You’re planning a trip to Vietnam and don’t know what are the indispensable items you cannot forget? After visiting Vietnam several times already, I’ve come up with this comprehensive Vietnam packing list you will want to steal!
I’ve even created a printable version that will help you organize better before your trip, and make sure you don’t forget a thing. Make sure to download it!
Because who wants to be in a foreign country and waste time looking for something they should have had with them? Of course, prices might be lower in South-Eastern Asia, but are you sure the product is available?
Don’t risk it, and read further about the essential items you’ll need in your Vietnam packing list for 2020.
But first of all, let’s start with some other important information you’ll want to know when planning a trip to Vietnam. Chances are some of these will help you already tick some essentials off your list.
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What you want to know before traveling to Vietnam
The one most important thing when visiting a new country is knowing about its visa requirements.
In fact, the first thing you will want to do is check the visa policy of Vietnam and look for your country.
If you’re coming from the US and some of the EU countries, you’ll be eligible for an E-visa that can be obtained online and costs 25 USD. We used this site to obtain our visa when we visited Da Nang, and it was a very smooth process. Here is another option I’ve seen recommended while I was researching the visa requirements and online visa process.
However, if you want to be certain and have a visa with you, you can apply for it in your country, at the Vietnamese Consulate or Embassy in your country. That’s what we did in order to obtain our visa when we visited Ho Chi Minh and Phu Quoc Island. Look here for the diplomatic mission available where you are.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
I always prefer to book the plane tickets and accommodation in advance in order to get the best prices. Another reason for that is that more hotels will have availability when I look a few months before.
Here are a few tools I always start with when I plan a trip:
SKYSCANNER.COM – it is a great tool for finding the best price for plane tickets, but also car rentals.
AGODA – when it comes to booking accommodation for Asia, this is the best go-to site. I’ve discovered that in some cases they have the best prices for hotels and homestays in several countries in Asia. However, you could use the above aggregator and compare all the available prices on different websites. Or simply go for Booking.com if you have certain discounts and advantages.
There are several options to have in mind when you arrive in Vietnam, no matter where you land, but especially in the 2 main towns: Hanoi and Saigon.
Take the bus: it is usually really cheap – around 1 USD one way. In Saigon, take the yellow bus that will leave you at Ben Thanh Market; in Hanoi take bus number 7 or 17 to the city center.
Grab: download the app and start using it because it is simple and relatively cheap. It is practically the Uber of Vietnam, and all you need is an internet connection and a card linked to the account.
For traveling around from one city to the other, I usually use 12go.asia to find the cheapest and most convenient options.
I always suggest buying a local SIM card because it will come in handy to have an internet connection. Also, who knows when you will need to make a local call?!
Order your SIM card online and pick it up from the airport, that’s the easiest and most convenient way.
HAVE A TRAVEL GUIDE
Of course, you cal always do your research online, but it is always nice to have a travel guide on hand.
Here are a few great options to consider:
If you choose to spend more money on something, travel insurance should be it. Especially in the view of the latest events, you wouldn’t want to be uncovered if you get stuck somewhere.
Insured Nomads have great travel insurance options you should look into.
BOOK A TOUR
When you don’t want to worry about all the work that goes into planning a shorter or longer trip around Vietnam, you can always choose to book an organized tour.
This way, you’ll have everything organized, but will still have the flexibility to do whatever you want on location.
Here are a few options to consider:
How is the weather in Vietnam
This is one of that information worth knowing whether you are planning your trip or you want to know what should be in your Vietnam packing list.
Even though the weather in Vietnam is usually warm, depending on the region and time of the year, nights might get a bit chilly.
Here are a few overall rules that apply to the weather in Vietnam:
- Northern Vietnam (Hanoi, Sapa, Ha Long Bay)
- Summer is from May to October and temperatures and humidity get high, with July and August the wettest months
- Best time to visit: spring and autumn (February to April, and October to November)
- Winter temperatures are as low as 10 degrees C
- Central Vietnam ( Da Nang, Hoi An, Hue)
- Dry season: from January to June
- Wet season with some typhoons: October to November
- We have visited in late December and the weather was just right, and it didn’t rain
- Southern Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh, Phu Quoc)
- Dry Season: November to April
- July and August are the wettest months
- Monsoon season: May to November with high humidity and high temperatures
The complete Vietnam packing list
Choose the right travel luggage
I think that many people don’t usually know what luggage to bring along, especially in destinations like the ones in South East Asia.
