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Thailand lures every type of traveler, whether you’re seeking the luxury of Bangkok’s high-rise hotels or the lush white sand beaches of Koh Samui. Wherever you’re heading, you’ll want to pack light, as you’ll likely want to move around the country — which stretches over 1,000 miles from north to south, and spans hundreds of islands — and you won’t want your luggage to weigh you down.
“In Thailand, visitors need only worry about a wet or dry season. Either way, it will be hot and most likely, humid,” says Rosemarie Domdom, the director of sales and marketing at Rosewood Bangkok. Prioritizing pieces that are lightweight, breathable, and quick-drying will help to keep you feeling fresh throughout your trip, while accessories like an umbrella and a sun hat will come in handy throughout the year. Here’s everything you’ll need for a trip to Thailand, from Bangkok to the beach and beyond.
Thailand is hot and humid year round, so whether you’re taking in the sights and sounds (and smells!) of Bangkok, or snorkeling and sunbathing in Phuket, the main thing to keep in mind is to pack lightweight, casual clothing.
“Thailand has three seasons, which are summer, rainy, and winter. We do not dress that much differently from season to season as it’s still hot for all three,” explains Minnie Leelakhajornkiat, a tour director for EF Ultimate Break Thailand.
Versatility is key — you’ll want to prioritize neutral pieces that can mix and match easily between the capital city and the islands, to make the most of your travel wardrobe. Performance fabrics are always a plus, as anything moisture-wicking and odor-resistant will be incredibly useful in the country’s exceptional heat. During the rainy season, quick-drying clothing will also come in handy.
Casual, laidback style is the way to go in Thailand, where very few places will have a dress code besides religious sites. “Travelers, especially female travelers, are asked to dress conservatively, covering shoulders, upper body, waist, ankles, etc. for the Grand Palace,” Leelakhajornkiat says, noting that clothing shouldn’t be sheer or too form-fitting if you’re visiting a religious or royal site.
Layers of linen or other airy materials are ideal for keeping your luggage to a minimum, as they pair easily together. “People normally wear light or thin clothes that the wind can pass through,” Leelakhajornkiat says of how locals and visitors dress in the summer. She notes that during the rainy season, which peaks in September and October, an umbrella and waterproof layer are ideal. In winter, “Thai residents and travelers normally wear long sleeve shirts and long pants,” she says, adding that she recommends packing a lightweight sweater if you’ll be heading north to Chiang Mai, where the temperature dips. Note that packing light is ideal, as you’ll likely want to take hopper flights or ferries between islands, both of which typically have luggage restrictions.
Best Pants for Women
Amazon Essentials Women’s Linen Blend Drawstring Wide Leg Pant
Linen is a breezy, easily packable material that’s ideal for Thailand’s generally hot climate. These drawstring pants are an excellent, budget-friendly dupe of Reformation’s Olina Linen Pant — the primary difference being that these are a linen-cotton blend, and slightly more cropped. They offer a bit of sun protection during the day while still allowing plenty of air to pass through, and provide just enough warmth for breezy evenings by the beach. We love that these are easy to pair with just about anything in your suitcase and the darker shades in particular transition well from day to night. With 12 shades to choose from, you might even want to grab two pairs — you’ll be living in these!
Price at time of publish: $42
Best Pants for Men
Coofandy Men’s Casual Linen Pants
Similar to the women’s style, these linen drawstring pants are breathable and easy to pull on, making them an excellent choice for daily wear whether you’re exploring the islands or cruising along the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. They’re crafted from a blend of viscose and linen, which makes them even softer than a pure linen style would be. Rear buttoned pockets and side pockets ensure you can keep your phone, wallet, and other travel essentials on you at all times.
Price at time of publish: $40
Best Casual Shorts
Everlane The Easy Short
It’s hard to beat the Everlane Easy Short, which is — as the name suggests — easy to pair with just about everything in both the men’s and women’s styles. Slip them on with your favorite shirt and sandals for a day of sightseeing, or over your bathing suit when you’re heading out to the beach. The waistband offers a good amount of stretch while still maintaining its shape, and never feels constricting — so you can fill up to your heart’s content on Thai street food. Lightweight cotton twill is breathable and dries quickly, making these a great option for everyday wear when you want a laid back yet pulled-together look. Note that these are not considered appropriate for women visiting temples — opt for pants or a long dress instead.
