Great Things to Bring for Trekking and Backpacking Thailand
Thailand will always occupy a special place in our hearts as the place that awoke us to the world and wonders of traveling. It’s the country that has bitten and infected so many travelers with it’s amazing people, smells, culture, and experiences and Anthony Bourdain credits Thailand as the place he discovered his life’s passion of traveling. Thailand will be unlike many other countries you have gone to, and packing wrong will negatively affect you more so than other destinations. When it comes to backpacking Thailand (and other South East Asian countries) you’ll want to pack light and pack right!
Thailand offers a completely different packing experience than Europe or South America. The climate is mild-hot all year round, with the chance of rain in the monsoon season, but even in the rain it is still mild. This makes packing extremely easy because you won’t need to pack for multiple seasons or regions. If you were thinking about packing nice clothes and layers for Thailand, change your thought process because Backpacking Thailand is one of the few places you can get away with looking a bit grimy. Absolutely no other travelers will be dressed nice.
Backpacker Clothing for Traveling Thailand
Clothing will not occupy as much space in your pack as other countries, but will still take up about 50% of your space. This is great because it allows you to stock up on all the cool souvenirs and t-shirts Thailand has. The key to strategic packing is to pack exactly what is needed and nothing more. In Thailand layers are less important and you should focus on clothing that will wick away sweat and moisture and keep you dry, especially for underwear. Socks and close toed shoes are not recommended for Thailand, as it gets too hot and they tend to fall apart or smell quickly. The locals and most travelers wear sandals, so get something comfortable on your feet. Don’t worry about packing going out clothes because going out in Thailand means a t-shirt, shorts, and flip flops. Don’t pack anything fancy because you won’t wear it!
- Shirts/blouses. Pack five t-shirts and one lightweight long sleeve. The long sleeve you will wear is to protect you from mosquitoes at night and should be treated with permethrin to stave off any mosquitoes. It will also protect you from the sun on ferry rides. T-shirts are abundant in Thailand (and super cool) so pick a few extra up while you’re there.
- Pants. One pair of ultra lightweight pants are needed to protect you from mosquitoes on hikes, while sleeping, or if you plan on renting a motorbike. You may never wear them but it’s a good idea to pack them.
- Shorts and Skirts. Two to three pair of lightweight shorts will go far in Thailand. Every place you stay offers cheap laundry so you won’t need to worry about keeping them clean.
- Underwear. It can be really annoying if you don’t bring the right amount of underwear. You will absolutely want to bring at least five pair of moisture wicking underwear that also keeps you cool. Don’t bring cotton, they will show butt sweat stains; not a good look.
- Shoes. You won’t want to bring close toed shoes to Thailand. An open sandal shoe and a pair of sturdy flip flops is all you will need.
- Jackets and Hoodies. One lightweight hoodie for sleeping in and keeping the sun off you, and a windbreaker.
- Swimsuit. Bring two swimsuits, because you’ll be swimming a lot. Also great to hike in.
- Hat. A snap-back hat is great but a sun hat is the best choice.
Essential Toiletries and Personal Items for Your Backpack
It can get hot and sticky in Thailand so you’ll want to stay refreshed with a quality toiletry kit.
- Toiletries kit. A lot of travelers smell but you don’t have too! Check out our toiletry guide.
- First-aid kit. You will get injured in Thailand with cuts and bruises, it’s part of the travel battle wounds. Bring a good first aid kit because doctors and hospitals aren’t a common occurrence.
- Small towel/washcloth.
- DEET Bug Spray. It smells like gasoline, but bug spray with a high DEET concentration could be the difference between contracting Malaria and Dengue Fever or not . If used correctly you won’t get bit, and won’t have to take the nasty Malaria Pills.
- Permethrin. You won’t actually bring this with you, but you should absolutely treat all your clothes with it before you leave. It is an insecticide for your clothes that will provide an additional layer of protection from pesky, disease carrying Mosquitoes.
