So you’ve set your sights on the wonders of Vietnam – where lush rainforests, dramatic limestone cliffs, exciting locals, and epic adventures await you. Rich in culture, history and some of Asia’s finest culinary offerings, it’s no surprise that Vietnam tops everyone’s bucket list. With your leave booked and visa approved, the holiday countdown officially begins… but where to start packing and what to pack when traveling to Vietnam? The task can be tough, so we went ahead and broke it down for you. Here’s everything you need to know to discover the land of Pho!
First thing first…
Accept the mentality that less is more, and stick with it. Vietnam has many incentives. If your mind is focused on conquering as much as possible, navigating a giant suitcase between streets teeming with scooters and women selling fruit isn’t a great place to be. begin. Packaged lighting ensures you can still carry it around and still take advantage of incredible shopping opportunities. Laundry service is cheap and readily available in Vietnam, meaning a week’s worth of clothes will generally give you a shopping opportunity. Plus, Hoi An is famous for its world-class tailoring, so predicting where to shop means you don’t have to throw half of your luggage on the road.
What to Pack When Traveling to Vietnam? Choose your backpack.
I get asked the same question all of the time – should I bring a suitcase or a backpack? There’s no doubt in my mind that a backpack is the best option. It offers unparalleled freedom, speed and a way to stay disciplined in terms of what you pack. If you aren’t sure if you’ll like traveling with a backpack or are totally unfamiliar, there is always the option to get a backpack with wheels.
What’s in the weather?
Always a good time to travel to Vietnam! You can expect most days to be wet, with mixed sunshine and occasional showers. As long as it is geographically (more than 1000 miles), Vietnam is divided into three distinct climatic zones. Anyone traveling to different parts of the country can expect a wide range of temperatures. A good rule of thumb is to pack in layers, choosing fabrics that are light and breathable. And if it’s a particularly sweaty day, you might consider changing out for the evening.
- Valid Visa & Passport: It is important to check the current entry requirements for Vietnam before flying. Some nationalities are eligible for a short-term visa exemption, while others must organize a visa in advance. Always consult the Vietnamese embassy for the most up-to-date advice.
- Debit Credit Card: While you can choose to top up Vietnam Dong or USD before you fly, ATMs are readily available and it’s easier (and safer) to withdraw cash when you need it. I recommend carrying multiple cards when you travel, so you always have a backup.
- Comprehensive travel insurance: Travel can be unpredictable at the best of times, so always protect yourself and be prepared. Being protected and always having someone you can call in case something goes wrong is invaluable.
- Packing block: These are absolute lifesavers for taming the stuff in your backpack. I use a cube for each garment so I can roll and organize my stuff. These are a real game changer and I can’t say enough about them.
- Small backpack: When you cycle between rice fields or climb to the majestic viewpoint at Ninh Binh, you won’t want to carry all your belongings. A small backpack is great for daily excursions, and I always stuff my valuables into a small bag when getting ready for a night out.
- Personal toiletries: Bring your bathroom essentials and any feminine hygiene products you need for your trip. Remember that a full face makeup mixed with a large amount of moisture cannot combine well.
- Sunscreen: Slapping slope slap! Protect yourself from those strong rays and apply plenty of sunscreen before you travel. Although you can buy some locally, it is expensive and may contain whitening ingredients. I like being ocean-friendly and sticking with reef-safe brands.
- Anti-bugs spray: You’re going to the tropics, so keep your delicious skin protected. While I’ve tested several natural brands, those repellents can be persistent and the tropical power solution is definitely the right fit.
- Small first aid kit: You should always carry medical essentials and regular prescriptions with you. There are a lot of pharmacies around and I’ve never had a problem communicating, just be aware that they will likely offer different brands of drugs for what you’re used to back home. One side note – I’ve found that probiotics help build my gut health, allowing me to be more adventurous with what I eat.
- Togs/Bathers/Swimmers: With over 2000 miles of coastline, Vietnam offers plenty of opportunities for sunbathing and soaking. As home to majestic Ha Long Bay, one of the natural wonders of the world, you’ll want to pack your best bikinis for picture-worthy shots.
- Comfortable walking shoes: Vietnam is home to a number of popular hiking activities and is best explored on foot, so be sure to bring some foot-friendly shoes! I love lightweight sandals like the Tevas, which are perfect for warmer weather.
- Flip-flops/Slides: Get ready for boats and islands in no time.
- Light class: Choose fabrics that are loose and breathable to keep out the heat – activewear can be a great choice. Remember that cotton fabrics can take a long time to dry when you sweat.
- Waterproof jacket: Always carry a light raincoat so you’re prepared for the elements.
- Jacket / Fleece: Having a warm layer will keep you comfortable and cozy on overnight bus or train rides.
- Sagging/wrap: Great for spontaneous trips to the temples, as an extra measure of protection from the sun, or for a wrap when things get a little cooler.
- Headphone: A must-have in my toolkit, I always have Spotify playlists ready to help break up longer travel journeys.
- Travel Adapter & Power Bank: Must keep devices charged!
- Camera/Smartphone: Filled with movie-worthy scenes and UNESCO World Heritage sites, you’ll want to capture all your favorite memories to share on social media.
- Waterproof Case/GoPro: Weather and adventure prove your camera.
- Reusable water bottles: Be eco-conscious and reduce your plastic footprint by choosing to reuse. An inbuilt filter can be handy because tap water is not safe to drink.
- Open Mind & Sense of Adventure: Vietnam holds a special place in my heart. I will never tire of watching the sunset over Ha Long Bay, or eating a banh mi and coconut coffee from a street vendor. Soak up the culture, chat with locals, say yes to new things and step out of your comfort zone. You will find a lot of fun in your new discoveries.
Want to make the most of your time in Vietnam and make lifelong friends? We’ve arranged for you a trip of a lifetime – think sailing around Ha Long Bay, explore one of the most exciting cities in the world and learn about local life in the depths of the river Mekong.