light hoodie, sweater, or cardigan instead. You’ll need this for the plane anyway plus any bus or train journeys. 

However, don’t worry if you skip the waterproof layer to preserve space in your back when packing for Thailand. You can pick up ponchos just about anywhere in Thailand, including most 7-Eleven stores. As rain can strike at any time in Thailand, it’s worth picking one of these up just in case.  

small house boat with a blue boat parked outside of it.

Thailand is such a casual country and if you are going to be traveling to the islands, you will spend a lot of time getting wet, so pack clothes that dry quickly.

10. Daypack

As well as what to wear in Thailand, you’ll need a decent bag that you can tote your valuables, sunscreen, bug repellent, sarong, and a bottle of water around at all times. Plus, anything else you like to keep on you.

If your itinerary is packed with adventurous activities and day trips, a rucksack will work out best. Ideally, choose one that is water resistant – particularly if you plan on spending time on boats.

Fjällräven is the master of practical yet cute bags that’ll keep your possessions safe. The classic TREE-KÅNKEN works perfectly for everyday use while the SKULE 28 is geared more towards hiking and outdoor pursuits. 

Avoid leather for your day bag as it’ll feel only sticky in the climate!

11. Small purse/belt bag

In addition to your daypack, you’ll need a smaller bag or purse for evenings.

Opt for a cross-body design so you can keep your purse secure while surfing busy food markets or bars. This mini cell phone purse is just the right size to cart your phone, cash, room key, and lipstick on a night out. 

Otherwise, a belt bag will come in handy for days out and about if you don’t need your full-day pack. Plus, you can use this for your passport and valuables when in transit. This is another of your Thailand packing items you can actually buy easily at markets once in the country. 

house on the water in Thailand.

What to pack for Thailand.

Thailand packing list

Once you’ve chosen what to wear in Thailand, you need to leave room for your other travel essentials. 

1. Kindle 

You’ll have plenty of time to read while traveling in Thailand. Whether that’s poolside, on the beach, or while in transit via buses and trains.

Save yourself backache by taking a Kindle in place of physical books. We recommend the Kindle Paperwhite as this is the closest experience to reading a paper book. In addition, you’re saved from glare from the sun when reading outdoors. 

Sign up for Kindle Daily Deal email alerts so you can stockpile new releases and bestsellers for as little as $1.99 (£0.99 in the UK). 

2. Water bottle with a filter

It’s not safe to drink tap water in Thailand. Rather than contributing plastic waste, it’s beneficial to invest in a reusable water bottle with a straw before you leave.

There are several options available, but LifeStraw reigns as one of the best products on the market. These filters trap bacteria, parasites, and microplastics in water so you can glug to your heart’s content without getting sick. 

man and woman standing in front of a fountain

If you are traveling all over south east Asia, what you pack for Thailand will be perfect for all places like Vietnam and Laos, too.

3. Electrolytes 

With the amount of sweating and hydrating you’ll do in Thailand, you can unbalance your fluids. Throw in a couple of tubes of electrolytes when packing for Thailand to have when you need an energy boost. However, you can buy these easily at pharmacies and 7-Eleven stores once you’re in the region. 

4. Sunscreen

You’ll need to wear sunscreen every day in Thailand, even when it’s not sunny. Of course, you can buy it out there but sometimes it works out cheaper to buy it in your home country. Our favorite sunscreen brands are Badger mineral sunscreen and Neutrogena sunscreen.

5. Insect repellent 

Insect repellent is another item that you could just buy when you arrive. But again, it’s worth adding a bottle to your Thailand packing list for when you arrive. Mosquitos in Thailand carry the risk of both the Zika and Dengue viruses. 

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