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Docked Longboats
Ko Phi Phi – Thailand

Southeast Asia is wild place packed with unique culture, crazy food and intense weather. As you plan for your exciting adventure, here is a recommended must have packing list for Southeast Asia to make sure you are fully prepared.

What Bag to Pack

If you’re like me and have a collection of travel bags, it’s always hard to choose which one to take because you love them all! When traveling in Southeast Asia you will do a lot of walking to get to your destination. Most places outside of major cities have uneven ground or dirt roads which makes rolling a suitcase a hassle and extremely difficult. I would definitely opt for a bag, suitcase or backpack that you can carry comfortably. If you can, get the best of both. A backpack on wheels so when you do have a firm road to roll on, you can take a break from carrying. If you plan to fly in between countries, try to stick to a carry-on size. Therefore, you can afford baggage fees and not worry about lost luggage.

Now to Fill the Bag

Recommended Clothing

Southeast Asia is a hot and humid place so loose and light clothes are the way to go.

  • Cotton T-shirts. Cotton keeps you cool and is easy to wash.
  • Cotton long sleeve shirt for cool nights.
  • Shorts. Try to avoid jeans, as they are not very airy. No booty shorts ladies!
  • Hats or bandanas for more sun protection and to keep you cool.
  • Swimwear.
  • Socks if you are bringing hiking shoes.
  • Sarong. I recommend bringing one or buying one when you get there. Great for sun protection, bathing suit cover-up or colorful dress on a hot, humid day.
  • Scarves. They are not only good for sun protection but also handy when you need to make non-temple appropriate clothing to temple-wear appropriate.
  • Raincoat. This is only really necessary if you are going during the wet season. In the three months I ventured Southeast Asia during the dry season and it only rained one day. I opted to buy the $1 poncho from the shop.
packing list for southeast asia
Sporting the $1 poncho on my one rainy day.
Angkor Wat – Cambodia

Don’t Over Pack!

I am guilty of over packing all the time, but I have improved over the years. The usual culprit that contributes to my over packing is clothes. When choosing your clothing, pick items you can mix and match to cut down clothing bulk, but not options. Remember, you are carrying your bag so the lighter the better!  If you happen forget anything or really need something, the markets are great places to score some cheap and stylish clothing. I know halfway through my trip I was only wearing the clothes I bought in Southeast Asia. Love my Asian pants!

packing list for southeast asia
Red Asian Pants!
KuangSi Waterfalls – Laos

Recommended Shoes

There are loads of outdoor activities to do all throughout the region. You can spend your days on the beach, biking through the countryside, playing with elephants or going on a hillside trek. Whatever it is, be prepared with the right shoes.

  • Hiking shoes or sandals if you plan to go trekking or do extensive walking.
  • Slip on shoes/flip-flops/thongs. You will have to takes your shoes on and off quite frequently so make it easy on yourself.


  • Daypack for day treks, overnight trips and walkabouts.
  • Money belt or something to keep your money safe while walking around.
  • Camera.  Don’t forget batteries, memory cards and chargers.
  • Sunscreen and lots of it! Stronger the SPF the better.
  • Sunglasses
  • Toiletries – toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.
  • Microfiber bath towel. If you are not staying in a hotel, towels will not be supplied.
  • Surge protectors and outlet converters. Double check the voltage on all of your appliances and electronics to make sure you can use them overseas.
  • Headlamp, flashlight or torch for walking around at night.
  • Malaria pills depending on where you are going this may be recommended. Ask your doctor.
  • Toilet paper – Southeast Asia primarily has squatters and holes in the ground for taking care of your business, especially in rural areas. However, most tourist areas and cities do have western-style toilets. If you are not comfortable with just rinsing yourself or drip-drying, make sure to have a roll handy in your bag.

Have you been to Southeast Asia or just returned and thought of something that needs to be on this list? Leave a comment below. I would love to hear what must have item is on your packing list for Southeast Asia.

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