Less is more when it comes to packing for your holiday to Thailand.
Most tourists to Thailand will tell you that they instantly knew that had brought too many clothes and as much as each person’s packing lists may vary and be influenced by what you plan to do during your visit, with excellent and very affordable shopping at all the markets, you’ll want to leave space to collect a few things as you go.
Travellers tend to go into survival mode when packing for the first visit to a foreign destination, even running through what-if scenarios that result in bags being filled with extra electronic gear and first-aid items. In Thailand this is not necessary, as wherever you may find yourself, there’s likely to be a well-equipped supermarket within easy walking distance.
You can’t go wrong with loose dresses and shirts, cotton trousers, (respectable length) shorts, t-shirts, and bathing suits. Do remember to pack a couple of smarter options for evening meals, and a collection of scarves and sarongs to put over your shoulders and legs when visiting temples and sacred sites. Walking shoes are always a good idea, as you’ll be covering great distances while out exploring, and may want to do some of the many hiking trails.
Given that the climate is hot and humid, with mild temperatures during the rainy season, stick with clothes that are made of breathable materials like cotton and light linen. You can leave any polyesters and polar fleeces that you may be attached to at home, they cling to the skin and don’t suit the climate.
Some Added Thoughts About What to Pack
– As you have to take your shoes off frequently in Thailand — not just for entering someone’s house or a temple, but also to go into a cafe, restaurant, shop, or massage parlor, slip-on shoes are the easiest and most practical choice.
– Include a refillable water bottle in your packing, most hotels and hostels have drinking water on offer and you can fill up as you go. This feels good as reduces the number of plastic bottles that you will go through while there.
– It is a good idea to carry your favourite bug spray and sunscreen, although you will be able to replenish this should you run out once there. Same for hand sanitizer, which is always useful.
– A good idea for the rainy months is a very light rain jacket or poncho. The rain doesn’t usually last very long, and you can easily dry it off and put it in your bag or backpack after the downpour.
– A cardigan or sweater is useful for the cool nights, especially on overnight trains and busses which can become quite chilly.
– Thailand uses 220V AC electricity and power outlets most commonly feature two-prong round or flat sockets.
– It is advisable to use a good backpack or luggage with wheels, as you may need to walk the last stretch to some of your accommodations. Again, keep it light, as you will be carrying it on and off ferries and other transport.
– Most accommodation establishments will supply towels, but a quick-dry lightweight towel is good to have in case not, and for those spontaneous beach stops.
– There are plenty of excellent English-speaking pharmacies that sell everything needed should you become unwell, as well as excellent hospitals, so no need to bring too many meds. You will also be able to buy extra cellphone chargers, memory cards, umbrellas and sarongs as you go.
– That said, you may want to bring a backup pair of prescription glasses, just in case.
– Small padlocks are useful as budget hotels and bungalows that allow you to use your own lock on the door. Also, for lockers and luggage storage facilities.
Useful Ways to Prepare For Your Trip
Double check that all documents are in order; passport, accommodation reservations, contact details and info of any pre-booked ground arrangements. Luckily South Africans don’t need visas to visit Thailand, making it one less thing to worry about. However, many other countries within Africa and beyond do, and it is essential to check this well in advance.
It is suggested that you keep copies of your passport separately from your actual passport, with a print out of your travel insurance documents and some extra passport photos too.
For arrival, have the address of where you are staying readily available, either electronically or printed out. You may want to show this to your taxi driver or enter it into the Grab App – Thailand’s answer to Uber, when ordering a car. It is highly recommended that you pick up a local sim card on arrival, data is very cheap in Thailand and this will make you instantly connected to whatever you may need from google maps to how to find the best vegetarian restaurant.
As a precaution, wherever you are travelling to, keep copies of vital documents in your Cloud or a Dropbox folder, and send a copy to a family member so that they can help you out if needed. Travel insurance is always advised as you don’t want to find yourself unable to get home during a health emergency or having to spend money replacing potentially lost items.
Carrying Money in Thailand
Have at least two ways to access funds. Local ATMs are typically the best way to get local currency, and you may want to have some US dollars as a form of backup cash, which can be exchanged at any airport or across the big cities. Credit cards are best for paying hotels, dive shops and day tours, but you’ll want to carry Thai Bhat in cash for meals, shopping at markets and paying for local transport. Visa and Mastercard are the most commonly accepted credit cards.
A Guide to Thailand’s Seasons
Thailand is an all year destination with the most popular time to visit during the cool and dry season of November to early April. The rainy season varies from region to region but is mostly between May/June to October. For most of Thailand, the wettest months are usually August-October. It is important to note though that even in the rainy seasons, it doesn’t rain all the time, the weather is mild to warm and the rain showers rarely last more than an hour.
A great guidebook will offer insight into the country and the area that you are visiting and don’t forget the most important thing of all – an open mind and no preconceived ideas, as that coupled with grace and a genuine interest in experiencing the best of Thailand, will make for a truly amazing experience.