After the heat and humidity of Bangkok, we were not surprised that Chiang Mai was along the same lines. Walking around downtown to check out the various temples was worse than the most humid of days in Houston Texas, so wearing breathable clothes, lots of sun protection, supportive shoes, and keeping hydrated was essential!
On top of gallivanting around town, a huge draw to visiting Chiang Mai are the elephant sanctuaries. The sanctuaries are typically in the mountain areas and there was an unexpected 15 minute hike to get to our location, so sneakers and sweat-wicking active wear was the way to go. Additionally, during monsoon season (May – November), it rains like crazy and gets super muddy, so you will want to ensure you have a plan for packing and washing your clothes after the fact…. Mine was washing everything in the shower afterwards and using the hairdryer to dry things…
With all of that said, below are my recommendations for making the most out of your Chiang Mai packing space:
Chaco Dorra Sandals | NeatPack Foldable Backpack | Forever 21 Floppy Sun Hat | Cheap sunglasses bought in the night markets so if you lose or break them, its OK | a poncho / umbrella | Under Armour UA Fly-By Capri | Coach Messenger with Pop Up Pouch Bag
- Shirts (1 per day): Light, breathable tanks or tees that do not reveal too much. Make sure they can match with lots of prints so, if you buy clothes in Thailand, you can mix and match!
- Maxi skirts or maxi dresses (1 per day): Perfect to wear at temples and they dress up and down so easily! Try and buy ones with slits so you can have a bit more ventilation.
- Athletic capri leggings and top for jungle excursions: Focus on light, breathable, sweat wicking, and easy to clean for your muddy elephant journey or adventure into the jungle.
- Formal wear (number pending your night plans): dresses or nice skirt / top combo. Remember, the night markets are a great way to spend an evening and are very casual so, if you only have two nights, make sure you check out a market for one of them!
- Bathing suit: bring one on the elephant tour and make sure you check out the hotel pool to relax your body after a long day of walking in the heat!
- Buy some elephant pants in the markets. They are the most comfy $5 pants you will ever own. I wore them almost every night!
- Water bottle
- Light scarf: to cover your shoulders at the temples
- Umbrella: for both sun and rain protection
- Hat and sunglasses: A MUST
- Day bag: pack-able backpack recommended to put your shoes in at temples, carry your water and snacks for long days, a change of clothes for after the elephant park, and anything else you may need.
- Sun screen & bug spray: make sure you apply often!
- Purse: A small, zipped (for security reasons), cross-body purse, to carry your personals. Try and make sure it is easy for you to get in and out of when you need to grab your phone or camera quickly to capture your favorite moments of the trip! Also, an easy to clean leather material will help if you maintain it and pick a color that is easy to match with.
- Hand sanitizer
- Tissues / toilet paper: if you want some in the bathrooms…
- Sneakers that can get muddy
- Comfortable walking sandals that are easy to take on and off (at temples)
- Sandals for walking to the spa or pool / hot tub