Vietnam is well and truly entrenched as part of the Southeast Asia backpacking route and is fast establishing itself as a destination in its own right. It’s very easy to see why too, it offers lush jungle, adventure opportuinties, amazing food and an intriguing history.
Yes, so Vietnam is amazing and it is calling your name! If you are wondering what to bring to Vietnam, then you are in the right place.
Read on for your top 22-needs packing list, tips on what to wear that’s appropriate for Vietnam street fashion, a breakdown of what to pack for Vietnam by seasonal weather conditions.
By the time you get through all the good stuff we put together for you, you’ll be more ready than ever to explore pagodas in Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City, lounge on Nha Trang Beach, stroll along the streets of charming Hoi An, cruise through Halong Bay and dig into some tasty pho!
Let’s get started!Final Thoughts on What to Pack for Vietnam
The Ultimate Vietnam Packing List
Packing for Vietnam is made easy thanks to us. Read on to find out what to bring to Vietnam.
The Backpack and Luggage: Nomatic Travel Bag
Before you even take on the task of figuring out what to pack for Vietnam, you’ll need an amazing backpack to pack it all into. For all types of travelers and destinations, our number one recommendation is the Nomatic Travel Bag.
The Nomatic travel bag covers every detail to make backpacking travel the best experience. Because of its smart design, it manages to provide loads of packing space in a convenient, carry-on size package! Its handy built-in pockets make plenty of room for all the necessities on your what to pack for Vietnmam checklist – you’ll find separate compartments for important items like shoes, water bottle, electronics, underwear and socks. As an added bonus, there’s also an RFID-safe and cord management pocket.
You have a choice between backpack or duffel bag carry, and extra carrying comfort for your back thanks to its innovative strap system and detachable sternum strap. And its black, waterproof material is every bit sleek and modern as it is durable and tough. There is a reason why most Broke Backpacker staff swear by this backpack.
Alternative Luggage: AER Travel Pack 2
Our number two selection for an epic travel backpack is the AER Travel Pack 2. Like the Nomatic Travel Bag, this AER backpack is fully featured, big enough to hold an extended weekend of clothing, and tough enough to last years of travel abuse.
I have taken the AER Travel Pack 2 on multiple trips and since then it has risen has in the ranks of my go-to travel backpacks.
Check out our AER Travel Pack 2 review to learn more.
A Suitcase: Nomatic Carry-On Pro
Backpacks not your thing? That’s ok. Our friends at Nomatic are back again with a great alternative to their badass Travel Bag; the Nomatic Carry-On Pro.
This suitcase is ultra-durable, sleek, and comes with a handy tech compartment for transporting your laptop and other electronic bits. Nomatic has been an industry leader when it comes to travel gear and that reputation is reflected in the quality build design and functionality of the Carry-On Pro suitcase.
Check out our Nomatic Carry-On Pro review to learn more about this epic suitcase.
The Camera: GoPro Hero9 Black
For most of us, our smartphones now feature cameras with stunning photo capabilities.
But… if you are an aspiring photographer who wants to take next-level photos and video beyond iPhone selfies, I recommend going with an action camera like the GoPro Hero9 Black.
It does deliver pro-quality video and gives you a bunch of a different angle options and shooting speeds to work with for photos (including a selfie-mode).
Think of a camera purchase like this as a long term investment that will have you capturing epic shots well beyond your time exploring here.
If you are looking for something cheaper for video specifically, check out these epic GoPro Alternatives.
What To Pack For Vietnam: Personal Gear
Vietnam may be a culture shock to some travellers. To minimise this, we strongly suggest taking the time to get your Vietnam packing right. Choosing the right clothes to wear in Vietnam, and the right electrical to bring can make all the difference between feeling over-whelmed and read to take on the world!
To be honest, you can get pretty far in Vietnam in standard backpacker regalia so no need to panic there. However, a few choice purchases will make your Vietnam packing that bit more effective.
Good Shoes – Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero
Visitors to Vietnam are often tempted to live in flip flops. To be fair, many of the locals do. However, we strongly advise you do your feet a favour and get some proper supported, closed walking shoes. These are great for city sightseeing, trekking in the jungles and great for riding motorbikes. Do NOT attempt to ride a motorbike in flip-flops unless you are blaise about losing a foot.
