This guidance is designed to describe appropriate clothing, the cultural context where you will be living and working, and the professional expectations of your workplace.
As you decide what to bring, keep in mind there is a 100-pound weight limit on checked baggage.
In general, most items you will need are available in country and locally acquired items are often the best at helping you integrate into your community. However, locally available items may not be the brands, quality, prices, or sizes you are used to. Bringing some key items from home might make your transition to service more comfortable.
This guidance has been compiled by Peace Corps staff and Volunteers and is based on their experience. Use this information as an informal guide as you make your own packing list, bearing in mind that each experience is individual. There is no perfect packing list!
This packing guidance is designed to help you think through different categories of items and consider what you might want to bring, considering work expectations, cultural considerations, and your own personal preferences.
Thailand has a tropical climate, and the weather varies each season.
In the colder season the average maximum temperatures fall between 28 and 33 degrees Celsius (82-91°F); during summer you can count on 30 to 40 degrees Celsius (86-105°F).
April is the warmest month. May is the start of the monsoon (rainy season) on the west coast and it lasts until the end of October. Humidity levels range from 65% to 80%. Usually, the rains are short, but with very heavy downpours.
September and October are on average the wettest months throughout the whole country.
Mountainous regions can be quite cool at night.
Peace Corps provides the following items:
- Medical kit
- Smoke/carbon monoxide detector
- Bicycle, bicycle helmet, and repair tools
- Mosquito net
- Local mobile SIMS with voice and data packages
Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take:
- Radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted)
- Automobiles or motorcycles
- Flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers
- Valuables such as precious jewelry or family heirlooms
Do not bring any drug that has not been authorized by the Peace Corps for medical purposes without prior consultation with Office of Health Services Pre-Service. This includes prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Illicit drugs, including marijuana and related products such as CBD and herbal substances such as kratom, are prohibited during Peace Corps service, even if they are legal in your home of residence. If you use, possess, or distribute illicit drugs, you will be administratively separated from service.
Below is guidance on clothing expectations and cultural norms for work as well as leisure and recreation.
Although clothing in local markets of Thailand is cheap, the quality of fabric and design might not meet your taste. Consider bringing sturdy, wrinkle-free clothes that will last a long time. You can have some clothes made locally, so it is a good idea to bring patterns or pictures of clothes you like. Oversized clothing can be difficult to find in Thailand.
Washing machines are available in some households. Hand washing is the common practice in most Thai families. Driers, however, are not common and laundry is hung outside, or inside, on a rack. There is laundry service in some cities.
Work and training clothing
According to Ministry of Education standards, professional attire in schools includes slacks (not jeans or cargo pants), button-down shirts, belt, neutral-colored socks, and tie-shoes (not sneakers) or loafers; or loose fitting, below knee-length or longer business skirts with modest, short- or long-sleeved blouses (no tank tops), or modest, below knee-length dresses with sleeves, and close-toed/close-heeled shoes.
Professionals are expected to appear tidy, neat, and clean, with well-pressed clothes. Shirts must be tucked in.
The same attire is expected at formal business events and ceremonies in a community; suits, or business blazers, with ties, and long dresses that cover the shoulders, upper arms, waist, and lower back, or knee-length business skirts are also appropriate for formal occasions.
Black outfits are appropriate for funerals.
Leisure and recreational clothing
Trainees and Volunteers are expected to bike. For riding your bike and exercise, it is appropriate to wear knee-length shorts, T-shirts, or workout shirts with sleeves. Sports bras and tight-fitting leggings should be covered for public exercise. In your community, loose-fitting capris or long, baggy shorts, jeans or casual pants, and casual T-shirts are recommended.
Additional clothing items to bring
Casual dresses (with sleeves, knee-length or longer, and no plunging neckline), modest swimsuits (such as knee-length board shorts, one-piece swimsuits, and modest bikinis), rash guard, underwear in breathable fabrics, regular bras, sports bras, lightweight scarf, lightweight jacket, socks, hat, belts, and sweatshirt or fleece.
Work and casual shoes are easy to buy in Thailand at reasonable prices. However, larger sizes may be difficult to find. You may consider bringing more than one pair of shoes for various occasions throughout your service, including dress shoes (closed toe and/or closed heel), sports sandals, loafers or business casual shoes, and sneakers. Please note that socks need to be worn with dress shoes, especially in formal situations.
Shoes are not worn in houses, or in some workplaces, so bring socks, slippers or slides (not flip flops).
The rainy season can be very difficult for shoes. Sport sandals, flipflops or slides can be worn while walking in wet areas or biking in the rain.
You should bring a three-month supply of any prescription and/or over the counter medications you use that are authorized/approved by the Peace Corps.
Note: Prior to service, Peace Corps supplies all volunteers with a medical kit containing basic, over-the-counter medications, as well as multivitamins.
The medical unit will replenish prescriptions after the initial three-month training.
If you wear eyeglasses, bring two pairs (of the current prescription) with you. Contact lens use will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Additional guidance for Peace Corps/Thailand:
- Tampons and pads are readily available for purchase in Thailand
- PC/Thailand provides a Diva Cup, if desired
- Deodorant and cosmetics are readily available for sale, but many have a bleaching component; if you look, you can find products without skin whiteners; or bring your own.
Voltage in Thailand is 220 volts, and the frequency is 50 Hz (electrical outlets and plug Type C). For more information: https://www.worldstandards.eu/electricity/plug-voltage-by-country/thailand/
Peace Corps/Thailand recommends you bring:
- Lightweight computer laptop if you have one for use during PST and at site. Your worksite may have a computer you can use at work, and computers are also available for use in the Peace Corps office in Bangkok. Tablets or iPads are acceptable but some Peace Corps applications for reporting your activities will not work on them. Chromebooks are not recommended due to their need for internet access.
- Smartphone from the U.S., if you have one (must be unlocked by the carrier before arrival in-country). If you don’t bring a phone, you will receive an inexpensive android smartphone to use during service
- A USB drive/micro-storage device/external hard drive, to save technical and language training materials that will be provided to you at PST
- A voltage converter if you are bringing any electronics.
Note: Hairdryers/flatirons/curling wands from the U.S. cannot withstand the Thai voltage so buy them here if you rely on them.
Based on your interests and personal preferences there may be additional items you will want to consider bringing with you. Below are items different Volunteers have said they enjoy having that might be more difficult to find in-country. Note: these items are not required or even recommended, but they might be nice to have.
- Quick-dry travel towel
- Sunglasses and umbrella
- Handkerchief or bandana
- Inexpensive, non-sentimental jewelry
- Small backpack
- Sleeping bag and pad
- Multi-purpose tool/knife (do not pack in your carryon luggage)
- Sports equipment (e.g., frisbee, baseball, etc.)
- Calendars, weekly/monthly planners, journals
- U.S. postage stamps (so travelers going home can hand-carry mail for you)
- Games (e.g., Scrabble, Uno, or cards)
- A small photo album with pictures from your life in the U.S., such as your American house, seasonal photos, and places you have visited
- Small souvenirs to give as gifts (e.g., magazines, coins, postcards, stamps, cool pens, etc. that represent where you are from—NOT required)
- U.S. and world maps, which make good teaching aids
- Favorite over-the-counter toiletries
- Durable, easy-to-wash water bottle and/or insulated bottle for cold water or hot beverages
- A drying agent/desiccant for humidity
- ATM card to access a bank account in the U.S., ideally one which covers foreign ATM fees
- Favorite cooking spices