What to Pack For a Trip to Thailand

When traveling to developing countries that depend heavily on tourism such as Thailand, you typically don't have a ton to worry about since most places cater towards foreigners. After visiting Thailand on my most recent vacation, I will say there are a few useful things to put in your suitcase before you go. Here is my top list of things to pack.

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. This post is not sponsored by any of the companies or products mentioned. All opinions are my own.


You will need a lot of cash to travel around Thailand, as a lot of restaurants, food stalls, taxi drivers and temples will only accept cash. You don't necessarily need to exchange to Thai baht before you leave, but certainly bring enough cash to exchange at the airport and at local banks.

Personally, I would exchange $50 minimum ($100 maximum) at the airport and find a local currency exchange elsewhere. Generally, the rates at the airport are higher than the banks in town.

You likely won't need to carry more than $300-400 of cash, since food and taxis are very cheap in Thailand.

In a previous post, I mentioned that one way to get a better foreign exchange rate abroad is to have a Scotiabank chequing account and withdraw from machines on the Global ABM network. Unfortunately, BNP Paribas is the only bank that has presence in Thailand, and they only have the one branch within the financial district in Bangkok. If you withdraw from any other Thai bank machine, you will pay upwards of $10 CAD of fees - and that doesn't include the fees your bank charges for a foreign withdrawal!

As a result, ensure you bring enough cash (most currencies will do just fine) in case you can't pay by credit card or alternative methods.


I found that Bangkok and Phuket were consistently 28 degrees Celsius and up, which means your feet are going to get real hot and sweaty in closed-toe shoes! Opt for sandals to allow your feet to breathe in the summer heat.


Chances you will be visiting at least one or two temples while in Thailand, simply because the architecture of most Thai templates are absolutely gorgeous. However, you will be denied entry to these temples if you are not wearing appropriate clothing - this means covering up your shoulders, chest and legs. Open-toed shoes are acceptable.

While T-shirts are okay, sleeveless shirts are not. Bottoms need to go past the knee and ideally cover up some ankle. If you forget to pack or wear conservative clothing, you will be forced to purchase them at the entrance at a markup.

Since most people wear T-shirts anyway, tops are typically not a problem. For bottoms, men and women should look towards buying loose, wide pants to be appropriately covered up and fend off the heat. That said, even if you forget, clothing sold at the Grand Palace is typically only $10 apiece anyway.


If you have any allergies or illness requiring over-the-counter medication, make sure you pack your own medicine when going to Thailand. While there are definitely hospitals and pharmacies in Thailand, I find that the process of searching for appropriate medication (even over-the-counter) can be difficult in places that don't necessarily speak your language. Explaining "antihistamine" can be a time-consuming process even if you have Google Translate on your phone! Take it from someone with experience - save yourself some time and inconvenience by bringing your own medication.


Thailand has a tropical climate, which means it is fairly hot and sunny most of the year. That means you should bring the usual suspects for sun protection, which includes sunscreen, hat and sunglasses! Even if you don't go island hopping (which is rather hard to believe), you will at a minimum need sunscreen for exploring other places.

As mentioned in my Australia packing tips post, I recommend using a reef safe sunscreen to be more environmentally friendly when you swim.


Phuket, Krabi and other destinations in Thailand are famous for their beaches, snorkeling, and beautiful rock formations on the ocean. You will likely find yourself on a boat or in the water at some point, which means you should invest in a good waterproof smartphone case to protect your phone from water damage. My personal recommendation is this case from Amazon, as it was cheap and did the trick.


Beach destination? That means beachwear, including swimsuits and beach cover-ups.


There was one day in Phuket where we did a tour of Phang Nga Bay. We found that a lot of beaches and caves had sharp coral and seashell shrapnel, which was very painful to step on. The tours will typically make you walk in your bare feet as flip flops and beach slippers can be too slippery. As a result, I recommend getting sturdy water shoes to prevent cuts and scratches on your feet.


It's not something to "bring", per se, but every tourist in Thailand should check out the Grab app. This is the Thai version of Uber. Taxis are extremely cheap in Bangkok and quite reasonable in Phuket. Using Grab instead of hailing a taxi will help conserve cash and can help avoid cab drivers who try to charge a flat fee.

Grab recently introduced the GrabRent feature, which allows you to hire a chauffeur in increments of 2 hours. I highly recommend doing so in Phuket, where taxis appear to be much more expensive than in Bangkok and less frequent.

What You Don't Need to Pack

Interestingly enough, I found that I had overpacked for Thailand. Here's what you DON'T need to bring with you:
  • Beach towel: most AirBnBs and hotels will let you borrow one free of charge.
  • Snorkeling equipment: You can bring your own snorkeling equipment if you wish, but most island tours will provide this free of charge.
  • Universal power adapter: Most wall outlets in Thailand will accept American, Canadian and European plugs.
  • Water bottle: I would not bring a water bottle as the tap water in Thailand is not safe to drink. Instead, opt for buying bottled water from convenience stores or from your hotel.
  • Jeans: You probably won't need more than one pair of jeans on the airplane - the rest of the time, you'll definitely be in shorts!
For a comprehensive packing list, feel free to refer to my Australia packing list or Iceland packing list where I list out lots of useful items to include in your suitcase!

Experienced Thailand travelers, are there any other things I should mention for a Thailand trip?