Travel Packing Tips for Thailand Vacations

This travel packing tips list goes beyond the usual shirts, shorts, and undies. This list will help you prepare for Thailand's climate and way of life.

Unless you'll be in the mountains of Chiang Mai, Thailand is always warm. There's no need for cold-weather clothes. Don't bring them.

While Thailand has a large selection of common items, you may not find the exact brand you prefer. Don't count on finding your favorite deodorant, soap or anything else. If it's a "must have" then pack it just to be sure.


  • A/C 3 Prong Plug adapters - Voltage in Thailand is 220. In the USA it's 110. Thailand wall outlets usually don't have the 3rd grounding prong, only two. Bring some plastic adapters for your plugs.
  • Digital camera - Get a lithium ion battery if you want longer lasting and rechargeable. Get AA batteries for convenience.
  • Notebook computer - There are internet shops everywhere with high-speed ADSL internet at reasonable rates so you may not need to bring your notebook computer at all. If you do bring it WIFI is available in big cities, at all Starbucks and most Black Canyon Coffee shops across the country and in Bangkok almost city-wide.
  • Mobile phone - Bring one or buy a cheap phone here. Thai phones take SIM cards you can purchase cheaply.


  • Thai dictionary - Here is an excellent Thai-English dictionary that is small and very useful. Also have a look at the Essential Thai Phrases article
  • Emergency cards for each person coming - List phone numbers for people at home authorities can call in case of accident or illness. Make directions clear - include country calling code.
  • Cash or traveler's checks - You can easily exchange traveler's checks for local Thai Baht at large banks, but better to also carry some cash - as much as you can afford to lose at one time. Theft isn't all that common, but it happens.
  • Printed copies of hotel, rental car confirmations
  • Guidebooks - Lonely Planet is still the most widely used guidebook, but it isn't the most up-to-date guidebook you can purchase.
  • Maps - print internet maps and pick up once you arrive in Thailand.

Security Items

  • Luggage locks
  • Money waist belt
  • Travel security alarm
  • Luggage name tags

Pharmacy Items

  • Sunscreen - Not a wide range of SPF numbers.
  • Insect repellent with DEET - Mosquitoes are a problem especially at dusk. They overlook the locals as they've acquired a taste for foreign blood.
  • Tampons - Pads are widely available but tampons are not.
  • Medications - Many can be found in pharmacies, but the one that you require might mean a trip to the hospital pharmacy. Thai pharmacies stock little outside the usual cold medicines, cough drops, and a small assortment of vitamins. An aspirin substitute is "Paracetamol" or, sometimes called, "Paracap".
  • Imodium RD - This one works wonders and it comes in small pills so easily carried.
  • Motion sickness pills - If you plan on taking a ferry anywhere you might want to have these on hand.
  • Vitamins - Vitamins are expensive here for some unknown reason. Bring your own.
  • Ear plugs - You might be glad you did.
  • Birth Control - Bring your favorite from home.
  • Handkerchief or tissue - Restrooms in Thailand often use a dishwasher squirt hose instead of toilet paper. Big city stores and restaurants will probably have tissue, but always have some of your own.
  • Large plastic bags with zippers for wet articles - You will likely have wet items you need to keep separate in your backpack.

To Wear

  • Clothing Tips - Bring loose, very light clothing that breathes. The heat is stifling at times, don't pack any nylon underwear or bras as you'll regret it. Shorts, no socks, sport sandals and a lightweight loose shirt are prescribed.
  • Bathing suits - Swimsuits should be modest. Thai women swim with shirts and pants on typically. Swimsuits are OK only at the beach, not in town. Cover up. Guys - that means shirtless in town is not OK. Shirts everywhere except at the beach.
  • Hat - you'll probably want a hat to keep the sun off your head, face and neck. We're very close to the equator and the sun will feel stronger than in America or Europe.
  • Shoes - Bring sport sandals with straps for the heel and forefoot. They might get wet, often if you're at the beach a lot. If your feet are over a US size 10 you will have difficulty finding larger sizes here outside of Bangkok.
  • Sarongs - Towels are heavy and take a long time to dry. Sarongs are light and dry in 15 minutes in a breeze or in front of the hotel fan.