Of course, you will have to decide what is the right luggage for you based on your travel style.
If you are planning to take the night bus from one city to the other, rent a scooter, or take the train, you might need a different type of luggage than when you have booked private transfers.
With that in mind, here are my top choices for different types of travel through Vietnam.
As the name says, you’ll need a great backpack, easy to carry around, and large enough to fit all the essentials you’ll have with you.
Check out these great affordable options for a few weeks in Vietnam, or even for a longer exploration. It is waterproof so you won’t have to spend anything extra to protect your belongings, especially in a tropical country with such high humidity.
ORGANIZED TOUR OR EASY TRANSFERS
DAY TRIPS AND EXPLORATION
I always have a small backpack or a crossbody purse with me to use when I get to the place I want to explore. No matter if I travel for a weekend getaway or a longer trip, this comes in handy all the time.
Travel essentials you shouldn’t forget
Earplugs – because you will need them on the airplane or if you choose to stay in a hostel
Toothbrush & toothpaste – because you never know the type you will find in Vietnam
A travel wallet – the type you can tie around your neck and always have your belongings close by
Packing cubes – if you don’t opt for one of the backpacks suggested above, but they are also great for organizing and optimizing the space in your troller
Luggage locks – especially if you travel low cost and plan to stay in a hostel, but not only
A toiletry bag – have all your stuff in one place and avoid them getting spilled on your clothes
A travel first aid bag – I never travel without pain killers, something in case of diarrhea, a lotion for sunburn skin.
Mosquito spray – Vietnam is a tropical and humid country, thus there are plenty of mosquitos especially during the wet season
Kleenex wipes and hand sanitizer – not only for during the flight, but I’ve developed a habit out of wiping my hands every now and then
Contact lenses solution – if you wear those, it’s always better not to forget it at home, especially if you need a certain kind of solution
Prescription medications and copies of all of your prescriptions/immunizations
In this time and era, we are all addicted to our gadgets and couldn’t leave on vacation without some of them. Obviously, this brings along the necessity to carry with us a number of other things that would enable us to use all these gadgets.
Wouldn’t it be such a pity to get to your destination and notice you’ve forgotten your charger? That would totally suck for me, and that’s why I would have this checklist handy.
Universal power adapter – if you only want to pack one thing, this should be it! Forget about having to worry about the plug type in the country you travel to. You’ll have everything in one place.
Charging cable for your phone and camera – I don’t only take it with me when I travel, but I always have it with me in my purse. That’s because I take hundreds of pictures and my phone doesn’t have that battery life.
Cellphone power bank – this comes somewhat natural after what I’ve just said about my phone. Yes, I never leave for a trip without my fully charged power bank. And neither should you.
A selfie stick – I bought mine a few hours before we left for Zanzibar and I’m glad I had it with me, because I could take plenty of pictures of both of us together. That comes in handy also when you are traveling alone and you want to have pictures with you in the frame.
Underwater camera or a GoPro – I remember I was in Phu Quoc in the water when I turned and looked at the shore and felt really bad because I didn’t have a camera with me. The mix of the turquoise blue, white sand and the line of the palm trees would have made a perfect picture from inside the water. Because you don’t want to have that regret, and if you want to spend less, try the Panasonic Lumix waterproof camera.
Travel size blow-dry and flat iron – this is not mandatory, but you don’t know if the accommodation you booked will have that. Moreover, most hotels and homestays might provide a blow-dryer, but I still haven’t found a flat iron in any hotel I’ve stayed in.
Amazon Prime Video – access countless award-winning movies and TV shows whenever and wherever. You can download them and watch them anywhere without an internet connection. That’s just perfect for a long commute, or a long layover. Don’t have a subscription? Get a 30-day free trial!
