Thailand packing list

Less is more when it comes to packing for your holiday to Thailand. Laundry services in Thailand are plentiful and cheap so you won’t need to pack a separate outfit for each day of your trip. If you do happen to forget anything, don’t worry. Shopping in Thailand is great value for money and wherever you are the chances are you won’t be too far away from a well-equipped supermarket. You may also want to leave a little bit of space in your bags for souvenirs and gifts to bring back home. 

To combat the heat, loose-fitting clothing is a good option for men and women. Given that the Thai climate is often hot and humid, clothes that are made of breathable materials like cotton and light linen are a sensible option. 

It’s also worth packing a couple of smarter options for evening meals, and a collection of scarves and sarongs to put over your shoulders and legs when visiting temples and sacred sites. When travelling by bus and train in Thailand, the air-conditioning can get cold so keep that in mind too when you are packing. 

Comfortable and lightweight walking shoes are always a good idea. When out and about in Thailand you may find you are frequently taking off your shoes at temples and some shops and restaurants. A pair of comfortable slip-on shoes are a practical choice.


  • Passport
  • Travel insurance
  • Money*
  • An open mind and open heart to experience the best of Thailand

*Although you’ll get a better rate changing money into Thai Baht in Thailand compared to South Africa, it’s still helpful to have some cash with you when you arrive to pay for things like taxis.

Have at least two ways to access funds. Local ATMs are typically the best way to get local currency, and you may want to have some US dollars as a form of back-up cash, which can be exchanged at any airport or across the big cities. Credit cards can be useful for paying for hotels, dive shops and day tours, but you’ll want to carry Thai Baht in cash for meals, shopping at markets and paying for local transport. Visa and Mastercard are the most commonly accepted credit cards.


  • Smart pair of pants/dress 
  • Polo shirt(s) or shirt with collar
  • An outfit to cover knees and shoulders (for visiting temples and royal sites)
  • Shorts/culottes
  • T-shirts
  • Swimming costume/trunks
  • Sarong


  • Comfortable walking shoes/trainers/tennis shoes
  • Flip-flops
  • Pair of loafers/smart-casual shoes (for rooftop bars/restaurants, clubs)


  • Hat
  • Sunglasses*
  • Quick-drying, lightweight travel towel
  • Travel plug (if backpacking)
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Reusable shopping bag
  • Some clothes pegs (useful for resealing bags as well as drying your hand-washing)
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Bug spray
  • Small umbrella with UV coating (can be bought in Thailand). Handy when it’s hot or if there are any tropical showers.

*Cheap sunglasses can be found at markets across Thailand, but they won’t always offer good UV protection. Genuine brand-name sunglasses can be bought in department stores and opticians, but the prices are on a par with what you would pay in South Africa.


It’s advisable to use a good backpack or luggage with wheels, as you may need to walk the last stretch to some of your accommodations. Try to keep it light because you will be carrying it on and off ferries and other transport.

Good to know

Thailand uses 220V AC electricity and power outlets most commonly feature two-prong round or flat sockets.

Most accommodation establishments will supply towels, but a quick-dry, lightweight towel is good to have for beach trips.

There are plenty of excellent English-speaking pharmacies that sell everything needed should you become unwell, as well as quality hospitals, so no need to bring too many meds. You will also be able to buy toiletries, cellphone chargers, memory cards, and various other items as you go.

When carrying prescribed drugs or medicine in or out of Thailand, keep the medicine in the original, clearly labelled packaging. You should also carry with you a letter from your doctor or the qualified medical professional who prescribed the drugs. Always keep medications with you in your carry-on bag.

Small padlocks can be useful for lockers and luggage storage facilities and also for when staying at budget accommodation that allows you to use your own lock on the door. 

Double-check that all your documents are in order: passport, accommodation reservations, contact details and information for any pre-booked ground arrangements. 

South Africans don’t need visas to visit Thailand, making it one less thing to worry about. However, many other countries within Africa and beyond do, and it is essential to check this well in advance.

It is suggested that you keep copies of your passport separately from your actual passport, with a print-out of your travel insurance documents and some extra passport photos too.

For arrival, have the address of where you are staying readily available, either electronically or printed out. You may want to show this to your taxi driver or enter it into the Grab app (Thailand’s answer to Uber) when ordering a car. You can pick up a local SIM card on arrival in Thailand.  Data is cheap and this will make you instantly connected to whatever you may need from Google Maps (the app is a good alternative).

As a precaution, keep copies of vital documents in your Cloud or a Dropbox folder, and send a copy to a family member so that they can help you out if needed. 

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