THE million-dollar question for every traveller about to embark on their first trip Island hopping in Thailand right? And on the note of dollars by the million, if I had a dollar for every time someone advised me to “PACK LIGHT” and another dollar for someone said to be 2 days into their trip… “I wish I wouldn’t have packed all this stuff, I just don’t need it!”… I would be one very rich gal.
So, hear me out here, if there’s only one thing you can take from reading this blog, please let it be this; do not panic pack the night before… because packing smart/light will be your saving grace while Island Hopping in Thailand, not having to stress about your luggage will make your trip so much easier and far more enjoyable!
That being said, remember Thailand is a tropical country… don’t be caught with the misconception that it never rains in Thailand. Make sure you’re prepared for all conditions even if it’s just a poncho and a rain cover for your backpack!
Below, I’ve broken down the contents of my backpack featuring some handy tips and of course, the absolute essentials when Island Hopping in Thailand.
Backpack or Suitcase? ✅
A backpack every time – I can’t imagine you’ll enjoy wrestling a suitcase up elevated trains, on and off ferries or dragging it through the sand as your bouncing from island to island. Preferably a waterproof backpack or one with a rain cover.
Day Bag ✅
A good sturdy bag that will keep all your daily essentials safe & dry. Plus it’s pretty handy to stay nice & organised when moving around.
Reusable Water Bottle ✅
We should all try and do our bit for this wonderful planet. Refilling your water bottle in restaurants, hotels and stations is becoming increasingly more accessible when backpacking around South East Asia.
Insect Repellant & Sunscreen ✅
Top of your essentials list should be these 2 bad boys. Keep those shoulders primed and ready to go at all times – nobody wants to be carrying a 15kg backpack with sunburnt shoulders! We’d always recommend getting a solid SPF 30+ before leaving home as the sunscreen in Thailand can be either expensive or the cheap stuff is no good!
Insect repellant, on the other hand, is pretty easy to get your hands on and more often than not pretty cheap. If the sun is shining and there are palm trees – you’re almost definitely going to find mosquitoes. Try and get yourself some of the more natural ‘citronella’ based products rather than the heavy chemical ‘deet’ based stuff (super nasty stuff).
Slip on Footwear ✅
Sandals, flip flops, thongs (it’s an Aussie thing) or whatever you want to call them, you’re gonna need them and not just because you’ll be heading to the beach. You may be surprised just how often they’ll be required along the way. Out of respect, it’s common practice to take your shoes off when entering temples, homes or any other more traditional settings… untying your trainers every 5 minutes isn’t ideal in 35° heat – something to slip on and off will save you a lot of time and effort 🙂
Casual Summer Clothing ✅
But not a lot of it..don’t go crazy with 20 summer dresses & 15 pairs of denim shorts!
You may think how much you pack depends on how long you intend to travel but packing for roughly 5 days and following this handy tip will make all the difference;
LAUNDRY – Laundry stations in Thailand are VERY common. Pay a couple of pounds, drop off a bag full of stinking, sweaty clothes, return the following day and collect your freshly washed wardrobe; ironed, folded and smelling divine! Laundry day never felt so great, trust me!
TIP: I use coloured ‘packing cubes’ to help me organise my backpack and keep my clean clothes away from my smelly ones. I’d highly recommend grabbing yourself a set from Amazon!
Swimwear & Small/quick Dry Towel ✅
I know that’s an obvious one! You’ll be spending a lot of time soaking up the rays and swimming in those crystal clear waters! As a female, I always travel with a sarong and find them extremely useful whether it be to lay on at the beach, cover-up at the temple, or just as an item of clothing – however, any that I have owned I have actually bought in South East Asia so don’t worry if you can’t find anything at home – they are cheap and pretty easy to get your hands on in Thailand.
Temple Attire ✅
No, I’m not talking about your best outfit for the gram. With thousands of temples dotted around the whole of Thailand, it won’t be long before you find yourself exploring one of these beautiful, fascinating structures but as a sign of respect, you will be expected to cover up. Make sure you’ve got something in your backpack that covers your knees and shoulders… or that being said, you can save some space in your backpack and buy some legendary ‘elephant pants’ when you arrive!
Light Rain Jacket ✅
A tropical country, calls for tropical weather from time to time and although it doesn’t happen often; when it rains in Thailand… it pours, so make sure you’ve got something to keep you and your belongings dry.
It’s pretty damn hot in Thailand all year round (don’t be filling up your backpack with these… just 1 will do) but you are going to want to pack something to keep you warm during those longer journeys as you travelling around on buses or ferries while hopping around the islands. The A/C on planes, ferries or buses is usually very good…too good! 🥶
Practical Walking Trainers / Shoes ✅
You never know when you might want to throw on a pair of trainers and hike to the top of a viewpoint to watch an epic, unforgettable sunrise or sunset. Phi Phi is definitely one you want to check out as your Island Hopping in the South of Thailand 😉
Keep this one to a minimum, nobody wants to be worrying about a laptop, drone, £4k camera and your nan’s legendary 2010 1st Gen iPad.
- Phone & charger
- Camera & charger (GoPro’s are popular)
- Worldwide plug/adapter
Boring BUT Essential ✅
I’ve listed a few obvious essentials below with a couple of little notes and tips to give you peace of mind;
- Passport & visa (if necessary)
- Flight tickets & arrival information (printed)
- Small Amount of Thai Baht to get you started (£50/100)
- Travel insurance (printed)
- Driving license (always helpful)
- Credit/debit card
- Currency card (Revolut/Monzo etc)
- Padlock for your Bag/Belongings
PRO TIP: Take photos of all the above documents or have digital versions. You’ll be surprised how convenient having these on your phone will be!
Toiletries & Medication ✅
It kind of goes without saying but I suppose anything you ‘should’ be bringing for medical/health reasons, make sure you bring with you. As for toiletries, it follows the same message… don’t bring them unless you really need them, less is always far better!
And last but not least, if you’re anything like me travelling South East Asia and you’ve heard how epic some of the local shopping vendors and markets are… I would be leaving at least up 20% of your backpack space free, ready to purchase some absolute bargains while you island hop Thailand!
Checkout out some other frequently asked questions from our travellers when planning that big adventure to Thailand HERE!