I admit that most shoes that are also good for hiking are not the most attractive pieces of footwear. But they are some of the most comfortable and deliver good ankle support for a long day of walking about town. I mean, your body is already going to be suffering enough from all of those 2-for-1 shots and bottomless mimosas you will be drinking, so do yourself a favor and buy some good shoes.
Check out the women’s Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero.
Good Rain Jacket – Arcteryx Beta AR
There is no such thing as bad weather, only the wing gear for it. Don’t let a bit (of a lot) of rain ruin your trip and make sure you are ready with some top notch rain gear.
This is our pick of the many rain jackets we have tried. It’s reliable & stylish and looks good worn out in the mountains or in city bars.
Travel First Aid Kit
You don’t need to tote around half a pharmacy, but a well-stocked first aid kit should be in all our backpacks. Stuff happens on the road and it’s inconvenient and embarrassing when you can’t manage small situations like a cut finger or hangover migraine.
You can tuck this lifesaver away in a forgotten pocket – and it’ll be there when you need it.
Tip: Add a few bits and pieces to the first aid kit after you purchase it, like extra headache medicine, any personal meds you need (like allergy pills), whatever you take to calm your stomach and a few more plasters.
Travel Insurance From World Nomads
Ok, you can’t pack travel insurance in your backpack, but you can take out a cheap policy to insure yourself against theft, flight cancellations, accidents, etc.
Vietnam is mostly safe but bad shit does happen. Motorbike crashes and scrapes are pretty common for backpackers and tropical diseases can ands do strike travellers down. Healthcare in Vietnam is very much tiered on a “get what you pay for” basis so it makes sense to have good insurance in case you need to make a claim.
We use either World Nomads or SafetyWing. You’ll be happy you did if the time comes to use it.
Sun God Sunglasses
A reliable pair of sunglasses is undoubtedly one of your Vietnam packing essentials. Our favorites are SunGod Sunglasses because they deliver on quality and style. They are an absolute godsend when riding bikes on bright sunny days.
They’re built tough with triple-layer scratch-resistant lenses and trademarked Adventure-proof Frame Material. You can also customize them with your choice of lense and frame colors to reflect your own style. Plus they’re covered by SunGod’s lifetime guarantee of free repair. Check our in-depth review here.
Suncream: Thinksport Safe SPF 50+
By now, all of us are as pasty as the driven snow from sheltering in place for the last six months. Am I right? This means we are even more vulnerable than usual to the sun’s fierce rays. Packing sunscreen for Vietnam may seem like a no brainer, but you would be amazed how many sun-burned cocktail-toting people you see wandering around.
Thinksport Safe SPF 50+ sunscreen gives folks strong sun protection in a non-oily formula that’s free of gluten, paraben, phthalates and biologically harmful chemicals.
Another backpacker/traveler favorite for staying organized is a hanging toiletry bag. It’s extremely helpful to have all of your accessories neatly gathered in one bag that you can hang for easy accessibility, especially when counter space isn’t plentiful or even available. A well-organized bag is worth having whether you’re tree whilst camping or a hook in the wall – it helps to have quick access to all your stuff.
Historically, I have been the guy who has my stuff all over the bathroom, so getting one of these things really changed the toiletry game for me. Plus they are not too expensive either. A no-brainer essential. The best thing about them, is that you get to keep all your toiletries in one place which is really handy for bouncing between hostels.
Sandals: OluKai ‘Ohana Flip-Flops
Circling back to the footwear question, now we are going to talk about sandals. These are very useful for Nam as it can get sweaty as hell.
Your feet will be tired and sweaty from those long days wearing shoes so do yourself a favor: pack sandals and give your feet some well-deserved cushion and fresh air. These Olukai flip flops are ultra-comfortable, well-made, and come in a variety of colors. Whilst these are great to wear in Vietnam, do not ride a motorbike in them – use proper shoes instead.
Check out the women’s OluKai ‘Ohana Flip-Flops.
Your Passport or Other Government ID
Pretty much everybody needs a passport to visit Vietnam along with a visa. Make sure your passport is up up to date and your visa is in order before you set off.
They will also want to see this every time you check into accommodation so keep it handy and don’t lose it.
It’s also good practice to bring a few copies with you.
Money Belt – By Active Roots
Whilst Vietnam is not particularly dangerous, crime does still happen and tourists are sometimes targeted.
Therefore it is always a good idea to use a money belt to hide your cash just in case something does go wrong.