Here is a rather comprehensive list of items to bring with you when you travel to Thailand. Ignore all cold weather items!

Eating Thai Food from Street Stalls

Clean food, good taste. Thailand's symbol of Thai food quality in preparation standards.

Thailand's symbol of quality food preparation.

© 2008 Apornpradab Buasi

One of the most common fears for first-time visitors to Thailand is that the food is not foreign belly-friendly. Many guidebooks cite horror stories about food poisoning overseas, but most tourists in Thailand won’t have any serious issues.

Thailand has pretty good standards of cleanliness. Though probably not considered world-class, Thailand would rank highly in comparison to most of its Asian neighbors.

Some visitors eat all their meals from food stalls lining the streets and don’t experience any problems. Others might drink a cup of chai yen (sweet Thai tea) and spend the rest of their vacation leapfrogging restrooms. Pay attention to the following food tips and you’ll probably be just fine:

  • “Clean Food Good Taste.” Occasionally, at a street-side vendor or restaurant, you’ll see this sign (photo above). Consider it a fairly reliable indicator that the owner cares about cleanliness and food preparation standards.

  • Eat where there are many Thai people. Thais know where the food is safe and delicious.

  • Follow the yellow shirts. Thais in short-sleeved yellow Polo-type shirts, to show respect to the king, are often government workers and professional employees that have a little more money to spend on food. Thais with more money usually eat at places a step up from the cheaper places - and you probably should, too.

  • Stay away from pre-made food that might have been prepared days ago. It’s safer to watch your food cooked fresh in front of you. You don't want to eat from a vendor with pale yellow chickens hanging behind the glass and festering in the Bangkok sunshine day after day without customers. High turnover is key.

  • No MSG. If you don’t want MSG, you must say something, because some vendors add it in spoonfuls. Many vendors in tourist areas will understand, “No MSG please.” But if not, in Thai you’d say, “My sy pawng choo rote ka" if you’re a female, and, “My sy pawng choo rote krup” if you’re a man.

  • Insist on choosing your food. If there's food on display - point to what you want. You’re paying for it, so show them which one you want; don’t let them choose the older food for you.

  • Bring home remedies. Don’t forget the Imodium AD and other preferred remedies from home, just in case! You may not be able to find exactly what you’re looking for in the pharmacies here.

If you do start to feel significantly ill, you should go to a hospital or clinic quickly so they can sort out the issue and help you return to good health. Medical treatment is very inexpensive compared to the USA and other western countries. Thai doctors have a lot of experience with diagnosing and treating food poisoning, so let them help so you can enjoy the rest of your vacation exploring amazing Thailand.

The Golden Triangle of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar

The Golden Triangle refers to a mountainous area covering parts of Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar which is approximately 135,000 square miles in area.


The Golden Triangle has been one of the largest production centers of opium in the world since the 1950s.

Opium is taken on horseback to be refined into heroin at the Thai-Myanmar border. From there it’s trafficked across the border through small northern villages and brought to Bangkok for international distribution. Thai and American couriers from Thailand travel by airline into the United States.


Opium growers and refiners, couriers and the whole industry reap large profits. Myanmar is said to finance their army largely from their opium production efforts in the Golden Triangle to other countries. Thailand outlawed opium growing and Thailand's King Bhumibol created a crop substitution program in 1959 that replaced opium as a crop. There are very severe penalties for those caught with the drug.

What is There to See and Do?:

  • Mai Sai town has a border crossing with Myanmar where there is a small shopping area with traditional souvenirs including clothing, toys and many unique items.

  • Village of Sop Ruak, where the Ruak and Mekong Rivers meet. There is a viewpoint where you can look over Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar.

  • Local Karen hill tribe members in traditional dress are available for photos.

  • Many old Buddhist temples across the region.

  • There is a gambling casino across the border in Myanmar at the Mai Sai border crossing.

  • Rowboat and longtail boat trips on the river bring you closer to Myanmar where the government is still at war with the Karen hill tribe. Trips downriver to Laos gives a peek into their simple nature, as children play in the water close to where adults throw fishing nets.