- Hairdryer, Curling Iron, Straightener. To be honest this is not needed in Thailand, keep it casual.
- Quality Sunscreen. Burning sucks, so pack SPF 30+ sunscreen.
- Medicine and vitamins. Thailand has great food, but it won’t always agree with you. You will absolutely need:
- Pepto Bismol
- Travel Antibiotics
- Malaria Pills (Optional, but we don’t recommend)
- Tampons/Feminine Hygiene. In Thailand they may be hard to come by so stock up before.
- Condoms. The likelihood of you getting lucky traveling is extremely high so it’s important to protect yourself from STI’s. In some parts of the world they don’t have contraception so bring your favorite brand.
- Wet Wipes/Moist Towelettes. No traveler or backpacker should be without these, that goes double for Thailand. A lot of hostels don’t have showers, and the ones that do you can be pretty gross. These will be your .shower for a lot of the trip. Don’t throw them in the toilet please/
- Toilet Paper. Don’t expect restrooms to have this.
- Hand Sanitizer. Soap can also be hard to come by in bathrooms, so bring a few hand sanitizers.
Extra Accessories You Should Bring for Thailand
All though these items are not needed, they make traveling Thailand way better.
- Small day pack. This will allow you to pack small essential items for day trips and touring.
- Stuff Sacks. Keep your clean clothes clean by storing them in these, or visa versa.
- Water bottle and Water Purifying. You will absolutely need some kind of water purification process in Thailand.
- Headlamp. It get’s dark in hostels and while trekking, so light it up!
- Inflatable neck pillow and earplugs. Nice for those long bus rides.
- Tiny locks. Locks will deter thieves and keep your gear safe.
- Duct tape and zip ties. Wrap some duct tape around your shoulder strap and peel as needed for repairs.
- A good book. Specifically one by a famous author about the country you are visiting. Check out “Four Reigns” by Kukrit Pramoj.
- Seal-able plastic bags.
- Sewing kit.
- Bandanna. Great for hiking.
- Glasses/contacts/sunglasses. .
Extra Items for Touring Thailand
The below items will come in handy while touring the Land of Smiles but aren’t necessary and it some cases may slow you down. It’s a good idea to unplug from technology once in a while but we know that may not be easy for everyone.
Tips on How to Carry Documents and Money Traveling Around Thailand
All these items are extra and don’t need to be taken (with the exception of travel documents).
- Money belt. This will keep your cards and money from prying eyes.
- Money and cards. 2 Debt cards and 2 credit cards stored in different places will help you out if they get lost or stolen.
- Documents. Don’t forget your passport!
- Travel Insurance. Most insurance companies don’t offer coverage outside your home country. We recommend getting some since Thailand can get a little harry with scooters and accidents. World Nomads is our insurance of choice.
- Guidebooks and maps. Always have a physical map in case you get lost.
- Small notepad and pen.
- Journal or Blog.
Going to Thailand with a laptop or tablet? Ff you are expecting stable wi-fi and outlets in Thailand, you’ll be let down. Leave the laptop at home unless you have work to do. Smartphones are being constantly snatched out of tourists hands so keep them packed away unless absolutely needed. Tablets are a good option for Thailand.
- Smartphone/mobile phone. It use to be you would leave this at home and pick up a disposable phone when you travel but now everyone has one and they travel with it.
- Digital camera. Thailand is breathtakingly beautiful and great for photos.
- Tablet. Tablets are pretty common in Thailand.
- Laptop. Unless you’re working or Digital Nomading you won’t need it.
- Headphones/earbuds. These will be nice for that overnight bus ride from Bangkok to Chang Mai.
- Chargers. and batteries.
- Plug adapter(s). in Thailand the use A, B, C, F
Backpacking Thailand Summary
Thailand is an existential experience that will change your life. Keep in mind that Thailand is a very happy, but poor country, and they don’t have the modern comforts or sanitation you may be used to from home. Pack the above items and you will be able to fully enjoy your experience. For more travel tips check out Lonely Planet.