PACKING FOR SOUTHEAST ASIA
Need help packing for a trip to Southeast Asia? Look no further, see what I packed for 3 months in Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), and Cambodia!
I’ve never been the best at packing light. In fact, I can pack 60 pounds into a carry on suitcase if you let me. However, traveling light is important while backpacking in SE Asia! Correct me if I’m wrong, but I highly doubt you want to carry a heavy backpack around when it’s 100 degrees out. Plan to do laundry while you travel, it’s inexpensive and convenient.
Remember if you need something while abroad, you can buy it. Don’t put extra weight in your bag for something you might use once, but you’re not really sure – less is more!
Ladies, leave your blow dryer, straightener, and curling iron at home. I use them everyday when I’m home. However, I promise you won’t touch them here. Throw your hair in a braid or a pony. No one will care if you have a little frizz. It’s too hot out to blow dry your hair, anyways.
Without further ado, I give you a list of everything I have with me for three months in SE Asia.
- 5 tank tops
- 2 t-shirts
- 1 skirt
- 1 dress
- 2 gym shorts
- 1 jean short
- 1 pajama short
- 2 lightweight pants (for temples and places women can't wear shorts)
- Socks/undergarments – don’t underestimate, you’ll sweat here ;)
- 1 sweatshirt (it’s cold on the overnight buses)
- 1 long-sleeved shirt (for sun and mosquito protection)
- 1 jean
- 2 swimsuits
- 1 pair of tennis shoes
- 1 pair of flip-flops
- 1 flashlight/headlamp
- 1 towel – Whether you’re staying in hostels and will need it for a shower or heading to the beach, it always comes in handy!
- 3 locks – At a Triple AAA store you’ll be able to find TSA approved locks. I use three when I travel – two on my backpack and an extra. If you stay in hostels, lockers are usually provided free of charge if you have a lock. They come in handy for keeping valuables safe!
- Swiss army knife – I don’t actually have one with me, I bought a knife in the market. They come in handy more often than you think, although I use mine to cut fruit most of the time.
- Mask and snorkel – If you’re planning on spending lots of time on the islands, the snorkeling is incredible! I had a mask and snorkel already, so I threw it in the backpack. Otherwise you can rent them by day/week on location.
- Sunglasses… or you can always buy a cheap pair on the streets!
- Notebook & Pen – They’ll always come in handy. I use mine to write stories, hotel addresses, and tips from other travelers.
- Face wash
- Face lotion
- Prescription meds
- Basic meds (See “Health” section below)
- Hairbrush, hair ties, bobby pins, etc.
- Hand sanitizer
- Band-Aids & disinfectant spray – you’ll be surprised how often this comes in handy!
- Sunscreen – Brands that are sold in the USA and Europe run at about $15/bottle in SE Asia. That said, either grab some at home or be ready to pay a little more than you’re used to. I was told the local brands are the “same, same,” but in fact they’re very “different, different,” and I looked like a tomato after a day in the sun.
- Bug spray – We started with some from Europe and found a brand that is sold at 7/11 that works really well here. The bottle looks like this and it costs about $1.50 – in other words, it’s a steal!
- Shampoo/Conditioner/Body wash – I buy these in my destination to save myself space in my suitcase.
No one likes to talk about it, but let’s face it. Traveler’s diarrhea exists. It is a thing, especially in SE Asia. You can buy Imodium in pharmacies in the bigger cities, but pack some and you’ll have it when you need it. I got sick for a few weeks – stomach problems, fever – the works. To get the meds I needed I had to make an extra stop through Bangkok. If you have them on hand, you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle.
- Fever meds (Ask mom; mothers know best, after all.)
- iPhone & charger
- Laptop & charger
- Camera & charger