How to Pack for Thailand!

Backpacks
T and J get their backpacks tricked out at Bo Sang…

As I’m gearing up for a big holiday, and deciding what to pack, I am reminded of my previous packing adventures before coming to Thailand. I don’t think it can be said enough: PACK LIGHT.

I did a quick search and without pointing links, I must say I was surprised by some of the advice. Condoms? Mosquito coils? Cigarette papers? What?! All of these things can be purchased at the ubiquitous 7-11. Okay, not sure about the coils, but why would you pack something that breaks so easily?

First of all, if you are going to be in the city, then you can usually find what you are looking for. Thailand is more developed than folks think, and you can get by without Thai. So don’t freak out. And you do not need your prescription for glasses or contact lenses! Just walk into an eyeglasses shop and tell them your prescription.

Okay, I have to laugh over this one: “consider doing laundry”. Consider? You better do more than consider it. Is this why tourists are known as stinky? Folks pack light because they do laundry.

And this one: “dark clothes do not need to be washed often unless you have a BO problem or sweat profusely”. 555 Everyone sweats in Thailand. I mean you might think you are okay, but then you get here and you will start sweating like you are in a sauna. Thais manage to look cool, but they sweat too. They also take several showers a day.

Oh dear, I better stop looking at these blog posts. 3 bathing suits? White Vans? Mercy me, don’t bring anything white! Pack for the season and for the location and activities you are going to be doing.

Thailand is a tropical climate. Regardless of rainy season or not, pack quick drying clothes. When you do laundry in your hotel bathroom or where ever else, you’ll want your clothes to dry overnight. Weather is unpredictable as is your ability to stay lily white clean…

If you plan on traveling away from the beach or into smaller towns, or want to visit temples, pack clothes that cover your body. Or pick up some fisherman pants or maybe a nice long skirt while you are here. Scarves are aplenty at the markets or walking streets and can serve as a nice shawl to keep your shoulders covered. Smaller towns dress more conservatively and when in the temples or wats, you need to show your respect, not your rock hard abs, sexy legs or toned back.

I dress differently when I visit my family, or go to work, or out with friends, it’s the same thing.

Which brings me to the next point, if you plan on taking an overnight bus, bring warm clothes! VIP and first class buses and trains are notoriously freezing. Woman from Alaska and young man from Japan echoed my feelings. Freezing.

I love Rick Steves advice on packing. Do a dry run. Pack everything, then go downtown and play tourist for the day. If you are miserable then go back home and pack again. You always do more walking than you anticipate. I don’t care if you have a suitcase with wheels, walk around your city with that damn thing and remember Thailand doesn’t always have sidewalks or elevators or taxis who know where you are going.

And yes, Kay. Thailand has toothpaste.

3 thoughts on “How to Pack for Thailand!

  1. You are right for the most part! Thailand does have practically everything you'll ever need. But one thing it does not have is contact lenses with a +1.75 power (sphericity).In fact, there are no plus power contact lenses in all of SE Asia as I learned to my dismay last winter.I'm farsighted and need a lens having a sphericity value of +1.75 but virtually all people of Asian lineage who wear glasses are nearsighted and therefore need a negative sphericity. I discussed this with my eye doctor back home and he said, yes, that's correct. He knew about this interesting anomaly but I didn't up to that point.Go figure.And one other thing. If you're large size like me (6' 2″ or 188 cm tall, 110 kg) you will have trouble finding shoes or clothing that fits. Thais are generally small compared to Americans or Europeans. Just sayin'

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  2. Hi Lani, Alaska Dave,Hooking on to fashion sizes mentioned in the previous comment; Thai's are getting taller and bigger. I guess the free milk and food program at schools and Western food helps.I noticed that some larger and/or taller foreign expat men, wear Big John, a Japanese brand for men, which seems to be commonly available in Thailand. I have one too ;)For large size shoes one probably has to be in Bangkok Pratunam or in some of the bigger cities. In eg. Vietnam you can have your shoes custom made for little money.I found out that 12.5kg in a hand luggage size suitcase (22x18x10″) allows me to live anywhere for any extended period. I understand that this would be probably more if you are a woman and/or have a regular job.My partner has a huge suitcase weighing 27.5kg :-)We often have to do laundry, but no matter if you bring many or little clothes, the amount of laundry will be the same. Just in my case I will have the same clothes washed more often.When I move, I usually wear my shoes and long pants or else it won't fit in my luggage. After the first year (2010), I got rid of my universal power plug, a bulky device. US to EU adapters and vice versa are much smaller, so that you can pack more than one. For UK-outlets I use a small 100% plastic adapter.This year I got rid of my external hard-drive, an old heavy and bulky device and some books. Cloud storage and e-books are so much lighter.I often see tourists with the Lonely Planet guide. Is this a life-style statement? Lonely Planet does have an excellent website, however to some extend Lonely Planet will bring you to the same places where others go. I prefer wikitravel and tripadvisor as rough guides + some browsing through specialist sites and forums. I usually do some(google) maps reconnaissance as well. The best guides are of course local people who have no hidden agenda to get your money. I often found that in new places English speaking (metered!) taxi-drivers know a lot.As for travel items in hotel rooms is concerned; I love my wifi range extender + wireless 2.5G modem to be able to stay online in unfavourable conditions, while I make a cup of tea with my immersion water boiler.

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