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The Ultimate Southeast Asia Packing List: Essentials for Your Suitcase

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The Ultimate Southeast Asia Packing List: Essentials for Your Suitcase

How to design a South East Asia Packing List

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You’re headed to Southeast Asia! So exciting! You’ve set the itinerary, booked the flights, and made hotel reservations. Now what? Oh, that’s right, it’s time to pack. Let our Southeast Asia Packing List be your guide.

Arguably the most daunting part of all travel prep, packing and considering what to bring to ensure that your trip is flawless and memorable can be a stressful time.

But not to fear! Below you will find our guide to the Ultimate Southeast Asia Packing List.

Things to carry while traveling in SOuth East Asia
Planning for a packing list for travels in and around South East Asia

Before we get into specifics, here are the countries that are considered to be a part of Southeast Asia:

  1. Thailand
  2. Vietnam
  3. Cambodia
  4. Singapore
  5. Laos
  6. Myanmar (Burma)
  7. Indonesia
  8. Malaysia
  9. The Philippines
  10. Brunei
  11. Timor-Leste

Adaptors

South East Asia Packing List: Finding an adapter
Choose an appropriate adapter for South East Asian countries

There is nothing worse than getting to a new country and realizing (too late) that your cords do not fit in the hotel or Airbnb’s outlets. Having the right adaptor is one of the most important things you should pack! We have compiled a list of plug adaptors for all of our favorite Southeast Asian destinations.

Countries and Their Plug Types:

  1. Thailand: A, B, C
  2. Vietnam: A, C, F
  3. Cambodia: A, C, G
  4. Singapore: G
  5. Laos: A, B, C, E, F
  6. Myanmar (Burma): C, D, F, G
  7. Indonesia: C
  8. Malaysia: G
  9. The Philippines: A, B, C
  10. Brunei: G
  11. Timor-Leste (East Timor): C, E, F, I

Seeing as though many Southeast Asian countries have multiple plug types, we highly recommend buying a TESSAN International Power Adaptor to ensure that you will be able to charge your essentials while on your trip.

There is nothing worse than getting off a 13-hour flight and getting to your hotel in your exciting new destination and having your phone run out of battery because you either have the wrong adaptor or no adaptor. Furthermore, this will also come in handy if you plan on visiting multiple countries while in Southeast Asia (which you should!).

Luggage Types: Backpacks & Suitcases

It is possible to bring just a backpack or just a suitcase to Southeast Asia. We recommend bringing both. Depending on your itinerary and the location of your travels, it might be wise to bring a large backpack, this is the one we use, rather than roller luggage. This is important if you’re on the move. If you tend to stay at a destination for more than 4 or 5 days, then we recommend rolling luggage.

If you are determined to pack light and use a backpack for your trip, you’ll want to take a look at the following backpack packing tips!

How to choose an backpack for South East Asia Packing List
Choosing an apt backpack for South East Asia travel is an important factor

How to pack a backpack for travel: Backpacking in Southeast Asia

Backpacking in Southeast Asia is a very popular option for several reasons. The first is that it is easy to maneuver Southeast Asian countries. There is a good infrastructure network for travelers, as they know travelers are the main source of many of their country’s GDPs. Deciding whether backpacking is for you can be based on a few criteria:

  1. How long do you want to stay in a city?
  2. Would you rather see more with less comfort, or see less with more comfort?
  3. Do you want to see rural parts of a country or get to know major cities?
  4. Do you enjoy the hostel life, or would you prefer hotels?

Using these questions will help guide your decision to bring a backpack. If you prefer spending less tie in a city, do not prioritize comfort, want to see rural parts of a country and do not mind hostels, you should consider backpacking. However, even if just a few of these are true for you, we would still recommend backpacking

If you’re considering backpacking in Southeast Asia, consider the following packing tips!

Hand Washable Clothing

Make sure you pack clothing that is easy to hand wash. Since a backpack has a very limited amount of space, packing only clothes you can handwash will help utilize this space as optimally as possible!

