The Ultimate Packing List for a Trip to Vietnam

Vietnam is one of Southeast Asia’s most popular backpacking destinations, attracting visitors year round. Travellers come for the lush landscape, breathtaking views and fascinating culture. Remnants of the relatively recent Vietnam War can be seen up and down the country. It has, however, not affected the kindness of the Vietnamese people.

You’ll be welcomed with open arms into a charming and charismatic country. Whether you head to bustling high rise cities such as Ho Chi Minh or plan on trekking through the mountains in Sapa to find minority villages, Vietnam is a spectacular country.

Make unforgettable memories and experience something new entirely. It doesn’t matter if you plan on travelling for two week or six months, you end up taking mostly the same type of items and clothing. When you first start writing your packing list, it can be overwhelming and impossible to think how so many items will fit in such a small bag. Fear not, it’s entirely possible and you’ll soon realise you bought too much with you anyway.

Preparing for your trip

Getting visa on arrival Vietnam
Getting visa on arrival Vietnam

Once you’ve decided on your travel plans, check your passport is valid and has at least six months before you head to Vietnam. Next, apply for your Vietnam visa if you need one. Some people may need not one, however, the likelihood is you will need to have a visa arranged prior to travelling. can help you with all your visa requirements. Applying for a visa online saves on time and money spent getting to your nearest embassy. A much smoother process and very popular amongst travellers. For more information on the difference between an E-visa and Visa on Arrival and to arrange your travel visa, please visit

Pick the right bag

This is such an important decision to make and can have a big effect on your travel plans. Choose a bag that’s suitable for your size and only take one that you are willing and are able to carry. You will be jumping from buses to taxis and even boats, so you need to be able to manoeuvre. Remember the bigger the bag, the more you will take with you. A 100-litre backpack may fit your wardrobe in but it will be extremely heavy by the time you’re finished with it. When picking a backpack, always buy a day bag as well that’s light, comfortable and fits everything you need in for the day.

Choose appropriate clothing

An obvious piece of advice but Vietnam is hot. When it’s not hot, it’s hotter. Dress appropriately for the weather and bring light pieces, shorts and tops that are breathable and dry quickly. For women, long-sleeve tops and leggings are great to bring, easy to wear and perfect for visiting temples. Despite being hot, Vietnam does have a rainy season so expect heavy showers and go prepared with a lightweight waterproof jacket.

If you intend on going to a smart restaurant, bring a nice option that you can wear during the evening. Try to make your pieces multi-purpose and layer where possible. Invest in comfortable walking shoes or sandals as you will be walking miles throughout your Vietnam adventure. Don’t forget your hat and sunglasses, protect your head and eyes from the bright UV rays in the Vietnam sun.

Don’t bring your entire medicine cabinet

It’s hard not to bring every toiletry and medicine you possess but these are the type of items that will weigh you down. If you plan on travelling with hand luggage only, you will be restricted on your liquids so be sure to pack liquids under 100ml. As soon as you land, there are shops and supermarkets that have cheaply priced toiletries. There’s no need to bring bulky items which can be purchased when you arrive. This helps save on room and weight in your backpack.

Bring the gadgets you need 

If you plan on bringing your laptop, try and bring a relatively compact one so that it doesn’t take over your backpack. Travelling with cameras and GoPro’s is the norm nowadays so store all your gadgets safely and remember to bring all chargers. If you can bring charging cables that have a dual-purpose, this will help to reduce the amount you pack.

Be sure to unlock your phone before heading to Vietnam so you can pick up a Vietnamese sim card and keep in touch with all the people you meet along the way. A universal converter that includes a couple USB ports is so useful and saves on carrying bulky converters.

What you can leave behind

Once you begin your adventure you’ll realise you packed too many clothes and could probably downsize the majority of your backpack. Try and leave behind any expensive jewellery and valuables that you would be upset if you lost. It’s not worth taking anything valuable or sentimental like rings or watches.

If you’re a keen reader, you’ll have plenty of time to catch up on your favourite novel during long bus journeys, however, books take up a lot of room and will weigh you down. An alternative option would be to use a kindle to read. If you love having physical books, many hostels offer free book swaps so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to pick up a new read.

Travelling through the Vietnam landscape is incredible, whether you’re on a bus or the back of a motorbike. Try and be strict with yourself when packing and don’t overpack. Remember as long as you have your passport, visa and money, everything else is replaceable.