9+ Packing Essentials for Summer in Thailand
The Land of Smiles is friendly...and hot.
My husband and I decided to spend 10 blissful days in Thailand in mid-July for our delayed honeymoon. The average daily temperature was 92 degrees and the humidity was typically between 90 to 100 percent. Basically, it was hot. Hot and sticky. I was never not sweaty on this trip. July may not be the prime time to visit Thailand, but it meant fewer crowds and more $ in our pockets at the end of the day.
To be honest, we booked our flights fairly last minute (only a few months in advance), and it snuck up on us. We found ourselves Amazon Prime-ing stuff the weekend before, digging through forums for tips and finally realizing we just needed to figure it out when we got there. We weren't going somewhere rural; if we forgot a toothbrush or sunscreen, for example, we'd get it. Everything will be fine.
My best friend (and cousin), Meg, lived and worked in Ayutthaya, a city just north of Bangkok. She was a savior when it came to sharing fun things to see, do and eat during our trip. She also left for Thailand with long hair and came back with a pixie cut. "It was too hot for long hair!" I totally get it now.
Considering we didn't really know what to expect and we were spending time in the mountains, city and beach -- in both northern and southern Thailand -- we packed super light. We packed these, based on some quick research, past travel experience and friendly advice, and I'm glad we did. We utilized these items to the max.
Mosquito repellent is crucial, and you have to apply it in the morning, afternoon and night (especially at night). Our travel consisted of mostly urban areas -- Bangkok, Hua Hin and Chiang Mai -- so our risk for malaria was extremely low. It's still important to take precautions. Plus, mosquito bites are unpleasant!
We used two kinds that I absolutely love:
Beat It!: It's an all-natural insect repellent for people and pets. It's a 100-percent vegan essential oil formula with ingredients like citronella, lemongrass oil, coconut oil and mint oils.
Citronella Body Mist: This is an all-natural insect repellent made in Thailand. We picked it up from our seaside hotel in Hua Hin. It's made with citronella oil, lemon oil and grapefruit oil. When you ate outside at night, they would leave a bottle on your table and encourage you to spritz yourself.
Remember those temps I mentioned earlier? Yeah, that sun hits hard. There are three products in my sun defense arsenal.
Burt's Bees BB Cream: I didn't even bother with makeup. Unless I wanted to look like a melted candle, I stuck with my trusty BB cream and some mascara. This one has SPF 15, but I've seen some that have at least SPF 30.
Neutrogena Sunscreen Stick: It looks like a deodorant stick, which means it packs well and can be tossed in a purse or fanny pack. It glides on with no mess and has SPF 50. I've worn this all summer long.
Sun Burn Soothing Mist: Again, we picked this up at our hotel in Hua Hin (the spa had the best Thai-made products!). This all-natural spray has lavendar water, rose water, cucumber extract, aloe vera extract and lavender oil. This feels amazing on sun-exposed skin.
Collapsible Water Bottle
Dehydration is real, y'all. When it comes to water, I usually grab a La Croix. But I went through bottles and bottles and bottles of water. And most hotels provide complimentary bottles of water in the mini bar. It really helped us to have collapsible water bottles to tote around during the day that you can fill up at various stops. When they're empty, they fold right up and take up virtually no space.
My Product Pick: Vapur Eclipse Water Bottle, Amazon, $8.95-$11.95
One of my favorite days was doing a three-hour self-guided walking tour around the Old City area of Chiang Mai, exploring the oldest and most revered temples in the city. In this instance, a quick-dry towel is a necessity to wipe away sweat from the mid-morning sun.
My Product Pick: PackTowl Personal Towel, REI, $9.95 - $39.95
Temple etiquette requires proper dress, which means no bare shoulders, shorts or dresses that hit above the knee. Most places will provide a unisex sarong for coverage, but it's nice to have your own clothing. If you want to stay cool outside the temples, wear a long, breezy skirt and a tank, then drape a scarf over your shoulders when temple touring.
My Product Pick: Garden Floral Scarf, Gap, $49.95
We took our shoes off quite a bit when entering places -- it's the Thai way of life! It makes things so much easier when you're wearing sandals you can quickly slide on and off.
My Product Pick: Sanuk Yoga Sling 2, Sanuk, $38
There are so many markets in Thailand, from morning until night. You can eat, drink, shop and get a traditional Thai massage at any number of these open-air markets. One thing's for sure, you won't walk out empty-handed. If you don't want to always tote around a backpack (which may get pickpocketed), then this reusable bag is a good solution. It folds up into a 7x7-inch square bag, but is 33x18 inches when unfolded. That's enough to hold lots of souvenirs. We also used it as a beach/pool bag when we headed to the coast for a few days.
My Product Pick: Reusable Bag, Baggu, $12
I'm not a hat person, but when the sun is in your face all the time, you just need a solution that's stylish yet effective. When choosing a good hat for traveling, make sure that you can fold it, stuff it and smoosh it if you need to. Raffia, soft straw and cotton pack well. And if you need to get it back to its original shape, simply use your fingers to work around the edges or apply some steam.
My Product Pick: Shalone Brown Floppy Hat, Goorin Bros., $37.20
OMG, linen! I don’t ever wear linen, but in Thailand it’s a must-have. Linen/cotton blends or 100-percent linens work best because they’re cool, lightweight and breathable. My husband and I totally stocked up on linen separates at places like Gap and Old Navy because they were starting to put summer linens on clearance in July.
One of my biggest regrets? Wearing a dress lined in polyester out one night. I didn’t check the tag, was dripping sweat and hated myself.
We found these items useful on more than one occasion.
Collapsible water bottle