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I’m taking some time this summer to visit the workshops and manufactures I’m looking to partner with to see what homemade beauties I can bring back for this shop. Thailand will be the main stop. I’ve been there several times before and yet always seem to forget exactly what to expect, so I’ve finally written out a plan on what to bring.

So if you’re heading to Thailand and don’t know what to pack, here’s my nifty guide:

  1. Sleep Mask & Travel Pillow
    • If you’re flying from anywhere outside of Asia, it’s likely a rather long flight. From the US, where I’m located, It’s about 24 hours of travel to get to Bangkok. Though one day I hope to fly premier class on these long flights until then I’ll need to make do with as many sleep hacks as I can find.
    • There’s so many on the market, but if you’re looking for one that lets you sleep standing up, here’s the one I just purchased for my trip (and it is fantastic) –
    • For my husband, I purchase this side sleeper pillow,, which lets him rest the way he prefers and it’s way smaller to smoosh and pack into luggage.
  2. Waterproof or protecting phone case
    • I break my phone cases rather regularly; I drop my phone more than once per day, it is truly a skill. The Lifeproof cases are my favorite, they last about 8+ months with regular use and if they break, you can email them and they’ll replace it for $5, which really great. Most other brands, I break their cases way before 8 months and have to replace so much more often.
    • Thailand has a lot of water and rain, if you’re going to the islands it’s usually a good idea to have a waterproof phone case, and if you travel during the rainy season (June – Oct) then you’ll prefer to have it protected as well.
  3. Hand Wipes, Face Wipes, Baby Wipes
    • If you’re staying in a modern chain hotel during your entire trip, then you don’t need this; if you’re traveling a lot or leaving the city center, you need to remember to bring your own toilet paper – it’s not offered in most bathrooms. Individually wrapped baby wipes are another option. No Alcohol, simply water:
    • Sanitizing, individually wrapped wipes are a good idea when you’re out and about and want to grab some street food. Disinfecting:
  4. Sun Block
    • Sunscreen is rather expensive abroad and you don’t have the same options. I recommend these mineral-only versions which are safe to use around coral reefs and do not have restrictions placed on them in resorts. That said, keep in mind that most mineral sunscreens go on thickly and are white, so you have to take the effort to run them in. For the face, I use Australian Gold Botanical –, which is slightly tinted so I’m not a walking ghost. For the body, I prefer Goddess Garden Organics, There are also many chemical sunscreen options, but do note some are not allowed in resorts and they generally damage the local fish and reef.
  5. Mosquito Repellant
    • There’s lots of bugs here, its a tropical country!
    • Mosquito bracelets: I love these! You have to understand how they work in order for them to be effective. They should come already impregnated with a repellent and you sometimes also have to reapply products. They aren’t as effective as spraying your whole body, but they are good options if you are mainly covered up and you remember to spray the bracelets after putting them in water. Some are DeeT based (most effective but cause potential health harm) and others use a blend of essential oils to repel mosquitoes (citronella, lavender, peppermint, tea tree oil) which in the low amount of ingredient used are not harmful to humans.
    • Here’s a pack that is Deet Free:
  6. Rain Weather Clothing – It can rain without notice and rains fairly daily in the rainy season.
  7. Slip ons or sandals – easy to put on and take off shoes.
    • If you do a tour or go to temples you will often be taking your shoes on and off; it’s frustrating to tie or retie sneakers.
    • I bring heels everywhere but Bangkok is a city that’s better suited for wedges or flats, Thai’s tend to be smaller than Europeans or Americans so you’re likely already towering over folks, and the sidewalks are rarely even enough for significant heels.
  8. Ibuprophen (Advil)
    • If this is your medication of choice, bring some along, you won’t be able to buy it in stores without a prescription.
  9. International license
    • Depending on where you’re from, you may find that Thai’s drive on the wrong side of the road, and that likely makes you want to drive here less – but it’s worth traveling with an international license anyway. If you go anywhere remote, this will be your only mode of transportation. If you choose to do certain water sports, you’re not really supposed to do them without a valid license.

The Skip List:

  1. Sarong
    • If you have a sarong, especially a conservative one that covers up, bring it, but there’s no need to buy one beforehand, you can buy them easily in Thailand.
    • Women will be required to wear a skirt and cover their shoulders and knees if entering certain official buildings or temples; these places will sell simple sarongs or have clothing to rent for covering up. Men also need to follow the coverage guides and will be offered sarongs if dressed inappropriately.
  2. Denim
    • Jeans are not as common and will be hot and sticky in the summer weather. Slightly loose pants with a lighter fabric will likely be more comfortable. Women do often wear skinny jeans, but they’re usually a thinner fabric that you may not even consider a denim fabric.
  3. Revealing clothing
    • To be honest, this one is really tricky, and a lot of the internet says that Thailand is very “conservative” in their dress. When I was there last, a lot of my husband’s local friends thought I was super prude because of how conservatively I dressed when we went out. They weren’t sure if I felt comfortable hanging out with bar girls and were afraid of bringing me into some bars. It was rather amusing once I figured out why. I normally always cover my arms and my knees in my every day, but I guess I took it up a notch in Thailand. That said, showing off cleavage, wearing too-tight clothes, or exposing a lot of your torso is not really appropriate, even for party cities, during the day. Most of the folks working in Thailand and especially major cities tend to dress well, with button downs and nice pants. When people aren’t working they dress more casually but still usually wearing loose shirts and clothes that both protect their bodies from the sun and cold – this is true for men and women. The main truth is that different activities have a different association of coverage than other activities, especially when compared to a place like the US. For example, if coming from the US you may wear activewear with spaghetti straps all day regardless of activity, in Thailand, open shoulder outfits are appropriate for clubs in the evening but are not a normal item to wear during the day. My mistake was dressing like an office worker all day long when I really should have worn more casual or dressy outfits in the evening, and come off as less stiff.
  4. High Heels
    • I still always bring mine, though Bangkok is a wedge city with lots of uneven walking ground.
  5. Anything Wool
    • I had this great pair of joggers from J Crew that I wore last time I visited and I was boiling from the heat wearing them. Eventually, I looked at the tag and realized that these joggers were made from a wool blend. Who the heck makes joggers from wool? J Crew does, apparently.

Overall, it’s better to pack light and wash the clothes than overpack. All of Thailand is more casual than NY, and as long as everything looks clean, you’re not being judged on your clothes, so packing too many outfits isn’t necessary.

Stay safe from the heat, drink plenty of water, and enjoy Thailand.