Booked a trip to Vietnam? Congrats! Vietnam is a vibrant country known for its spectacular natural scenery, delicious food, fascinating culture, and crazy traffic! Whether you’re backpacking from north to south or planning a quick 2-week itinerary, there are loads of things to do and beautiful places to visit in Vietnam. However, for the perfect Vietnam trip, planning is key. And one of the very first steps is figuring out what to pack for Vietnam.
In this guide, I’ll share exactly what needs to go on your Vietnam packing list so that you can spend less time worrying about what to take with you and more time mapping out your adventures!
Ready? Let’s dive right into this ultimate packing list for Vietnam!
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When to Visit Vietnam
Okay, so before we figure out what to pack for Vietnam, it’s important to understand Vietnam’s climate.
Like other Southeast Asian countries, Vietnam has a tropical climate, with hot and humid weather and two distinct monsoon seasons; the southwesterly monsoon (May to September) and the northeast monsoon (October to April). July to September sees the most rainfall, and typhoons aren’t uncommon. With that said, I traveled through Vietnam in August, and while it did rain at times, downpours were quick.
Another thing to note is that Vietnam is HUGE! Meaning the weather can differ significantly depending on when and where you visit.
All in all, navigating Vietnam’s intense weather is totally doable if you know when to visit. So, if you want to see a bit of everything and not planning to stick to one particular region, the best time to visit Vietnam is during spring (February – April) or autumn (September – November). During these months, expect less rain and pleasant temperatures throughout most of the country, which is ideal for lounging on the gorgeous beaches, exploring the country’s National Parks, or soaking up urban life.
Since spring and autumn are peak seasons to visit in Vietnam, book accommodation and activities well in advance.
What to Wear in Vietnam
When it comes to what to wear in Vietnam, it’s important to keep two things in mind; the weather and the culture.
Vietnam is hot as hell, and the mugginess can be unbearable if you’re not used to humidity. Pack light, breathable clothing that won’t stick to your body. Also, opt for fabrics that dry fast, like linen, cotton, or light rayon.
Depending on your itinerary, you’ll probably need a good balance of cool and warmer items. Pack a few warm things if you’re headed to Sapa or other mountainous regions. And, if you’re only sticking to the southern or central areas, you can easily get away with just your favorite shorts, rompers, skirts, summer dresses, and t’s.
Another very important Vietnam travel tip to keep in mind is the culture. Please be respectful. Vietnamese are quite conservative, and wearing skimpy outfits is frowned upon by the locals. Additionally, most of Vietnam’s temples have a strict dress code. So if you plan on visiting any religious sites during your trip, it’s important to dress modestly and cover your shoulders and knees to avoid offending the locals. Bring one or two longer skirts (like a maxi skirt), some leggings or pants, and a sarong to carry around in your bag.
The Perfect Vietnam Packing List for Women
Now that you better understand when to visit Vietnam and what to wear let’s talk about what you need to pack for a seamless Vietnam trip.
While you certainly don’t need to bring along everything on this list, it should give you a good idea of what to pack for Vietnam and what you can leave at home.
First things first; travel insurance. Whether you’re visiting for a couple of days or months, it’s always better to be prepared when traveling abroad.
While Vietnam is a pretty safe country to visit, welcoming millions of visitors every year (a whopping 18 million tourists visited the country in 2019), you never know what can happen on a trip. Petty theft, scams, food poising, and unforeseeable cancellations due to the weather are all possibilities when touring Vietnam.
World Nomads travel insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers, with coverage for more than 150 activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more.
Vietnam Guidebooks and Phrasebooks
Guidebooks might seem old school nowadays, but they can be a treasure trove of info if you want to learn more about Vietnam’s culture, history, and must-see sights.
This Vietnam Lonely Planet practically covers everything you need to plan a Vietnam trip, while this Eat Vietnam guide is perfect for foodies. A Vietnamese phrasebook is another handy tool to connect with the locals.
Essential Things to Pack for Vietnam
Along with packing your passport, cash, and credit/debits cards and sorting your visa, here are some key items for your trip.