Heavier items closer to your back, lighter items closer to the edge.

If you’re bringing your laptop or camera equipment, make sure that these items are placed close to your backside. This will save your back and shoulders from excessive strain. Conversely, lighter things should be close to the edge of the backpack. Not only is it better for your back, it makes you less likely to break your heavy expensive items.

Purchase an actual travel backpack!

Although this might seem like a given, buying a backpack that is built to carry a lot in a small amount of space can make the world of difference. The key is not to buy a backpack for school or for work. Here are a few of our suggestions:

Check out this Osprey Backpack

This NEVO backpack is a bargain

So we’ve covered plug adaptors and backpack travel, but we cannot begin talking about our Southeast Asia packing list for countries such as Thailand and Vietnam without first talking about what will be the deciding factor in what you do or don’t bring: Weather!

Weather in Southeast Asia

Research about weather condition before planning a trip to SOuth East Asia and pack accordingly
Information about weather condition helps you pack for South East Asia effectively

Although each country has its own unique weather patterns, there is one common factor. Southeast Asia is an overall tropical climate, making it hot, humid, AND wet for most of the year.

Temperatures average 80F degrees (30C degrees). Not to mention, monsoon season sweeps through most countries during the months of June through September.

But don’t let its hot reputation fool you! Parts of Southeast Asia can get a bit chilly.

Northern Vietnam is an exception to the tropical climate of its neighbors. From December through to February, temperatures can get as low as 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius). The entire country of Laos can also be slightly unpredictable in regards to weather, so be sure to keep an eye on it the weeks before you’re leaving.

It is also important to note that Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, The Philippines, and Taiwan all can get direct hits from Typhoons between May and November. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled before you decide to leave. Each country has its own weather alert system, so be sure to download it if there is any chance for a typhoon while you are visiting.

Additionally, if you’re traveling to Southeast Asia during these months, purchase travel insurance so that if a typhoon is forecasted to hit your destination, that you’re prepared for any flight cancelations, or worse, other storm-related dangers.

Time to Pack: The Most Important Things you Need to Bring

How to plan for a South East Asia Packing List
Various factors determine what goes in the final South East Asia Packing List

There are essentials you should bring with you to any country that we will briefly cover below.

  1. Copies of your travel documents

You never know what type of rules regarding carrying identification apply to the country you are visiting. It is best to carry two types with you, regardless of whether you are backpacking. A driver’s license for basic identification, and a passport for when you need to prove you’re legally in the country. Definitely do not go around flashing your passport 24/7 – only show it if government officials ask you.

  • Write down hotel information (addresses, names, etc.) on a piece of paper and put it in your wallet

If, for some reason, the internet is out or cell phone reception is either inaccessible or down, you want to have this information with you. Your wallet is usually the closest thing on your person, so be sure to keep any information that you need in there.

  • Medicine

If you have prescriptions, bring those. However, BE SURE TO CHECK LOCAL LAWS. Not all medicines are legal in all countries, so be 100% sure you check those and come up with a plan if there are potential problems.

Here are some Southeast Asia packing list essentials, specifically, what to pack for popular destinations such as Thailand and Vietnam! While there are specific things for each country, as a rule of thumb, what you bring to Thailand and Vietnam are what you would bring to the rest of Southeast Asia.

What to pack for Thailand:

Packing for Thailand: South East Asia Packing list
Packing list for Thailand travel
  1. Lightweight, light-colored clothing:

It’s going to be hot and humid, so wearing light-weight, light-colored clothing will help you stay cool.

  • Lightweight raincoat/umbrella:

It may be hot, but odds are it will rain while you’re in Thailand. Bring a light raincoat and/or an umbrella to keep you from getting soaked.

  • Waterproof shoes:

Especially if you find yourself in Thailand during monsoon season, having a good pair of waterproof footwear will help keep your feet dry while exploring.

