More and more South Africans are travelling to Thailand for an awesome holiday that won’t break the bank. Here’s the low-down on what to pack for this hot destination.

Take a backpack

To make the most of Thailand, you’ll be travelling a lot. Cross-country trips require ferrying from one turquoise-rimmed island to another, hailing a bus or trekking by train to the northern province – whatever your mode of transport, make your life far easier by packing light and limit your gear to one small backpack.

Ideal Backpack, especially if you are hiring a motorbike

Ideal Backpack, especially if you are hiring a motorbike

This yellow 35-litre K-Way Kilimanjaro daypack from Cape Union Mart was the ideal travel companion. The hip belt meant less strain on my back, plus the variety of pockets and compartments made everything accessible at a moments notice – my favourite feature was the bottom opening zipper (for lack of a better description). The main tube-shaped compartment allowed access via the bottom or the top of the bag so I didn’t have to unpack everything to quickly grab some socks from the bottom. Pure genius.

Listen to online advice

Before I left for Thailand I did some online research. Many travellers advised to pack light and leave the unnecessaries at home – this goes for most travelling – because you can buy most goodies there.

If you take one thing from this blog, remember to PACK LIGHT. I could’ve packed lighter. Clothes, toiletries and other essentials are incredibly cheap over there (about 100 baht for a cool shirt, which equates to R33). Pack your bag. Then unpack it and remove half the stuff. Firstly, you’ll have to lug it around the whole trip and secondly you will buy stuff and need room to bring it all back.

With this is mind, I did pack a small cloth tote bagwhich came in handy every day. It cost about R30 from Cotton On and Typo stores and I used it as a beach bag, day bag, snack pack on the train and eventually to lug home extra goodies when I returned.

 The essentials

First and foremost, do your research. The Lonely Planet Discover Thailand guidebook is a winner and I used it to plan every destination. I loved the pull-out map of Bangkok which included a train planner and it gives a little history of Thailand as well as critical customs to remember, for example women need to cover their shoulders and knees when visiting a temple and moving items with your feet is considered incredibly rude.

Dengue fever is real in Thailand and you can even catch it is Bangkok. The mosquitoes that pass the fever are daytime biters so you need to cover yourself in repellent at all times. The Peaceful sleep lotion is a great repellent to pack. It’s 100ml so you can take it as a carry-on and doesn’t reek as much as other products.

The street food in Thailand is scrumptious, but if you’ve got a delicate constitution pack some tummy meds. I also shoved a couple of sachets of Rehydrate into my backpack, which came in handy when choppy waters led to a ferry full of seasick passengers.

Quick sidebar on ferries in Thailand – sit on the highest point of the boat (even pay for the VIP section) and buy seasickness medication, even if you aren’t prone to it. They are small yellow tablets and costs about 30 baht for 10. You will regret it otherwise.

In terms of clothing, pack for summer. It’s either warm or disgustingly hot in Thailand. That said, I used the lone jersey I packed for trains and buses because the air-conditioning gets pretty icy. Also pack a light scarf – it’ll keep you warm and it doubles as a sun shield on the beach or when taking in the sights in Bangkok.

Good old slip slops. I didn’t wear anything else, except when trekking through the jungle in Chiang Mai, when I wore a pair of old tekkies (which was good really because I promptly lost them on the bus afterwards). Plus, you’ll get a sweet slip slop tan to remind of your adventures when you get home.

Dont forget your slops

Dont forget your slops

It kind of violates the ‘pack light’ rule, but I brought along my Polaroid and it was the best thing to be able to give out photographs to people you’d made memories with.

The one item I didn’t bring, which I really, really wished I had was a travel pillow. You’ll likely to travel a lot in Thailand and a travel pillow will make it that much more comfortable.  Or you can buy one at a market in Bangkok.

By Melanie van Zyl- Getaway Magazine

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