Heading to Southeast Asia? Southeast Asia is a super popular backpacking destination. It’s cheap, easy to travel around, and downright beautiful. Even for us – Southeast Asia was our first backpacking trip together. We spent a glorious four months jumping from country to country as soon as borders reopened after the initial COVID-19 lockdowns (remember that?).

After spending a good portion of the year in Southeast Asia and chatting with other travelers along the way, we have created the ultimate Southeast Asia packing list. So, without further ado, let’s get into it. If you need, jump over to our section on the Southeast Asia packing list for men!

Disclaimer: This blog post includes affiliate links, which means we receive a tiny commission – at no extra cost to you. Don’t worry; this doesn’t affect our recommendations whatsoever. It just helps us keep the lights on.

The Ultimate Southeast Asia Packing List for Women

southeast asia packing list - cambodia siem reap ankor wat

Let’s jump right into the Southeast Asia packing list for women to begin with.

The Essentials

Here are the absolute essentials you cannot forget.

Passport

Of course, the one thing you cannot forget when traveling anywhere is your passport. Keep your passport safe at all times.

Smartphone

Another absolute essential you should pack is your phone. Your smartphone is going to be an absolute lifesaver during your travels. It can help you translate, find accommodation, and take pictures and videos of your travels. Our advice? Get an unlocked smartphone so you can put in a local SIM card or eSIM when you arrive in your first country.

Backpack

Our preferred backpack is the Osprey 55L Farpoint or Fairview. But you can go bigger or smaller, depending on your needs. You can find our full list of backpack recommendations here.

Check out Lev’s full review of the Osprey Farpoint 55L for an in-depth breakdown.

For traveling Southeast Asia, we recommend carrying a backpack rather than a suitcase. You’ll thank us later.

Packing Cubes

The first time we used packing cubes was for our Southeast Asia backpacking trip, and we haven’t looked back since. Packing cubes can make your life SO much easier, especially when you’re constantly moving from place to place. They will help organize your otherwise chaotic backpack into manageable chunks.

Lock

Whether you plan to stay in hostels or hotels during your stay, a lock will come in handy to keep your valuables out of reach from prying hands.

Fanny Pack

A bum bag or fanny pack is an absolute must when traveling Southeast Asia. This is where you’ll keep your phone, money, wallet, tickets, and even your passport.

Daypack

Similarly, you should always have a daypack for longer day excursions. Whether it’s a small backpack or a tote bag, you’re going to want one to keep things like your water bottle, sarong, camera… and other day necessities.

Microfiber Towel

While most hostels and hotels will provide you with a towel during your stay, a microfiber towel will come in handy for those beach days. You can lay one down on the sand so you can relax without getting sand all up in your business. Plus, you can easily shake the sand off at the end of your beach day.

Earplugs

If you plan to travel on a bus, a night bus, or stay in a hostel, earplugs are an absolute must. You never know how valuable sleep is until you’re being jolted awake every 5 minutes by a loud snorer or a party next door.

Sunglasses

Southeast Asia is HOT. Bring your sunglasses! We prefer polarized sunglasses to protect our eyes as best as we can.

Travel Insurance

Accidents happen. In fact, I personally burned both my legs (second to third-degree burns) on the exhaust of a scooter. And that’s a common enough injury that all locals immediately knew how I’d hurt my legs. Scooter-related injuries (not necessarily burns) are waayyyy too common. You could also break a bone, twist an ankle… you never know what will happen.

For peace of mind, GET INSURED! Travel insurance doesn’t have to be expensive. We personally use SafetyWing and have no complaints about it so far. It’s super easy to use, really cheap, and customer service is great!

Want to check out other options? Check out our article on the best travel insurance options.

Clothes

southeast asia packing list - bali canggu

Here’s what we packed for clothes in our 55L Osprey. Our general rule of thumb is to pack around a little more than a week’s worth of clothes. Don’t worry; you can easily get laundry done all over Southeast Asia.

  • 7 tops
  • 2 dresses for going out
  • 1 pair of linen pants
  • 2-3 shorts or skirts
  • 5 bathing suits
  • 2 workout outfits
  • 1 sweater or hoodie
  • 1 pair of sneakers
  • 1 pair of nicer sandals (don’t make the mistake of bringing heels!)
  • 1 pair of flip-flops
  • 1 rain jacket or poncho
  • 8 pairs of socks
  • 8 pairs of underwear
  • 1 hat

To help you visualize what to pack clothing-wise, here’s our article on outfit ideas for Southeast Asia.