  • Hiking boots/athletic sneakers:

Your itinerary will determine whether or not this is necessary. If you know you want to explore the countryside and historic sites, you might want to bring a good pair of hiking shoes or sneakers.

But even if you plan on staying in the city, Southeast Asian cities are expansive and require a lot of walking. Be sure to pack shoes with good soles to avoid any sore feet at the end of a jampacked day.

  • Comfortable sandals:

Sometimes a good pair of sandals is all you need to keep cool while out and about in the heat, just make sure they are comfortable and meant for walking!

  • Mosquito Spray:

This is something you do not want to forget! To protect you from contracting potential diseases such as malaria, make room for some form of mosquito repellant. Recommended products: DEET, or Icaridin.

  • A Reusable Water Bottle:

Make sure you bring a good water bottle with you to stay hydrated on your trip, like the Yeti Rambler Bottle. Preferably fill it using bottled water, not tap, and you’ll have cold water all day!

  • Sunscreen:

A must for any day out in the sun, especially when you’re on vacation! You definitely don’t want to get sunburned while on your trip.

  • Anti-Chafe Products (a personal preference): 

Spending all day walking around in the heat can lead to sweating, which can lead to the dreaded possibility of chaffing. Bring along some Anti-Chafe products to make sure you stay comfortable and able to explore! Recommended products: Body Glide: Anti-Chafe Balm.

  • Sunglasses

You will thank yourself for bringing these. We swear the sun shines brighter in Southeast Asia. Definitely bring these so you aren’t squinting for 10 hours a day.

What women should pack for Thailand:

Choosing dress for women during Thailand Travels: South East Asia Packing List
Light floral design in women clothing are apt addition on a South East Asia Packing List
  1. A lightweight scarf or kimono:

Especially if you plan on visiting temples in Bangkok, you should have a lightweight scarf or lightweight kimono on hand. Some countries, such as Thailand, value and appreciate your modesty, especially at sacred sites.

  • Only bring tops that cover your shoulders: (No tank tops!):

To blend in and be respectful, women should stick to tops that cover the shoulders; especially when exploring outside of tourist hotspots!

  • Comfortable Sandals:

For exploring beaches or temples, it’s a good idea to have a pair of sandals at hand. Sandals that are easy to slip on and off are best!

  • Waterproof Sneakers:

Everyone needs a good pair of closed-toed walking shoes, but specific to Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia, get waterproof ones!

What men should pack for Thailand:

What should men pack while traveling in Thailand: South East Asia Packing List
Packing list for Thailand: Specific to men
  1. No Tank Tops!

The no shoulder rule is not limited to women. It is just as disrespectful for a man to wear a tank top, or worse, no shirt at all, especially when there isn’t a beach close by. To combat the heat when you’re not visiting temples, just wear clothes that breathe well!

  • Comfortable sandals:

Whether for walking on the beach, or for easy removal when visiting temples, a pair of sandals is a must.

  • Waterproof Sneakers:

Don’t let the rain put a damper on your itinerary! Get a pair of waterproof shoes that are good for walking. This is especially true for those of you who are backpacking!

Be sure that if you are backpacking to bring what makes sense for you. If you are backpacking, you probably do not need to bring a Kimono. Be sure to think it through and give yourself several days to pack so you you have time to buy things you need.

Vietnam Highlight: What to Bring for a Successful Trip

Things to pack while traveling in Vietnam: Packing list for South East Asia
Traveling in Vietnam needs a couple of specific items in the packing list
  1. Lightweight, light-colored clothing:

Just like Thailand, Vietnam is known for its humid climate, so it is important to pack clothing that will help minimize sweating!

  • A lightweight raincoat and/or umbrella:

Monsoon season isn’t limited to Thailand alone; Vietnam is also prone to some rainy weather! Make sure to pack a raincoat and/or umbrella so you can still enjoy your visit, even if it’s raining.

  1. Waterproof shoes:

A raincoat and an umbrella will help keep most of you dry, but what about your feet? Nothing’s worse than trying to enjoy the sights in soggy socks! Having a good pair of waterproof shoes will help make your trip enjoyable, rain or shine.

