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What to wear in Thailand (Clothes to pack on a vacation trip in Phuket and neighboring islands)

Packing for Thailand? Here are the ideal clothing for Phuket and Surrounding Islands including the colors not to wear in Thailand
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You might be thinking, ‘Another beach vacation?!. But once you set eyes on the turquoise waters of Phuket and the surrounding Thai islands, you’ll see the allure. And trust me, by the time your trip ends, you’ll already be planning your next visit.
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This time I used the lessons learned from packing for the vacation in Bali and packed minimally. I decided to buy most of the shorts and tops (yes, those may be all you need throughout) there and packed just two pairs of trousers and tops and swimwear for the one-week holiday.

Here are some additional tips from personal experience. It is better to be surprised about some things but not so much when it comes to what you wear.

Be prepared

When I say this, I have one particular incident in mind. There is a phenomenon in islands in Thailand that works like this: during high tide, the sea advances, and during low tide, the sea recedes, exposing a vast area of the seabed, to the point that a vast area of sea will be land for some time.
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It’s a regular and predictable change for those in the know. We didn’t know. I have since learned that this happens in a cycle and usually occurs twice a day, and travel across the islands is adjusted to these tides. We had to walk through the water after getting down mid sea on our first visit to Phi Phi Island– not so pleasant if you’re taken by surprise, carrying a heavy handbag, wearing trousers, and have on your favorite leather shoes.
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It happened like this – We had booked a villa at a resort on Phi Phi Island, but we were slightly late for the original speedboat that was to take us there. When we arrived, it was low tide, and the sea had receded, so our speedboat couldn’t dock at the jetty. Instead, they transferred us mid-ocean to a small boat. And I had sea sickness due to the rocking of the boat (so if you are prone, pack some gum or medicine for this). And to top it all, it was raining. And after landing, we had to walk the rest of the way through ankle-deep water. My daughter decided to view it in a positive light – “Guys, we are having our ‘Life-of-pie’ moment”. OK. Anyways, a refreshing piña colada drink and the beautiful room of our resort helped to soothe us somewhat. So if you have to wade through water to reach land during low tide, I will go for shorts. And shoes that doesnot get soggy when wet.

Swimwear Essentials

You go to Phuket for the beaches, so swimwear is essential, especially for activities like snorkeling or swimming (or wading if you can’t swim – which you can, many areas of the sea are shallow enough for safe wading) in the clear seas of the Andaman Coast.
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Pack two sets of swimwear so you’ve always got a dry one. And take advantage of the racks on your balcony to dry them as soon as you have done swimming. Wet clothes if left wet can get mouldy.

Shop at the right place and be aware

As I said, I didn’t pack much and decided to take advantage of the shops in Phuket. You have a choice to shop at different varieties of shops in phuket including floating markets and high end boutique shops.
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I learned one very important lesson on the street there – that the quality of the clothing you choose is very important.

I bought a pair of shorts for my husband from a stall in a floating market in Patong. I haggled a bit, as I learned I should and thought I got a good deal (especially since the pretty saleswoman insisted on it). But that evening, my husband’s phone slipped down the torn pocket of the ‘brand-new’ shorts, while on a very busy street. Thankfully, someone on the crowded street saw this and returned it to us (God bless him). The 50 baht I saved by bargaining wasn’t worth it. Definitely not, if he had lost it.

One important thing if you decide to go shopping – get some local currency, the Thai baht. For small purchases in the markets, some local shop owners may not accept card transactions.

Embrace the elephant print

Another thing is to go all out for the elephant prints.
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Anyways, you most probably do not have a choice not to. Everything in Thailand seemed to have an elephant in some form or the other – appliqued, embroidered, printed, dyed..

Protect Yourself from the Sun

Use hats and sunglasses. The temperature in Phuket and the neighboring islands is pleasant, with some humidity. But sun is always there – even when the sky is cloudy. So wear sunscreen and top it with a hat and sunglass.