Wireless noise-canceling headphones – perfect for when you’re flying or taking a night bus for a long ride. Easy to fold and carry around, they don’t take up much space in your backpack, and offer a great experience.
Travel size tripod – an all in one lightweight tripod, easy to carry around and use with your camera and a smartphone. This is always useful when you want to shoot in low light and capture incredible landscapes – towns after sundown, breathtaking sunsets, and much more. It is useful also when you want to take couple pictures and don’t want to rely on other people to take the photo for you (or you cannot find other people around).
What to wear in Vietnam
With a mostly hot and humid climate, you won’t go wrong with cotton and linen clothes when in Vietnam. Both men and women should go for loose-fitting clothes, and outfits you can breathe in.
Even though Vietnam is not a conservative country, you will notice that the locals don’t wear tight and short clothes, and maybe you should consider following their example.
Our guide to Hue was wearing a long sleeve hoodie, long pants, and a hat at over 30 degrees. I could see the sweat dripping down her face, but she told us that they are more afraid of the unhealthy effects the sun could have on the skin.
I’m not saying to wear long sleeves, and I’ve never felt harassed on the streets of Vietnam, but you might just go for light, baggy outfits.
Here is a guideline for some clothes to pack for Vietnam:
- a few long dresses (for women) – I always take with me 2-3 long dresses, depending on the duration of my trip. They look really nice in pictures, cover my legs if I want to enter temples and during commutes when the air conditioning is super strong in the bus or car. They are also great for dinners in town, with the right accessories.
- Shorts – a few pairs of shorts will be perfect for hiking in Sapa, or for exploring the hills and beaches around Da Nang. They are easy to store in your luggage and don’t take out much space.
- a few t-shirts and tank tops
- 2-3 light travel pants – you might want to buy these directly from Vietnam since prices there are super affordable especially for the local baggy colorful pants you’ll see everywhere.
- Light pajamas – go for the short sleeve options: for men and for women
- Bathing suits – while in Vietnam you’ll find plenty of amazing beaches and you must pack some bathing suits.
- Sarong or a cover-up
- A jacket or a light hoodie – for the chilly nights in the North or for when you eat inside
- Some light walking shoes especially if you plan to go hiking
- Flip flops
- A light raincoat – for the wet season when you don’t know when it will rain next
- A dry bag for your gear
Some extra tips for packing efficiently
There are a few things you might want to consider doing if you want to pack efficiently, fit everything inside your luggage, and don’t carry extra useless stuff.
Also, don’t forget to have your documents handy and safe at any point in time. Finally, here are some point worth having in mind when you start to pack for your Vietnam vacation:
- Pack all of your chargers and cables in a separate packing cube – preferably have them in your carry-on bag. Who knows when you might need them especially when you travel for many hours.
- Take pictures of your documents and cards (front and back) and have them saved in the cloud as well. Send them to your email address, and you can even make a copy to keep in your wallet.
- Keep the medication in your carry-on luggage – If there’s something more important, make sure to have it close to you. For example, I must always have my migraine pills with me especially when I travel and I might not sleep well, thus I keep one pill in my wallet.
- Wrap your shoes – you’ll save space and it will be much better for all your other clothes.
- Always wear the heaviest clothes on the plane – I do that not only because it saves space in my luggage, but also because I’m always cold during the longer flights. That’s why, I always have a jacket with me, and wear long pants and closed shoes.
- Use a pill case compartment for jewelry
- Plan your outfits for each day of your trip as you start packing – how many times have you brought along so many stuff you didn’t actually use? It’s better to have extra space for some great clothes you’ll buy in Vietnam rather than have things you won’t use at all.
Other Vietnam travel resources
- Plan for the perfect 5 days Da Nang itinerary with beautiful day trips to Hoi An and Hue
- Spend some days on the tropical Phu Quoc island
- Where to stay in Hoi An – choose the best area to stay in Hoi An
- Plan your Ho Chi Minh trip with this perfect itinerary
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