My first encounter with the Chiang Mai jungle was far from what you would consider prepared. Armed with only a pair of white converse and a drawstring backpack, I attempted to brave the lush interior of Northern Thailand. This, as you could probably guess, was a huge mistake.
I am no trekking pro (clearly a novice), but if there’s anything I learned from my first jungle trek in Chiang Mai, it is exactly what you need to pack and wear. Unless you’ve adventured through your fair share of mountains and forests, you should keep reading this guide if you want to know exactly what to pack for Chiang Mai, Thailand.
What to Pack for Chiang Mai Jungle Trekking
First, you should know that the jungle is hot, humid and wet, so leave any nice clothes at home. When venturing into the jungle, you’ll need to be prepared for rainy and unexpected conditions, such as being sprayed by an elephant or falling off of your bamboo boat, so water-resistant clothing is best. Opt for lightweight gear and make sure you have a change of clothes in your backpack (or multiple changes of clothes). You don’t need to dress like Indiana Jones, but you’ll need suitable gear to help you trek through unmarked trails, wade through water and avoid close encounters with the jungle bugs. I’d recommend a good pair of leggings and a tank top or t-shirt and maybe even a hat.
Also, don’t forget your bathing suit! This was another big mistake I made. The jungle is full of waterfalls, rivers, and creeks, meaning you’ll have plenty of opportunities to jump in for a swim.
Necessary Chiang Mai Jungle Gear
My next big jungle tip: You should definitely have a backpack. I made the mistake of heading to the Chiang Mai jungle with a drawstring bag that I threw into my carryon as a just-in-case item. It actually came in handy, as you can tell from the photo below, but I would recommend taking a real backpack with you. This will allow you to store all of your belongings properly, plus you’ll be able to fit much more into a real backpack than a drawstring bag.
If you’re planning on taking any electronics with you (like a phone or DSLR) you’ll want to either have a waterproof backpack or a smaller waterproof bag that you can put your electronics into. Like I mentioned before, the jungle is crazy humid and wet, so you’ll want to protect your things! If you don’t want to spend money on expensive waterproof bags, you could totally use a gallon Ziploc bag. If the only electronic device you plan on bringing with you is your phone, you should consider getting a waterproof phone case like this one – I definitely wish I would’ve had one with me.
The third most important thing you should bring with you is a water bottle! Trekking through the sweltering hot jungle is going to make you extra thirsty, so make sure you have a water bottle with you. These S’well bottles are my absolute favorite – they keep your drink cold for 24 hours and, equally important, they have really cute designs.
Honestly, if you’re going to be going on a one or two-day jungle trek, you really don’t need to buy special shoes. A good pair of tennis shoes should do just fine. However, if you’re doing some intense trekking, you might want to consider getting a pair of waterproof hiking boots. Additionally, keeping a pair of flip-flops in your bag is always a good idea – you never know when you might need them.
What to Pack for Chiang Mai Jungle Checklist
To make things easy for you, I’ve provided a checklist below to make packing for your Chiang Mai jungle trek a breeze so you show up fully prepared (and avoid making the same mistakes I did):
- Extra dry clothes (and socks!) *the number of items you need may vary depending on the length of your tour
- Small towel
- Walking shoes (or boots) and flip-flops
- Mosquito repellent* (this is a must)
- Hat and/or sunglasses
- Waterproof case for phone and/or other electronics
- External battery for charging your phone
- Personal toiletries (including toilet paper, or at least a pack of tissues)
- Lightweight raincoat or windbreaker
- Hand sanitizer
- Water bottle (even though the drinks and meals are usually taken care of on an organized hike, it’s always a good idea to carry a water bottle with you)
Warning: Expect some jealous looks from the less-prepared folks.
First time traveling to Thailand? Don’t skip Bangkok, my all-time favorite Southeast Asian city! Check out this Bangkok Travel Guide for inside tips on visiting Thailand’s capital.