What to bring with you to Thailand

It’s often cheaper to leave behind (or sell) most of your belongings and buy anew in Thailand.

If you’re coming from the US or Canada, your appliances won’t work because of the different electrical system (220V/50Hz instead of 110V/60Hz). You can buy transformers, but it’s a hassle.

But there are some items that you should definitely purchase at home and bring with you to Thailand.

What to bring

You can ship your personal belongings and if you have a work permit then you will be able to do so tax free within six months of arrival.

Otherwise, import duty can be prohibitive. Your (used, personal) belongings will often be assessed on the basis of their new, retail value. The official may take their age into account when making his calculation. You may need to negotiate, so bring the original purchase receipts if you can.

Clothes, shoes, toys and anything deemed a luxury item are charged at 40% of their value.

Sports equipment (e.g. ice skates or tennis raquets, hockey sticks, etc. but not football/soccer boots) are charged at 10%.

Musical instruments, computers and electronic devices are also charged at 10%.

  • Good quality shoes and boots for the rainy season.
  • “Camping” or “mountaineering” quality lightweight raincoat (two piece, bottoms and top) and sun jacket – it’s difficult to find really good quality rain gear, most of is either cheap and tears apart after a few days, or it’s very bulky.

    A very lightweight jacket to protect you from the sun without making you feel hot.

  • Full-face motorbike helmet (this may be bulky, so you may wish to wait until you buy in Thailand), prices range from ฿1,000 to ฿3,000 – the safety standards are self-regulated. You can buy imported helmets if it’s more convenient, but you’ll be paying about double the retail price because of shipping and taxes.
  • Any high end appliance, like espresso machine (220V), sound recording or editing equipment, musical instruments, sports equipment, bicycles, industrial/scientific instruments, etc.
  • Wooden toys, wooden or electrical train sets. They don’t exist in Thailand, or if you can find them they are prohibitively expensive.

What not to bring

  • Furniture is better to purchase in Thailand. Always buy solid wooden furniture (not particle or ply wood), even though it’s more expensive. Thailand is infested with termites and is very humid. Cheaper furniture usually falls apart after 3-4 years or any time you move location. So factor that into your budget: either rent already-furnished property, buy new furniture every time you move or replace your furniture every 4 years.
  • Imported cars or motorbikes are more or less banned from being brought into Thailand, or prohibitively taxed (about 300% the new, retail value of the vehicle).
  • Pets are very expensive and inconvenient to bring with you, and it’s very difficult to rent property that will allow you to keep a pet. And if you are likely to return after a few years then you will have to repeat the process. It can also be cruel to the pet to have to endure the ordeal and probably face bullying from aggressive and territorial animals in the district. Neighborhood dogs can be very aggressive, and some may even kill your cat if it ventures into their territory.
  • Drugs and herbal remedies can sometimes be brought into Thailand, but not in large quantities. Make sure to bring your updated doctor’s prescription as evidence that the drugs are legitimate. And check beforehand if they are even allowed in Thailand as some drugs may be available overseas but restricted in Thailand.

    Bring enough to last you for a 2-3 months, to give you time to find a local doctor who will prescribe you the same or equivalent medication to be purchased at a Thai pharmacy.