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Thailand forum

travelling light!!

Posted by scotty29 on 8/5/2009 at 01:54

hi everyone

im going to thailand in 7 weeks, travelling from northern ireland and really cant be assed carrying a backpack thru belfast to london to bkk to phucket waiting on baggage (lazy i know BUT im on holidays!! lol) i was going to take handluggage to get me thru 1ST day or so and nip to shops and get a backpack, clothes etc when i get there.

is this a clever idea or not?

#1 scotty29 has been a member since 15/2/2009. Posts: 13

Posted by exacto on 8/5/2009 at 03:52

hey scotty,

i've always thought it would be cool to arrive in bangkok with only a small carry on and the clothes on my back too.

in any case, it shouldn't be a problem to get what you need when you arrive, since millions of thais seem to get by only on what they can purchase in thailand year after year after year. if you are a big or a tall person, then clothes might be a bit of an issue - shirts not so much but perhaps pants. of course, you could always have stuff made too.

i've never had much luck with socks and undies in thailand, but socks aren't really necessary (and i guess strictly speaking undies aren't mandatory either :-) for almost everything else i can think of, from a backpack to sandals to towels to a flashlight/torch to toiletries, you'll find what you need.

so, for what it is worth, i think it is clever, and i'd love to hear how it turns out for you and particularly what kinds of things you weren't able to get.

how long is your visit to thailand anyway? cheers.

#2 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,759
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Posted by brucemoon on 8/5/2009 at 07:00


I ALWAYS travel light.

I mean, that I have a carry on backpack ONLY.

I rarely go away for LESS than 4 weeks (often more) and I cope with that.

The backpack I use is termed 40 litres. Go look at it at:

In that I take all the necessary clothes and my personal needs - toiletries/ emergency kit + some drugs/ travel light/ clothes line/ playing cards/ Lonely Planets/ passport + other necessary papers/ mobile phone/ waterbottle/ umbrella/ and plastic poncho (for really rainy days).

I also take a very light weight fold away 'day pack'. That way I can leave my 40 litre pack at the GH and have something to take my gear when walking / motorbike riding / etc.

I have never had a problem at airports re: size, nor weight.

I nearly always beat every other traveller to the customs gate (from the plane I'm on).

When I arrive at a place, I'm never burdened by having too much luggage to prevent me looking around for good/better accommodation.

Just to put my view into perspective, I'm over 60, have had a broken back, and so am limited in what I carry? But, I still ever only take a back pack when travelling.

And, in the odd occasions when I need something extra, yes I buy it there.

- - - -

As far as I'm concerned, if you can't readily carry it on your back, don't take it.

If you can't get it into the 'carry on' part of the plane, forget it.

- - - -

Hope this helps.


#3 brucemoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by SBE on 8/5/2009 at 17:18

is this a clever idea or not?

Yes but don't buy a huge backpack in Thailand either! Buy a cheap back to take home stuff at the end of your trip. You'll probably accumulate clothes, DVDs, wooden frogs, silk cushion covers and god knows what else en point lugging all that stuff around with you when you're travelling. Leave most shopping till the end of your trip.

-You need very few clothes as they can be washed and dried in a few hours. Flipflops are generally all the footwear you'll need.

-You don't need a big emergency box of pharmaceutical products (unless you've got some specific prescribed medication you have to take maybe). You can get all you need in pharmacies in Thailand ...cheaper.

Maybe people could post lists of what they consider "essential" or extremely useful things to have with you when traveling in Thailand.

Passport, credit card and....

(I just know someone is going to say large size condoms but even THEY are available in Thailand!) ;-)

#4 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,052
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Posted by SBE on 8/5/2009 at 17:20 backpack/bag not back.

Grrr ..... somtam ........pleeeeeeeeeease can we have an edit function?;-)

#5 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,052
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Posted by Tilapia on 8/5/2009 at 18:37

The last 5 times I went to SE Asia I took only a nap sack that fit into the overhead compartment (with the exception of my last trip where I also took my bike.) Best way to go in my opinion.

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Posted by exacto on 9/5/2009 at 08:19

Hey Tilapia, don't they sell bicycles in Thailand anymore?

Great suggestions from SBE too about buying an extra bag in Thailand to take back all the stuff you purchase, and also about saving that shopping until the end of your trip if at all possible.

Smart too to buy your pharmaceuticals in Thailand as well, but be sure to get what you need soon after you arrive. I've always been glad to have the pink bismuth-type stuff on hand the rare times I've needed it.

