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Travel Tips

What to Pack for Thailand: 15 City and Island Essentials

Whether you're hitting the buzzy streets in Bangkok or bronzing on a golden beach in Phuket, when it comes to packing for a Thai vacation, there are certain cultural considerations and tropical weather elements you'll want to keep in mind. From temple-appropriate light scarves and slip-on sandals, to shore-ready straw bags and stylish suits—these are the 15 items you won't want to leave home without.

A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.

See recent posts by Chelsea Stuart

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Kate Spade New York Floral Tassel Scarf

Thailand is used to under-dressed visitors, but they lay down the law when it comes to temples. For the ladies, this means you won't be admitted unless your shoulders are covered and your skirt or pants go past your knees. We're not about borrowing temple-issued sarongs at the entrance, so we pack this silky, vintage-inspired scarf.

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Gap Boyfriend Tee

Spoiler: Southeast Asia is hot year-round, so you'll want to pack lightweight, breathable tops for your Thai trip. Plain short sleeve tees are our go-to as they adhere to conservative temple dress codes and are easy to mix and match with flowy skirts and linen pants.

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Topshop Holiday Cross Strap Sandal

In Thailand, it's customary that you remove your shoes before entering sacred spaces. For this reason, slip-ons are your best friend.

RELATED: 13 Best Sandals for Travel

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Madewell Woodblock Floral Maxi Dress

Modesty is the best policy when it comes to dressing for big cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai. We love this airy, vintage-esque maxi as it provides shoulder coverage and adequate length, but also plays with woodblock-inspired print, a slight v-neck, and front slits.

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AllSaints 'Kita' Leather Crossbody Bag

Space is at a premium on Bangkok's busy streets, so when we're in the city, we skip out on bulky backpacks and opt for midsize crossbody bags. They're perfectly sized for stowing away the essentials: your wallet, water bottle, light scarf, and smaller random items (because if you're like us, you're always toting around chapstick and spare change).

RELATED: 14 Travel Backpacks for Every Kind of Adventure

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S'well Bottle

No matter your destination, staying hydrated is high-priority. When we're on the go, you'll always find a stainless steel S'well bottle in our bag; they're non-toxic, non-leaching, and keep our water cold for 24 hours.

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Gap Twill Utility Joggers

If skirts and dresses aren't your thing, try twill utility joggers on for size. Pulled together, but ultra-comfy (like pajama-level cozy), the cotton pants can be paired with practically any top and sandals or sneakers.

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Urban Outfitters Surfside Round Sunglasses

Protect your eyes from the tropical sun with a stylish set of shades. This retro-classic UO pair works just as well in the city or on the sand.

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Topshop Pompom Straw Tote Bag

If your Thai home base is Phuket, Krabi, Koh Phi Phi, or Koh Samui, then we have a pretty good idea of what's on your itinerary. This woven-straw tote was made for beach outings, but playful pompoms and a faux-leather shoulder strap help it transition to the streets.

RELATED: 13 Beach Bags to Take on Vacation

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Anthropologie Layne Fluttered-Sleeve Cover-Up

Flit from beach to bar—and back—with a breezy cover-up. This fluttered-sleeve, contemporary viscose option gets our pick.

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Solid & Striped The Anne-Marie One Piece

A favorite among celebs like T-Swift and Gigi Hadid, this suit updates a classic one piece silhouette with a plunging back.

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BP. Floppy Straw Look Hat

This classic topper is a staple on our list as it's stylish, practical, and ultra-affordable (less than $25!). According to reviews, it also packs well whilst maintaining its shape.

RELATED: 11 Sun Hats to Wear on Vacation

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La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Milk Lotion, SPF 60

A sunburn is one souvenir we certainly don't ever plan on coming home with. When we're off to a tropical destination, we pack La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-In Milk Sunscreen. For two years running, Consumer Reports has named it the ultimate formula thanks to it's non-greasy, fast-absorbing, water resistant (up to 80 minutes) make-up.

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Madewell Jeanie Side Button T-Shirt Dress

This drapey dress combines the comfort of your favorite tee with added accents like cuffed sleeves, side-seam pockets, and buttons. Wear it to the beach, boardwalk, or any Bangkok landmark and you'll fit right in.

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