Life,  Travel

What to Pack for Thailand

How to Pack for Two Weeks in Thailand (or Way Longer) In One Small Bag

Whether you’re spending two weeks in Thailand or four or five months like we normally do, you’ll want to pack carefully and keep it light.

It’s now my fourth year spending each winter in Thailand and I have to say – it takes actual effort and planning to pack smart for Thailand. You’ll want outfits and other items that work for Thailand’s raging humidity and hot heat, intermittent rain showers and sometimes cold nights. 

“What should I pack for Thailand?” is a question I seem to get all the time, so I’ve created a tidy little resource of what I consider to be Thailand essential packing items for women. 

Thailand packing article woman in Thailand

Who is this Thailand Packing List For?

This one bag packing list is geared especially for a 25-to-40 year old woman travelling to Thailand cities and/or beaches wanting to be fashionable and not look like a wildabeast (did I mention the humidity?) but who also wants to pack light. 


Don’t get me wrong when I say “packing light” –  I still bring a heck of a lot of stuff, I just do it in one carry-on bag size.

Thailand Packing Myth: Can’t I Buy Most of What I Need in Thailand?

The first time I went to Thailand everyone told me, “Oh, don’t bring much, you can buy everything there!”

To that I say one word: LIES.

I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but in reality it’s hard to find decent quality clothes in Thailand that fit our north American sized bodies without spending a lot of time and effort. 

For day-to-day basics, I’ve learned to bring quality stuff I know I love so I am not scrambling to find things on the road that will fall apart easily anyway.

And what about toiletries for Thailand? You can buy all the toiletries there right? 

Again I say.. yeeess.. but do you want to spend your time tromping around Thailand’s pharmacies trying to find a product you trust?

And here are two weird facts about toiletries in Thailand: 

One, Ibuprofen is prescription only in Thailand (?weird?). 

Two, almost all basic personal care products (think sunscreen, deodorant, body wash, body lotion and soap) have a skin bleaching/whitening ingredient in them. I’m usually trying to get a golden tan – Thailand I love you but keep your freakin’ skin bleach away from me!

Anyway to sum it up – After several years of making extended (think four month long) trips to Thailand each winter with one bag, I feel like I’ve now got the Thai packing essentials thing down. 

Without further ado, let’s jump into my essential packing guide for women travelling to Thailand.

The Best Backpack for Thailand

Nowadays, after much trial and error, I travel to Thailand with a 60 L Osprey bag with wheels and backpack straps that also has a detachable daypack.

my osprey meridian 60L bagMy bag of choice (pictured here) is the Osprey Meridian, which is a convertible backpack – so it has wheels, but also morphs into a backpack when needed. I love it (read more about why this bag might be perfect for you here).

I went this rolling bag-by-day backpack-by-night route because carrying a heavy pack all day doesn’t work for my shoulders, and I also wanted the option of backpacking it in areas with bad footing. 

Whatever bag you choose, size wise, I suggest getting a 35L-60L pack, depending on how much you are bringing.  Much bigger than that is too much stuff to comfortably carry. 

It’s also not a bad idea to get fitted for your pack when you buy it. 

Backpacks can be pricey but they are definitely an investment. You can read a bit more about different backpacks that I feel work for Thailand here.

Your Travelling Outfit | Plane Outfit

what to wear on the plane to thailand outfitWhen I was in university, I had a pretty unique job. I was a part time Customs Officer at the Vancouver airport. It was a fascinating place to work, but what I loved most was the people watching. 

Every day I saw how thousands of people decided to dress for their travel day. From fancy outfits to inappropriately skimpy ones, giant baggy jogging suits and everything in between, travel outfits run the gamut!

I now have my own plane outfit that is tried, tested and true. It’s simple, comfy and maybe not glamorous but not offensively ugly either. 

Factored in to my plane outfit are two realities: One; you never know what the temperature will be on a plane (layers are a must) and two; you always have to be prepared to walk long distances between travel gates, so good shoes are key.

Here is the plane outfit I recommend for women: 

Black light fabric pants
Comfy wool socks and runners (mine are black)
Up top, it’s a tank top,
a long linen man’s style shirt (this artizia one is a classic and fave for many)
and a thin warm cashmere scarf. 
light puffer jacket, crammed into a tiny little travel bag and stored in my daypack just in case it gets really cold.

Once I’m on the plane, I don my ever so sexy compression socks, then pop my wool socks back over those (the floor is ALWAYS cold on planes, am I right?) 

Things To Keep Handy Near Your Seat While In Flight

While on the plane, I keep my detachable daypack under the seat, and it contains:

Iphone and earbuds
Noise cancelling headphones 
Laptop (just so it’s near me, I rarely pull it out)
Camera (I also don’t want to risk losing this)
Pen (underrated but important!)
Neck pillow
Footrest strap
Eye mask
Paper notebook (I always seem to get ideas I want to write down while flying).
A little toiletries kit with moisturizer and lip balm
Snacks! A couple kind bars and some dehydrated cheese (super light items)
A refillable water bottle
Chargers and a portable battery

What I Bring To Thailand: Main Packing List

Once you’ve survived your flight and landed in Thailand proper, what should be in your suitcase? Here’s a picture of what’s in mine: 

what I pack for Thailand

Here’s the overall women’s packing list for Thailand I recommend:

Bottoms: Note: Be SURE your bottoms are nylon, silk or viscose type materials. Anything else is just too dang hot. I like my light Lululemons and MEC materials.

