Thailand’s 8,000+ 7-Eleven locations have dozens of items that you won’t need to pack for your trip. This article will help you pack light.
Things to Leave at Home
When we get into actionable information later in this guide we will look at your one back packing list for Chiang Mai and an extended journey in Thailand.
To provide a little bit of context in advance I thought I would set some expectations in regard to traveler-friendly items which are available nationwide at 7-Eleven locations.
Not Just a Convenience Store, 7-Eleven is Life
Thailand has surpassed 8,000 7-Eleven locations, outpacing the entire United States and following only behind Japan (who has more than 2x the store locations of Thailand).
Why 7-Eleven is a Powerful Ally on Nomad Travels
Knowing what you can find at a 7-Eleven in advance will reduce the amount of baggage you will need to bring on your trip –it is possible to take a one-way flight to Thailand with nothing more than a carry on.
Few retail operations in Thailand are equipped to consistently break larger 1000 baht bills, however 7-Eleven makes it a point to be able to accomplish this with every single purchase. Even if you buy a 5-baht pack of gum, they will happily convert that large bill into smaller bills. And of course, there are a number of bank machines outside store locations which accept bank cards from all over the world.
Each 7-Eleven location traditionally has about 4 to 6 feet of rack space for personal electronics.
Voltage adapters, camera memory cards, USB keys, protective waterproof phone cases, mobile rechargeable speakers, $20 cell phones, SIM cards, and mobile airtime vouchers. They even have DVRs behind the counter, and occasionally will carry USB device battery backups.
Many beach-side 7-Eleven locations are sure to stock sandals, beach towels, kid’s beach toys, and various forms of sun protection such as lotions, sunglasses and hats on their shelves.
Around the official Thai New Year’s Songkran Festival (April 13 – 15), 7-Eleven will also stock an elaborate collection of quality squirt-guns, too.
7-Eleven carries a wide range of medicines and personal care items from cosmetics and remover to skin creams and laundry detergent.
Small caveat; A majority of skin creams for both men and women have skin bleaching qualities and the local condoms are often too small for Westerners. The smaller condoms fit too snugly and are likely to break, so you will need to do a little research.
To overcome these caveats; look for skin creams without bleaching agents, and observe condom sizes on packaging.
Western condom sizes are typically small (52mm), average (54mm) and large (56mm), and in Thailand these sizes range from 45mm to 49mm.
Some brands sold in larger Western sizes 45mm – 56mm are Bodyguard, Playboy, Durex Avanti Bare, Trojan Supra, and 69 brand. Experiment with a few of these to find the right fit.
In addition to lightening your pack, you will also likely rely on 7-Eleven frequently during your nomad travels for the following common products and services:
7-Eleven has got one of the widest selections of spirits in Thailand, second only to hard-to-find bottle stores and European grocers like Makro, Rimping, and the like. Most popular Western spirits are available, as well as several local brands.
Beer, wine, and hard liquor are all available at every store, even in predominantly Muslim areas.
They’ve also got ice, cups, and a bottle-opener near the check-out. Alcohol is only sold from 12pm to 2pm, and again at 5pm to midnight. Times change during government holidays, elections, and Buddhist holidays.
Many 7-Eleven locations will also allow you to purchase bus tickets for select routes. Chiang Mai’s Arcade bus station is a little way out and the ride can cost you anywhere from 60 to 120 baht for one way, so be sure to ask your local 7-Eleven if they sell bus tickets, it could come in handy for a border run.
Worth mention is that you can purchase Green Bus tickets on their website.
Most utility bills in Thailand come with a barcode that can be scanned and added to your other purchases easily at a 7-Eleven. Yes, really. If you thought living in Thailand would feel a little like Blade Runner, this is exactly the kind of stuff I’m sure you were looking for.
In addition to that you can also pay for your Air Asia flights at 7-Eleven. If your booking is over a week away you’ve got 24 hours to pay for your plane ticket at the cash register. If it’s the same week, it may be less time —but still equally amazing.
7-Eleven also has a rewards program. If you’re ever handed little stamps, save them. They’re worth 1 – 3 baht on your next purchase.