What to Pack for Southeast Asia

What to Pack for Southeast Asia

Not sure what to pack for your trip to Southeast Asia? Well before I list what I’m packing let me paint you a picture:  You are on the final leg of your 36 hour flight to the other side of the world. This included 2 stops to change planes along the way. And it’s been a long 36 hours. You probably got some shut-eye, but we all know you just never get a good sleep on a plane. Suddenly you hear a “ping” followed by an announcement from the pilot, “cabin crew prepare for landing”. You gaze out the window at this new country wondering what adventures await. The lights of moving cars flow through the city like the blood running through your veins making the city below look alive. You feel anxious as you anticipate touchdown. A sudden shudder as the tyres kiss the tarmac but all in all a smooth landing from the pilot. Someone applauds (there’s always one). You stand up to grab your carry-on luggage from the overhead compartment and depart the plane. A few quick questions from customs and they issue that all important stamp in your passport. Having no idea where you are going, you follow the crowd and make your way to the carousel to reclaim your luggage. Whilst waiting for your bags you give out a yawn that a lion would be proud of and you realise how tired you are. At last, you spot your bag. It makes it way to you snaking its way around the carousel. One hand on the strap you heave it off the conveyor belt.

Now it’s at this very point, it sinks in how heavy your backpack is and you also realise you now in fact now have two bags that you have to haul around on your travels. Pretty much from that point on, where you go, your bags go. Doesn’t sound too appealing does it?

dont be this guy

Don’t be this guy!

I made this mistake the first time I left home to travel. I must have had 25-30kg of travel gear. Not only was this an inconvenience, but in truth I never even wore half the clothes that I brought with me. In the end I probably donated about 70% of “junk”. I have vowed never to make the same mistake again.

So my advice is to travel light, think of your back and pack only what you think you will need. A few t-shirts, a couple of pairs of shorts, maybe a nicer pair of jeans in case you want to go to a fancier restaurant, toiletries, some medicines, a book to keep you entertained on long journeys and a camera to capture those all important memories. Just don’t bring your entire wardrobe.

Travel Gear for Southeast Asia
Travel Gear for Southeast Asia

Below I have listed what I intend to take with me. Obviously some people need more and some people get by on less, but I hope this can give you some insight on what to pack.

 40l backpack– Yes, only a 40l backpack. There were a couple of reasons I decided to get this backpack. First off, it allowed me to minimise what I’m taking, (i.e. not packing my entire wardrobe) therefore, making it much easier to travel around. And two, I am able to take it on the plane as carry-on which will save money and time as I won’t have to check a bag!

Gadgets and Travel Gear

We all love gadgets right? Well just remember if you are going to bring your laptop or that new camera you just bought then you should probably look at getting these items insured. A good travel insurance company will include cover for these. Try to minimise the risk of theft by buying a padlock for you bag and keeping them out of sight when in shared dorm rooms.

The only reason I have decided to bring a laptop and the Nikon camera is so I can give updates as I travel. Were I not doing the blog I probably wouldn’t take them with me.


  • 3 pairs of shorts (including swim shorts)
  • 1 pair of hiking trousers/pants
  • 1 pair of jeans if eating in nicer restaurants
  • 4 t-shirts
  • 2 tank tops
  • 2 Hawaiin shirts – yes I know its a bit cliché
  • enough underwear for a week
  • 1 pair of hiking boots
  • 1 pair of trainers/sneakers
  • 1 pair of flip-flops
  • 1 shemagh/keffiyeh scarf – Good for keeping the sun off your head when hiking and also keeping you warm if it gets a bit chilly.

This might seem like a scarce amount of clothes to pack to be going away for an extended amount of time. And yes, it is inevitable that they will get ruined. But clothes can be replaced. Buy some new clothes from market and shopping malls with all the money you saved not buying new clothes for your trip.  Plus clothes are far less expensive in Southeast Asia than they are back home.

Toiletries and First aid

  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • deodorant
  • high Factor sun cream
  • after sun (its inevitable I will get sunburn)
  • antiseptic cream
  • band aids/bandages/plasters
  • paracetamol for those nasty hangovers
  • stock up on any prescribed medication that need
  • anti-Diarrhea Tablets – We’ve all heard of Delhi belly right?

*Note make sure any containers are less than 100ml if taking on the plane.

So there it is. This is my packing list. I hope you take in to account what I have said and that you learn from my mistakes.

Is there anything you cant leave at home when you go traveling? Leave a comment.

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2 thoughts on “What to Pack for Southeast Asia

  1. Thanks for sharing this post. I havent backpacked in southeast Asia yet so I take this one as an advice. LOL. that picture (that overpacked guy) on the top kind of remind me of myself. XD I used to be like that when I started travelling.

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