Planning a trip to Southeast Asia? Our guide covers the essentials to include in your Southeast Asia packing list. We’ve visited all countries in SE Asia and it’s one of our favourite areas in the world to explore. 

Travelling through Southeast Asia is exhilarating! Expect your trip to be full of adventure, diversity, smiling locals, beaches, cool cities, and amazing food! The best part is that it’s super affordable too.

southeast asia packing list girl with backpack

What to pack for Southeast Asia? Not much at all, it’s warm weather all year round

Southeast Asia includes nine countries – Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Myanmar, Malaysia, Laos, Indonesia, and Cambodia. Each country has different local customs and traditions, varying weather conditions depending on the time of year you visit, and a varying range of things to do.

Our best piece of advice for your Southeast Asia packing list is that less is more! Trust us, travelling around SE Asia is much easier when your backpack or suitcase is light. It makes it so much easier when you’re guaranteed to be jumping on and off buses, boats, trains, tuk-tuks, and ferries to get around this gorgeous region.

Southeast Asia is one of the easiest continents to travel through. Many travellers wander through these countries with just a few items and some comfortable shoes. If you forget something or need anything else, it’s easy to pick it up at the markets or the nearest mall. 

Ok, let’s get to it! Your Southeast Asia Packing List for 2022

southeast asia packing list rice fields

Choosing the Right Travel Bag

Ok, some people are backpack travellers and others are suitcase travellers. We chat about the pros and cons of each travel bag in our post Suitcase Vs Backpack – Which one should you choose?

In saying that, we recommend choosing a backpack over a suitcase for your travels in Southeast Asia. The reason for this is that you will encounter uneven surfaces, rough terrain, numerous islands, stairs, and random transport options. It is much easier to navigate all of this if you have a backpack rather than wheeled luggage. Nowadays, you can buy some awesome travel bags that offer both options, like the Osprey Wheels 36 Bag. You can wear this bag as a backpack and then convert it to a rolling bag too. 

We’ve used many travel bags over the past twenty years. The one we use now is the Osprey Farpoint 40L Backpack and we love it! This is the ideal backpack for your Southeast Asia packing list. 

Osprey Packs FARPOINT 40, Volcanic Grey, Medium/Large

Do you need a small day pack?

Travelling with a small day pack is a personal choice. We travel with one as we prefer to keep our valuables with us at all times. This is especially important when taking overnight train/bus rides.

We carry this small Osprey day pack

We often lock our large 40L backpack to something stationary when we sleep and our small daypack containing our valuables will remain on our person, inside our silk sleeping sheet while we sleep – it feels much more secure to do this to deter any opportunistic thieves.

When we’re on the move, our small Osprey day pack sits on the front of our body with our Osprey 40L backpack on our backs, this makes it easy to quickly access passports or money.

southeast asia packing list

The inside of our Osprey 40L Farpoint backpack.

Choosing your Travel Clothes

In general, the majority of Southeast Asia is rather warm throughout the year. Temperatures range between 26 and 36 degrees from cool to hot season and the humidity is high, year-round. 

The best clothing to choose for your Southeast Asia packing list is light, breathable cotton, clothing you can mix and match, and items that dry quickly. 

Southeast Asia Packing List: Clothing for WOMEN

Southeast Asia Packing List: Clothing for MEN

Toiletries for Women

We’re lucky to be able to share some toiletries on the road – so it gives one of us a little more room in our backpack. If Marty carries the toiletries, I’ll carry our espresso machine and fresh coffee to evenly share the load.

southeast asia packing list toiletry bag

Try to keep your toiletries to a minimum for your Southeast Asia Packing List

We try to keep toiletries to a minimum as they can be heavy. We also travel with carry-on baggage, therefore all of our toiletries must be 100ml or less.