1-3 pairs | Flowy pants
1-2 pairs | Yoga pants/leggings
1-3 pairs of light quick dry nylon material shorts (not too crazy short..Thailand is a bit more conservative)
4 pairs light underwear

1 Maxi dress
1 Midi Dress

I wear tank tops pretty much every day in Thailand and you probably will too. They’ll keep you cool and don’t show sweat stains — win win.

3-4 tank tops – Some flowy to keep you cool on hot days, some more fitted for yoga/exercise. I like Uniqlo airism (again, you will probably pretty much live in your tank tops.)
A super thin tshirt – Again I go for Uniqlo airism 
A silk cover-up type cardigan
A silk ‘nice’ fancier top
1 long sleeved linen shirt  (I love my Artizia one)
1 long sleeved MEC No Fly Zone shirt (anti mosquito)
lightweight thin gortex rain jacket (I use this jacket ALL THE TIME, it rains a lot in Asia and when it does it comes down hard) stuffed into a ziplock bag so it doesn’t take up too much room in my bag
1 warmer cardigan (bring one that goes with everything, for those semi chilly nights out)
Light puffer jacket (travel size) stuffed into a small travel bag , some nights up north in Thailand get freaking COLD and there’s no heat or insulation, and busses are kept at near arctic temperatures with their out of control A/C

Best Shoes for Thailand:
Flip flops (or slip on shoes) are a MUST – I recommend a comfy and supportive pair of sandals you can easily slip on and off like Birkenstocks. A lot of people wear Havania’s too. You’ll be taking them off and putting them back on a lot so something easy to slip on and off.

1 Pair Hiking Shoes/Runners (these are on my feet while I travel to Thailand so they don’t eat up space in my bag)
1 pair Birkenstocks
(Yeah, I’d love to bring more but shoes take up SO MUCH ROOM. I’ll often also buy cheap flipflops on the road)

1 airy light cashmere scarf – this is great for covering your shoulders in temples and doubling as a warm cozy thing in air conditioned environments, or even to sit on in a pinch. My BlueSky scarf is one I just love, it’s sturdy and soft as butter.
1 silk robe: I love having this to throw on in the morning etc so I don’t have to immediately get dressed in “real” clothes
2 Pairs sunglasses (you will lose a pair almost for sure) – I have a pair of Ray Ban Erikas and a cheap no name pair.
Elastics, a small pair of scissors (you’re never sorry to have these when you need them)

Face sunscreen (I go for Tizo, a high quality tinted mineral sunscreen that is also a primer)
Foundation stick
Sunscreen lip balm
Nail polish and a small bottle of polish remover (they have stuff there but not as high quality as what we get at home, I like Essie treat polish)

Personal Care Items
Bug spray: Incognito Mosquito (natural) and Watkins Great Outdoors (deet) fill a good portion of my bag.
Biteaway Stick: If you tend to be one that mosquitos love, I can’t say enough about this life changing little stick. It denatures the protein of the mosquito juice and your bite stops itching and starts healing immediately
A little tub of shea butter for body moisturizing skin
Disposable shaving razor (remember you’ll probably be on the beach a lot)
Nail clippers (You are never sad to have nailclippers when you need them)
Shampoo/conditioner (I put them into Goob Tubes. Yes you can buy this there but again I like my home quality products).
Nipple covers (for when it’s too hot for a bra, which is basically always)

Lavender oil – A little vial goes a long way. Lavender is an amazing cure all essential oil – great for wounds, scars, mosquito bites and smelling awesome.
Little travel tube of aloe vera gel – Also great on mosquito bites and wounds
Collagen powder (I love this stuff in my coffee each morning. I use the travel sticks of WithinUS true Marine totally don’t need it, but I love it)
Starbucks Instant Coffee sticks (awesome in a pinch when you’re in a place without great coffee)
Emergen-C packets – Good for electrolyte replenishment, you’ll be sweating a lot and any bouts with diarrhea can leave you seriously dehydrated, which can be dangerous in a hot climate, electrolytes will get you balanced again
Any of your prescriptions – I put mine in wee screwtop travel cases and label them – Note you can refill a lot of your meds at the pharmacies in Thailand, but I still like to bring my stuff from home.

Note: I am sort of weird and like to have an antibiotic or two on hand, just in case something comes up. Call me Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. I know, I know… you can’t be flippant with antibiotics, but my stash has been super helpful from time to time for me and fellow travellers and pets.

Electronics to Bring to Thailand

iPhone + 2 charging cables
2 pairs of head phones
Kindle + charger
Macbook Air + charger
iPad + charger
INIU portable battery
Portable mini speaker
Small camera (I use the Fuji xt100)
Noise cancelling headphones for the plane

In Conculsion

And that’s it for my comprehensive list for what to pack for Thailand as a woman. Get this stuff all set up in some neatly organized packing cubes and you’ll be super happy to have everything you need on hand. 

Did I miss anything? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

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