If you’re planning a trip to Southeast Asia for the first time, it can be a little hard to know what to take with you. You’ve probably looked at thousands of luggage lists on various travel blogs without knowing exactly what to select and often reading conflicting advice. Should I take a pair of jeans? Do I need my laptop? Do I need a first aid kit? Is a backpack or suitcase better? Will I need boots or hiking shoes?
Luggage tips for Southeast Asia
Whether you’re planning to enjoy a few days of relaxation on the beaches of southern Thailand, watching the wildlife you can find in the jungles of Vietnam, exploring the temples of Angkor Wat or enjoying a party on a cruise around Halong Bay, we have the perfect recommendations to ensure you don’t miss or overdo anything in your luggage.
Backpack or suitcase?
This section is totally subjective to the type of traveler who comes to us. At OneMoreDestination.com we can organize trips of any kind: adventure, trekking, combined beach and mountain, honeymoons at the highest level of luxury…
Depending on the type of trip you have in mind it will be more practical to carry a suitcase or a backpack. A large number of travelers to Southeast Asia tend to make a route moving within the country or even several countries, so if you plan to move over several weeks perhaps a backpack is best suited.
Sometimes bags are incredibly impractical for moving through the narrow streets of Asian cities, many of them with bad pavement, with sidewalks full of food stalls and street vendors and full of potholes.
If during your trip you are thinking of visiting some of the more remote tropical islands of Southeast Asia you can be sure that roads are practically non-existent in those places, so dragging a huge wheeled backpack may not be a good idea. However, if you want us to organize a trip that will take you from hotel to hotel having at your disposal the Asian luxury in all its splendor, perhaps it is more advisable to have a suitcase where you can transport all our gala clothes.
If you decide on a backpack, don’t carry one with you that is larger than 50 or 60 litres, as you will end up with rather sore shoulders. Although a larger backpack may seem more practical in most Southeast Asian countries, it is dominated by a tropical or subtropical climate, which means that we will have to carry a suitcase in an objectively hot and humid climate.
Although the climate in all Southeast Asian countries is quite hot, there are some areas like Sapa to Hanoi, especially during the winter, which are a bit cold. Take into account the time of year you are going to travel and the country you are going to visit to design your luggage.
At OneMoreDestination.com we recommend that your luggage contains lightweight clothing, preferably made of cotton. It is also a good idea to choose neutral colors that can be easily combined to maximize the number of different styles you can match.
It is not too advisable to put jeans in our luggage, as they are very heavy, bulky, do not sweat and take a long time to dry when we wash them. It is much better to take fine cotton trousers with us for those evenings when it is a bit colder or when we have to visit a temple and need to cover our legs.
In the case of women it is also advisable to have a sarong or handkerchief in our luggage to cover our shoulders during these visits. In any case, and if on our arrival we need some extra clothes, we can always find clothes at a very good price in any of the markets and night markets of any Asian city for a handful of euros.
It is also a very good idea to buy a microfibre towel, as they save a lot of space and dry very quickly. A microfiber towel will be very useful to us, especially if we travel to Southeast Asia during the monsoon season, when daily downpours are common.
Type of clothing
In general, in all Southeast Asian countries people tend to dress rather conservatively. It’s a good idea to cover your knees and shoulders and not show too much cleavage, especially if you’re going to travel in areas away from the big tourist spots. If you are going to move around in tourist areas you should not worry too much.
Most of the time you can easily get by in flip-flops or sandals most of the time, but it is also mandatory to bring a pair of light shoes or trekking shoes with you, especially if we are going on a jungle route. They are also very useful for those days when we plan to walk a lot during the visits or be on our feet for many hours.
It is quite advisable to take a small toilet bag with you. A toiletry bag helps to keep everything related to hygiene in one place as well as isolating the rest of the luggage from the humidity of these products. To save some more space in your luggage it is a very good idea to buy solid versions of all those toiletries: they are cheaper, lighter, take up less space and last much longer.
Practically every hygiene product you can think of can be found in a solid or block version: shampoo, shower gel, deodorants, conditioners… A small bar of soap is always useful, as well as a hairbrush, a toothbrush and nail clippers are mandatory and for women it is a very good idea to get a menstrual cup so that they do not have to worry about tampons and pads.
You will want to immortalize each and every moment of your trip while keeping in touch with your family. Here are some ideas for technology gadgets you can take with you on your trip.
Internet cafés are gradually disappearing in all the major cities of South-East Asia, just as they did years ago in all the Western countries. Right now it is quite common for everyone to have their own computer.
If you have a lightweight laptop (approximately 13 to 14 inches) and you are going to have to work during your trip or send some emails you can take it with you without any problem. In any Asian coffee shop you have Wi-Fi and you can make the arrangements you want while having a coffee.
The basic of any self-respecting traveler. Nowadays we can find in the market mirrorless cameras that are much more compact than the classic reflex cameras with mirror lenses. If you are thinking of buying a camera for your trip, consider getting a mirrorless or digital sensor model: you will appreciate it for its weight and size savings, but it will not mean lower quality photos.
If you’re going on a package tour through several countries (which means you’ll be taking buses, trains and planes quite regularly during your trip) perhaps it’s a good idea to take your e-book with you so you can spend the hours in a more enjoyable way.
When our guides meet you at the airport on your arrival in the destination country, we give you a local SIM card so that we can be reached between us and our offices whenever you need it and you also have a phone number for the country. However, you must have a free smartphone that accepts SIM cards from any operator in the world. Nowadays it is quite common that all phones are free even some of them accept two SIM cards at the same time, so you will be able to continue having your usual phone number working.
Type of case according to destination
Southeast Asia offers a multitude of destinations for very different traveler profiles, which means that you can see yourself in the middle of the jungle at 12ºC and in the rain and days later move to a beach with a totally tropical climate. If the travel program you have in mind does not include so many contrasts (although many times it does not), here are two options for beach trips and mountain trips. If you are going to make a trip that combines both areas, simply combine the two proposals.
Example of luggage for mountain trips
- A pair of boots
- One or two shirts
- Several pants
- A fleece lining
- A microfiber towel
- A breathable raincoat
- Example of a suitcase for trips to beach areas
Two pairs of shoes, preferably one pair of sandals and one closed shoe
- Cotton T-shirts
- A cap or hat
- A swimsuit
- A microfiber towel
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