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Thailand - What to Wear in Rainy Season

I know Thailand isn't exactly in Europe but was hoping for some advice from the amazing Rick Steve's readers and posters. I'll be in Bangkok the first week of October and it turns out it's the end of the rainy season -- so rain plus hot and sticky! How do people deal with it? Lightweight raincoats? umbrellas? hats?

I'd also appreciate any specific suggestions about lightweight breathable cotton shirts.

Posted by
6391 posts

I go to Thailand regularly, and have family there. Have been there often in the rainy season.

I'm from Seattle so Goretex is my religion, but in Thailand it's all Umbrellas. No raincoats or rain hats - it seems like opposite world to me.

Keep in mind that the rain is not all day - it's usually just hot and humid and sticky and muggy, then the sky splits open and it rains HARD for a while. Maybe just 15 minutes, sometimes for an hour or three, but then it stops, and after an all-too-brief and refreshing cool-down, it's back to incredibly hot and humid and muggy. So you certainly need to plan for serious rain, but it's not an all-day thing.

Thais will be in whatever they usually wear - lightweight clothes, often flip-fops (but also standard "western" business or fashion attire, monks in orange robes and flip-flops). When the rain starts, the umbrellas come out, people manage. Do anticipate the streets running with unbelievable amounts of water so either be very careful where you step to avoid stepping into deep water (good luck) or wear something (like flip-flops or other rubber sandals) that don't absorb water. Localized flooding is not uncommon. But it's all routine, generally no big deal, the locals will take it in stride.

I still pack a good waterproof Goretex hat (I never go anywhere without it - it also works to keep the intense sun off) and a lightweight raincoat (packs to the size of a softball). I'd only use the rain jacket if I'm caught out somewhere (at a temple or ruin or on the deck of a speedboat crossing to an island - saved my bacon). In all urban areas, the umbrellas are everywhere (don't bring one, you can always find one).

Learn this phrase: "mai pen rai". Literal translation is "it doesn't matter" but it's commonly used to express "no problem!" You will hear it a lot.

Enjoy the land of smiles.

Posted by
2451 posts

Carry a couple banana leaves with you — cheap, sustainable, replaceable.

Posted by
5098 posts

I'm with David, umbrella!

I've been in Thailand during the rainy season and trust me, you do not want to be wearing waterproofs in that heat and humidity. Shorts, T-shirt, flip-flops and an umbrella are the perfect combination. If it starts chucking it down just nip into the nearest bar and see it out.

Posted by
176 posts

For a monsoon rain I've used a light weight rain poncho with a hood. They are easy to compact to a tiny bundle, dry quickly, and are inexpensive. An umbrella is useful too if it's not raining too hard.