As there is an amazing choice of very smart hotels, bars and restaurants – often with a very Western feel – it is easy to forget that the Thais are conservative people.
They are quite modest dressers and it's an integral part of their culture, not a fashion statement.
So neat, clean clothing makes you look good and is the best bet for gaining respect.
In mainland Thailand, no matter how hot and humid it is, don't wear sleeveless tops or short shorts when in public areas.
If you're staying in a hotel it's a good idea to take a light sweater or a pashmina as the air conditioning can be fierce at times.
When trekking, light wool is a good choice to wear against your skin as it naturally helps to regulate your body temperature. It keeps you warm in the cold, wicks away moisture when it's hot, and doesn't retain odours – even after prolonged wear.
Some unusual Thai laws you might want to bear in mind – it's illegal to leave your house if you're not wearing underwear, and you must always wear a shirt when driving a car!
Shoes to pack for Thailand
When visiting any Buddhist temples you will have to take off your shoes, so choose styles that can be easily removed. Socks are considered tacky, but comfortable flip flops or sandals work well if sneakers or walking shoes don't appeal. We love Hotter shoes, for lightweight comfort plus style.
Clothing tips for women
Avoing showing cleavage as it is thought to be in bad taste.
People seem to make more of an effort to dress smartly for dinner in the hotels and a nice top or sundress and shoes will be useful.
A wrap is also very versatile and can dress up any outfit, as will some simple costume jewelry.
If you are going to visit any temples wear longer sleeves, and wear a long skirt, pants or take a sarong with you. Also remember that you will need to remove your shoes. The Lindsay Phillips Switch Flops range is good.
The humidity can play havoc with your hair – so think about accessories or a scarf to keep it looking neat and tidy.
If you're here on business then a smart suit is the order of the day. Thai women normally wear a skirt-suit rather than pants.
Clothing tips for men
If you're looking for versatile and stylish beachwear, try the Madda Fella range of shirts, shorts, polos and swimwear.
If you're here on business then a smart suit is the order of the day.
For great versatile travel jackets with multiple pockets including RFID security options, we love the SCOTTeVEST range.
Pack for the weather
November, December, January and February is the cooler season when temperatures and rainfall are lowest, though for most tourists the temperatures will still seem hot.
March, April, May and June are very hot. As you can imagine, the humidity is very high here too so be prepared. Lightweight natural fabrics work best, and pack long pants and long-sleeved shirts to help keep the mosquitoes from feasting on you.
June, July, August, September and October are the monsoon season so not peak times for tourists, but if you do go then be prepared! Pack a lightweight raincoat and travel umbrella.
We love the Weather+ app – it gives an accurate 6 day forecast for day and night, which when you're planning from home is really helpful. You can keep all the places you've been to too – a nice way to remember your trip 🙂 Download for iPad/iPhone or Android
Regions of Thailand
Bangkok is a fascinating mix of cosmopolitan and chic hotels and the traditional. If staying close by the river opt for the water taxis over a hair-raising tuk tuk or taxi ride.
If your trip includes Thailand's islands such as Phuket, the key word here is ‘relaxed'. All types of dress are acceptable here and you'll see a huge variety. The weather's always hot, so you really don't need much and if you're backpacking, it pays to pack light. Our advice is to take a day pack with you and buy everything there – clothes and toiletries are just so cheap that it's really not worth carrying them from one country to the other and then back again.
Northern Thailand and its more famous stop offs of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai enjoy hot daytime temperatures throughout the year, although evening temperatures are a good deal lower from October to March when you will need to pack warmer layers or a pashmina for the evenings. Good sturdy walking shoes are vital. Make sure you take plenty of sunscreen (we love the Riemann P20 range for 10 hour protection) and insect/mosquito repellent with you as it's very difficult to buy locally in the north and if you do happen to find some it will be expensive.
If you plan to hike up to higher altitudes in the northern hills, do check the likely weather conditions before your trip and be prepared for cool temperatures (even snow on occasions). You may need some warmer layers, which you could pick up at the markets in Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai if you don't want to carry them for your whole trip.
If you need to take cigarettes with you, you are not allowed to take more than 200 into Thailand.
Carry plenty of coins so you can always tip a little, it really makes a big difference to the locals.
A bag or soft-sided rucksack is a more practical option than hard cases when traveling around the country, and using packing cubes can help to keep your belongings tidy whilst compressing the volume too.
Combine your main bag with a day pack or beach bag that will carry your daytime essentials.
Avoid paying unexpected baggage fees – use an accurate luggage scale to ensure you keep within the weight allowance. Don't forget to leave room for souvenirs on the way home! You'll find a wide selection of silks (scarves, clothing, purses, ties), or why not have something handmade? The Bangkok tailors can create or reproduce almost anything for you.