Southeast Asia can be a tricky place to pack for with different climates, cultures and activities across the region. We’ve put together a list of packing essentials that should be in every suitcase en-route to Asia.
You’ve got your sunglasses, swimsuit and flipflops, but what else do you need to pack for a trip to Southeast Asia? We’ve put together of commonly forgotten packing essentials, including clothes, toiletries and electronics.
It’s easy to assume that you won’t need much more than shorts and t-shirts for a trip to Asia. However, weather fluctuates throughout the region and can sometimes be unpredictable. There are also different cultures, religions and social norms in every country. On top of our essential items below, we recommend relatively modest clothing – you are less likely to offend locals and will feel more comfortable as a result!
– Raincoat – Many destinations in Asia have monsoons during the summer so it’s a good idea to carry a light raincoat or rain poncho in case of any sudden downpours.
– Scarf or Shawl – To enter most temples in Asia, you will need to cover your shoulders. Carrying a scarf or shawl with you provides a quick way to cover up without having to change your wardrobe.
– Long Trousers or Skirt – You will also be expected to cover your knees in temples, so long trousers or skirts are a must. Long clothing is also a good way to avoid sunburn during the day and insect bites in the evening.
– Light Jacket – There are lots of places in Asia that are not as warm as you might expect during summer, especially if you’re staying in hilly or mountainous areas.
– Closed-Toe Shoes – If you’re planning on trekking, a pair of closed-toe shoes are a much needed investment to avoid cuts and scratches.
You’ve got your toothbrush and shampoo at the ready, but what are you missing? A few carefully chosen items will make sure you have a much more comfortable and enjoyable trip. Make sure to also pop these items into plastic bags to avoid leaks and carry travel-sized bottles if you are taking them in your hand luggage.
– Sunscreen – This may seem like an obvious one but we just can’t say it enough; wear sunscreen! 50+ is best for summer in Asia as temperatures can be over 45°C.
– Insect Repellent – Buy spray that contains DEET is the best protection against mosquitoes. Make sure to read the instructions though as it can irritate the skin if not used properly and children are advised to use repellent with a lower concentration of DEET.
– Hand Sanitizer – You’ll be trying, touching and tasting lots of new things on your trip, so a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer is a great way to avoid picking up germs.
– Skin Products – Many skin products contain whitening agents in some parts of Asia. Bring your own travel-sized bottles of skin products from home to avoid damaging or irritating your skin.
– Feminine Hygiene Products – It can be difficult to find feminine hygiene products in some parts of Asia. Be sure to pack tampons and sanitary towels, especially if you will be travelling in more remote areas.
– Laxatives and Anti-diarrheals – A new country comes with lots of tasty new dishes. Unfortunately, sometimes our stomachs don’t agree with the change, so it’s always safe to carry some digestion medication from home.
We’re sure you’ve already got your camera and phone packed. There’s a few more items that are essential for a trip to Asia, though. These nifty gadgets will keep you charged, organised and easily contactable.
– Portable Charger – If you plan on going on tours where you will be away from power outlets, a portable charger is a great way to charge your gear on the go.
– Surge Protector – Sometimes the electrical currents of outlets fluctuate which can put your electronics at risk, a surge protector will protect your gadgets against this.
– SIM Card – Having a working phone in a foreign country makes travel much easier. Buy a foreign SIM when you arrive at the airport of your destination or buy a global SIM card in advance.
– Plug Adapter – Depending on where you are travelling from and to, you will need a different type of adapter. We recommend a ‘universal adapter’ which works in almost all countries.
Take a look at the different plug specifications for each of our destinations below.
Cambodia: 230V, 50Hz, Type A, C, G.
China: 220V, 50Hz, Type A, C, I.
Hong Kong: 220V, 50Hz, Type G, D.
Indonesia: 230V, 50Hz, Type C, F.
Japan: 100V, 50-60Hz; Type A, B.
Laos: 230V, 50Hz, Type A, B, C, E, F.
Malaysia: 240V, 50Hz, Type A, C, G, M.
Myanmar: 230V, 50Hz, Type C, D, F, G.
Singapore: 230V, 50Hz, Type C, G, M.
Thailand: 220V, 50Hz, Type A, B, C.
Vietnam: 220V, 50Hz; Type A, C, G.
Now your bags are packed, it’s time to organise your hand luggage. Assuming you’ve got your passport and travel documents ready, there’s just a few more things you need to acquire.
– A Good Book – WiFi isn’t always reliable in Southeast Asia and you won’t always have power points, so a good book is sure to keep you entertained on long journeys.
– Passport Photos – To acquire a visa in some countries, you will need passport photos handy. You may also need to organise a visa in advance and have foreign currency or USD in your wallet.
– Small Padlock – Keep your belonging safe by locking your bag with a small lock. Some attractions also have lockers to leave your belonging but they may not necessarily provide free locks.
– Day Bag or Dry Bag – Bring along a day bag for day tours and overnight stays away from your hotel. A waterproof bag, or dry bag, will serve you even better for cruises and boat trips.
– Ear Plugs, Eye Mask and Inflatable Pillow – Some journeys in Asia will require taking an overnight train or bus, but these three items can help you get a better nights sleep.
What NOT To Bring
There are so many things that go unused for entire holidays that we could write an entire list just on what not to bring! We’ll spare you the detail, though, and share just five items not to pack for your trip to Southeast Asia.
– Numerous Guidebooks – One guidebook is enough! You will often find the best, most up-to-date information at your hotel or directly from your travel provider. Save yourself the extra weight in your luggage and ask questions instead.
– Expensive Jewellery – Flashing expensive jewellery is likely to garner unwanted attention from thieves.
– Food – There is plenty of choice of food across Southeast Asia, including both Western and local cuisine. You are sure to find snacks and meals to suit your taste throughout the region.
– Towels – A large fluffy towel takes up far too much space and is likely to go unused. If you plan to stay in remote areas, a travel towel is worth investing in, but nothing larger.
– Shoes – Uncomfortable, impractical or bulky shoes are not worth bringing to Southeast Asia. Lots of countries are not particularly easy to stroll around. Stick to comfy shoes for exploring and a pair of sandals for evening meals.
If you’re planning a trip to Asia, take a look at our tours across 11 destinations in Southeast Asia or speak to one of our knowledgeable travel experts.