Whatever you’re doing on your trip to Vietnam; hanging out in Halong Bay, eating crepes in Hoi An or dodging motorbikes (and death) in Hanoi, you need to make sure you pack all of the essentials. Basically all of the uber important travel items that you will need for a great trip! So use this Vietnam packing list to help you enjoy every second of your time here, no matter what the weather or your choice of activities and entertainment. We’ve got you covered (and not just in SPF 50)!
Vietnam Packing List
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Firstly, how do the locals dress in Vietnam?
The majority of the Vietnamese locals dress exactly the same as westerners so generally feel free to wear whatever you like. On special occasions and during important events, people from every ethnic group in Vietnam will wear their traditional clothing but there is no specific dress code for tourists. So packing for a trip to Vietnam is really the same as packing for a trip to any of the world’s western cities such as Singapore, Paris and New York. Except you probably won’t be needing gloves, scarfs and wooly hats!
Think about the weather and climate when creating your Vietnam Packing List
Vietnam is 1025 miles long and although this might not seem huge it does mean that the weather is going to vary greatly depending on where in Vietnam you are visiting. Generally, the best time to visit Vietnam is in spring which is between February and April and then in autumn between August and October. During this time of year Vietnam’s temperatures are more moderate and there’s less rainfall. In spring, March and April the temperatures will still be quite cool in the far north of the country.
You might also like: Top 10 things to do in Vietnam
Clothing To Pack
Trousers x2: Pack trekking trousers that
double triple-up as trousers you can wear for general sightseeing and even on the plane too. This saves room in your luggage. If necessary make use of your hotels laundry service. I like these boot cut outdoor stretch pants because they fit quite snug and flatter your figure. They’re also stain, rain and UV resistant.
A pair of jeans: If you just want to look and feel normal (whatever that is).
Short Sleeve T-shirts x2: Pack 1 breathable lightweight t-shirt that can be worn during the day.
Long Sleeve T-shirts x2: Icebreaker is a really great brand for keeping you warm or cool depending on the weather. Choose pale colors like beige or light grey to help keep you cool.
1 dress: Cute boho maxi dresses will be perfect for most places in Thailand.
Lightweight Fleece: Pack one that’s lightweight and quick to dry like this beauty.
Sports Bras x2: If you’re trekking, hiking or just doing a lot of sightseeing pack sports bras.
Headband or Buff: Get one like this that can double-up as a scarf to cover your hair in temples and a headband for sweat absorption and to keep your hair out of your face. This will be incredibly useful and you will be so glad you packed one.
All other clothing you can buy out there, that’s what all the markets and awesome shops in Vietnam are for! Also Vietnam is a great place to get clothing tailored so bring pictures of clothing you want made for you and get it done for a fraction of the price while you’re out here. You will be so happy that you have a little space in your luggage for some cute new clothes that will probably feature elephants.
Sandals: These will be what you wear during the day for most sightseeing like exploring the Cu Chi Tunnels or wandering the bustling streets of Hoi An or Hanoi. The sandals you pack for Vietnam need to be lightweight and comfortable. A pair of Tivas (very popular) or Chacos (which I use) will work great. For the evening if you want to look a bit more stylish then consider packing a pair of Uin Loafers which will be perfect to wear on the plane too.
Flip Flops: Bring a really cheap pair of flip flips or buy a pair when you arrive in Vietnam and give them away when you leave. Use these for going in and out of Buddhist temples so you can slip them on and off easily and if someone (that isn’t you) walks off wearing them it won’t be a huge deal.
Gear To Pack
Day Pack: I love Osprey’s Daylight Plus Daypack which comes with a hydration pocket for your Hydration pack which you’ll need if you plan on doing any hiking or trekking.
DSLR Camera: For a trip of a lifetime that you know will set your instagram account on fire you might want to consider bringing your DSLR. That said, my camera on my iphone is so good I’m not sure I can justify the extra weight of a DSLR these days.
Trekking towel: Fast drying, very absorbent, compact and lightweight; the Rainleaf micro fibre towel is one of the most popular choices and you can use it after your travels for the gym too and lots of other sweat-inducing things.