LMAO on the large-sized condoms comment.

Can't say I agree about the edit function however. I have noticed that I can edit all I want before I hit the Post your reply button, which is really useful. Besides, we all knew that SBE meant bag instead of back, so no worries, you know? Cheers.

#7 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,759
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Posted by scotty29 on 9/5/2009 at 08:43

thanks everyone

a small bag it is!!

exacto i'll be there for 16 days and i'll keep ya posted
on how it goes, i am 6ft 2" but as i'll prob ably only be looking for
a few pairs of shorts and tee shirts,as you say if do get a bit stuck i can get them made. ive been told its easy finding a tailor and they aint expensive
bruce ive checked out your link and that looks the perfect size


#8 scotty29 has been a member since 15/2/2009. Posts: 13

Posted by brucemoon on 9/5/2009 at 10:48


That brand, like all the other brands, have a variety of products. The current 'rage' for 'day packs' is for a 'pocket' for a lap-top. So, guess how many of the day packs are so designed?

I found that after using various packs over the years that roller wheels / pull along handle was hardly ever used (I have such a pack, and I use for urban travel within Australia).

Similarly, I found that in my 40 litre (solid) day pack, I needed a largish section for my clothes, and a smaller section for my paperwork, first-aid pack, and for the ALL IMPORTANT 1 litre plastic bag to hold all the 'would be' terrorist gear: the lotions, potions, and toothpaste.

The one I selected has a mesh pocket each side (one for a fold up umbrella, the other for a 600ml water bottle), and several other little pockets inside. It also has a rain cover built into the base. And, has a strap that can go around one's waist (helpful when its full and I am in a difficult walking situation).

- - - -

As you know, one has to put the 1 litre bag of 'would be' terrorist stuff through the airport scanner separately.

As a note on airport scanning, I also found that my metal gear eg. rounded nose scissors, tweezers, nail clippers, torch, etc. was often 'picked up' by the scanners: and I was asked to take these out of my bag to show them for their 'approval'! I chose to put the 'metals' in a small plastic bag and I also placed the bag beside the 1 litre 'would be' terrorist bag in the separate scanning tray. It saved a lot of hassles at the airport.

As for first aid, I have a small bag with the following:

small bottle of Ti-Tree oil (an amazing antiseptic),
small bottle of Betadine (an Iodine treatment when skin cut)
small tube of 30+ sun screen
small spraypack of DEET (for mozzies, etc)
a small tube of lip balm
Lomotil tabs (by 2 cards)***
Stematil tabs (by 1 card)
Immodium ( x 1 card)
Malarone tabs (x 12)
paracetamol (x 1 card)
Gastrogel (x 1 tube of tabs)

The paracetamol (eg Panadol) I use for headaches [and it also slows the mind when I can't get to sleep and so is far better than a sleeping tablet)

The Lomotil is used to 'stop' diarrhea, the Stematil is used to stop vomiting. The Immodium is used when there is both diarrhea and vomiting. Many take Immodium for only diarrhea, but it shouldn't be, as it really dehydrates the body.

The Gastrogel is need for prolonged diarrhea to address the body's fluid balance.

The Malarone is used for Malaria. I've spent much time in some pretty remote and extreme parts of SE Asia: both during & after the wet season. And, the issue of Malaria is always present.

I will NOT take a prophelactic (eg. Doxycycline). If you read the medical literature on this drug, you'll see that only ill-informed people would ever take.

That said, if I do contract Malaria - it is characterised by fever & "flu-like" symptoms that may come & go, including chills, headache, muscle ache, and/or a vague feeling of illness - then I know to do 2 things:

1/ start taking the Malarone, and
2/ get myself to a good(ish) hospital promptly.

I trust this helps.

- - - -

I note travellers are suggesting to buy another pack for purchases. As earlier indicated, I have a very lightweight pack that folds up to next to nothing. I use that when I can leave my 'solid' pack at my accommodation, and take the basics. And, I use it for sunscreen, hat, DEET spray, waterbottle, etc.

I often have that 'packed' with purchases on my trip home.

The brand is Tatonka superlight daypack, and weighs 0.19kg. Go look at:

(scroll down to you get to the superlight weight 18l pack).

By taking this, it means I'm self sufficient. Sometimes, I am travelling with my 40litre (solid) pack on my back, and the superlight pack over my shoulder (as I've bought 'stuff'). But, if I'm at my accommodation, I can leave the 'stuff' behind, and just use the light pack.