Price at time of publish: $58
Best Top for Women
Quince Vintage Wash Tencel Camp Shirt
A button-down is perhaps the most versatile top to have in your travel wardrobe, and this chic oversized version from Quince checks every box. It’s soft and breathable, with a relaxed fit that will ensure you never overheat on even the stickiest days — making it perfect for visiting temples. Generally, temples require you to cover your shoulders in order to enter, and this top does the trick, and allows excellent airflow to boot. It’s crafted from Tencel Lyocell, which is exceptionally durable, sustainably sourced, and boasts moisture-wicking capabilities to keep you feeling fresh all day long. The material is also resistant to wrinkles, shrinking, and static, making it a dream for backpackers who want a low-maintenance staple. Wear it open over a swimsuit or as a lightweight layer on breezy days.
Price at time of publish: $65
Best Shirt for Men
Quince Men’s 100% European Linen Short Sleeve Shirt
You can scoop up Quince’s best-selling linen button down in six shades, from classic white to a summery terracotta hue that’s sure to pop against Chiang Rai’s all-white temple, Wat Rong Khun. Lightweight and breezy, it’s a perfect layer for beach days, yet the classic fit is also refined enough to wear for an evening out at Bangkok’s famous Sky Bar. It’s a versatile wardrobe staple crafted from top-quality European linen, and we love that it comes at an unbeatable price.
Price at time of publish: $89
Best Swimsuit for Women
Left on Friday Sunday Top and Wear To Bottom
Whether you’re partying with an international crowd of backpackers on Koh Samui or enjoying a more relaxing getaway along the palm-fringed waters of Koh Kood, a swimsuit is absolutely essential — it may even end up being the article of clothing you wear the most throughout your trip. This set from Left on Friday feels secure and stylish, with a flattering and slightly compressive fit. The material is super soft, quick-drying, fade-resistant, and doesn’t easily stain from chlorine or salt water, so it’ll last you quite a few seasons. If you prefer more coverage or a high-waisted style, consider their Hi Hi Bottom instead.
Price at time of publish: $85 for top, $85 for bottom
Best Swimsuit for Men
Vuori Banks Short
These buttery-soft, quick-drying shorts from Vuori earned our top pick for men’s swimsuits during our swimsuit tests, beating out over 40 options that we tried. We found that they worked as a swimsuit-shorts hybrid, meaning they’ll pull double duty in your suitcase: wear them from the hotel to lunch, and straight on to the beach from there — just note that they may run slightly long. They’re unlined, dry quickly, and boast a small zippered pocket for keys, making them a perfect option for all-day wear if you’re not looking to take your swimsuit on and off. We also love that the comfortable “VCycled” fabric is also made from recycled plastic bottles.
Price at time of publish: $68
Best Rain Jacket
Outdoor Research Women’s Aspire Super Stretch Jacket
Thailand’s rainy season runs from July to October, with brief but heavy storms marking the earlier part of the season and daily deluges lasting throughout the later end. If you’re planning to visit during this time, a reliable rain jacket is a must-have. We tested 17 raincoats for men and 23 for women, and in both cases, Outdoor Research had the clear winner. It’s lightweight, which is ideal for Thailand’s warmer temperatures and for easy packing. It’s also incredibly waterproof — rain flew off of the jacket during a downpour without absorbing into the material at all. We also love that the back features a stretchy fabric, which ensures you’ll still have full range of motion for any hikes or cave explorations.
Price at time of publish: $300
Reformation Tyra Knit Dress
Fitted and ultra-flattering, this knit dress from Reformation is your one-and-done look for a night on the town in Bangkok. Whether you’re taking in the city’s magnificent views from the Sky Bar or dining at the Standard Hotel’s glamorous Ojo restaurant, it’s a chic way to look pulled together without having to put in much effort. With an elegant scoop neckline and a calf-length hem, it’s an understated and versatile piece that’s easy to dress up or down. Plus, the cotton fabric is lightweight and stretchy, so it’s easy to pack and won’t take up much space in your suitcase.
Price at time of publish: $148
Best Light Layer
Everlane The Ultrafine Merino Ribbed Cardigan
Despite Thailand’s generally warm climate, it’s always a good idea to pack a lightweight layer — you can wear it on the plane, or bring it out with you on breezy evenings. This ultra thin cardigan from Everlane is a versatile option that can take you from day to night, and can even be buttoned and worn on its own as a long-sleeved top. It’s made from super soft merino wool, which helps to wick moisture away from the body and thermoregulates to keep you feeling cool. Available in classic shades like black, gray, and taupe, it’s an easy neutral to work into your travel wardrobe.
