What to bring to Thailand is part one of a two-part series. Part two will take a look at what not to bring to Thailand.
I always advise packing lightly. It will save you money in baggage fees and will leave you a little extra room to bring back things you purchased. Consider these suggestions to find out what you may need to bring.
What To Bring To Thailand
Your passport is the most important thing to bring to Thailand as you need it for entry into the country. Thai law also requires you to keep your passport on you at all times. However, once you have checked into your hotel, the best place to keep your passport is in your hotel room safe. That way it won’t get lost. A lot of places you do business with will also ask for your passport. Your hotel will ask for your passport when checking in. If you want to rent a scooter or car, the rental agency will ask you for your passport. Never let these businesses hold your real passport.
How can you always have your passport on you, if it is back in the room safe? Have a copy made once you arrive and carry the copy on you. Take your passport to a photoshop upon arrival in Thailand. Have them make you a small laminated copy of your passport inexpensively. The point of getting the copies made after you arrive is so your entry stamp is on the copy. I have never heard of the boys in brown, Thai law enforcement, not accepting the laminated copy as sufficient compliance with the law.
A Travel Wallet
For international travel, a travel wallet is a necessity. A long flight to Southeast Asia with at least one layover is going to require you to get your documents out frequently. If you read this list, you will find that you will need a lot of documents and cash. I prefer a neck wallet over the old fashioned money belt. If it is around my neck, I don’t have to worry about putting it down and leaving it behind while in transit. Travel wallets also come in handy for those of you taking domestic flights in Thailand.
Don’t forget to put a pen in your travel wallet as it will make it easier to fill out the entry forms when they are handed out to you on the plane just prior to arrival in Thailand.
A Hotel Reservation
You will be required to fill out a form when going through immigration that requires you to write down the name and address of the hotel you are staying at. It is important to have at least one night booked somewhere, so you can write down the name and address of the hotel. It is also a good idea to carry a copy of your reservation confirmation along with the name and address of your hotel with you.
Your Return Flight Information
Thai law requires you to have this information on you in order to enter the country. Print a copy out and put it with the rest of your travel information.
Sunscreen And Cosmetics
Thais prefer to have whiter looking skin. As a result, you will often find whitening agents in sunscreens, face creams and body lotions sold in Thailand. You need to carefully read the labels before you buy any of these in Thailand. Sunscreen with or without whitening agents can be particularly expensive in tourist areas. It will likely cost you more than twice as much as you would pay at a discount store in the States.
Most Thai women have never used a tampon. They use pads. Once you travel outside Bangkok and the more touristy areas, western tampons can be difficult to find and when available tend to be expensive. Even in Bangkok, your options will likely be limited to a few brands and sizes found on the shelves of the big chain supermarkets and pharmacies. Simply put, it is best to bring your own.
Broken In Shoes Or Sandles
A lot of people will tell you to bring only the shoes you are wearing on your feet. The theory being you can buy cheap sandals and shoes in Thailand. Once you arrive at your destination in Thailand, you will find walking is the primary mode of transportation for most tourists. Thailand isn’t the place to be breaking in a pair of new shoes. Blisters on your feet can put a real damper on your vacation.
The Address Of Your Hotel
No matter what destination you are headed to in Thailand, it is likely that there are a lot of hotels there. Your taxi driver may not know where the particular hotel you are staying at is located or cannot understand your directions if they do not speak English. Carry a card with your hotel’s address on it that you can hand to your driver.
You can generally find A-type sockets (for plugs with 2 bladed prongs) and B-type sockets (for plugs with 2 bladed prongs and 1 round prong for the ground) to plug your American devices into. However, B-type sockets aren’t available everywhere. You can run into problems in older buildings. Laptops and hairdryers typically use B-type prongs.
I am inclined to say don’t bother with these if you are staying at a hotel built with in the last 20-30 years, but they are so cheap and take up so little space you might as well pick one up. Keep in mind to work in Thailand your electronic device will also have to be compatible with the higher voltage used in Thailand. Most laptops and cellphones are compatible but you should always check just to be safe.
A Credit Or Debit Card With No Foreign Transaction Or ATM Fees
Most credit cards are going to charge you what is known as a foreign transaction fee for every charge on your card while you are in Thailand. In addition, your bank may heavily penalize you for ATM withdrawals. These fees can add up quickly. You can avoid these by getting a travel credit card that caters to people that travel overseas. Sadly, there is one ATM fee you can’t avoid in Thailand. That is the fee you get charged by the owner of the ATM for using it. It can be as high as 250 baht (Approximately $7.50).
The necessity of cash in U.S. Dollars it one of the things a lot of first-time travelers don’t think about when debating what to bring to Thailand. There are a few issues surrounding currency you should be aware of before traveling to Thailand.
The Thai Government requires you to bring cash into the country
The Thai government requires you to have 10,000 baht (roughly $330) per individual or 20,000 Baht (roughly $660) per family upon entry into the country. This can be in the U.S. Dollar equivalent which I recommend. At a minimum, you need to carry this much cash on you. If you want to carry as little cash as possible, I suggest checking the exchange rate the day before you leave and taking enough extra to cushion exchange rate fluctuations.
It is cheaper to exchange Dollars for Baht once you arrive
It is almost always cheaper to exchange your Dollars for baht at one of the many money exchange locations in Thailand after you arrive rather than at your local bank before you leave. For example, the Super Rich chain is known for favorable rates and you can find them all over the country. There is even one on Floor B at Suvarnabhumi Airport that usually offers good exchange rates, so you can exchange your dollars as soon as you arrive.
Some of the best things in Thailand are cash only
Street food vendors, market vendors, small mom and pop businesses and a lot of the cheaper transportation options for getting around take cash only. If you want to enjoy all that Thailand has to offer, you are going to need cash.
Carry as much cash as you are comfortable with
It is always nerve-wracking traveling with large amounts of cash. Unfortunately for the above-mentioned reasons, it is largely a necessity. To minimize your chance for loss, use a travel wallet on the days you are flying to and from Thailand. If you are traveling with your significant other, split the cash between the two of you. Once you arrive in-country, don’t continue to carry a large amount of cash on you. Keep other than what you need on any given day back in your room safe. Some people aren’t comfortable carrying cash. If that is you, bring only the amount of cash with you that you are comfortable carrying as long as you have met the minimum as required by the Thai government. Just keep in mind, that withdrawing cash from an ATM is going to be expensive.
Travel Health Insurance
Your American health insurance will not cover you in Thailand. It is very important to get travel health insurance before you leave. You don’t want to leave Thailand owing thousands of dollars in medical expenses. The most important thing covered by a travel health insurance policy is evacuation expenses. If you get seriously injured or develop a serious illness, your travel health insurance company will pay the astronomical expense of getting you back to the United States for treatment. These policies are usually sold based upon the duration of your trip and your age.
This concludes what to bring to Thailand. I intended to add to this list from time to time.