You are planning a trip to Thailand, and you want to know what you should bring. After all, you don’t want to end up overpacking, but you also do not want to end up in a situation where you need something you can’t get abroad. There are things you can leave behind because you can easily get them in Thailand, but there are others you definitely must bring when visiting Thailand.
What must you bring when visiting Thailand? When traveling in Thailand, you should take these 15 essentials:
- Cash/Debit Card
- Specific Toiletries
- Certain Medications
- Anti-Theft Gear
- Proper Clothing
- Proper Shoes
- Travel Insurance
- Reusable Water Bottle
- Filtration/Purification System for Water
- Multi-Outlet Adaptor/Converter
- Unlocked Phone/Dual-Sim Phone
- Quick-Dry Towel
- Motorcycle License/International License
There are certain things you need to consider further about each of these. Below you can learn more about the specifics to make your trip to Thailand more enjoyable.
What to Bring When Visiting Thailand?
Below are more details regarding the top 15 things you must bring when visiting Thailand.
1. Cash/Debit Card
This might seem like a no-brainer if you are well-traveled, but if you have never been outside of the U.S., this might be less obvious. While people from developed countries are used to being able to use credit cards whenever they would like, this won’t always be the case in Thailand. You will need plenty of cash.
While hotels and certain restaurants will take credit cards, many restaurants/bars won’t. Additionally, while you will find information online saying that Thailand 7-11’s accept Visa, this is only true if you make a 300-baht minimum purchase. So if you want to go in and grab a quick snack, you will need cash.
You may also find yourself wanting to shop at the local markets and buy street food. Once again, you will need cash. You will also need some money if you are going to get a ride in tuk-tuks. Some places in Thailand, like Chiang Mai, have red trucks that serve as a replacement for taxis and require cash.
There are plenty of ATMs to withdraw cash, but there will be a fee for withdrawing. If you plan to bring money and convert it to Thai Baht, you should do it in Thailand because you will get better rates. Additionally, if you want to avoid additional fees from your bank charging you for withdrawing money internationally, you should go with a debit card that doesn’t have international fees.
2. Specific Toiletries
While you likely already know what basic toiletries you need to bring, the truth is that you can get most toiletries in Thailand, so some toiletries aren’t necessary. However, there are a few “must bring” items. Below are the four toiletries you should bring with you from back home:
- Sunscreen: Sunscreen in Thailand is expensive, especially on the islands. Many of the sunscreens also have a whitening agent, so your options for sunscreen without whitening are limited. If you plan to be in the sun a lot, it would be a good idea to bring sunscreen from back home where you can get the brand you like at a better price.
- Body/Face Lotion: Once again, many of the body/face lotions in Thailand have whitening in them. If you do not want whitening products in your creams, you should bring your moisturizer of choice from back home. By the way, this is not to say you cannot find ANY lotion without whitening, but the brand choices are limited.
- Bug Repellent: Bug repellent is another toiletry that can be expensive in Thailand. You are better off getting this back home to save money. You will need it to fend off mosquitos in Thailand unless you are one of those lucky people that never get bitten.
- Deodorant: The deodorant options in Thailand are limited as well. Typically you will only find roll-on deodorant or spray deodorant. Once again, many of them have whitening in them. The roll-on deodorant might not keep your body odor in check if you need the clinical strength kind.
- Hand Sanitizer: The hand sanitizer in Thailand contains a lot of alcohol and can leave your hands feeling sticky. If you find yourself in a situation where you must use a public toilet, and there is no soap available (and there usually isn’t), you will want a hand sanitizer to clean your hands. You might as well bring one that you like.
There are specific electronics you will want to bring with you to Thailand. While some will say bring a laptop, if you are traveling, the likelihood is that you won’t have too much downtime to watch movies on your laptop. But if you think that is a high possibility for you, go with that.