Price at time of publish: $118
Unless you’re planning upscale dinners or are staying at a luxury hotel, there’s no need to pack a pair of heels or fancy sandals for a trip to Thailand. The country is relatively relaxed, with most Thai people wearing flip-flops on the beach and in bars. They’re ideal for slipping on and off, whether you’re lounging by the waves or walking into a temple.
“Bangkok is a very walkable city with good public transport, however the sidewalks are not in the best condition and sometimes there are no sidewalks at all,” says Domdom, who recommends comfortable walking shoes for getting around throughout the day. ”I would not suggest heels for women unless they are going from door-to-door in a taxi,” she explains. For the beach, however, “flip-flops or sandals are perfect,” she adds. “Stay away from dress shoes if visiting the islands; they are not really necessary and you wouldn’t want them to get scuffed,” she says.
Best Versatile Shoes
Birkenstock Arizona Soft Footbed Leather Sandal
Packing light is crucial for a trip to Thailand, where you may often need to maneuver your luggage on small boats, planes, or trains when moving about the country — so you don’t want to sacrifice precious space on bulky sneakers. Instead, opt for a versatile pair of sandals like the iconic Arizona slides from Birkenstock. Gender neutral and incredibly rugged, these boast an extra foam layer of cushioning, as well as a lightweight EVA sole. The footbed requires a bit of time to break them in, but over time they’ll mold to the exact shape of your feet for maximum comfort. We love the darker shades in particular, as they are stylish enough to wear during the day as well as at night. Crucially, their slip-on construction is ideal for visiting temples, where you are required to take your shoes off before going inside.
Price at time of publish: $140
Best Flip-flops for Women
Clarks Breeze Sea Flip Flop
Clarks Breeze Sea Flip-flops easily beat out dozens of other pairs that we tested out, earning our top recommendation for their incredible comfort and long-lasting support. They feature a CushionSoft footbed, padded EVA midsole, and rugged rubber outsole that offers a little lift; together they help to cushion and stabilize your feet, so you can feel good in them for hours on end. They’re available in a rainbow of colors, but we’d recommend sticking with a neutral shade for versatility’s sake. We love the velcro strap on these, which enables you to customize the fit — making them perfect for hanging out at the beach or wandering around the island.
Price at time of publish: $55
Best Flip-flops for Men
Adidas Comfort Flip-Flops
Durable flip-flops are a must have for traveling through Thailand, whether you’re kicking back at the beach or need an easy on-and-off shoe for indulging in Thai massages at the spa. This flexible, sporty style from Adidas earned our top pick when testing dozens of men’s flip-flops. They feature a padded polyurethane foam molding, putting a bit of pep in every step — so you can explore the islands in cloud-like comfort. The best part is that they’re comfortable enough to wear right out of the box, so there’s no need to spend time breaking them in.
Price at time of publish: $27
Best Bags and Accessories
Bags with smart security features — think zippered pockets, discreet compartments, and theft-resistant openings — are always a good investment for travelers. “Thailand, in general, is a safe place and everyone is genuinely hospitable,” explains Domdom, who says pickpocketing isn’t a particularly common occurrence in the country — but that you should still exercise your judgment and keep your belongings close, particularly in crowded or tourist-heavy areas. “I personally always carry a bag that zips closed,” she says, adding that fanny packs or crossbody bags are particularly useful for safely storing your belongings without sacrificing your ability to go hands-free.
Larger daypacks also come in handy on days when you’re heading to the beach and need to carry a bit more with you — namely, a packable towel and sunscreen.
Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack
This vibrantly colored pack from Salt Lake City-based outfitter Cotopaxi earned our top pick for the best carry-on backpack, netting perfect scores when we tested for capacity, design, durability, comfort, and overall value. If you’re planning to travel with a suitcase, then this is the ideal companion to use as your personal item — it’s got a high 35-liter capacity and an unstructured style that makes it easy to stuff clothing and other belongings into every nook and cranny. If you’re setting out for the day, this has plenty of space for your lightweight towel, water bottle (even though there’s no designated holder), sunscreen, and more — and handles on all four sides for carrying convenience.
Price at time of publish: $200
EINSKEY Unisex Sun Hat
Thailand’s average UV index is extraordinarily high (11-12), so in addition to frequent sunscreen application, it’s important to protect your face by keeping it out of the sun. This wide-brimmed hat will do just that. It’s made with a waterproof, sweat-wicking polyester blend that’s designed to keep you cool on hikes and beach visits, while mesh side panels help prevent sweat from gathering. We love that the material is easy to squish flat and pack, but retains its shape when shaken out a bit. The adjustable chin strap also comes in handy, both for a custom fit and for keeping track of the hat when you go inside temples, where you’ll need to remove it.