  • In addition to a number of budget hotels there is a 5-star hotel, Anantara Resort, overlooking the hills of Myanmar, Laos and the Mekong River below.

  • Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are two Thailand cities close to the border with many things to do. Hikers are encouraged to try the new Pang Soong Nature Trail. This is an amazing four-hour trek along dirt forest paths in Chiang Mai. Trekkers will see over 15 waterfalls and manage a 1,500 feet vertical climb as the path winds its way up the mountain.

Bottom Line:

A nice getaway from the crowds of Chiang Mai, Bangkok and other tourist areas of Thailand. Don’t make this the focus of your trip north, but a short visit while in a neighboring city, Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai, would be ideal for most.

Chiang Mai Markets, Thailand - Handicraft Shopping Paradise

Chiang Mai is shopping paradise for most travelers because of its unequaled abundance of handicrafts and quaint local goods sold at very affordable prices. Shopping venues are scattered around the city both at day and night; the range of products for sale is vast and many visitors to Chiang Mai include an extra empty bag to their shopping list in order to haul the bounty home. Each of several famous markets has gained recognition and nationwide popularity as the best overall place for buying quality hand-made products at very reasonable prices. As Chiang Mai is a well established tourist destination, finding accommodations and getting around the city are not something to worry about.

Chiang Mai is recognized as one of the handicrafts centers of Asia because it has a very large system of street markets and local markets that are very easily accessible. The markets trace down many blocks along bustling streets and that sometimes seem to have no end. The limiting factor in how much market you will be able to cover may often depend on how far you want to go before your feet tire out. The products are available in a vast variety including a wide range of wood work, silk products, silver art and jewelry, clothing, ceramics, interior decor, antiques, Buddhist art, lacquer work, and the list goes on..

Chiang Mai Night Bazaar is the most well known night market in Thailand, taking up about 10 square blocks centered on Chang Klan road in central Chiang Mai. It is easy to spend a whole night just strolling past hundreds of street-side stalls and indoor arcades. The Night Bazaar is a great place to shop for exotic and beautiful handcrafted goods created by local artisans and skilled crafts-persons from the surrounding villages. The quality is generally high and some very good values can by found, especially if you are skilled at bartering a good deal.

Chiang Mai Walking Street can be a very nice alternative to the more hectic Night Bazaar and prices are aimed more at the locals so prices are generally low; so much that often there is no room to negotiate a bargain. The Walking Street Market is open only on Sundays and is a definite must see because the atmosphere is very relaxed, the market street is quite beautiful and this is an excellent place to mingle with the wonderful Thai people and to find fantastic bargains. The entire Walking Street is about 1 kilometer long and runs the entire length of Ratchadamneurn Road beginning at Thapae Gate and ending at Wat Prasing. Apart from a wide range of hand-made products on offer, one can also enjoy many Thai food stalls, street performances of a traditional nature, and also some much need massage and foot massage.

More serious shoppers can go directly to the villages and factories that manufacture handicrafts and other products and offer for wholesale at San Kamphaeng. Borsang village, just before San Kamphaeng, also has many shops offering a range of handicrafts and is renowned for its unique Borsang umbrellas. Baan Tawai just south of Chiang Mai is home to a wide range of wood carving, wood decor, and other handicrafts.

Chiang Mai is also popular for the diverse ethnic arts that you can find many hill tribe shops across the city. One recommended hill tribe shop is the Hill Tribe Products Promotion Center on Suthep Road next to Suan Dok Temple. It was established by His Majesty the King to promote the products created by 6 different tribes in Chiang Mai including Akha, Karen, Yao, Hmong, Lisu, and Lahu. This is aimed at generating alternative income to replace a reliance on opium cultivation in the past. Shop here for unique ethnic goods and help the hill tribe people.

Those who are interested in modern shops of the much more commercial variety, there are two big shopping centers: Kad Suan Kaew Plaza and Central Airport Plaza. The latter is relatively new and less than 5 minutes from the Chiang Mai International Airport. Panthip Plaza on the same road as Night Bazaar is ideal for techy people who are looking for computers and electronic gadgets with many discounts and a wide range of technical product available at good prices.

