Travel Tips

Packing for South East Asia

Packing Tips for Asia

If you’re heading to a tropical destination in Asia, I’m sure that bathers, shorts, tank tops and flip-flops are on the top of your list to take. But what else should you consider when packing for South East Asia?

Light cotton scarves, sarong and shawl

Sarongs are useful as a light weight towel, or to cover up at the beach. Light scarves protect your neck and décolletage from the sun, elements and pollution (if you want to wrap around your mouth and nose in heavy traffic). Light shawls are an effective and discreet way to cover your shoulders in situations, such as visiting schools, orphanages or temples.

Medical Kit with Antibiotics

Some parts of Asia are really remote and there is nothing worse than falling sick and not having access to a pharmacy or having to struggle to communicate what you need.

In my blog, Essential Travel Packing Tips, I suggest items for a basic medical kit and in 5 Tips for Travelling Cambodia, I give tips on protecting yourself from mosquitos.

However if you are travelling off the beaten track, you might want to take a more sophisticated medical kit.

I travelled to Cambodia with a nurse, so she was well prepared for all the possible nasties. Having consulted a travel doctor, we came up with a pretty solid kit to cover our health bases should we be stuck without medical support. As it turned out, my travelling companion unfortunately did fall prey to a vile bug and got a serious episode of tummy upsets. Since we were far from anywhere, the fact we were carrying antibiotics for this ailment, probably saved us from a very dire situation.

Antibiotics you may want to consider taking with you: Buscopan, Stemetil, Zedd, Noroflaxin. Always consult a travel doctor to assess whether these are necessary and to assess your personal health situation.

Tissues, hand sanitiser and hygienic wipes

Unless you are shrouded in some first class, five star ambiotic bubble and even then I don’t think you could avoid germs, there will be many a time when you desperately need a tissue for the toilet, hand santitiser and wet ones.

Take deodorant and don’t take a hairdryer

You may wish to take a bigger deodorant than the travel size if you are travelling for more than a few weeks. Most deodorants we looked at in the markets were around US$4-5 which is quite expensive for Asia. Don’t bother taking a hair dryer. Most hotels have one, or your hair dries quickly in the heat. Unless you are particularly precious about your image, I’d say the weight and inconvenience of carrying your own in Asia outweighs the need for a blow dry.

Good walking shoes

You’ll need a solid pair of shoes with grip for rocky and slippery surfaces at temples, forest walks and even just walking down the road. Sure take your flip flops to the beach and wear a nice pair of sandals to dinner but during the day during sight-seeing, you’ll need something more durable.

Keep your jewellery at home

The average local in Asia doesn’t make a huge amount of money so glamming it up might be seen by some as insensitive. There is a lot of beautiful, natural, local jewellery like beads, bracelets, anklets and rings that you can buy for next to nothing and will make you appear more of a local than a walking model for the latest Rolex watch.

Also once vendors see a few local items on you, they know you have made some purchases. Since you now probably have a decent idea of the value of items, you might be less likely to be charged extra.

Do you have suggested items for packing for South East Asia? I would love to hear your recommendations!


These tips should not be held as gospel, you should always consult a travel doctor or your GP (if they are up to speed with medical issues in your destination of travel) to assess your personal situation. Each traveller has individual needs based on medical history, previous vaccinations and intended itinerary. Book an appointment several months in advance of travel to ensure you allow enough time for necessary vaccinations, script filling and buying products for your medical kit.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Elke Weeks
    July 17, 2017 at 1:01 am

    Agree! Don’t take a hair dryer… 5 mins in the humidity is more than likely to ruin any hair style! Make-up doesn’t usually last long either.

    Packing for Cambodia I would always put in a couple of long sleeve tops. Never, ever needed them!

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