What you should bring, though, are electronics that will let you capture photos of Thailand. Thailand is a beautiful country, and you will want to capture those memories on either a good camera or a phone with good quality photos. If you plan to go snorkeling or scuba diving, you will want to bring an underwater camera.
You don’t want to look back on your time in Thailand and regret not taking enough photos.
4. Certain Medications
You can find most generic medications in Thailand, but if you have any prescription medications, bring those. Additionally, below is a list of non-prescription medicines you should also bring:
- Stomach medication: If you get sick, you can get activated charcoal in Thailand, but if you have a preference of antidiarrheals, like Pepto Bismol, you should bring that with you. Plus, if you ever find yourself sick, you will immediately want that on hand. Who wants to deal with going to a pharmacy when they feel nauseous?
- Ibuprofen: Thailand does not sell this as a generic pain medication. You can get Tylenol, but if your preference is Ibuprofen, bring it.
- Antihistamines: if you have allergies, bring your own antihistamines. The ones in Thailand can make you drowsy, so pharmacists can be reluctant to give them out.
5. Anti-Theft Gear
While Thailand is known to be generally safe for travelers, there can still be petty theft. You should bring at least two of the following to reduce the chances of getting your stuff stolen:
- Fanny Pack/Money Belt: Bringing this will keep your valuables in front of you. Concerning the fanny pack, they have stylish options nowadays. If you are a girl going out at night, this will come in handy. If you go with a fanny pack, try to find one with RFID blocking technology, so people can’t scan the information on your credit/debit cards.
- Neck wallet: Instead of a money belt, you can also go with a neck wallet. This will also keep your valuables in front of you and around your neck. Check out the HERO neck wallet here.
- Phone Necklace: Using your phone in public to take selfies, text people, or look up something on your GPS makes you a prime target for someone to snatch your phone and run. If you want to reduce these chances, you should also get a necklace case for your phone. You should try to get one that is of thicker material. The plastic ones can snap easily, and if someone were to pull hard enough, they could break it off. That would defeat the purpose of a phone necklace. Something like this would be a better option.
6. Proper Clothing
The type of clothing you need will vary depending on where in Thailand you go and when. Contrary to popular belief, Thailand is not warm everywhere. In fact, in the north, it can get cold during the winter. You want to bring plenty of layers and a thick jacket for this. Thailand also has a rainy season in which case you would want to bring a rain jacket.
Make sure you research what the weather will be in the cities you plan to go to so you can prepare accordingly. The weather in the south can vary drastically from the north in the same season, so make sure you take that into account.
You also want to consider if you plan to visit temples. You will not be let into certain temples without having your shoulders/knees covered. You need to bring modest clothing that covers your shoulders/knees, or you can buy a sarong and use that to cover yourself.
Also, while Thailand does have cheap clothes you can buy at local markets, the quality isn’t typically high, and the styles don’t vary too much, so if you are very fashion-forward, you might want to skip out on the cheap clothing shopping in Thailand. You also cannot try on the clothes at these markets, so if you are tall or have a bigger frame, finding clothes that will fit will be a challenge. This means bring plenty of your own garments.
As for swimwear, the same applies. It may be challenging to find a swimsuit in your size. And anytime you make a purchase at a market, you do not get a receipt, so if you buy something and it does not fit, you cannot return it. If you plan to spend a lot of time on the beach, bring plenty of swimwear.
7. Proper Shoes
As for shoes, you will want shoes that you can easily slip on and off because you will have to take off your shoes whenever you enter a temple. Additionally, Thailand has some good trekking options, so if you plan to go trekking, bring good hiking shoes. Make sure you bring the shoes you will need because, once again, finding your size may be difficult. Additionally, style options are limited in certain parts of Thailand, so if you don’t see a style you like, you could be out of luck.
