Having just returned from a trip to Thailand… I learned a lot about what I did and didn’t need on the trip. Obviously there’s no “ideal” packing list and everyone is different, but here’s my essential packing list for a 30-something woman going on a 2-3 week trip to Thailand! (We also did 5 nights in Bali but the list for both destinations is essentially the same.)
Mosquito repellent – if you’re flying into Bangkok, don’t bother to buy this in advance – you can buy mosquito repellent lotion (left with the pink top) in most shops for around 70 baht (£1.40 ish) or cheaper, 7-Eleven shops seem to be everywhere you look. We bought Pyramid Repel 100 (right) from Amazon for about £7 before we left but it was soooo greasy and just didn’t dry… EVER. The lotion is much better, has a nice smell and rubs in easily, plus it’s so much cheaper! Just remember to wash your hands afterwards!
Suncream – prices are around the same as the UK, so up to you if you want to take it or buy it out there. Make sure you have a high SPF (30+) for the first few days at least before switching to a lower SPF if needed.
Sunglasses – if you’re anything like me, I break or lose at least one pair of sunglasses per trip, so go for cheap ones.
Waterproof bag – our friend had a Gelert Kayak Bag which was essential for our kayaking and snorkelling trips. We took a small waterproof bag but it was just too teeny for all our bits and bobs so we ended using our friend’s much bigger and better bag!
Spare camera battery/charger and memory cards – you WILL need them!
Toilet paper / tissues – a lot of bars and restaurants won’t have it in the loos, so make sure you take some along with you.
Wet wipes & hand sanitiser – wet wipes are handy for everything and often there are no sinks to wash your hands, so the hand sanitiser is essential.
Hat – make sure it’s floppy one or one that can be scrunched/folded. Otherwise you’ll end up like me… only wearing it on flights / having to hold it!!
Copies of important documents – include copies of your passport, travel insurance documents, hotel bookings and flights etc. (And keep them in a separate place than your originals.)
Comfortable shoes – this may sound obvious, but comfy shoes are essential. You will do a lot of walking and especially if you’re travelling to the southern islands, you will do a lot of hopping on and off boats, so choose flip flops or other shoes which can get wet. Flip flops and “Crocs” style shoes can be bought cheaply in many shops and markets, feel free to barter if the prices are not marked. (Only a foolish tourist wouldn’t!) I didn’t take a single pair of heels with me and didn’t miss them at all! Note: fancy sandals (especially ones with straps) should also be avoided for 2 reasons: 1) In many shops, bars, restaurants and temples you need to remove your shoes before entering which is more hassle if you have straps etc. 2) Fancy shoes are more likely to go “walkabout” when left unattended outside in the pile. I recommend only taking “Toms” style shoes and flip flops.
Sarong – Again, these can be bought cheaply from many shops / markets. They’re great for just wrapping around yourself on the beach or can be used as a skirt if you run out of clothes!
(Across the) shoulder bag – I feel much more comfortable if the bag is across my body rather than holding it in my hand or resting on my shoulder, the latter are much easier for muggers to grab.
Hair serum – humidity = frizz! You can attempt combat this with some serum or mousse.
Headband – to keep your hair out of your face while sunbathing, snorkelling, on boat trips etc! I took a few and wore them pretty much every day.
Cardigan – needed on planes / other long haul transport when they crank up the air conditioning!
Eye-mask – for some much-needed sleep on flights / other long-haul travel.
Hairbands and kirby grips – you will get hot and sweaty and it’s much worse when your hair is loose… get your hair off your neck and you’ll feel cooler instantly.
Conservative clothing for temples – the rules are becoming more lax with regard to this, especially in tourist areas. However in some places you may need to cover your shoulders and legs.
Travel adaptor – most sockets accept the UK 3-pin plug, but to be sure it’s best to take a universal adaptor. (Thailand uses 220-volts.)
Painkillers – can be taken with you or bought in a chemist when you get there.
Earplugs – I always pack these for any holiday, but you’ll especially need them if you’re staying in the backpacker district of Bangkok. I use Laser Light earplugs.
Travel wash – £1.05 at Superdrug. Great for washing your bikinis / underwear etc. It’s very inexpensive to do laundry in Thailand so you can take advantage of that, but personally I prefer to wash my smalls myself!
Thai phrasebook – handy for simple phrases and everyday greetings. It’s also polite and Thais will appreciate you speaking a little of their language.
A good book – I read The Help and Into the Darkest Corner on my holiday. Both excellent reads! Books and magazines are great for long journeys if you can’t / don’t want to sleep.
Things to leave at home:
Umbrella – just buy one if you need it, they’re not expensive.
Snorkelling equipment – this can be rented by the day (or for longer periods) and is very reasonably priced.
Expensive (or sentimental) jewellery, watches, sunglasses – enough said 😉
(Too many) t-shirts / casual dresses – again, these are really cheap and can be bought everywhere. They also make awesome souvenirs of your trip! Make sure you leave some space in your suitcase.
Let me know if I missed anything! And most of all…