Are you traveling Thailand soon and not sure what to pack for the trip? From the varying temperatures to temple etiquette, here’s my guide on what to wear (and what not to wear!) in Thailand to stay comfy, careful, and considerate.
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One of my all-time favorite countries, Thailand is filled with breathtaking temples, friendly locals, captivating culture, beautiful beaches, mouth-watering food (did someone say curry and pad thai?), lush jungle, and more!
Sounds like the ultimate destination, doesn’t it?
But with the temples, jungles, culture, and beaches comes some guidelines on appropriate clothing… like breathable materials for easy breezy beautiful non-sweating days or lightweight shawls for befitting temple wear.
Anywho, as someone who’s traveled Thailand a few different times (as well as Southeast Asia as a whole), here’s my guide on what to pack for Thailand.
Table of Contents
WHAT TO WEAR IN THAILAND (AND WHAT NOT TO WEAR!)
First things first: Thailand is extremely hot, humid, and sunny — prepare to be drenched in sweat!
To help ward off any unnecessary swass, swoobs, swack, or even swegs (that’s sweaty legs FYI), pack clothes made of the right fabric…
Types of Fabric
DO pack along breathable material.
Believe me when I say you’ll want clothing that wicks away faster than you can wipe it off your forehead! Thailand is sweltering but with the right material you can stay cool and comfy.
Think breathable fabrics like linen, thin cotton blends, sweat-wicking activewear, bamboo material blend, etc.
DON’T pack heavy clothing.
Okay, don’t even think about wasting valuable suitcase or backpack space with heavy jeans that’ll just weigh down your bag (and you’ll never ever wear them).
Additionally, thick, heavy sweatshirts are out, too. I know you might want to bring your university sweatshirt but leave it at home. It’s useless in Southeast Asia! Too hot to wear and too heavy for your bag.
DO wear airy everyday clothing.
Things like flowy skirts, airy pants, billowing shirts, and lightweight shorts are good to wear for everyday adventures. Wearing clothing that allow the skin to breath (and the sweat to dry) is a great idea!
Additionally, long skirts and flowy pants (that cover the knees) are great for temples, as you need to be modest when exploring them.
DON’T wear skimpy outfits.
Safe to say, daisy duke shorts that let your buttcheeks hang out and spaghetti strap tanks that show too much cleavage and skin are not welcome in Thailand.
It’s a modest country and you’ll find most locals wear clothing that covers them fairy well — you should do the same.
Unless you’re on a beach or sunbathing by the pool, respect the local customs and stick to the daily dress code (i.e. don’t wear skimpy outfits).
DO pack beach-y clothing.
While I ask you not to wear skimpy outfits, if you’re at the beach a nice bikini and short shorts are A-OK.
The locals understand Thailand is a hot beach destination, so they’ve grown accustomed to seeing tourists in little swimsuits and whatnot.
DON’T walk around in beachwear when not at the beach.
That said, if you’re anywhere where sand isn’t under your feet, do not wear your teeny swimsuit, go topless (guys, too!), or show large amounts of skin.
Bangkok, 7-elevens, temples, and anything other than a beach isn’t an appropriate place for it. Even if you are making your way to the beach, make sure to cover yourself with a good (non-lacey) bathing suit cover up.
(P.S. for god’s sake, don’t go topless at the beach. Just… don’t.)
DO bring along comfortable sandals and trainers.
Believe me when I tell you you’re going to be walking around quite a bit and getting blisters from uncomfortable, improper footwear isn’t going to make your Thailand backpacking trip fun!
Make sure to pack some proper footwear, like supportive sandals for walking.
Additionally, bring along one pair of flip flops (thongs) to wear in hostel showers and on beaches. They’re lightweight, easy to pack, and very handy when you need ’em!
And lightweight trainers or tennis shoes are always a good idea. You never know when a spontaneous hiking adventure could pop up!
DON’T bring along heels, strappy sandals, or crocs.
Sadly, you need to leave the sky-high heels, ridiculously strappy sandals, and ugly (sorry not sorry) crocs at home!
Unless you plan to spend all your time club-hopping in Bangkok, heels and fancy sandals are useless. Not to mention the locals think crocs are very ugly… (you will get weird looks if you wear them).
And never go anywhere barefoot! The streets are notoriously dirty and only the poorest people go barefoot. Additionally, it’s rude to go into any temple or home with dirty feet!
DO pack lightweight accessories.
Things like a breathable, lightweight scarf or shawl are perfect for slipping in your day pack in case you spontaneously visit a temple or need to hide your skin from the strong sun.
Additionally, pack along a small bandana, hat, and belt — just in case! (Bandanas — or heck, even a multipurpose band like this — are fantastic for wiping away sweat on a long day!)
DON’T pack a ridiculous amount of jewelry.
…or any expensive jewelry for that matter, which could get lost or — more unfortunately — stolen.
