So you made the decision to pick up everything you know and hop on a plane to the Land of Smiles. Good for you! As with all big decisions, it is important to do the proper research and planning before you move to Thailand.
To get you started we have provided you with a checklist of everything you should consider taking with you when you pack for your relocation.
Essential Documents and Paperwork
Here is a list of all the paperwork and documents you will need for bureaucratic reasons when you become a Thailand expat.
- Your Passport – Make sure your passport is in good condition, has many blank pages, and at least 2 years validity. If it is damaged, expiring, or has fewer than 10 blank pages, we strongly suggest applying for a new one before you move to Thailand. It will be easier and cheaper.
- Visa – It is easier to get a work visa – Non-Immigrant B – while you are still in your home country. Your employer should facilitate it. You might also be getting an Elite Visa, Education Visa, Family Visa, or something else. The visa will be stuck in your passport at the Thai embassy in your own country.
- Employment Contract & Paperwork – If you are working in Thailand, carry a copy of your employment contract, including details about your job, salary, and responsibilities. There also might be some additional company documents required for your visa.
- Educational Credentials – You will need originals and copies of your educational and professional qualifications. This includes degrees, transcripts, and certificates.
- Health Documents – You will need a medical certificate confirming that you are free from contagious diseases. It must include: leprosy, tuberculosis, elephantiasis, drug addiction, and syphilis.
- Criminal Background Check – This depends on your visa type, but it is a good idea to get one in case you need it. They are usually valid for three months.
- Passport Photos – Get about six recent passport photos 3.5 x 4.5 cm (1.3 x 1.77 inch, white background) printed for official forms.
- Financial Records – It’s a good idea to print proof of sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in Thailand.
- Contacts in Thailand – Have the address of your intended residence in Thailand printed in English and Thai. Also have Local contact information of your workplace and emergency contacts.
- Insurance – Carry all of your insurance documents and make sure they are valid in Thailand.
- Identification and Licenses – Bring your home country ID cards with you. This might include a driver’s license, proof of age card, bank cards, teaching license, social security card, student ID, etc.
Medication & Health
Most medication that you need can be obtained in Thailand. But it is a good idea to stock up on yours so as to avoid a trip to a hospital when you are settling in. Check to see if your medication is illegal in Thailand (for example, Adderall is strictly controlled).
Bring physical copies of all of your medication prescriptions. While they may or may not be accepted at pharmacies here, it will be easy to visit a doctor and ask them to provide you with the same or equivalent Thai prescriptions.
Over the counter items like balms, ointments, headache pills, insect repellent, and sun protection are easy to find in Thailand. As are vitamins and supplements in popular brands like Blackmores. But if you have a niche need, then bring your own supplies.
Personal Hygiene & Grooming
There is no reason to pack half of your bathroom, Thailand has most of the same products and brands as you will find at home. Thailand is overflowing with beauty shops for all of your skincare needs and hair emporiums which stock every color of dye you can imagine.
There are exceptions:
If you have dark skin, you will want to stock up on your shades of makeup. Foundations and powders here tend to be very, very pale. However, Sephora and MAC have some options for you.
If you have curly hair, you might need to bring your favorite specialist products.
If you have favorite brands in feminine hygiene products, pack those too. While Thailand does sell tampons, the range is very limited.
Overall, if you have a very specific need for a certain brand or formulation of any personal products like deodorant, toothpaste, skincare, haircare, or shaving, then bring enough to get you through till your next trip back home.
Clothing & Shoes
Thailand is getting more inclusive, we have great tailors, and there are niche places where you can shop for plus sizes, but it is still a good idea to bring all the clothes and shoes you will need if you are not petite.
Ladies, if your shoe is bigger than a US 8 (Thai 40), and men bigger than US 11 (Thai 46), bring shoes. Flip flops, sandals, sneakers, work shoes, and something for a fancy night out.
Even chain clothing stores stock smaller stuff here. H&M for women usually only goes up to a 42 or 44 (US size 10 to 12) in fitted stuff. Men at most stores will struggle to find anything over 40 inches around the waist.
Lack of size selection in underwear – especially bras – is a common complaint here. So stock up.
Do not forget how hot it is here in Thailand. Leave your blazers and knits at home and pack light linen or cotton pieces. Some wet-weather gear is also a good idea for the monsoon season. And, of course, bring several swimsuits, because this country is all about the beaches, rivers, and pools.
Hobbies & Sports
Bigger cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket will have a range of great bookshops with books in many languages. Like Kinokuniya, Dasa Book Cafe, The Lost Bookshop, and South Wind Books. But if you are a big reader of more obscure stuff, you might want to pack some.
Sporting equipment is easy to come by and of great quality. Decathlon and similar stores will have everything you need, but if you require something in an irregular size, bring it along. Like big golf shoes, a plus sized wetsuit, or an XXL bike helmet for example.
Musical instruments are cheap and easy to find, as are arts and crafts supplies.
Bring some adapters and converters for electrical outlets to get you settled. Thailand uses Type A, B, C, and O electrical outlets. The standard voltage is 220-240V at 50Hz.
Electronics in Thailand are sometimes slightly more expensive than in many other countries. So bring your phone, but make sure it is unlocked so that you can simply get a Thai SIM card and keep using it. Bring your own laptop too, and a Kindle if that is your reading preference. But for most small electronics, power banks, headphones, and accessories, shopping in Thailand for them will be easy.
In big cities in Thailand we have import food shops like Villa where you can find everything you need as well as boutique delis and markets. All major supermarkets like Tops, Makro, Lotus’s, Big C, and others have some western products too.
You will not struggle to find amazing food and comforts from home. There are even specialist food shops on Lazada, like Pinoy food, British foods, American snacks, and German imports. There is rarely something that is impossible to obtain.
Some expats do fill their suitcases with harder to find snacks, chocolates, cheese, and spices when they return to Thailand after a holiday at home. Imported foods here do come at a higher cost because of import tariffs. But even specialty foods like Australian Vegetmite or Swedish Salmiakki are easy to find in Thailand.
Don’t bother bringing household, bedding, kitchen items, or small appliances. Most homes in Thailand come furnished, and for everything else we have Ikea, HomePro, and a range of superstores like BigC. Fitting out your new home will be very affordable. There is also Facebook Marketplace for 2nd hand bargains.
In smaller towns and cities, you might miss some comforts from home, in those cases Lazada and Shopee will be your lifesavers. Online shopping is fantastic in Thailand. With proper preparation, you will be all set to start your new life. Congratulations and Sawatdeeka!
We hope you found this blog post on What You Should Bring When Relocating to Thailand useful. Be sure to check out our post on Top 6 Cities to Move to in 2023 for more great tips!
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