8. Travel Insurance
When going to Thailand, you also want to bring travel insurance. It is a necessity. If you were to find yourself in a health emergency or having to replace stolen items, the travel insurance would save you a ton of money. If you plan to engage in any “extreme activities,” like scuba diving, ziplining, paragliding, and the like, make sure your travel insurance covers these activities. World Nomads is a popular travel insurance with excellent coverage.
9. Reusable Water Bottle
Tap water in Thailand is not safe to drink. That means you would need to buy water bottles every time you want to drink water. A reusable water bottle is a must to help the environment and reduce the use of plastic. You can typically refill the bottle with filtered water for a few cents (sometimes free) in Thailand. You can usually do this in the hotel/hostel you stay at.
10. Filtration/Purification System for Water
If you are not able to find somewhere where you can fill your reusable water bottle, you should consider getting a SteriPen and/or a Lifestraw. Both combined, filter and purify your water, so you can safely drink tap water. There are other ways to filter/purify your water as well; click here for more information.
Whichever approach you take, you should still have some method of filtration/purification, so you can drink water safely without having to create more plastic waste in the world.
11. Multi-Outlet Adaptor/Converter
While you can plug-in your U.S. plugs into Thai outlets, you should consider getting an adaptor with multiple outlets/ports, especially if you have numerous electronics that will need charging. You can charge various electronics all at once without having to worry about your hotel/hostel room not having enough outlets. Check out this World Travel Adapter Kit.
You also need to make sure that your electronics are compatible with 220V, which is the voltage in Thailand. Usually, in the U.S., electronics like hairdryers are only compatible with 120V. You want to make sure that you get a converter if you have electronics that aren’t compatible with 220V. You don’t want the voltage to damage or fry your electronics.
Most laptop and phone chargers made in the past several years are universal dual 120–240V power adapters, so you may not need a converter for these but always double-check this.
12. Unlocked Phone/Dual-Sim Card Phone
Make sure that the phone you bring is unlocked, so you can use a Thai sim card while you travel. You can get a Thai sim card when you arrive at the airport, which is cheaper than purchasing an international phone plan back home. All you need is WhatsApp to stay in contact with people back home. Nowadays, most people also have Facebook, so you could go with that too.
If you already have an international plan and want to be able to switch between different sim cards, you can also consider getting a dual-sim card phone.
Don’t forget to bring a daypack. You may be used to only bringing a suitcase, but a daypack is essential. Having a daypack is excellent when you want to explore for a whole day and need to carry essentials like snacks, water bottle, sunscreen, etc. It’s also necessary if you plan to do any hikes.
You may also want to consider getting an anti-theft one, like this one.
14. Quick-Dry Towel
A quick-dry towel is great for whenever you travel. If you find yourself in an accommodation that does not have towels, or charges you for them, having your own towel will save you money in the long run. The quick-dry ones are made of microfiber and are incredibly compact so that they won’t take up too much room in your luggage, unlike a regular towel.
Plus, if you plan to spend a lot of time on the beach, you will want a towel to lay on and dry yourself off after you go for a swim.
15. Motorcycle License/International License
You might never have thought about getting a motorcycle license previously, but if you plan to go to Thailand, you may want to consider it strongly.
An effective way of getting around Thailand is by scooter. It is quite literally one of the easiest ways to get around and one of the cheapest. Do not do it illegally as so many tourists do, though. By doing this, not only can you get in trouble with law enforcement, but you also forfeit accident coverage by your travel insurance.
If you plan to get around Thailand by scooter because of the convenience and savings, you should get a motorcycle license back home as well as an international license.
Now you know all the essentials you need to bring to Thailand. Some of it will depend on when you go and what you plan to do, but overall, these will help you decide what to bring with you on your trip to Thailand. Remember, if an item wasn’t listed in this article, you could choose to get it in Thailand to lessen your luggage load. Even some of the items on this list you can still get in Thailand (like sunscreen), but your options will be limited, and these types of items will be pricier, so your best bet is to bring your own. Now, get to packing and enjoy your trip to Thailand!