Chiang Mai offers more than shopping venues. It is a friendly and beautiful city with rich history steeped in Thai Lanna culture. Hundreds of temples and historical sites are found everywhere across the city and it is very easy to head out of the city to some spectacular natural areas. When not shopping, a visitor can enjoy waterfalls, elephant shows, and trekking tours. Some may be attracted by the more adventurous activities such as white water rafting, bungee jumping and paintball battle. Whatever you could ask for in a trip, Chiang Mai can offer- plus a whole lot more.

Steel Art in Thailand - Miracle of the 21st Century

Thailand is making a name in the international arena in making steel arts. Many Thai online sites showcase their craftsmanship in the form of Alien, Star Wars characters, Predator, and so on. These are made from scrap metal and are freestanding.

The development of the industry started about 15 years ago. Small and very basic models were being made by independent artists using wire, bolts and nuts. Stick figures, motorcycles and animal models were being made. This was but a hobby and there was no commercial intention behind the creation of these figures, they were just a way of spending time for 12 craftsmen.
After the appearance of the first Predator movie in 1987, this industry experienced its first growth. The artists were by this time adept at basic models and were seeking challenge. So they decided to work together to create a Predator statue, made from scrap metal.

The Thailand manufacturing industry for the creation of metal sculptures could only grow so fast because there was a lot of cheap scrap metal. These were sourced from Ford Thailand, scrap yards, boat manufacturers, military suppliers etc. 5 artists together mad the first Predator, which was 1.5 meters high and took four months. 20 workers also volunteered time to complete this statue. At that time no internet existed, and there were no computer designing, digital photography. The entire design was made from one photo and this was just a poster of the Predator which was imported from USA.

Artists had no design ideas, and no plans on how to start construction. The work was basically a social activity. A three dimensional frame was made from wires and artists searched through the masses of scrap metals and discussed which parts would look good on the statue. Drinking was as much a part of the event as was construction. The artist voted to complete the job if anyone thought there were improvements to be made.

The finished statue was not sold but passed between the people who made it. Finally it was donated to charity. But the legacy that was born never ceased to exist. Now it is a bit difficult to get the workers with skill and team spirit. But once such a group is assembled, they work with a great sense of family spirit. They share the glory of making a statue and are happy to assist each other.

Thailand has developed a great hand crafted steel works industry. There are many people involved in this business and they are getting great offers as well. For example, the Art From Steel, Thailand’s largest manufacturer of steel art, gets regular offers to make factories replica, Alien V's Predator bar furniture, symbols and gift items. Science fiction seems to be the most attractive of the works. Along with the Aliens, Star Wars and Predators, they are also producing Terminator, Gremlin etc designs as well. So it is becoming a good source of revenue for the Thailand people as well. There are scopes for major developments in this sector.

Thailand Public Holidays 2009

January 1st (Thu) New Year's Day

January 2nd (Fri) New Year's Day (added holiday)

January 26th (Mon) Chinese New Year (not a public holiday, but some businesses close)

February 9th (Mon) Makha Bucha

April 6th (Mon) Chakri Day

April 13th (Mon) Songkran

April 14th (Tue) Songkran

April 15th (Wed) Songkran

May 1st (Fri) Labour Day

May 5th (Tue) Coronation Day

May 8th (Fri) Visakha Bucha

July 1st (Wed) Mid Year Bank Holiday

July 7th (Tue) Asanha Bucha

July 8th (Wed) Khao Phansa - Beginning of Buddhist Lent

August 12th (Wed) H.M. the Queen's Birthday; Mother's Day

October 4th (Sun) Awk Phansa Day - End of Buddhist Lent

October 23rd (Fri) Chulalongkorn Day

November 2nd (Mon) Loy Krathong (not a public holiday)

December 5th (Sat) H.M. the King's Birthday

December 7th (Mon) Substitution Day For the King's Birthday

December 10th (Thu) Constitution Day

December 31st (Thu) New Year 's Eve

Downloadable ThaiVisa 2009/2552 Calendars