When it comes to “what-to-pack” guides for Southeast Asia, there is no one-size-fits-all list for travelers. Every traveler has different travel styles, budgets, and interests that help determine what they should bring on any given trip. That being said, there are some key essentials that will make your trip to Southeast Asia safe and enjoyable.
As with any trip, it is important to consider elements like weather, the length of your trip, the terrain, and your activity level in deciding what to pack. What you bring for a week in the big city will be different from what you bring for a hiking trip through the jungle. Below I have outlined the key things you should consider for your trip to Southeast Asia based on the general climate, terrain, and activities.
The Big Picture
Keeping in mind the length of your trip, I would suggest bringing as few “extras” as possible. Though transportation is pretty accessible through Southeast Asia, carrying a heavy bag onto tuk-tuks, boats, and rickety vans is not fun. I chose a 45 L bag for my 30-day trip through Thailand and Cambodia. This may seem limiting from some people, but I can say it was a relief to not have to worry about the weight and re-packing so many items. Having a larger bag may limit your storage options, cost more in transportation fees, and create additional issues along the way.
The items below include all the essentials and a few extras I brought along for my trip. I chose to bring a tablet versus a laptop because it was much lighter and less of a risk for me if it were to be stolen.
I limited my clothing to loose-fitting, sweat-resistant attire. Depending on the season, you can expect high temperatures and humidity. If you plan to travel during the wet season, a rain jacket (hard to find in Southeast Asia) or poncho (can be found in SEA for cheap) will come in handy.
Note that many temples in Asia require that men and women wear clothing that covers the knees and shoulders. Flowy pants, dresses, sarongs, and T-shirts can be found all over Southeast Asia for cheap ( $3-$10 USD). Be aware that these clothes aren’t necessarily made to last and increased prices occur in high-tourism areas.
There we have it! My complete Southeast Asia packing list!
See something missing? Leave me a message in the comments section below!