Thailand vs Bhutan
While not required, we suggest starting your trip in Bangkok, Thailand. Arriving there a day or two before your flight to Bhutan will help you adjust to the time change. The weather will factor into your packing as it is quite different between Thailand and Bhutan. Thailand is hot and humid whereas Bhutan tends to be much cooler and less humid. Consider bringing an outfit just for Thailand that may get sweaty that you don’t need in Bhutan. If you are planning a longer stay in Thailand, consider bringing a bag just for that leg of your trip. You can store it at the Bangkok Airport Luggage Storage or at your hotel in Bangkok while away in Bhutan.
Many of the temples worth visiting in Bangkok require visitors to wear leg coverings. Lightweight pants or long skirts are perfect for this. I brought a sarong that I carried in my bag and put it on before entering the temples. This way I could bear the heat and humidity between temple visits. There are many things to see and do in Bangkok – check out our First Timer’s Guide To Bangkok for some suggestions.
The packing list in our Trip Details has a great packing list for what you’ll need both the on and off the river. We’ll provide wetsuits, paddling jackets, helmets, and PFDs. We recommend quick dry shorts and/or swimsuits to wear along with the wetsuits. A lightweight long-sleeve shirt is great to keep the sun off and keep you warm.
Note that you will be able to change clothes on the bus or in a changing tent at the river. Each river day we suggest you pack a backpack or small day bag for on- and off-river activities. The sarong I brought for Thailand came in handy for changing riverside!
This portion of the packing list is the most important. Bring simple, functional, and practical clothes that are comfortable for you. The weather is what I would consider classic fall, cool in the morning, warm and sunny during the day, and cool in the evenings. Dressing in layers is ideal so you can be ready for the temperature changes and various excursions while on the move for the entire day.
You will be visiting a handful of monasteries and fortresses (Dzongs) where nice, long-sleeved shirts as required. Other tops that are nice to have are:
- Cotton t-shirt for layering on top of
- A top made of synthetic materials that dries fast is nice if you want to wash it in the sink and wear it the next day
- A sweatshirt, light puffy jacket, or sweater
Some of the more formal Dzongs or monasteries may require collared shirts so you’ll want to bring one with you each day just in case.
Since many of our stops and visits require long pants or skirts, pack a couple of options that are comfortable. A nice pair of jeans or lighter pants work well for all-day wear. Dresses are fine as well but long sleeves are needed in Dzongs so please layer appropriately.
Leggings and yoga pants are acceptable for some monasteries but not appropriate for others. Shorts are generally only appropriate on the river, hiking, or relaxing around the hotel.
Bring something comfortable for being on your feet all day and walking around. Another tip is to pack shoes that are easy-on/easy-off as there are many Dzongs and temples where you must take your shoes off. Examples are Blundstones, clogs, or trail sneakers. These suggestions are intentionally all close-toed since some of the Dzongs and temples also require close-toed shoes. Keep in mind to wear socks as going barefoot in places where you are required to remove shoes isn’t ideal.
You’ll definitely want hiking footwear for our hike to Tiger’s Nest.
Additionally be sure to bring shoes or sandals that can get wet while we are rafting. They need to stay on your feet and ideally they can grip on wet rock. Check out our complete guide to river shoes to learn more.
For the first few days of the trip we’ll be on the move making it hard to do laundy. Once we get to Punakha we’ll be spending a few nights at the same hotel. If you’d like to wash your clothes, this would be a good time to do so. You can wash items in your hotel room sink and hang them in your room to dry. Alternatively, the hotel has a laundry service with prices that vary based on what/how much you need to be washed. Please plan ahead to ensure the hotel has enough time to wash and dry your clothes before departure from Punakha.
There are always a few odds and ends nice to have with you while away from home. Here is a list of a few things to consider while you pack.
Daypack Bring a backpack or small tote to keep with you on the bus each day. Pack what you need for the day as it may be difficult to get access to your suitcase while in transit. Items to pack are clothing layers, water bottle, sunglasses, medications, snacks, camera, and sunscreen.
Travel Adapters Many hotels in Bhutan have plug-ins that fit American 2- and 3-prong plugs and they may have adapters to borrow. Also, power adapters are inexpensive and readily available at hardware stores in Thimphu. However, if you’d like to plan ahead and ensure you have an adapter for Thailand, you can purchase a universal adapter. My personal favorite is this 4-1 adapter that has worked well throughout my international travels.