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Essential Vietnam Packing List

Wondering about what to pack for your trip to Vietnam?

It is the fact that you cannot bring your apartment inside your baggage. Think twice and just bring something really necessary.

There are many things you can buy here at a much cheaper price than what you pay for it at your home country.

In the other hand, you must prepare something that you cannot or hardly find in Vietnam such as your prescribed medicine or some special equipments for your motorbiking trip. 

You will find below all the information you need to prepare for your Vietnam packing list.

Preparing for your Vietnam Trip

Preparing for what to pack should be done 1 month before you go. This will depend on the climate during your travel period, the activities that you will join, or the countries that you will visit. 

Moreover, your Vietnam packing list also depends on your gender, your private hobbies or your travel purpose. 

Answering the below questions will help you have more idea of what to pack for your Vietnam trip.

What time of the year are you planning to visit Vietnam?

Vietnam's geographic location makes the weather and climate a little more complicated. Rainy season can be very crazy, which is between May to end of October. While the warm months which is from the end of February to April is very hot. 

Moreover, the weather between the different regions inside Vietnam can be different during the same period of year.

This will lead you to the next question.

You can check more detail about Vietnam weather and best time to visit

Which part of Vietnam are you going to explore?

Winter can hit very hard in the north of Vietnam such as Sa Pa, Lao Cai, Hanoi and other northern parts of the country. The temperature can drop to zero, while the houses don't have insulation system inside, resulting in the locals and tourist wearing their jackets inside their home.

The winter starts at the end of January until the middle of February, it's not very long but it can be a pain if you are not ready.

Check out all the Places to visit in Vietnam

What activities are you going to join in Vietnam?

Anything adventurous such as motorbiking, hiking, water activities? Visiting temples and museums?

If you are planning to hike, get the best hiking shoes you have. If you are going to spend some day relaxing at the beach, it's better to have some more bikinis to join the water activities. And if you are going to visit temples, make sure to pack appropriate clothing for places like that.

Check out all the things to do in Vietnam

How long are you thinking to be travelling in Vietnam?

Depending on how long you are planning to travel can definitely affect your packing list. If you will be caught in the middle of the season change, there is a reason to pack warm clothes, rain jacket, and waterproof shoes. You will also have to get a waterproof cover for your backpack.

Which other countries are you going to after Vietnam?

It's simple, if you are heading somewhere else after Vietnam, you need to check its climate and weather as well, and of course, prepare extra packing list for those countries.

Normally, you can add some Vietnam’s neighbor countries to your plan such as Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos.

Check out the packing list for Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos.

What to pack for Vietnam?

To make it easier, we will divide your packing list into 7 categories below:

  • Essential documents including passports, blood type card, or useful address. 
  • Clothing: specific for women and men
  • Toiletries: remember to pack just something you cannot buy. Most of the toiletries you can find in Vietnam at a cheaper price
  • Accessories: some handy items to help you pack your smaller items together; or extra items for safety for special tours.
  • Travel health & helpful hints: All the essential prescribed medicines that you barely find in Vietnam
  • Electronics & gadget to pack: Suitable electronic equipment to enjoy during the trip
  • Miscellaneous for Vietnam: All other necessary items not listed above

Below is the detailed items list of each category.

8 Essential documents to bring

  1. Passport - must be valid for the next 6 months when you arrive or enter in Vietnam. And it must have at least 6-month validity on the date of arrival
  2. Visa - check if you need a visa or if your free visa days are not enough - here is how you can apply for a Vietnam visa, if you need one or not and how to extend your visa if you need to
  3. Official-sized passport photos: They will request at least 2 photos for visa on arrival. There is no hurt bring some more as they're also sometimes used for permits and other applications. We recommend preparing at least 5 photos with you. If you also visit the neighboring countries, so add 5 more for each destination.
  4. Return ticket - when you land or enter Vietnam, it's not common for the immigration officer to ask for your exit ticket, however, if they do, you should have one ready. You can also tell them that you are crossing the border to Cambodia or Laos, which is acceptable.
  5. Accommodation confirmation - it is proven that depending on your length of stay or nationality or immigration officer, a confirmed hotel or accommodation booking will be asked, book at least the first three nights, save the email confirmation (screen shot on your phone)
  6. Travel insurance - the immigration will not be asking this; however, your trip can be unpredictable, it's always better to be ready and have a peace in tour mind than taking a risk especially if you are planning to go motorbiking or do adventurous trips
  7. Photocopy - get a photocopy of your passport and visa page. This can be helpful in case you lost your passport.
  8. Blood type card – have a copy with you either in hard copy or a screen shot in your mobile phone. 