Drinking Bottle: Camelbak has really good options for easy to use water bottles.
Sunglasses: Pack polarized sunglasses with UV protection that can be worn at a high altitude too so you can double them up as trekking sunglasses and everyday sunglasses too.
Waterproof Sack: For valuable and electronics in case it pours down if your visiting during the monsoon season (oh and it will, but only if you’re not prepared… because thats life!).
Padlock & Chain: For your backpack, and keeping things safe in hotels, hostels and when sleeping on public transport in Vietnam.
Sleep sheet: So handy especially if you’re doing Vietnam on a budget.
Ziplocks: Trust me, they will come in handy!
If you plan on buying toiletries when you arrive in Vietnam to save space in your luggage be aware that their toiletry brands will be very different than what you’re used to so if you really like a certain product, bring it with you.
Sunscreen: Sunblock can be a bit of a rip off in a lot of places in Vietnam so consider bringing a small bottle with you.
Hand sanitizer & wet wipes: Buy it in Vietnam.
Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel: Buy it in Vietnam.
Toothpaste and toothbrush: Bring it with you so you can brush your teeth at the airport or on the first night if you don’t have time to shop. You can probably make do with a travel sized tube of paste considering you only need a pea size amount for each brush.
Deodorant: I would bring your preferred deodorant with you, it’s annoying having to use one you don’t like much plus they weigh nothing. I use an all-natural deodorant (without the aluminum) made in Bali because it smells like roses and does the job.
Makeup: Mascara, eyeliner and maybe some lip gloss is about all I use when in Southeast Asia. During the Summer, concealer, powder etc will just get sweated-off the moment you step off the plane and then clog your pores up so really don’t waste your time.
Nail cutter and nail file: Bring it with you because there’s nothing more annoying than having a broken nail you can’t do anything about.
Toiletries travel bag: Bring a clear TSA approved travel makeup bag for liquids to speed up going through customs.
Optional Extras (we love)
Packing Cubes: Travel light and stay organized with these lightweight Eagle Creek packing cubes.
Re-useable Mini Cosmetic Bottles: Cute and high-quality travel bottles that won’t crack on you.
Hidden Pocket Scarves: Stash secret cash, lip balm and your passport in a sneaky scarf like this.
Where to buy your Vietnam travel gear
You really don’t need to spend a small fortune on all this travel gear for a trip to Vietnam. Besides you’ve already spent enough just getting to Vietnam. If you’re planning your trip in advance then you should be able to catch a sale at any good outdoor clothing store, there’s usually about three or four each year. I’ve bought everything from hiking boots to sunglasses by timing my shopping trips to coincide with a sale and saved between 40-75% each time. So planning in advance will save you a lot of hard earned cash.
If you don’t have time to wait for a sale, you can still get a good deal online. Of course Amazon is one of the best places to go to read hundreds of reviews and compare prices before making a purchase. Another bonus of shopping online for your travel gear is that you can save your legs for exploring Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Halong Bay or just shopping in Ho Chi Minh City.
Be aware that places like Vietnam will not have the kind of outdoor gear shops you’re used to or much choice for women’s travel gear in general, so if you forget to bring something that you discover you need, your best option may be to rent it while you’re there (if that’s even an option) borrow from a friend, or do without. But this shouldn’t be necessary because this awesome Vietnam Packing List is here to help you to not forget the essentials.
Travel Resources (we swear by)
Booking.com for booking Vietnam hotel accommodation.
Hostelworld for budget travelers or anyone looking to meet travel buddies while backpacking in Vietnam.
GetYourGuide for the best tours and activities to do once you’ve arrived in Vietnam.
IVisa helps us know if we need a visa, how long it will take to process and how much it will cost.
Lonely Planet Vietnam: Check price on Amazon
For more Vietnam travel tips take a peek at our Vietnam Travel Guide which includes the Vietnam basics, top things to do, fun festivals, what to eat, where to stay and recommended trip planning resources.
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Did we miss something that you think should be included in this Vietnam Packing List? Let us know in the comments section below!