A Hat – Patagonia Fitz Roy Trucker
As you should know by now, the sun in Vietnam is strong and you will undoubtedly be spending a lot of time outside. Having a hat on your Vietnam packing list is a good way to ensure your face is protected from the sun throughout the day.
Patagonia makes great hats. I have probably bought three or four of these over the last five years. Simple. Practical. Comfortable. That is what you are after.
Let’s face it; for the foreseeable future, COVID 19 issues is just going to be a part of travel. How do we do our best to mitigate the risk while still traveling and experience life’s pleasures? Pack the right PPE gear.
Vietnam wasn’t very badly effected by Covid and they probably want to keep it that way. The epidemic did unfortunately encourage some strong “anti-foreigner” sentiments in Vietnam so to reduce any unwanted attention, wear a mask whenever you see locals doing it.
Waterbottle – Hydroflask Vacuum Bottle 32 oz.
Packing a reusable water bottle is probably the best thing you can personally do to combat single-use plastic bottle use whilst traveling. There is simply zero need to buy plastic water bottles. We suggest buying big 5 litre bottles of water and filling this up each day.
We love the Hydroflask Vacum Bottle for its quality and because it keeps cold water cold for many hours and vice versa for hot beverages. This bottle is the ideal water bottle to get not just for your Vietnam trip but for daily use. Please don’t be that person buying plastic water bottles. We are all judging you…especially mother earth.
If you go with the Hydroflask, you’ll probably never need to buy another waterbottle again.
Single-use plastic bottles are a huge threat to Marine Life – Be a part of the solution and travel with a filter water bottle.
The GRAYL GEOPRESS water bottle is the ONLY all-in-one filter water bottle setup you’ll need. Whether you need to purify the water from a hostel sink in Kathmandu or a stream trickle in the Andes, the Geopress has got you covered.
Read our full review of the GRAYL GEOPRESS!
Sleeping Bag – Nemo Disco 15
Camping out under the stars is great and Vietnam presents some awesome camping opportunities. If you are headed into nature, then please for the love of Uncle Ho bring a good bloody tent and a proper sleeping bag.
There are a LOT of sleeping bags on the market today and we have tried a lot of them. The quality and standards varies and not always in correlation with the price – pricey does not always mean better. The Nemo Disco 15 is a great all rounder sleeping bag packing in warmth, durability and a reasonable price tag.
A Good Daypack for Hiking – Osprey Daylite Plus
If you intend on doing any hiking, bike trips or bussing around the country then you will need a daypack. They are great for carrying water, hat’s and gloves and for packing sandwiches for lunch. We love Osprey products and this daypack is our personal pick.
The Osprey Daylite Plus has a mesh-covered panel to keep your back cool and fresh by minimizing contact with the back of the pack itself and allowing air to get between you and the pack.
Check out our full review of the Osprey Daylite plus for more details.
Additionally, you can attach it to other Osprey packs in case you want to add more capacity and carry just one piece of luggage… but the reviews on this feature are mixed.
The Basic Stuff To Pack For Vietnam
On top of the essential items listed above, here is an additional suggested checklist of what to pack for a weekend in Vietnam:
- A pairs of comfortable pants/jeans
- 1-2 pairs of shorts (summer/late spring)
- A few pairs of socks
- (Sexy) underwear x 2/3
- Ladies: a few dresses, pants, outfits, or desired lady apparel for a night on the town. Its not essential though.
- Dudes: A few collard shirts or something half-way decent for a night on the town. Whatever makes you comfy!
- Smartphone with a good camera for photos if you are not bringing an actual camera
- Portable power bank for charging your phone on the go
- Phone charger
- Amazon Kindle for reading by the pool
- Copy of your passport just in case
- Cash (ATM’s can be hard to find in some regions)
- Packable Towel
Final Thoughts on Packing For Vietnam
And that’s all, folks! Your complete Vietnam survival guide – a detailed breakdown of Vietnam packing essentials including a top 22-needs packing list, tips on what to wear that’s appropriate for Vietnam street fashion, and how to pack for Vietnam weather by season. We hope you found our recommendations for gals and guys – and what NOT to pack – helpful too!
Just remember to pack light, pack smart and be a respectful tourist – and the rest will take care of itself. You’re in for a beautiful experience in Vietnam, so get out there and enjoy every minute!
Also – don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
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