- Mosquito repellent: Mosquitoes are everywhere in Vietnam no matter where you go. Both Zika and dengue fever are common viruses, so pack a decent anti-bug balm or spray to protect you from bites.
- Refillable water bottle: Do your part to protect the environment and minimize plastic waste by traveling with a refillable water bottle. I always travel with my Hydy stainless steel water bottle but try a collapsible one instead if space is a problem.
- Sunscreen: You simply cannot skip sunscreen on your packing list for Vietnam. I love this Sun Bum SPF 50 sunscreen spray because it’s super easy to apply, oil-free, water-resistant, and reef-friendly!
- After-sun or aloe vera: Sunburn is inevitable when visiting Vietnam during the warmer months. This TONYMOLY Aloe Chok Soothing Gel is amazing! Thank me later.
- Travel towel: Beach towels can take up a lot of space in your luggage. Pack a Dock & Bay microfiber towel that’s super lightweight, quick-drying, and sand-free.
- Travel wallet: A travel wallet is a great add-on to your Vietnam packing list. That way, you can keep all your documents and passport organized in one place.
- First-Aid kit: While you don’t necessarily need to pack a first-aid kit for Vietnam unless you’re planning an extended stay, you might want to bring a couple of essentials like Imodium, paracetamol, antiseptic cream, antihistamines, activated charcoal, and electrolytes with you.
Luggage & Bags
- Suitcase/ Backback: I’m not going to lie; I’m a suitcase gal. However, when touring Vietnam, a backpack will be your best bet, especially if you’re using a mix of transport options like sleeper buses, trains, and planes. If you’re only visiting Vietnam for a few days and flying from A to B or using private transfers, by all means, take your favorite spinner suitcase (I love this DELSEY spinner suitcase). But if you’re staying longer and planning on using any of the long-distance trains or sleeper buses, a backpack will save you much hassle. Trust me. Check out this Osprey 40L Travel Backpack if you’re a minimalist traveler or this Osprey Fairview 70 Women’s Travel Backpack if you need more packing space.
- Day bag: Whether exploring the cities, taking day trips, or going hiking, you’ll definitely need a small day bag to stash away your phone, wallet, lipgloss, etc. A small crossbody bag will do most days, but if you need something bigger and safer, this anti-theft Pacsafe women’s backpack is perfect for city and outdoorsy excursions. Bye-bye, pickpockets!
- Packing cubes: As an over-packer, let me tell you that using packing cubes is life-changing! Not only is it easier to avoid packing non-essential items, but you’ll also keep everything nice and organized. Check out these cute packing cubes, which come in different sizes and colors.
- Dry bag: Vietnam is a mecca for adventure seekers. If you’re into hiking, caving, waterfall chasing, kayaking, or even something a bit more extreme, you’ll probably need a good dry bag to keep your stuff from getting wet.
- Beach Bag: Vietnam has some pretty incredible beaches, from the golden shores of Nha Trang to more than 40 idyllic islands. If you’re spending time at the beach, a lovely straw beach tote bag will come in handy.
- Toiletry/cosmetics bag: Keep all your toiletries in one easy-to-find place. Here’s a great clear toiletry bag to keep all your things organized.
Electronics & Gadgets
- Portable charger: There’s nothing worse than running out of battery juice when out and about. Whether you love taking photos or rely on Google Maps to get around, a portable power bank is a must-pack item when visiting Vietnam.
- E-reader: If you enjoy reading, you probably won’t have enough space in your backpack for any books. Pack a Kindle Paperwhite with all your favorite books pre-downloaded on it.
- Universal power adapter: The standard voltage in Vietnam is 220V with a frequency of 50HZ. Unless your home country uses a similar voltage, remember to bring along a travel plug when visiting Vietnam. That way, you can keep all your favorite electronic gadgets juiced up.
- AirPods: I hate traveling with bulky earphones. If you feel the same, pack a pair of Apple AirPods Pro. They don’t take up any space, effectively block out outside noise, offer excellent sound quality, and are sweat and water resistant.
