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Planning a trip to Southeast Asia but don’t know what to take with you? In this article, I share with your our complete packing list guide to Southeast Asia, based on years of experience traveling the continent.

For those of you that don’t know, I am crazy about traveling Southeast Asia. Collectively, both my partner and I have traveled to almost every place in Southeast Asia. Between the awesome amount of outdoor activities, cheap accommodations, and food (oh, don’t get me even started on the food!) it’s a place that we keep going back to.

When it comes to figuring out what to pack, first things first, less is more! Trust me on this. From experience, there is nothing worse than trudging along with a heavy backpack in tow while trying to find a place to stay. With that in mind, we compiled this super awesome packing list for Southeast Asia to make sure you don’t forget anything during your trip.

What to Pack for Southeast Asia?

Compared to other continents, Southeast Asia is a breeze to travel through because you generally don’t need to bring a lot of items. I once had a friend who brought nothing but 1 set of clothes during a trip to Bangkok. Instead of lugging around a bunch of clothes, he opted to do all his shopping there instead.

After spending almost 4 years traveling around most of Southeast Asia, trust me when I say, you don’t need much! I highly recommend in investing and bringing a good pair of basic items which you can mix and match and if you ever find yourself not having what you need, simply pop out to the nearest night market where you are sure to find anything you will ever need.

Step 1: Choosing the Best Travel Bag

In any trip, the biggest factor for me is having a good travel bag. This can make or break your trip so I suggest you choose the brand, size, and quality with care. Since Southeast Asia is made up of multiple islands and rugged terrain, we recommend choosing backpacks over wheeled luggage. Alternatively, you can also choose to get convertible backpacks which convert as a backpack or a wheeled suitcase.

To help you choose the right travel bag, here are some of our top recommendations based on bags that we’ve tried and tested! For the record- we love the brand Osprey and have been using their gear for years now.

ProductFeaturesPrice

Osprey Farpoint
- Carry On Compatible
- Opens like a suitcase
- Padded Straps
- Recommended for Men
- Has a sleeve for electronics

Osprey Fairview
- Carry On Compatible
- Opens like a suitcase
- Padded Straps
- Recommended for Women
- Has a sleeve for electronics

Osprey Meridian
- Carry On Compatible
- Convertible to a backpack
- Has an electronic sleeve


Nomatic Pack
- Multiple compartments
- Padded Straps
- Waterproof Material
Click Here to See Price

Osprey-bag-tom

Details of Our Recommended Travel Backpacks

Osprey Farpoint 40 This sturdy travel backpack has been traveling around Asia with us for the last few years. For us, it is just the right size- helping you downsize all those unnecessary weight. If you do need anything larger, you can also look at the Osprey Farpoint 55

Osprey Fairview Similar to the Osprey Farpoint, this women’s backpack is top-rated for a reason. It opens just like a suitcase which makes packing super easy. Again, if you’re looking for something larger, they also have larger sizes.

Osprey Meridian Personally speaking, I’ve always had a bad back which is why I opted to choose a convertible wheely bag which can be converted to a backpack if necessary. However, to be perfectly honest, since I’ve switched to this, I have never even used the backpack option as the wheels are pretty sturdy and rugged.

Compare Products: Check on Amazon | Check on REI

Nomatic Travel Pack If you usually travel with a lot of gadgets (cameras, iPad, etc), the Nomatic Travel Pack is for you. It’s one of the best day packs we’ve ever used due to the multiple compartments and durable materials.

If you’re looking for more options, check out our full article on the best travel backpacks.

View Best Travel Backpacks

Step 2: Choosing Your Travel Clothes

For the most part, you don’t really need a lot of clothes when it comes to Southeast Asia. There is always a laundry shop that will do your washing for less than a dollar so pack sparingly! The items listed below are only suggestions as they will vary greatly depending on your travel style. If you like big cities, you might want to pack a pair of jeans for nights out. Similarly, if you intend to do more treks, bring more outdoor clothes.

The most important thing when choosing the clothing that you will bring is the type of material. if you’re planning on visiting during the summer months, avoid bringing thick hard to dry clothing. Instead, go for quick dry items. Trust me, it will make all the difference.

Southeast Asia Packing List: Women

  1. Active Shorts | 2. Denim shorts | 3. Boardshorts | 4. Maxi Dress | 5. Short Dress | 6. Tank Tops | 7. T-Shirt| 8. Dri-fit Shirt | 9. Beach Cover Up | 10.Long Sleeve Baselayer|11. Yoga Leggings | 12. Hippie Pants (buy them in Asia!) | 13. Travel Underwear | 14. Sports Bra | 15. travel bra | 16. Bikinis (P.S. How cute are these ones fromCupshe Fashion?) | 17. Hat| 18. Travel Scarf| 19. Socks (1 pair for trekking) | 20. Lightweight Rain Jacket | 21. Trekking Shoes (lightweight and low cut) | 22. Travel Sandals | 23. Flip flops (Don’t bring expensive ones as they are bound to get lost)

Southeast Asia Packing List: Men

mens-southeast-asia-packing-list1. Boardshorts | 2. Travel Shorts| 3. Long Trousers| 4. Tank Tops | 5.  T-Shirts | 6. Dri-fit | 7. Long Sleeve Baselayer | 8. Travel Underwear | 9. Socks (1 for trekking) | 10.  Light Travel Scarf | 11. Cap | 12. Lightweight Rain Jacket| 13. Hiking Shoes (lightweight) | 14. Flip flops | 15. Closed shoes

Southeast-asia-packing-list

Step 3: Packing Other Travel Essentials

What you bring on your travels will have to boil down to what your travel style is. As a digital nomad, I tend to pack more gadgets as the regular backpacker would. Listed below are a few more essential accessories that I recommend you take with you which would vary depending on the length of your trip. I always use packing cubes when traveling and swear by them! They make packing so much easier.

