How to win rainy season in Thailand? Let’s start with my favourite travel sentence ever: “There’s no such thing as bad weather. Just people wearing the wrong clothes”. Brilliant. So that’s my take on what to wear for rainy season in Thailand: pack the right things and even “big, old, fat rain” won’t slow you down.
Note that rainy season occurs at different times of the year in different parts of Thailand. On Koh Samui it’s roughly October, November and December.
What to wear for rainy season in Thailand?
Your rain jacket
First order of business: your rain jacket. Leave your sissy “water-repellancy” at home. Thailand’s rainy season will not be repelled. You need waterPROOF. Ideally, you want a lightweight but sturdy, and properly waterproof rain jacket (with a big hood). These Columbia rain jackets get my vote for their:
- totally waterproof taped seams
- adjustable hoods
- lightweight/breathable fabric for steamy weather
Better still, they pack down to nothing and have tons of reviews to back up the waterproof promise.
Can you get rain jackets in Thailand?
In Bangkok, shopping successes are easy. Elsewhere, especially in beach destinations like Koh Samui, you can find rain jackets (of dubious quality) in most supermarkets, and expensive imported brand-names (like Superdry) in department stores. In most cases, both varieties will be for Thai-sized people (S to XS).
Are rain ponchos suitable?
Disposable plastic ponchos are the easiest rain-gear to find. They’re available all over Thailand, but they don’t last long and don’t feel nice to wear – you start to feel like a goldfish swimming in a plastic bag.
The best shoes for rainy season
My no-contest, #1 vote for a rainy season shoe? Crocs Beach Line boat shoes. They:
- have great traction on slippery surfaces
- are comfortable for walking long distances
- are absolutely ideal for wet weather
While Crocs shoes in general are a perfect rainy season choice, these are “Crocs in disguise” and work well in dressier situations, for travel and in cities, too.
The best rainy season sandals
Avoid flip-flops at all costs (as I explain below). Yet sturdier sandals are great options – all of these sandals are made to get wet. Above all, choose sandals that have great grip and will stay on your feet (rather than committing acts of slippery treachery).
I wouldn’t recommend wearing these to dinner at a nice resort, but they’ll get you through days of sight-seeing, exploring and activities in comfort and safety.
The worst shoes for rainy season
Although flip-flops are a perfect choice in Thailand the rest of the year, during rainy season, the entire country becomes a slippery banana peel. Flip-flops can be downright dangerous. You don’t want to mince about in a scared-to-slip-shuffle, you want to enjoy your holiday.
Can sports shoes be worn in rainy season?
Running shoes/trainers will get wet, but they’re much safer than flip-flops. A light-weight, thin fabric style of mesh sports shoe – like Aleader water shoes – will dry more quickly than traditional leather-uppers gym shoes. However, if you’re stuck with regular running shoes and get soaked, set to them with a hotel hair dryer and stuff them with balled-up newspaper overnight.
The best fabric for rainy season
The rest of the year, when Thailand is sunny but not quite as humid, your best fabrics include linen and very light-weight cotton, rayon and silk. In white! For rainy season, erase all notes to date and start over. When wet, cotton is undesirable as it takes ages to dry. Instead, pack quicker-drying fabrics.
- synthetics with wicking and/or quick-dry properties, like polyester and nylon
- linen (my favourite fabric for the tropics, year-round)
Avoid these fabrics in rainy season
- cotton (especially if it’s thick)
- anything absorbent, including rayon, lyocell, tencel, etc.
As a test, the next time you take a load of clothes out of the washing machine, consider which you’d rather put on right then and there. It won’t be your jeans.
What colour clothing for rainy season?
Can you wear white? Sure … if you’re planning to win a wet T-shirt contest. Otherwise, no matter how much you associate white linen trousers with vacation, white clothes aren’t much use to one’s modesty when wet. As such, I only recommend wearing dark coloured clothing in rainy season. Juuuust in case.
Are pants/trousers or shorts better for rainy season?
In terms of bottoms, try to strike a clever balance with the length of your clothes’ hems. Longer clothes will offer you more protection against Thailand’s mosquitoes (kept very happy in rainy season), while shorter ones won’t get wet in puddles.
As such, a mixture of shorts and pants (and skirts/dresses of varying lengths) are great to pack. You’ll then have choices depending on your itinerary each day.
Shorts and pants made of a quick-dry material are ideal. If you can’t quit the zip-off pants-into-shorts magic trick, they would – I admit – be very useful in rainy season.
What tops are best for rainy season?
For tops, pack shirts with different sleeve-lengths, including a long-sleeve option. While it doesn’t get cold (low 20s C / 70s F), it can be breezy in rainy season and times it’s properly windy.
Light layers will help you to easily adjust if a hot day turns into a cooler, windier one. In addition to your light-weight rain jacket, a pashmina or a light sweater or cardigan are nice to have, especially early in the morning and at night.
Can you wear skirts and dresses in rainy season?
Yes, certainly – once they’ve passed two tests:
- First, the ‘Marilyn Test’. It can be very windy during rainy season!
- Next, consider its silhouette when it’s drenched and sticking to you – some options will fare better than others.
Leggings in rainy season?
For women (or fairly confident men), leggings or yoga pants are a great rainy season option. They dry quickly and are really comfortable for the best rainy season activities: lounging, massages, yoga and eating.
What not to wear in rainy season?
Jeans. No, no, no, no. Yuck. When was the last time you tried to peel off soaking wet skinny jeans? You can’t.
Helpful rainy season extras
“Is it still raining?”
Oh yes you freaking have noticed.
Four quick tips for any girls headed into the
fray Thailand’s peak humidity. They’re not “can’t-live-without” necessary, but will be definitely helpful for looking (and feeling) like a human being, no matter how hard it rains:
- A really good travel umbrella that will survive strong wind
- Waterproof mascara (this brand is cruelty-free)
- An invisibobble hair tie – plastic, so it doesn’t stay wet
- Frizz-Ease. If you don’t need this … I’m jealous.
Your rainy season packing checklist
Now that you know exactly what to wear for rainy season in Thailand, run through this quick check-list before locking your suitcase shut.
As a final test, use this worst-case rainy season checklist to review your clothes and shoes:
1. Best case, what if it’s actually hot and sunny?
Not to get your hopes up, but who knows. Can your suitcase adjust for nice weather surprises?
2. Can you wade?
Do you have shoes or sandals that can (A) wade through big puddles, (B) stay on your feet while doing so, and (C) survive to see another day?
3. Are you slip-proof?
4. The ‘Marilyn’ test?
Will your clothes hold up in a wind tunnel?
5. Forrest Gump-style rain?
Can your shoes and clothes withstand getting caught in a torrential downpour without endangering you (or getting ruined)?
6. Leaving white at home?
Will your clothes accidentally feature you in a Wet T-shirt Contest? Avoid white, girls! Above all else, make sure you’re prepared against Thailand’s mosquitoes – an inevitability when the humidity rises. Find out how I visit Thailand with the world’s best natural repellent, and never get bitten.
What to wear in rainy season – recap:
- A totally waterproof rain jacket and/or…
- A quality rain poncho
- Slip-proof shoes like Crocs and/or…
- Slip-proof sandals like Tevas
- Quick-dry fabrics, but no denim
- Dark colours instead of white T-shirts
- A light sweater
- Pants, shorts, leggings and “Marilyn-proof” dresses
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