Heading to Vietnam? Not sure what you should pack? I was in the same position before my first trip to Vietnam, touring all the way from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. Here’s my top tips for thing you need on your packing list before you fly out to this incredible country in South East Asia!
A Sturdy Backpack
A strong and sturdy backpack is essential, particularly on a longer trip. A backpack is generally better than a suitcase if you’re expecting to have to walk around a lot when travelling between different accommodation around the country, particularly because the pavements and roads in Vietnam aren’t particularly good for rolling suitcases around. That said, if you’re sticking to the cities, travelling with a tour group or expect to take taxis often, a suitcase will be fine.
Either way, you need something that will take the stress of travel, so don’t get something cheap that will break instantly under the strain of all your gear. Check out our backpack buyer’s guide here for our top tips!
The weather in Vietnam varies across the country, being around 1,650 kilometres north to south. If you’re visiting the south, it tends to be hot and dry from November to April, and warm and wet from May to October. Moving up to central Vietnam, its generally hot and dry between January to August with the temperature reaching 30 degrees C, with higher rainfall in September to November. Meanwhile in Hanoi and the north, you’ll experience hot, wet and humid weather from May to October, while November to April is cooler and dry. Travel any further north and it can get particularly cold in December and North.
I traveled in June and the weather was generally over 30 degrees C every day – t-shirt and shorts weather! The only rainfall we experienced was about a two hour long torrential downpour in Hanoi. A standard rain coat would not do as your legs would get absolutely soaked within a matter of minutes. You can pick up cheap ponchos from many of the stalls and shops to help keep your legs dry. Forget about dry shoes though – Flip flops are a good choice as the rain isn’t particularly cold.
With this in mind, make sure you bring layers to be able to adapt to the weather in the different regions, and pack rain protection. I always bring a tube of travel detergent with me on longer trips so I can pack light but wash my clothes anywhere, even if there aren’t laundry facilities.
Be sure to add our travel essentials to your packing list!
Vietnam Clothing Essentials
- Rain protection: lightweight raincoat or waterproof poncho
- Compact umbrella
- Cheap flip flops
- Lightweight, comfortable trainers
- Polarised sunglasses
If you’re expecting to hire (or buy) a scooter or motorbike to travel around Vietnam, then be sure to add a few other items to your list:
- Long trousers
- Loose long sleeve top
- Head buff/scarf to protect your face
Aside from your clothes, there are a number of accessories that will definitely come in handy, so make sure to include these on your Vietnam packing list.
First and foremost are a set of packing cubes, which help you organise your bag and makes it super easy to find any item you need. A set of packing cubes should be on your packing list wherever you go!
Next, add these useful items to your list:
- Ziplock bag
- Electrical tape
- Duct tape
- LED torch
- Microfibre towel
- Travel pillow
- Elastic cord laundry line
- Travel detergent
You’ll likely want to stay connected while you travel so you can share the immense beauty of Vietnam with your friends back home. Plus, there’ll be plenty to blog about, so you’ll need some gear to be able to do this. Add our essential gadget list below to your packing list, and be sure to check out our more detailed article about the top gadgets for travel bloggers.
- Camera (check out our travel camera guide here!)
- Spare camera batteries
- GoPro and mounts
- Spare MicroSD cards
- A powerbank charger
- Universal power adaptor
- iPad, Chromebook or laptop
- Chargers and USB cables for all you devices
- iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, or other cloud storage to back up your data
- An unlocked mobile phone so you can use a local SIM for cheaper calls and data
Be sure to pack these before you leave!
- A medical kit with plasters, sterile pads, painkillers
- Rehydration packs (in case the local food doesn’t agree with you!)
- Suncream (as it can be expensive in Vietnam_
- Hand sanitiser
Most importantly of all, ensure your travel insurance covers you for all the activities on your trip. Many tour operators won’t even allow you to come if you don’t have adequate insurance in place for your trip, and if you’re travelling alone, there’s nothing worse than being in an unfamiliar country having your belongings stolen, or worse, ending up in hospital, without someone there to help you out. With that in mind, make sure you compare travel insurance before you leave, carefully checking that any policy you choose covers all the activities you’re planning to take part in when on your tour of Vietnam.
Get yourself some Vietnamese Dong before you head out. The currency can be quite confusing as the denominations are so high. One US dollar is currently worth 22,800 Dong. See what I mean?!
A tip I learn when in the country was to ignore the 000s after the comma – add up anything you want to buy without the 000s on the end to make the mental maths a bit easier, then add the three zeros to the end to get your price.
It’s also worth keeping the value of your own currency in your mind. For me, one British Pound is about 32,500 dong, so rounding this to 30,000 helped me to work out if I was getting a good price.
Get your packing list for Vietnam right before you leave – otherwise you can run into problems once you arrive in Vietnam. Are there any other items you’d add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!