Price at time of publish: $18
Ray-Ban Mega Wayfarer Sunglasses
Classic Ray-Ban Wayfarers are a sturdy and stylish classic for both men and women. They make excellent travel companions thanks to their durable, goes-with-anything design, and are flattering on pretty much everyone. We love this modern update on classic Wayfarers, which boasts a slightly thicker and more square frame. The straightforward nose bridge means there’s no need to worry about them getting caught in your hair when you take them on and off, and they won’t sit crooked. These also boast 100 percent UV protection, which is crucial given the intensity of the sun in Thailand. Grab them in a neutral shade that will match with your travel wardrobe — think black or tortoise.
Price at time of publish: $182
Coolibar Women’s Revilla Convertible Sun Wrap UPF 50+
A convertible wrap comes in handy on any trip, but is practically a must-have for a visit to Thailand. Beyond its incredible versatility, this one from Coolibar boasts UPF 50+ sun protection, meaning it helps block out 98 percent of the sun’s rays as you go about your day. It also doubles as a blanket when traveling on chilly airplanes, as a cover up at the beach, and most notably as a shawl when you’re visiting religious sites. We love that this one is made from Coolibar’s super soft ZnO fabric, which features cooling properties and zinc oxide protection.
Price at time of publish: $39
Samsonite Freeform Carry-on Spinner
While backpacking is perhaps the most convenient way to get around Thailand, it’s not exactly everyone’s cup of tea — so anyone looking to travel with a suitcase instead should look to the Samsonite Freeform Carry-on Spinner. It beat out all 150 carry-on bags we tested, earning our top pick thanks to its generous capacity, durable thermoplastic shell, and smooth wheels. It’s easy to maneuver on two or four wheels, while the telescoping handle conveniently extends and locks with the push of a button. At just 5.6 pounds, it’s also easy to navigate with, whether you’re walking through Bangkok or taking an overnight train.
Price at time of publish: $180
Best Day Bag
Notag Waterproof Crossbody Bag
Whether you’re heading to an elephant sanctuary or touring the kaleidoscopic labyrinth of Wat Phra Kew in Bangkok, it’s a good idea to keep your belongings secured to your person, particularly in crowded areas and tourist destinations. This budget-friendly crossbody bag is perfect for keeping your valuables safe and your essentials (like your travel-size sunscreen!) organized throughout the day — plus, it boasts a waterproof nylon construction. Inside, you’ll find plenty of zip and slip pockets for your phone, hotel key card, currency, and more.
Price at time of publish: $21
You’ll want to keep things light besides packing your essential clothing, shoes, and an adapter — but certain toiletries are smarter to bring than to buy, such as sunscreen.
“We recommend travelers bring SPF-appropriate sunscreen to Thailand, as it is expensive to purchase locally,” says Leelakhajornkiat. She also suggests bringing any specific medications you take at home, whether prescribed or over-the-counter, as they may be difficult to track down in more remote locations.
While Thai pharmacies are easy to find and have just about everything you could need, it’s not a bad idea to come prepared with your own first-aid arsenal of sorts, including everything from motion-sickness medicine for bumpy ferry rides, to bug spray for the islands.
OneAdaptr OneWorld100 World Adapter
When traveling overseas, you never want to leave home without an adapter. Universal adapters ensure your devices will stay powered wherever you are in the world, allowing you to move freely between countries while minimizing your gear. If your Thailand trip turns into an extended exploration of Southeast Asia, you’ll be glad to have the OneAdaptr OneWorld 100 Adapter, which can charge up to five devices at once, including two MacBook Pro laptops at full speed, simultaneously. It boasts a universal AC outlet, two USB-C ports, and two USB-A ports.
Price at time of publish: $109
Best Travel Towel
Sand Cloud Beach Towel
Portable and sturdy, this compact umbrella is absolutely essential for trips to Thailand during the rainy season, which tends to run from July to October. If you’re planning a trip during this time, it’ll pay off to be prepared for inclement weather with a packable umbrella and a rain poncho. This lightweight option is exceptionally waterproof, thanks to a Teflon coating that helps rain roll right off and ensures the material dries quickly. We also appreciate the automatic open-close feature, which keeps you dry in a flash when the skies open up unexpectedly.
