When it came time to pack for our first trip to Thailand, I wasn’t sure what to wear. It was our first trip to Southeast Asia. I knew the attire requirements would be different than many of the other trips we have been on.
So, I did what any traveler would do. I popped on Pinterest, typed in a few searches on “packing for Thailand” and started to research post after post. Well armed with information, I started to assemble my own packing list.
I pulled plenty of mix-and-match outfits and excitedly packed my bags. Items selected ranged from temple-appropriate attire I saw mentioned so many times on Pinterest to beachwear and activewear. It was going to be a hot and sweaty trip. I felt fully prepared and ready to go!
My Clothing Packing List
- One long sleeve fleece top for the flights
- Cotton lounge pants
- Two pairs of quick dry capris
- One short-sleeve, quick dry t-shirt
- One mid-calf length maxi dress
- One short dress
- One pair of shorts
- Two swimsuits
- Seven sleeveless tops/tank tops
- Three pairs of shoes (1 pair walking shoes, 1 pair Keen sandals, 1 pair gel flip flops)
- One rain jacket
This was a 10 day trip, packing using a carry-on bag and a backpack. Laundry service is dirt cheap in Thailand, so we planned on having nearly everything washed half way through the trip. This allowed for more than enough clothing.
After arriving and getting settled at our hotel, we checked in with our tour guide. He informed us of the first few day’s activities, which included going to the temple, Wat Pho one day and Grand Palace on the next. He reviewed the women’s dress code requirements as follows:
Wear a shirt that covers your shoulders and is not low cut. It is fine to show your ankles. Capri’s are ok.
Wear a shirt that covers your shoulders and is not low cut. You must wear pants or a skirt that cover your ankles. Capri’s are not ok.
Immediately, I was worried. I only had one t-shirt that actually fully covered my shoulders. I also only had one pair of cotton pants that covered my ankles. They were the pants I had just worn for 17 hours on 4 different flights. Yuck!
Not packing properly made me feel unprepared and very gross. I wore my one t-shirt to Wat Pho and it was sweaty and stinky by the end of that first day. So, that night we hit a night market where I bought a lovely pink floral shirt to wear to the palace the following day.
For our day at the palace, I had to don those nasty cotton travel pants I hadn’t yet had time to wash. I could feel the airplane muck as soon as I put them on. I also wore my new Thai shirt I purchased the night before. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize until after the fact, that the shirt fit me terribly! I cringe every time I look at the photos! That is not the travel memory I would like to have had.
Later in the trip, more temples and another palace were on the itinerary. I was able to get my one t-shirt laundered by that point and I purchased a long, appropriate skirt too. It worked for the day of exploring. And, thankfully clothes in Thailand are cheap. Still, I wished I would have packed more appropriately.
What Essential Pieces Ladies Should Be Sure To Pack
If you are visiting any temples be sure to pack t-shirts that fully cover your shoulders and chest. Wide, sleeveless tops are not adequate. Neither are low cut tops. You can wear capri’s. Shoes do not have certain requirements as you take them off before entering a temple. We recommend wearing a pair that are easy to get on and off.
If you are visiting palaces, pack t-shirts and either pants or a skirt that covers your ankles. Do not try to cheat the system here. They check every person walking in to the Grand Palace in Bangkok. If you do not meet the dress code, they will pull you out of line and give you proper attire to wear. Not only does that strike me as very gross, but I would think it would make you miserably hot. And, just in case you are wondering, using a scarf as a cover up will not cut it here. They are very strict and enforce these rules. The same restrictions are in place at the Summer Palace.
Beyond these specifications for temples and palaces, ladies have a variety of choices in packing. Just remember that Thailand is hot and humid. We recommend light and airy fabrics. I love quick-dry items. They have become a staple of my travel wardrobe.
A Note For The Men
While this is a ladies packing list, it is worthwhile to mention that men also have dress code requirements, especially for palaces. No tank tops permitted and pants must cover your ankles!
Other Essential Items
Proper clothing isn’t the only thing you will want to pack on your trip to Thailand. Beyond the standard travel items and accessories, here are a few things I am so glad we packed on this trip:
Prior to our trip, we went to the doctor to get all our immunizations. Not only did they turn me into a human pincushion to update my shot records, but they gave us prescription medications to take with us – just in case someone got sick. Guess what? We both got sick near the end of our trip! I am so glad we had the medication we needed. Be sure to carry the prescription receipt with you too, just in case someone questions it.
Our guide was great at planning stops where the restroom facilities are nice with soap and running water. He called them “happy bathrooms”. However, it was inevitable that this wouldn’t always be the case. We usually always travel with wipes, but this trip I am particularly glad we had them with us. Even more important, we ensured we had at least one pack of anti-bacterial wipes with us.
Along with pre-moistened wipes, hand sanitizer is something we never travel without. Again, there were plenty of times on this trip I was so thankful to have this. There are a lot of high-touch surfaces in Thailand, especially Bangkok, and soap and water are not always readily available.
This natural salve was a lifesaver on this trip. I ended up with itchy bumps on the backs of my hands. A little coat of this salve and I had relief in no time. Now, I won’t travel without a little bit as it is multi-purpose and super useful.
There are plenty of other things we always recommend traveling with. If you want to see that list, check out this post!
It doesn’t matter what your travel style is or how long you will be in this incredible country. As long as you have these essential items with you, you will be will on your way to proper packing.