Kansas City (Missouri)
I will be living in Chiang Mai for two years and won't have a chance to go back to the states during that time. What are some things/items you would recommend that I consider purchasing and bringing with me that I will not be able to find in Thailand or something that is way better quality in the states?
I agree with Debbie Lee...bring Tampons if you use them. They have them in every 7 Eleven now but only the ones without the applicator.
I miss Kind Bars too - but that is kind of random. ;)
Compared to your two years, I've only spent a limited time in Thailand, but here are three things that I found difficult to acquire. You can find all of these in some form, but they can be very expensive, and not good quality, which you'd want for this kind of stuff.
It's not the end of the world if you don't bring enough stuff. The Thai locals have to use the same stuff as we do in the States, and there are the equivalents of Targets/Walmarts there, and 7-Elevens everywhere. It's just that some things are a little harder to find and can be more expensive, but you'll survive even if you don't bring everything. In my experience, I found that quite a bit of their stuff is actually better or similar quality and cheaper!
By the way, jealous that you get to spend two years in Chiang Mai!
Bring over the counter meds for common cold, gastro issues, headaches etc. They have very different drugs and its nice to have comforts of home. Also if you can get Rx, then bring some common Rx meds you could need like antibiotics. Make sure to comply with all travel laws of course.
I've just moved to Chiang Mai a few days ago after bouncing around Asia for a while and am quite happy that most of the things I can find at home (Australia) I can find here.
Toiletries, electronics and sweets/candy from home are the items that I find issues with finding - all can be sourced over the Internet so I'd only recommend you bring in a small amount if you're limited on space. Stock up every so often with a large Amazon/iHerb/whatever order.
You will find all of the above if you search around locally but they can be costly - well, for Thailand anyway. The longer you're in a country like Thailand, the faster you start laughing at the prices of things. Yesterday I gawked at the ridiculously expensive pair of scissors I wanted to buy - they were $5. But next to $0.80 scissors, my brain automatically assumed they were at least $100 more.
You'll probably find the more hard-to-get stuff costing 5% higher than home. Unless its stuff that foreigner tourists are willing to throw lots of money at such as sunscreen, they'll charge bucketloads.
There are large international chain stores here - so far I've been stumbling on some of my favourite stores like Uniqlo, Muji and Daiso. I say stumbling on as searching on the Internet for these stores is a pain - they don't seem to appear in english searches on sites like google maps and Foursquare.
In the end, ordering stuff online will save you over the first few months and then you'll eventually either transition to local equivalents of items or you'll find a shop tucked away in some laneway that imports what you need.
Plus you have Bangkok around the corner, a return flight can be $50 (less if you're super lucky) so you can go on a shopping binge in their massive malls if you ever feel like it.