The Best Packing List for Southeast Asia

packing list for Southeast Asia
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After years of packing for travel, my skills were put to the ultimate test when I decided to venture out on a one-year trip to Southeast Asia.  If you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking, “How do you even begin to pack for a year of travels?!”, to which I would have previously said, “no clue”.  Now that I’ve done it, I’m sharing all of the goods with you!  So, as a somewhat minimalist, female, packer – this is the best packing list for Southeast Asia.

Oh, and the countries that I’m traveling to include Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo, Philippines, Indonesia, and the Solomon Islands.


The Best Luggage to Take to Southeast Asia

For one year of travels through Southeast Asia I packed a carry-on bag, backpack, and a very small checked-bag (the size was between a full checked bag and a carry on bag).  While I’m still searching for that *perfect* luggage, I absolutely love my backpack.  I’ve traveled around the world with it, it’s held up incredibly well, and it fits loads of goods.




Southeast Asia Specific Items

Before getting into my full packing list, there are specific items that I ordered for this trip.  And items that I think you should consider ordering too!  Of course, a lot of these things you can get in  Southeast Asia, but I wanted to feel prepared and have my own items so I didn’t have to stress about purchasing on the road.


What Clothes to Bring to Southeast Asia

Because it can be incredibly hot and humid in Southeast Asia, I did my best to pack very light clothing.  But I also kept in mind that many places I’d be visiting would be religious sites, which require you to cover up.  I made sure to pack clothing that was appropriate to visit temples and sites of worship; but also clothing that would be appropriate for the beach.  In total, for a year, I packed 17 outfits.  12 dresses, five linen outfits, seven swimming suits, one cover-up, two pairs of pajamas, three workout sets, and 14 pairs of under garments.


What Shoes to Bring to Southeast Asia

As with anywhere you travel to, you always want to make sure to have comfortable shoes to walk around.  In the case of Southeast Asia, because it’s so hot, I recommend both comfortable tennis shoes and comfortable sandals.  Oh, and if you’re planning to visit the beach, you might want to consider water shoes too!


Toiletries for Females Traveling to Southeast Asia

Of course, whether you’re traveling for a short period of time (or a year), you don’t want to forget a few necessary toiletries on your trip.


Electronics to Bring to Southeast Asia

If you’re big on photos or creating content, then this section will be particularly useful to you!  If you aren’t big on these things, then you might not find this section as useful.  (However, I would recommend anyone to bring Apple AirTags so you’re able to track your luggage/important belongings).




Medical/First Aid Needs for Southeast Asia

The most important thing that I can stress before traveling to Southeast Asia is to visit an infectious disease doctor and make sure that you’re up to date on all of your vaccines.  I recommend browsing the CDC, where you can find loads of information on travel advisories, and what vaccines the CDC recommends.

Not only was it suggested that I get a few vaccines that I was missing, but my doctor also prescribed medication in case I were to get sick while I was traveling.  You can certainly go to the doctor when you’re in Asia, but for peace of mind, you might want to travel prepared.

I also recommend having a photo on your phone handy with all of your medical information/vaccines.  In case you were to go to the doctor, you will want to have this handy.




Documents and Finances

Of course, there are other documents you’re going to want to take with you when you travel.  Don’t forget…

  • Passport (including a photocopy of your passport (I send this to family and keep one on my phone)
  • Visas (make sure to check if you need a visa when you travel to Southeast Asia)
  • Credit/Debit Card (I bring both a credit card and debit card and make sure to keep them separate when traveling in case one were to get stolen; I also recommend opening a credit card that does not have foreign transaction fees)
  • Cash (when traveling through Southeast Asia, I always think it’s smart to carry cash on you – I don’t recommend more than $100 at a time)
  • Travel Insurance


Safety Tips for Traveling to Southeast Asia

Just like any country, especially if you’re a female traveling, there are common safety tips to follow when in Southeast Asia.

  • Send friends/family confirmation of where you’ll be at all times (hotel/rental addresses, etc)
  • Keep a photocopy of your passport/any other important documents
  • If you’re a female traveling alone, don’t stay out too late and always make sure to keep an eye on your drink
  • Don’t drink the tap water/use ice
  • Be aware of raw fruits and vegetables that may have been washed with tap water
  • See the doctor and stay up to date on your vaccines
  • Petty theft is common in Southeast Asia, never walk outside with your phone in your hands and never leave your stuff out
  • Purchase travel insurance


Final Advice for Traveling to Southeast Asia

As for my final advice for packing and planning a trip to Southeast Asia, overall – be prepared.  Southeast Asia is an incredibly different place than what you might be used to (coming from an American perspective), and while it’s beautiful and incredible, it’s also important to stay on top of things and stay safe.  Make sure to check the CDC website on what to know before traveling, make sure to book an appointment with your doctor before leaving, make sure all of your vaccines are up to date, make sure that your bank knows you’ll be traveling so you don’t get your card canceled on accident, etc.  Southeast Asia is amazing; pack light so you’re not lugging a heavy suitcase all over the region, and enjoy!


If you have any questions about how to pack for Southeast Asia, let me know in the comments below!


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Kylee is a Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) nurse passionate about making travel affordable and accessible to nurses. Inspiring nurses to travel both near and far, Kylee began Passports and Preemies in 2017 while volunteering in Skopje, North Macedonia as a way to reach nurses and advocate for the prevention of nurse burnout by traveling. Kylee is the original creator of the “8 Day Vacay” – a vacation geared towards nurses who aim to take advantage of the potentially 8 days off between work weeks with no need to use PTO.

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