- Camera: Vietnam has stacks of amazing photo ops, so don’t forget your camera (and SD card)! I always travel with my Olympus mirrorless camera and love it! It takes gorgeous photos, and is not as bulky as a DSLR.
- Tripod: If you’re traveling Vietnam solo, it’s wise to pack a tripod with a wireless remote. It doesn’t take up that much space, and you won’t need to rely on other people to take photos of you.
- Adventure camera/ drone: Whether you’re a content creator or simply want to level up your Instagram feed, including a waterproof Go Pro or a DJI drone on your Vietnam packing list is worth it.
Clothing, Shoes & Accessories
I’m not going to tell you how many dresses, t’s, or pairs of shorts to pack for Vietnam, as I’m sure you can figure that out on your own.
But I will tell you this: don’t pack too much. It’s super easy (and cheap) to get laundry done in Vietnam, and most hotels can help you arrange this.
Packing a capsule wardrobe is another great idea. That way, you can mix things up every day without overpacking. (Pinterest is a great source of inspo for this one).
Here are a few key items not to forget on your Vietnam packing list:
- Swimsuit: If you’re planning to spend some time poolside, at the beach, or island hopping, you’ll need a swimsuit. Don’t forget your fav swimsuit (or bikini) and kimono!
- Sun hat: Protect your face from Vietnam’s harsh sun rays by including your fave broad rim straw hat or cap on your list of things to pack for Vietnam.
- Sunglasses: Don’t forget your fav shades, because you’re going to wear them every day!
- Raincoat/ jacket: The weather in Vietnam can be quite unpredictable with sudden downpours. And as a result, it’s better to be prepared. Pack a lightweight raincoat like this durable, eco-friendly L-Raincoat, or this North Face jacket if you want something more compact.
- Footwear: Pack comfortable walking shoes because there are lots to see and do in Vietnam. You’ll also need flip-flops and a nice pair of sandals if you want to dress up a bit.
- Hiking shoes: Vietnam is absolutely littered with natural wonders, waterfalls, and hiking trails. If that’s your thing, remember to pack sturdy waterproof shoes or a pair of decent hiking shoes.
It’s not hard to find all the basic toiletries in Vietnam, especially if you’re sticking to the cities or more touristy places. But getting your favorite brands from back home might not always be possible. Here are a few key items you might want to bring along for a seamless trip.
- Deodorant: Unless you’ve traveled or lived in Asia, you probably don’t know that most deodorant brands contain whitening ingredients here. If that’s not your jam, best to bring your favorite brand along.
- Hand sanitizer/ wet wipes: These guys will be life savers – whether you’re snacking on street food, at the beach, or hiking. These are the perfect travel size.
- Hairstyling products: As already mentioned, Vietnam is hot and humid. If you have frizzy hair, you might need extra help to keep your hair in check.
- Oral care products: While you won’t have too much trouble finding all the big brand names in Vietnam, bring your own products if you have a special brand.
- Soap/ Bodywash/ Shampoo/ Conditioner: You won’t need to pack these items when staying at a hotel or resort. But hostels are another story.
- Travel razor: I’m not a fan of the cheap razors, usually in hotel rooms, so I always bring mine along. This Gilette mini razor is probably the most compact one you’ll find out there.
- Feminine hygiene products: Tampons aren’t always the easiest thing to find in Asia. Best to bring your fave brand along. Alternatively, add a diva cup to your packing list for Vietnam.
- Makeup: I will be brutally honest; your makeup will never stay flawless in Vietnam. It’s just too hot and humid. Pack makeup, but keep it simple – a light foundation, blush, neutral eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, and a nice lip gloss can go a long way. If you’re into Korean skin care products, Innisfree also makes an amazing no-sebum powder that will change your life forever!
Packing List for Vietnam in Conclusion
Well, that’s it from my side! I hope this Vietnam packing list has helped you figure out what to pack for your dream Vietnam vacay! If you think I’ve missed any must-pack items, let me know in the comments below!
Pin this Vietnam packing guide to your favorite Vietnam travel board to save it for your future travels!