I like to think of myself as a bit of an expert when it comes to packing for Southeast Asia!
I absolutely adore this part of the world and have spent quite a lot of time there over the years.
And I definitely intend to keep going back!
Although I’ve travelled in Hong Kong, China, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and the Philippines, there are still countless places I want to explore.
When it comes to packing for Southeast Asia, I can tell you that less is definitely more.
There is no point in packing loads of different outfits because they are either a: not going to be worn, b: get lost in laundry services or c: get left in hostels.
Plus, I can guarantee that you will end up buying a whole new wardrobe in the many cheap markets that you’ll find.
So with that in mind, let’s get started with the Luggage List and packing for Southeast Asia!
- Light layers: Stick to a few pairs of shorts/skirts and T-shirts/vests. I usually have a dress that is good for both beach days and bar nights. It’s also a good idea to have a light option that covers your legs and shoulders for temple trips, although you will be able to buy a flowy skirt or a pair of “elephant pants” when you’re out there. A scarf or sarong is also useful for this purpose.
- Warmer layers: You won’t need many of these. I recommend a pair of leggings or light trousers and a cardigan. I do not recommend jeans!
- Shoes: Keep it simple with flip flops and a pair of comfortable shoes for walking.
- Swimwear: I found it hard to find swimwear out there that fitted me well, so bring a couple of options with you.
- Raincoat: It can rain hard in Southeast Asia, but it’ll still be warm, so make sure your raincoat is light and doesn’t take up too much space.
- Sunglasses/sun hat: Whether you’re on the beach, exploring a temple complex or wandering around a town, that sun can be very intense! Protect yourself with sunglasses and a hat.
- Quick-dry towel: The last thing you want in a humid climate is a heavy towel that’s always wet and stinking! Micro-fibre towels are great because they dry quickly and they don’t take up much space in your bag.
- Day bag: You won’t want to be carrying ALL your luggage with you all the time, so bring a smaller bag for your day trips and adventures. I also like to use a lightweight bag that folds up into a pouch if I’m just spending a day on the beach.
- Filter bottle: It’s not advisable to drink the tap water in Southeast Asia. Bringing a water bottle with a built in filter will solve this problem without adding to the amount of plastic being thrown out.
- Phone/camera: Trust me, you are going to want to take a lot of photos!
- Charger/adaptor: It’s best to buy an international travel adaptor for your journeys in Southeast Asia because the sockets vary between countries.
- First aid kit: It’s better to be safe than sorry! I’ve always been more pleased to have a first aid kit handy in Southeast Asia than anywhere else!
- Padlock: These can come in handy so often! A lot of hostels with have lockers for your bags but many won’t have a lock. Get a combination lock so you don’t need to worry about losing a key.
- Sunscreen: Probably the most important one of them all! Stay protected and keep safe with a good SPF sunscreen.
- Deodorant: You will get hot and you will get sticky. Think of the person sat next to you on the bus or sharing a dorm room with you and keep yourself feeling fresh!
- Shampoo/body wash: If you can get hold of one, I highly recommend shampoo bars for when you’re travelling. They don’t take up much space, they save plastic and they feel so good on your hair!
- Insect repellent: One of the downsides of Southeast Asia is the mosquitoes. Not only are they very irritating, but they can also carry nasty diseases. Keep a bottle of insect repellent handy at all times.
- Hand sanitiser: It’s not always easy to keep your hands clean while travelling. A bottle of hand sanitiser will solve that problem!
There are, of course, many other things that you might want to include when you’re packing for Southeast Asia, but I stand by what I said about less being more.
You will either be travelling in the dry season or the wet season. Packing for either is essentially the same, but you’ll probably use your raincoat a bit more often in the wet season.
Even so, you’ll still have a lot of hot, dry weather, so don’t let that put you off!
Southeast Asia is a wonderful area with so many different cultures, practices and landscapes that it’s impossible to get bored!
If I can continue exploring these countries in the future then I’ll continue to consider myself very lucky.
Is there anything else you’d add when packing for Southeast Asia? Do you have any questions about what I’ve included here? Let me know in the comments! 🙂
Want more like this? Check out these articles:
- Luggage List: Packing for Hong Kong
- Luggage List: Packing for Samoa
- Angkor Wat: Why you should ditch the tuk-tuk tour
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