  • Travel Padlocks
  • Universal Travel Adaptor
  • Sleep sheet
  • Ziplocks (trust me, they will come in handy!)
  • Travel Water bottle (water filtration system)
  • Electrical tape (will come in handy one day!)
  • Small LED flashlight you can attach to your bag
  • Backpack Rain Cover
  • Headwear (head buff)
  • Packing Cubes – I swear, Packing cubes have changed the way I travel!
  • 1 Microfiber Towel
  • Travel Wallet/ Passport Holder
  • Polarized Sunglasses– We use the brand Sun Gods and absolutely love them. They made their name for being adventure proof and is pretty reasonable for top quality stuff.

Step 4: Choosing What Electronics to Bring

As mentioned, we travel with a lot of electronics as we work while we’re on the road. I know some people who try to keep things to the bare minimum when it comes to traveling. Whatever your travel style is, remember to make sure you always keep an eye on your valuables and carry them with you.


If you’re looking for a compact yet budget-friendly travel camera, check out our full article featuring our top recommendations.

View Best Travel Cameras

southeast-asia-backpacking-list

Step 5: Toiletries Packing List

At the end of the day, you will be able to buy most of the toiletries you need. However, if you are accustomed to a certain type of product, it’s best you bring it along with you. Sunblock is rather expensive so if you burn easily you might want to bring some of that with you.

Women

  • Shampoo, conditioner, and body gel
  • Mosquito repellent (the good stuff!)
  • Menstrual Cup (TRUST ME ON THIS!)
  • Wet wipes
  • Lip balm
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Moisturizer and lotion
  • Sunblock (bring a good one with you that is reef safe)
  • Deodorant
  • Makeup (powder, blush, eyeliner) Yep…that’s pretty much it for me!
  • Nail cutter and nail file
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Travel Med kit (band aids, sterile gauze pads, basic medicine for pain, bad stomachs, and cough, vitamin c, 1 small bottle of betadine) As I am very clumsy so I always carry extra bandaids and first aid stuff with me.


Men

  • Shampoo & body gel
  • Mosquito repellent (the good stuff!)
  • Chapstick
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Moisturizer
  • Sunblock
  • Deodorant
  • Nail cutter
  • Shaver
  • Med kit (band aids, sterile gauze pads, basic medicine for pain, bad stomachs, and cough, vitamin c, 1 small bottle of betadine

Travel and Safety in Southeast Asia

Traveling around Southeast Asia is generally pretty safe, but accidents do happen.

Travel Must: At the risk of sounding like your parents, make sure you get travel insurance before hitting the road. Trust us, it’s one of those things you don’t want to leave home without. We recommend either World Nomads or Safety Wing, depending on the type of traveler you are.

Transport & Accommodation Tips Around Asia

When it comes to traveling around Southeast Asia, things are pretty much straight forward. Flying naturally saves the most time, but if you’re trying to keep on a budget, we recommend looking at buses and trains.

Transportation: We recommend downloading the Skyscanner App and using Bookaway or 12Go website to view bus, boat, and train schedules ahead of time. We’ve used these websites all over Asia and it saves us the hassle of lining up in travel agencies or bus stations.

If you’re traveling during peak season, you may want to book tickets in advance. And remember, peak season doesn’t only mean the best weather, it means festivals and local holidays that bring people home, too!

Finding Places to Stay in Southeast Asia

Finding places to stay around Southeast Asia is incredibly easy and extremely inexpensive.

We usually use websites like Booking.com and Agoda to find the best deals and we normally luck out when it comes to finding somewhere swanky to stay for an unbeatable price.

Airbnb Travel Tip: If you prefer to stay in apartments or villas, we recommend Airbnb. Check out our full article on how to get $45 coupon code for your booking or simply click here to get our coupon code to apply on your next booking.

Last Piece of Advice for Southeast Asia:

“Whatever you do…remember to pack light!”

When I first left to travel, I had a 55L, then I downsized to a 45L, now, I’m down to a carry-on bag. While it looks impossible to keep it light, with the help of restraint, careful planning, and of course, Jedi packing skills, it is possible. Remember, if there is one thing you can count on…South East Asia will be hot! It may be rainy, but even if it is…it will still be hot!

At the end of the day, travel light, pack smart and don’t worry. Southeast Asia is a completely different place and while traveling parts of it can come as a complete culture shock (what do you mean I have to eat this fried tarantula?), it is also a life-changing experience that you’re bound to enjoy.


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