Clothing

The clothing is different for men and women. There should be some extra packing if you are going to join a motorbiking trip. In case you have kids, you need extra clothing for them as somethings cannot be found here.

The list is suitable for active travelers who expect to join trekking or hiking in the remote areas in quite long journey. Please adjust if you are going to join a short trip around the cities or tourist hubs

Clothing for women

  • 1 cotton shirt - preferably in coloured to wash easier
  • 2 dresses - 1 maxi, going/short dress
  • 3 pair of shorts - 2 sports types, one board/denim type
  • 1 pair of leggings - You won't use it as it is but perfect to use underneath a skirt 
  • 1 long sleeve - will be useful for places where you need to cover up (doesn't have to be thick)
  • 4 pair of socks - especially if you are planning to hike a lot (thick one if you are going during winter on the north)
  • 2 pairs of sports bras, 2 pairs of regular bras
  • 6 pairs of underwear
  • Comfortable walking/hiking shoes - if you have North American or European size, those sizes cannot be found here
  • 2 pairs of bikinis
  • 1 lightweight big scarf/sarong - use it with leggings when visiting sacred places or blanket at airports or bus journey
  • 1 walking shoes/hiking shoes
  • 1 pair of flip-flops - don't bring expensive ones, you might lose them anyway
  • 1 pair of cute sandals
  • 1 rain jacket - lightweight
  • 1 quick dry towel
  • 1 security/waist belt

Clothing for Men

  • 3 shorts - 1 travel short, preferably with lots of pockets, 2 day/board shorts
  • 5 T-shirts - 3 cotton, 1 athletic shirt
  • 1 tank top - unless you prefer tank top over T-shirts
  • 1 long trouser
  • 1 long sleeve thin shirt
  • 4 pair of socks - at least one pair for hiking and winter
  • 6 pairs of underwear
  • 1 lightweight scarf/sarong - can be useful for sacred places and as a blanket
  • 1 quick dry towel
  • 1 pair of flip-flops - don't bring an expensive one, you might lose it anyway
  • 1 hiking/walking shoes/boots
  • 1 closed pair of shoes
  • 1 security/waist belt
  • 1 pair of swim shorts - fast dry and lightweight

Extra for motorbiking in Vietnam – both women and men

If you are planning to drive or ride a motorbike, you might want to add these on your packing list:

  • 1 long trouser - to cover and protect your skin under the very hot sun and possible crash
  • 1 polarised sunglasses
  • 1 face mask - to cover your nose and mouth with dirt and smoke
  • 1 headwear
  • Translation app or Vietnamese dictionary
  • An offline or online map on your smart phone

Extra for travelling with kids

Travelling with kids will be fun but can also be a nightmare especially if you fail to pack the must bring items and accessories. Here are some:

  • Medicine - they can be found here; however, it will be consuming and the risk of getting not the right dosage or exact equivalent of the medicine you need is too much to risk
  • Cotton clothing - cotton shirts can be expensive in Vietnam while the sizes can be an issue too
  • Entertainment items - such as colouring books, toys, shows to watch
  • Wet wipes and toilet paper - they are pretty easy to find so you can buy upon arrival
  • Bag for rubbish - always whenever, wherever
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Swim wear
  • Sunblock for kids - get a reef-friendly sunblock
  • Floaters and goggles
  • Hat/sun hat
  • Underwear
  • De-tangling hair spray, hair comb, and hair ties
  • Water bottle
  • Their own suitcase - if your kids are big enough, you should let them have their own suitcase

You should remember that sizes can be an issue in Vietnam.

Accessories

Packing accessories

To help you pack wisely and smartly, here are some packing accessories that can be useful:

  • Packing cubes - it will help you pack faster and access whatever you need in bag easier
  • Ziplocs - it is very useful for keeping your gadgets and documents dry especially during rainy season and if you are going motorbiking
  • Laundry bag - the best ones are the plastic with Ziploc on to contain the dirt and smell

Accessories for motorbiking

If you are going motorbiking in Vietnam, make sure you have these with you as well:

  • Rain cover for your backpack
  • Rain cover for your motorbiking
  • Overall onesie rain suit/rain jacket
  • Rain boots
  • Phone holder - so you can look at the map easier and faster, they can be bought in Vietnam but best to get from your home country in case you are using a new model
  • Dry bag - place items that you will need often so you can reach them easily

Accessories for safety

Trouble and bad people are everywhere, however, if you come prepared, you can avoid or lessen the chances that these issues might happen if you pack some of these things:

  • Padlocks - get a good one that is not too heavy to carry
  • RFID wallet - for passport and bank cards
  • Money bag/waist bag - bring one that is thin enough to place on your waist and hide under your shirt
  • Filtration water bottle - to avoid buying bottled water all the time and to make sure that you only drink clean water
  • Head torch/torch
  • Whistle
  • Copy of your prescriptions - must be translated in English

Toiletries

Toiletries for women

Some of the items cannot be found in Vietnam; therefore, you must bring them with you from your home country. Some can be easily bought on arrival at much cheaper price, just bring some to use on the go:

  • Menstrual cup/tampon - tampons with applicators are almost impossible to find
  • Toothbrush heads - if you use an electric toothbrush
  • Makeup - some international makeup brands are not available here
  • Shampoo, hair conditioner, body gel - you don't need to pack big sizes/bottles, they can be bought here easily and cheaply.
  • Toothpaste: as long as you need something special, you can find the most popular products from Unilever or P&G in Vietnam
  • Deodorant: you can also find the popular brands in Vietnam
  • Sunblock and moisturizer/lotion - most moisturizer or lotion here have whitening
  • Perfume: Bring some, this is the favorable gifts for your Thai friends
  • Hair products - for curly hair
  • Tissue/wet wipes - pocket size, they are easy to buy here

Toiletries for men

The same as for women, you can find it cheaper in Vietnam:

  • Shower gel and shampoo - easy to buy in Vietnam
  • Shaving cream - not impossible but not cheap
  • Deodorant – easily to find popular brands in Vietnam
  • Electric shaver – better to bring your own than buy the new one
  • Toothbrush heads - if you use an electric toothbrush
  • Perfume: Bring some, this is the favorable gifts for your Thai friends
  • Sunblock and moisturizer - most moisturizer or lotion here have whitening
  • Tissue/wet wipes - pocket size, they are easy to buy here

Travel health & helpful hints

Packing a basic health kit is a good idea no matter where you are going, and truly imperative if you have any sort of health conditions or take regular medications.

  • Personal medical essentials plus Epi Pen if necessary
  • Copies of all your prescriptions/immunizations and your doctor’s phone number
  • First aid kit: Imodium, ibuprofen, paracetamol, tums/antacid tablets, Benadryl
  • Allergy meds, asthma inhalers, & eye drops
  • An adequate supply of prescription medications (knowing the generic name comes in handy)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Anti-diarrheal tablets
  • Antibiotic cream/ointment
  • Anti-malarial if necessary (check with your doctor and the CDC/WHO before going)
  • Anti-itch cream for bug bites
  • Tiger balm (for headaches/muscle soreness/sinus issues)
  • Band-Aids/bandages
  • Mints or ginger to aid digestion and upset stomach
  • Essential oils/travel diffuser for wellness regimen

Check the full list of Healthy Packing List from CDC HERE

Electronics & Gadgets to pack

Here are a few electronics and gadgets that you must pack both to keep you entertain and to help you with planning, during travelling, and to keep in touch with your family and friends back home.

Standard gadgets to pack

  • Smartphone - will help you in many ways; digital maps, mobile banking, contacting your hotel/hostel, contacting your family, to download your bus, train, and plane tickets
  • Camera - your smartphone can be good enough, while other travellers bring digital cameras or action camera
  • Phone chargers - pack at least two sets of phone chargers
  • Headphone splitter
  • External hard drive - at least 265 GB to save those photos
  • Power bank - 2 pieces would be better
  • 2 SD cards - for your camera
  • Universal converter

For entertainment

  • Kindle/ebook reader - to kill time on those long bus journeys or flight connections
  • iPod/music player - again, the bus journey can be really long
  • Laptop - unless you will use it for something else like work or you will be travelling for a really long time, perhaps it will not be smart to bring a laptop
  • Chargers - for every gadget that you will be bringing
  • Headphones/earphones - never ever leave without these

Miscellaneous

  • Eye mask & neck pillow
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Travel journal
  • Waterproof watch
  • Mosquito repellent - easy to buy here
  • Chapstick, nail cutter & nail file
  • Toric contact lenses

What NOT to pack for Vietnam

Now that we’ve covered our recommendations for what to pack, here we have our what NOT to pack for Vietnam list:

