I have always found that packing, while it can be one of the more exciting bits of a trip (yay, travels and adventure are upon me!), it’s also one of the most stressful. This is even more accurate when traveling to a different country because there’s more research involved. What kind of outlets do they have? What do the hotels/hostels keep in stock? What’s the weather like? What is easily available in this country, and what will I never be able to find? These are the kinds of questions that buzz through my head.
While my trip to Vietnam wasn’t 100% backpacking (we stayed in nice hotels and had everything planned out in advance), we still brought backpacks for the trip since we were advised that rolling suitcases will be difficult to manage. Did we see tourists with those? Oh, of course, but it didn’t make their trip easier.
This list is generally geared towards women (although if you’re a man and want to wear a maxi skirt, you go Glen Coco!), but provides as a basic list for anyone heading to this area of the world.
General Packing/Preparation Tips
- Group clothing and items into gallon size bags. It will be easier to find what you are looking for.
- Put the heavier things towards the bottom of your pack. Your shoulders will thank you later!
- In general, I think it’s wise to pack more underwear than you think you will need. Some things I can wear more than once/slightly dirty, but never underwear!
- That being said – LESS IS MORE. You might think you need 3 pairs of sandals and 5 cute tops as options, but that’s just taking up room you could use for souvenirs. You really don’t need everything.
- Keep your valuables at home. Although I never was truly worried about my safety in Vietnam, I still left my wedding ring behind and wore this silicone band for my travels, which ended up working out quite nicely.
- Always keep your passport in a safe spot – it is, in fact, probably the most important item you carry on this trip! Don’t forget to make copies of that/credit cards, alert your bank of your travels, etc. If you have an itinerary planned, email it to family/close friends so they know where you will be at all times.
- Check up on what shots or medication you should have for your travels.
My Vietnam Packing List
I packed everything into one carry-on sized backpack that I bought in Korea – It was about a 55L size.
- 4 pairs of shoes – walking sandals, cute going-out sandals, basic flip flops (shower shoes or for wandering the streets), and good sturdy walking shoes
- Small cross body purse
- Day backpack
- Umbrella (pictured, ended up not bringing)
- Mesh laundry bag for dirty clothes
- 1 small toiletries bag (travel sized everything – toothbrush/paste, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, moisturizer, dry shampoo, etc)
- 1 sarong (perfect for covering up those shoulders at a temple, last resort towel, beach time, as a scarf, etc)
- 1 bag of medicine (Tums, Advil, Benadryl, Imodium, Antibiotics, Anti-Itch cream, antibiotic cream, travel size first aid kit, bandaids, etc.)
- 1 small bag of makeup (just the basics – foundation, concealer, mascara, some eyeshadow, and tweezers)
- Hand sanitizer and wipes – these were crucial! I used them every day, and also in case the bathroom didn’t have any toilet paper…eek!
- Bug spray and sunscreen
- 5 pairs of socks
- 9 pairs of underwear
- 5 bras (2 sports, 1 wired, 2 comfortable)
- 1 swimsuit
- 4 pairs of shorts (2 Nike, 1 stretchy, 1 jean)
- 2 pairs yoga pants
- 1 maxi skirt
- 1 light dress
- 1 light jacket
- 8 tops (2 cute tanks, 2 workout shirts, 2 normal v-necks, and 2 plain tanks)
- 1 black long sleeved cardigan
- PJs/nighttime attire
- Nice camera – Panasonic Lumix GM1
- Selfie stick (I refused to be embarrassed by this item! Huzzah!)
- Phone and camera chargers
- 1 Anker mini portable charger
- Accessories – versatile necklace, earnings, bobby pins, hair ties, stretchy headbands, cheap sunglasses
- Water bottle
- Journal and pens
Things I bought in Vietnam
Knowing that there were many North Face/Under Armor outlets in the cities we visited, I didn’t bring a few things that I knew I could buy for cheap there. Other things that you can get are day packs, suitcases, duffle bags, sports bras, etc. This included:
- Rain jacket
- Ball cap
- Fleece jacket
- Yoga pants
For the most part, I tried to keep my wardrobe simple and versatile. While we didn’t trek around Vietnam in the horrible heat and humidity, we were still working with a range of temperatures. I made sure I had things to keep me both warm and cool. Nothing I hate more than packing incorrectly or bringing stuff I don’t need.
I hope this helps all future travelers to Vietnam, or any country in Southeast Asia. Remember to pack light and safe travels!
Kisses & Kimchi,