Electronics

You’ve got to stay connected even while on the road. Here are the electronics you should bring with you to Southeast Asia. Don’t worry; these items won’t weigh you down too much!

Here’s our top tip for packing electronics: buy an electronics organizer to keep everything nice and neat in your backpack! This is especially great if you have a lot of different cords you carry around. Looking at you, digital nomads and photographers!

Laptop

Even if you are not planning on working during your travels, a laptop can come in super handy for those days that you plan on simply lounging around by the pool watching your favorite TV show. Booking travel is much easier on a laptop as well, rather than on your small smartphone!

Laptop Charger

Since you’ll be bringing your laptop, you can’t forget your laptop charger!

Phone Charger

Similarly, don’t forget to pack your phone charger! But even if you forget it; don’t worry. You can easily find a replacement phone charger all over Asia.

Headphones

There are so many situations in which you’ll want your headphones close by. You might need them to pass the time during transport from destination to destination, to block out outside noise, or simply to listen to music or a podcast as you go running down the beach.

Power Bank

There will be many days when you’ll be out and about pretty much all day. Unfortunately, phones generally don’t have the best charge, especially if you’ve owned the phone for a while. For these situations, we highly recommend packing a power bank.

We’ve especially found the power bank useful for long travel days in a bus without outlets and in the occasional hostel or hotel that didn’t have a power socket right by the bed!

Universal Adaptor

Your standard UK/US/AUS charger may not always fit into the power sockets located around Southeast Asia. While most places you stay will accommodate all sorts of international plugs, there’s never a guarantee. So, always pack a universal adaptor!

Kindle

In Southeast Asia, you’ll be spending plenty of downtime at the beach. While you can certainly pack a book or two for your travels, they take up a lot of room and weight. Instead, pack a Kindle. Even if you prefer paperback books, an e-reader will make your travel life so much easier and lighter.

VPN

As you’ll be connected to various Wi-Fis throughout your travels in Southeast Asia, you should protect yourself with a VPN. A VPN can help secure your data and allow safe public internet access. Plus, it can come in handy when watching specific shows that may not be available in the country you’re traveling to.

We personally use Surfshark, but NordVPN is another popular option.

eSIM

Many phones nowadays are eSIM compatible. In the past, we would purchase a local SIM card at every destination, but now we can save ourselves the hassle with the help of an eSIM! Now, we’re connected as soon as we arrive at our destination. We personally use Airalo, which often has plenty of deals that sometimes make it even cheaper than a local SIM card.

Camera

While definitely not a necessity, if you like to take photos, you’re going to want to bring your camera. Unless you are super into photography, we’d recommend bringing a small digital camera over a bulky DSLR!

Toiletries

southeast asia packing list - vietnam hanoi train

The final category of items you’ll need in our Southeast Asia packing list is toiletries. Here’s what you’ll want in your toiletry bag or bags!

Quick note: If you are traveling carry-on only, make sure all liquids are under 100ml or 3.4oz!

  • Face soap
  • Sunscreen
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body Wash
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Hairbrush
  • Deodorant
  • Moisturizer
  • Body lotion
  • Nail clippers
  • Tweezers
  • Lip balm
  • Makeup (pack minimal makeup, as you really won’t be wearing as much as you think!)

The Ultimate Southeast Asia Packing List for Men

southeast asia packing list - vietnam ha giang loop

And now, for the men! Here is the ultimate Southeast Asia packing list for guys.

The Essentials

Jump up to Southeast Asia essentials.

Clothes

If you’re trying to pack the right clothes for your Southeast Asia trip, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what we packed for our 4-month backpacking trip across Southeast Asia.

  • 7 shirts (Pro tip: pack a lot of linen! You’ll thank us later!)
  • 2 nicer shirts for going out
  • 1 pair of linen pants
  • 2-3 shorts
  • 2-3 swim trunks
  • 2-3 workout outfits
  • 1 sweater or hoodie
  • 1 pair of sneakers
  • 1 pair of sandals
  • 1 pair of flip-flops
  • 1 rain jacket or poncho
  • 8 pairs of socks
  • 8 pairs of underwear
  • 1 hat

Electronics

Jump up to Southeast Asia electronics.

Toiletries

Jump up to Southeast Asia toiletries.

Enjoy Your Southeast Asia Trip!

And that’s it! You’ve now officially packed for your once-in-a-lifetime Southeast Asia trip! Now, all you need to pack for the rest of the trip are the amazing memories you’ll have exploring this side of the world.

Are you a digital nomad? Check out our standard digital nomad packing list!

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