It’s probably safe to say you’re not going to be wearing a ton of jewelry while backpacking Thailand.
Let’s be real: it’s hot, humid, and dirty — you’re going to want to stay as comfy as possible (and usually jewelry doesn’t equal that).
Plus, unnecessary amounts of jewelry and accessories will weigh down your bag. Not cool!
DO bring a lightweight rain jacket.
One that preferably packs up nice and tight and can be easily shoved into a small bag (or even one like this, which folds into itself and packs away in the pocket).
(Personally, I’m not a huge fan of rain ponchos due to them being plastic — which tears easily and then will be thrown away — but they also hold in allllll the heat, which means sweat.)
Additionally, pack a thin backpack cover. The saying “when it rains, it pours” couldn’t be more true in Southeast Asia. While it usually doesn’t rain for long, the downpours are unbelievably strong. Like a literal waterfall from the sky.
Keep your stuff safe with a protective rain cover just in case.
Interested in chasing some waterfalls? Check out this post on 3 crazy awesome waterfalls near Ubud, Bali!
DON’T wear anything white.
Did someone say wet t-shirt contest?
Because that’s what will happen if you decide to wear glistening white in a Thailand downpour (which will, essentially, be quite rude to modest Thai locals).
Just do yourself a favor and leave the white clothing at home — it’ll likely get dirty anyways.
DO pack at least one nice-looking outfit.
If you plan on going to any clubs, rooftop bars, or any fancy restaurants, bring at least one nice-looking outfit.
For women, this could be a cute sundress or romper (jumpsuit). For men, this could be a collared shirt with light dress pants. Essentially, you just want to not look like a rough or rugged backpacker.
DON’T pack unnecessary fancy clothing.
Unless you’re going to spend all your time in rooftop bars or if you’re a fancy Instagrammer, there’s absolutely no need to pack an unnecessary amount of fancy clothing.
With that said, also leave the crocs and ugly shoes at home. Unsurprising, most clubs and bars won’t let you in if you’re wearing ugly shoes (thankfully, I’ve been okay with Birkenstocks, though!).
Clothing Checklist for Thailand
As someone who’s backpacked all over Southeast Asia, including multiple trips to Thailand, here’s my quick and dirty list of what you should pack for a Thailand trip.
- 2 T-shirts
- 4 tank tops (with thick straps)
- 1 nice blouse
- 1 long-sleeve/light sweatshirt (it can get chilly up north and at night in some places)
- 1-2 lightweight kimono/shawl/cover-up (one like this)
- 3 pairs of shorts
- 2 lightweight long pants/sweatpants
- 1 pair of flowy parachute pants (buy when in Thailand!)
- 1-2 jumpsuits/rompers
- Optional: 1-2 long skirts (I don’t wear skirts but if you do, bring a couple!)
- 4 bras — 2 sports bras, 1 real bra, 1 bralette (I brought one like this from Boody EcoWear and it was fantastic!)
- 7 pairs of underwear (or a few pairs of these quick-drying underwear, which can be washed every night and dry by morning! I brought 4 of them for my backpacking trips.)
- 3 pairs of socks (2 breathable socks for things like hiking/trekking, 1 pair of long socks for flights/cold nights)
- 3 swimsuits (personally, I always travel with 2-3 one-piece suits that can double as a top with shorts, and then one two-piece for sunbathing.)
- 1-2 swimsuit cover ups
- 1 pair of flip flops (for hostel showers, beach, etc.)
- 1 pair of tennis shoes/trainers
- 1 pair of comfortable sandals (suitable for long walking days — I personally like Birkenstocks, Chacos, or Tevas)
- Optional: hiking boots (only if you plan on doing multi-day trekking trips)
- 1-2 scarves (handy for flights or to pack in a day bag for temple cover ups)
- 1 bandana/buff/multi-purpose headband
- 1 lightweight raincoat
- 1 belt
My Top Tip for Women
Finally, as a female traveler myself, I suffer from a ridiculous amount of painful chafing when traveling Southeast Asia.
Due to the hot and humid environment, which results in a good amount of sweat, my inner thighs suffer terribly.
Thus, if this happens to you, my top tip is to leave the dresses and skirts at home. Instead, opt for shorts, long pants, jumpsuits, or clothing that otherwise prevents your thighs from uncomfortably rubbing against one another.
With this Thailand guide on what to wear and what not to wear, I hope you have an easier time planning for your trip!
It might seem like Thailand is pretty strict on what you can and cannot wear, but the Thais are very open and even if you do wear something that offends them, they won’t say anything anyhow!
Nonetheless, if you stick to the packing guidelines above, you’ll be absolutely fine! Just focus on having an incredible adventure!
Are you planning a Thailand trip? Or just looking for some packing tips? Share your thoughts and plans in the comments below!
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