  1. DON’T PACK offensive or revealing clothing: Most temples have clothing requirements — long pants for men and no shoulders or legs showing for women. Avoid sticking out like a sore thumb, and avoid insulting locals by preparing to dress more modestly.
  2. DON’T BRING extra books: Besides a trusty guidebook, you really shouldn’t bring any books with you. They’re heavy, they take up a lot of space, and they can easily get ruined. I’ve found that e-readers like a Kindle hold up well and are light and compact.
  3. DON’T TAKE valuables like jewelry: Leave all but essentials at home. Don’t bring anything that you can’t bear to lose, damage, or have stolen. While violent crimes are rare, crimes of opportunity — petty theft, for example — can occur.
  4. DON’T PACK your hair dryer: Western hair dryers are too much for outlets in this area. You’ll short out in no time flat. Save the space and stick with a provided dryer, or just air-dry and rock your best beach hair!
  5. DON’T TAKE expensive electronics: These can too-easily get damaged en route or at your accommodations, and can easily paint you for a thief’s target. Unless you’re a risk-taker and/or your insurance policy covers these items while traveling, leave them at home.
  6. DON’T BRING local currency with you: Don’t get it exchanged before you go, just use an ATM at the airport for the best exchange rate! Most international airports will have an ATM within them or nearby. It’s always my first stop upon landing.

Packing tips & tricks

If you are having a hard time to decide what to bring, check out these packing tips:

  1. Pack only what you need - sounds easy but I understand it's not, with this, you should remember to forget about the phrase "in case I need this"
  2. Pack the ones you really need and cannot buy in Vietnam - like lotion without whitening or tampons or clothes of your size
  3. Do a trial packing - if you can't fit everything in your bag or suitcase or you barely can close it, remove 1/4 of it (decide which one is your least favorite) and pack again
  4. The ideal weight - how long will you be travelling for, what season? for one month of hot seasons, you won't need more than 15 kgs
  5. The heavy and big ones - unless you are on a bigger size, you should a buy winter jacket and other heavy accessories such as shampoo or shower gel in Vietnam, much better is pack a soap instead

And below are some recommended packing tricks:

  1. Pack all of your chargers and cables in a separate packing cube
  2. Keep some Ziploc bags handy for any emergency
  3. Travel size containers for jewelry, toiletries and personal items are always helpful
  4. Official currency is the Vietnamese Dong but keep a stash of US Dollars or Euros 
  5. Always keep medications and tech gear in your carry-on luggage/personal item
  6. Pack duct tape, it saves the day every time!
  7. Clip a few carabiners – they always come in handy
  8. Keep a few clothes pegs with you – good for laundry and closing snack bags

Frequently asked questions

Q. What kind of luggage or suitcase that I need?

A. If you’re travelling around, nothing beats a backpack for sheer portability, especially as not everywhere in Vietnam has pristine pavements that will make maneuvering a wheelie suitcase easy.

Invest in a well-made backpack – if you need to economize, this is not the item on which to do it. Osprey is a solid choice in a variety of sizes. Remember to get a daypack too.

Use travel cubes to organize items in your backpack so you don’t have to empty the whole pack to get to what you want.

Luggage locks are useful for peace of mind while your bags are away from you in transit. Get TSA approved locks if you’re going in and out of the USA.

Q. How many kilos can I have with the checked baggage and hand luggage?

A. Most of the regional carriers only accept maximum 20 kilos of checked baggage and 7 kilos of hand luggage.

If you fly with the low-cost airlines, check it carefully if the checked luggage is included. Normally, if you book the ticket with us, we will always include the standard checked luggage of 20 kilos in the ticket for you. The extra luggage can be baught upon request with extra charge from the airlines.

Q. When is the cheapest time to fly to Vietnam?

A. Logically, the cheapest time to fly to Vietnam is during the off-travel season (roughly from March to April, and September to October) when there are not many tourists visiting the country.

According to cheapflights.com.au, the cheapest flights to Vietnam are usually found when departing on a Monday. The departure day with the highest cost is usually on a Friday.

Moreover, Vietnam flights can be made cheaper if you choose a flight at noon. Booking a flight in the morning will likely mean higher prices.

Simply follow this, sometimes you can have the promotion of 40-50% discount.

Check our full guidelines to find the cheapest ticket to Vietnam

NOT READY YET?

We believe you have the right to arm yourselves with as much information as possible before making any decision.

Check below our detailed tips & guide for every places to visit in Vietnam, recommendation regarding the inclusion in each theme you prefer, and what you can do based on the time frame you have.

PLACES TO VISIT IN Vietnam
Hanoi
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Sapa
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Hue
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Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
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Unique experience combined with top-notch services

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Easy excursions combined with unique experience making the long-lasting romantic memories

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Easy excursion combined with week-long beach break

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The combination of some must-see experience and the cruise tour along the mighty rivers

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The combination of fun and educational activities

Unseen
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Reveal off-the-beatentrack routes, least explored destinations, and unknown tribe groups

Cycling
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Explore every corners of the destination on two wheels

Trek & Hike
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Explore the least visited destinations and unknown experience on foot

Vietnam PLANS BY TIME FRAME
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