Price at time of publish: $48
MDSolarSciences SPF 50 Mineral Creme
There are plenty of toiletries you can buy once you get to Thailand, but sunscreen is one we’d recommend packing with you, as it can be quite expensive to purchase locally — and there will be fewer options if you’re looking for a specific SPF or sensitive-skin formula. Plus, the UV index is incredibly high year round, so it’s imperative to protect your skin throughout the day. Our pick is MDSolarSciences SPF 50 Mineral Creme, which earned a spot on our list of best travel-size sunscreens thanks to its absorbent, reef safe formula. It’s free of oxybenzone and octinoxate, which can cause coral reef bleaching — so you can feel confident diving into the vibrant waters of Koh Tao.
Price at time of publish: $30
Best Bug Spray
Off! Family Care Insect Repellent With Picaridin
Bug spray is a non-negotiable for a trip to Thailand, no matter the time of year. We love this small, family-friendly spray from Off!, which contains 5 percent picaridin — a dermatologist-recommended option, as it doesn’t give off the chemical smell of traditional DEET-based products. In our testing, it held up fantastically against heat and sweat, and never made us feel sticky. Plus, it fully protected us from bug bites, making this an essential for spending time on the beach or during a visit to the rainforest of Khao Sok National Park. Conveniently, it comes in a TSA-approved travel size, so you can easily bring it along in your carry on.
Price at time of publish: $16
Tips for Packing for Thailand
Don’t forget rain gear
Thailand’s monsoon season is no joke — the country sees heavy but brief storms throughout the summer, which can lead into a period of intense, all-day rainfall in September and October. A travel-ready umbrella is absolutely essential, while a rain poncho and waterproof shoes may also serve you well if you’re planning a trip during this time.
Remember your power adapter
While you’ll be able to find a power adapter in Bangkok, it may prove difficult to track one down on the islands or in more remote locations, warns Domdom. “Best to not forget this if you want to keep your phone charged!” she says. In general, packing an adapter like the OneAdaptr OneWorld 100 Adapter is the best way to go, as it’s capable of charging several devices at once and will keep your electronics powered up for all of your adventures. Just be sure not to leave it in your hotel room!
Bring lightweight garments to cover up at temples and religious sites
Local customs require shoulders and knees to be covered for exploring temples and religious sites, so you’ll want to pack an opaque scarf or cover up (sheer and gauzy won’t cut it) that you can layer over your outfit accordingly. A cover up is one of the most useful pieces you can bring to Thailand, as it can serve several purposes, from ensuring you’re appropriately dressed for religious site visits to adding some much-needed sun protection or acting as a blanket during the flight over.
While it’s best to bring one with you, most temples will have a shawl you can purchase to cover yourself in order to enter, says Domdom.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you wear shorts in Thailand?
When moving throughout cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai, wearing shorts is common and completely acceptable. They’ll come in especially handy for hot and humid beach getaways, when loose and lightweight clothing is practically essential. “Most venues do not have dress codes and smart casual or casual attire is widely accepted,” explains Domdom, who suggests visitors “use their best judgment when traveling.” If you’re planning any upscale dinners or nights out at a club, you’ll want to opt for something slightly more elevated — men in particular should opt for pants instead of shorts.
However, when visiting religious sites, it’s imperative to dress modestly for both men and women. Covering your shoulders and knees is required, so on days when you’ll be touring temples, it’s best to skip the shorts or bring a long skirt or cover-up to throw on over top.
Should I take a suitcase or backpack to Thailand?
Backpacking doesn’t have to mean hostel-hopping around the country — in general, carrying all of your belongings on your back is a great way to ensure you only bring the essentials with you. If you’re looking to go this route, we’ve rounded up a list of our tried-and-true favorite backpack brands, which can help you narrow down what qualities you’re looking for (namely, capacity and convenience).
While this is a great way to travel around Thailand, we’d suggest opting for a carry-on suitcase and a compact-yet-capacious daypack, like the combination of the Samsonite Freeform Carry-on Spinner and the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack we included here. For anyone who prefers to roll their belongings — or who may be planning a more luxurious getaway — a suitcase will feel more comfortable, and allow you more wiggle room to pack in souvenirs on the way home.
Why Trust Travel + Leisure
For this story, T+L contributor Sophie Dodd spent hours researching the absolutely essential items for a trip to Thailand, from lightweight, neutral clothing to comfortable and versatile walking shoes. She also relied on her expertise as a travel writer and her own experience traveling through Thailand, considering what pieces were most versatile and those that she wished she’d brought along. Sophie also received expert advice from Rosemarie Domdom, the Director of Sales and Marketing at Rosewood Bangkok, and Minnie Leelakhajornkiat, a tour director for EF Ultimate Break Thailand, on cultural norms and what visitors typically wear throughout the year.
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