#9 brucemoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by SBE on 9/5/2009 at 15:02

While it's true you can't buy Malarone in Thailand, the chances of you catching malaria in Thailand are VERY low so you really don't need anti-malarial prophylactics there.

Some of the best research in the world on malaria is carried out at Mahidol university in Thailand... they are VERY clued up about it there so even if you do catch it you'll get better treatment than you would in a western hospital.

Dengue fever (also transmitted by mosquitoes) is a far greater risk.

The list of medicines that Bruce has posted are all available over the counter in Thai pharmacies...though they may give you generic versions.
The DEET repellent products in Thailand are generally a lot more effective than the brands you can get at home (and much cheaper). Sunscreen is available but it's often the same price as in the West so maybe you could bring your favourite brand ... I'd bring more than a small tube myself though!

PS Exacto... this forum has a very short time-out so if you write a long post with two fingers like what I do, you don't have time to properly check before hitting the "post your reply button"! Either that or you have to go through the palaver of copying it and saving it and re-logging in.

It's best if you buy your medical supplies at a large busy pharmacy in Bangkok though ... just to make sure they aren't past their sell-by date and have been stocked properly. (It's hot and humid in Thailand!) Pill are often counted out and given in wee plastic sachet from a big jar ...ask to see the jar so you can check the expiration date.

There are many branches of Boots and Watsons in Bangkok but the Chulalongkorn University pharmacy near MBK is better stocked and has a higher turnover.

PS. Exacto, I happen to be one of those rare people who never took a speed typing course. I type with two fingers....quite slowly.

I don't really have time to check spelling etc beforehand because this forum has a very short time-out. Unless you go through the palaver of copying your reply, chances are that when you hit the "post your reply" button you will be informed that you aren't logged in and you have to write the whole thing again.

I THINK Somatam is aware of this problem already (He should be cos I've moaned about it often enough);-)

However I don't think I'm the only person who finds it rather annoying.

#10 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,052
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Posted by SBE on 9/5/2009 at 15:03


#11 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,052
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Posted by SBE on 9/5/2009 at 15:48

Correction. Sorry that should be: Buggar, I did it again.

Sorry about the two PSes. Had an afterthought after the first one and forgot to delete it.... I was racing to hit post reply before time out. ;-)

Also, after hitting the "post your reply" button be sure and not to hit the refresh button if your screen freezes or things seem to be taking a long time . If you do your post will come up twice.

I could demonstrate this now but I've already made 3 posts in a row.

#12 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,052
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Posted by sirhalberd on 10/5/2009 at 00:52

Shoes. If you have tiny Thai sized feet then you will be okay buying footwear in Thailand. But, if you have big feet, like size 12, you won't find those boats in cheap prices! So, if you have big feet bring a spare pair of shoes/sneakers/walkers - whatever - or pay more for that pair in Thailand.

I always bring a second bag when I am flying. I don't mind waiting the little bit it takes for the bags to show up. I like my stuff and when I travel I like to have little goodies with me that I don't have to pay for on the road. But that is what I do. I like extra T-shirts and underwear for frequent changes when necessary.

Millions of passengers even take suitcases or big shoulder bags in place of backpacks. If you ever walk by the carousel with the bags on it you will notice more suitcases and carry bags than backpacks.

Do what makes you happy!

#13 sirhalberd has been a member since 30/12/2007. Posts: 295
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Posted by andytc on 13/5/2009 at 20:43

Get some wheels man ... get some wheels :)

#14 andytc has been a member since 26/4/2009. Posts: 9

Posted by scotty29 on 14/5/2009 at 23:28

hey thanks for advice everyone
the list and explanation what its for is great bruce

#15 scotty29 has been a member since 15/2/2009. Posts: 13

Posted by srk052004 on 15/5/2009 at 09:16

I know I'm late to this party, but I guess I'm not convinced about "travel light" mantra when taken to the point of no checked-in luggage(I have traveled in Mexico, the US, and Europe extensively, but not yet Thailand). The problem is that, with the restrictions on weight, size, and contents of carryons nowadays, especially with the discount airlines, it was nearly impossible for me to take all the guide books (including art/architecture, history, etc.) that I wanted on a carryon. I've tried all sorts of things, but unless I want to pay over $500 and spend a lot of time scanning pages, I can't avoid some of the weight and space. So, no matter what, I've needed to have one piece of checked luggage.

I do use Tutto luggage, though, which has four wheels. It's not quite adapted to Venice, but outside of that...

#16 srk052004 has been a member since 22/2/2009. Posts: 23

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