  • Hiking boots/athletic sneakers:

Just like Thailand, Vietnam also has amazing tourist destinations that might require a bit of walking! If you’re planning to hike through Sapa, located outside of Hanoi in Northern Vietnam, a good pair of walking shoes is a must.

  • Comfortable sandals:

Depending on your destination, a comfortable pair of sandals is ideal for hot days and sandy beaches!

  • (For Northern Vietnam only) light jacket and pants:

 As we discussed, Northern Vietnam is prone to temperatures of 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius) During December all the way through February. If you’re planning a trip to Hanoi in January, packing a light jacket and a pair of pants might not be the worst idea!

The next few items are a must, regardless of your destination, so make sure to bring these to make your trip to Vietnam all the more memorable!

  • Mosquito Spray:

Mosquitos are an equal threat to your health in Vietnam! To protect you from contracting potential diseases such as malaria, make room for some form of mosquito repellant. Recommended products: DEET, or Icaridin.

  • A Reusable Water Bottle:

Make sure you bring a good water bottle with you to stay hydrated on your trip, like the Yeti Rambler Bottle. Preferably fill it from bottled water, not tap water, and you’ll have cold water all day!

  • Sunscreen:

Despite its rainy reputation, Vietnam is no stranger to sunshine! Sunscreen is a must.

  • Anti-Chafe Products (a personal preference): 

Spending all day walking around in the heat can lead to sweating, which can lead to the dreaded possibility of chaffing. Bring along some Anti-Chafe products to make sure you stay comfortable! Recommended products: Body Glide: Anti-Chafe Balm.

Important for women traveling to Vietnam:

Things to pack for Vietnam: South East Asia Packing List
Packing list for Vietnam: specific to women
  1. Northern Vietnam is more conservative than Southern Vietnam:

In Southern cities such as Ho Chi Min, it is more culturally appropriate to wear western clothing such as shorts, tank tops, and dresses that fall above the knee, just as long as they are not too revealing.

  • Maxi skirts:

Having a loose, flowing, maxi skirt or dress will be a must for visiting less-touristy areas, and Northern parts of Vietnam.

  • A lightweight scarf or kimono:

Like Thailand, Vietnam is still warming up to the idea of tank tops. If you plan on visiting sacred sites, having something to cover your shoulders is a must.

Note about Vietnam for Ladies: Beauty standards in Vietnam differ largely from the western world. As a result, you may not have access to the types of beauty products you need while you are in Vietnam. So be sure to bring everything you will need the entire time you are in Vietnam and in Southeast Asia.

Important for men traveling to Vietnam:

Things a man needs to pack for South East Asia
Packing list for Vietnam: Specific to men
  1. No tank tops!

Just like in Thailand, it is frowned upon for men to wear tank tops, or go shirtless unless of course, you are at the beach.

  • Consider bringing a pair of pants:

For occasions where it is culturally expected that men wear pants, especially when visiting temples, it is important for men to have a pair of comfortable, lightweight pants. No jeans! This will help keep you cooler amidst the heat.

That about sums it up!

Packing is an important part of a successful trip. Some people know exactly what they need to bring, while other people find themselves staring blankly into their empty suitcase. Please use this Southeast Asia packing list as a guide to help direct your packing. Enjoy your Southeast Asian trip!

Let us know your favorite travel accessories you can’t leave home without in the comments section below!

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item or service, we will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. However, rest assured all opinions remain our own.

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Chris and Reg are an interracial, married, travel-obsessed couple exploring the world, and are the founders of Chris and Reg Travel. Our motto is enjoying 5-star quality at 3-star prices. Our goal is to help you enjoy the same comfort without blowing the budget.

The U.S. is a multi-cultural and ethnic melting pot. Traveling has enriched our experience, allowing us to become more familiar with those around us and in our own communities. We see travel as a valuable opportunity to help others embrace diversity to make the world a more peaceful place for ALL.

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