Get clothes made of Fabrics that dry fast

Choose easy-to-dry clothes made of lightweight fabrics. It is very windy, and the sun is always bright and shining – even on days that rain. Thin and lightweight clothes made of synthetic materials and thin cotton will dry faster. Linen and cotton clothes are lightweight enough to make you feel cool in the hot sun. Light, flowy maxi dresses and skirts are ideal for the slightly humid weather of Thailand. You can pack a pair of lightweight linen trousers for airport travel or visits to temples (some may have a dress code)

Pack clothes appropriate for the activity you have in mind

Some beaches in Thailand, like the Mayabay Beach, are accessible only by boat. Some islands offer stunning limestone cliffs, and if you are a rock climbing enthusiast, this may be of interest to you. You will need to pack clothes accordingly. Rock climbing activities are available in Railay Beach or Chiang Mai. You can wear stretchy clothes for this; ensure that it is fitting, as loose clothes can catch rocks and cause mishaps. Proper climbing shoes are essential for grip and safety. Sleeveless shirts are great for staying cool in Thailand’s heat, but remember to cover up when visiting temples.
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For snorkeling, wear a swimsuit or wetsuit, snorkel mask and a floating vest (for safety, especially if you can’t swim) For paragliding, wear comfortable, non-restrictive clothing. No flipflops. Anyways, they make you remove the shoes when you go up. For attending the famous boxing competitions centered around Muay Thai, which is Thailand’s national sport, wear these shorts. Or maybe not.
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Footwear

Flip-flops are a staple for beachgoers in Phuket. But I would recommend Crocs or similar sandals with straps on the back for walking on the sandy shores, as flip-flops can be washed away if a strong current comes your way while on your walk.
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Rain clothes

As a tropical country, you can expect rain at all times in Thailand from May to October. May, June, and July are the real rainy months. Because we went in November, we didn’t expect much rain, but it did rain occasionally. The rain is more likely to come in short, heavy bursts when you least expect it. If you are near shopping centers or tourist destinations you can get thin plastic rain ponchos very cheaply. We found a 24 hr convenience store called 7-Eleven all over Phuket town, for buying these.

Try out traditional Thai costume

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When in Rome, dress as Romans do.. Every tourist country offers an opportunity to wear their traditional clothes. In Phuket, we found this in the venue of the Phuket FantaSea Show, a dance performance with a Thai cultural flavor​ held at the Palace of the Elephants Theater in Phuket Fantasea Land. You get to choose from a variety of traditional costumes and my daughter chose this.

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And once you have chosen to use the opportunity, these people surround you with all the paraphernalia needed to transform you into a Thailand princess (or prince or queen or king, whatever you choose to be). And in a minute or two, you are that. You get to keep the photos, not the clothes. Alas.

What to wear in Thailand temples

You have to respect the sacred nature of temples in Thailand, so you should wear clothes that cover your shoulders and knees. So, no sleeveless tops or shorts. Loose-fitting pants and short-sleeved tops can be worn. For men, this can translate to a polo shirt and chinos. And No footwear, hats, or sunglasses.

Colors not to wear in Thailand

There is only one color that you should not wear (but not many care for this as I see all tourists wearing this) in Thailand – Black. This color is associated with mourning. Bright flashy colors are to be avoided if you are visiting temples. Other than that, wear anything in any color you want.

Dining out clothes

A light summer dress (maxi dress) is ideal for dining out. During our stay, my husband arranged a cozy dinner for just the two of us, in a specially decorated tent facing the sea.
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However, it started raining after just 10 minutes of us eating and we had to go inside and dine like all others, in the common dining area! It’s okay (No, it is not ok). If you tend to attract mosquitoes, consider getting a mosquito spray; Or wear longer clothes when out at night. You may also need a nice dress for enjoying the vibrant nightlife in Patong. Do not enjoy too much and do not leave your husband alone for a single second. (Just joking, … or maybe not)

Related posts: Types of swimming suits for women

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Author: Sarina Tariq
Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.
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