  • Hanging Toiletry Bag
  • Small containers (100ml) for refills
  • Shampoo/Conditioner 100ml each
  • Bar of soap
  • shaver/razor (we never have a problem at airports with this in our carry-on)
  • hairbrush
  • Roll-on deodorant
  • Toothpaste & toothbrush
  • exfoliating shower glove (we found these in Morocco..love them)
  • 100ml sized sunscreen – We like Nivea or Neutrogena brands
  • Nivea face moisturiser SPF30
  • Blistex and lip balm
  • A few pieces of makeup (which we rarely use, but sometimes it feels nice to dress up) 1 tube of foundation, bronzing powder, and brush, 1 mascara

Toiletries for Men (as suggested by our male travel buddy)

  • Hanging Toiletry Bag
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Shampoo
  • Body gel
  • Moisturiser
  • Deodorant
  • Lip Balm
  • Sunblock
  • Deodorant
  • Shaver/small shaving cream
  • Mosquito repellent (with DEET!)

 Accessories/Extras

Technology/Electronics

If you’re a photographer, digital nomad, or simply can’t live without your MacBook and other electronics, we understand. We need these things as we work online as we travel the world. Here’s what we take in our Southeast Asia packing list, in terms of electronics.

southeast asia packing list MacBook electronics

Southeast Asia Packing List – Electronics we pack in our bag.

Safety in Southeast Asia

Travelling around Southeast Asia is regarded to be relatively safe, but it’s best to read our 12 Tips for Safe Travel. The same goes for travelling anywhere in the world, accidents do happen.

We highly recommend you sort some good travel insurance to cover you when things go wrong. We’ve used World Nomads Travel Insurance to cover us in over 100+ countries. We recommend adding one of their comprehensive travel insurance policies to your Southeast Asia packing list.

Another fantastic (and affordable) Travel Insurance company is SafetyWing Travel Insurance. This is an insurance company created by travellers, for travellers. These guys offer Travel Medical Insurance that covers people from all over the world, while outside their home country – The best part is that COVID-19 coverage is included in their very affordable plans. 

Transport and Getting Around Southeast Asia

Getting from A to B in Southeast Asia is easy. If you’ve got the budget to include flights, fantastic! We book all our flights on Skyscanner.com. The prices are unbeatable and you can choose to pay in the currency of your choice. If time doesn’t matter to you and you’ve got a budget to stick to, consider looking at trains and buses.

The best websites for checking boat, bus, and train timetables are 12Go.asia and BookawayWhen making decisions on what to pack for Southeast Asia, remember that you may be taking many forms of public transport. Therefore, a light backpack is essential to help you move about easier with more freedom and flexibility.

southeast asia packing list tuk tuk

How to Book Accommodation in Southeast Asia

We always use the same websites to book accommodation in Southeast Asia. Booking.com is our number one choice for booking accommodation. In saying that, Agoda has some unbeatable deals all over Asia so it’s worth double-checking if you can get a better price with these guys.

Apps to download for Southeast Asia

Download these apps on your phone to make your travels in Southeast Asia super easy.

  • Skyscanner (to search flights)
  • Booking.com (to book accommodation on the go)
  • XE.com (to check the latest exchange rates)
  • Maps. me (the best offline maps to help you navigate around)
  • Google Translate (while English is widely spoken in SE Asia, this app is so useful when you get lost in translation)
  • Bookaway (book buses, ferries and trains on the road)

southeast asia packing list apps to download

 Staying in Southeast Asia long-term?

If you’re considering staying longer in Southeast Asia, check out the Trusted Housesitters website for saving loads of money on accommodation. Become a house-sitter in Southeast Asia, (and all over the world) if you’re considering staying in one place for a little longer. Being a house-sitter means free accommodation for you in return for looking after different homes around the globe. Become a member for only $79 per year and become a verified house sitter. This was one of the best things we ever did! 

Travelling Beyond Southeast Asia?

Our Ultimate Packing List for every traveller includes the items we carry as we travel around the entire world, 187 countries so far. Check out our travel map of where we’ve been and see the eight countries we’ve got left to visit. Taking into account, we move between all types of weather, from very cool temperatures to sweltering hot ones. And, we still manage to travel with carry-on baggage only, often less than 10kg.

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