How To Pack For SE Asia- A First Timers Guide

What do you pack for a part of the world that is a million miles away from home both culturally and climatically? Way back in 2014 I went on my very first solo backpacking trip with G Adventures. I didn’t know much about travel back then but I took home some valuable lessons. Here are my top tips from the month I spent travelling through Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.

What to pack

The key words for clothes in South East Asia are lightweight and quick drying, it’s hot and humid so no need for jumpers or coats. A fold down umbrella is great for those unexpected showers/ monsoons, as waterproofs are too hot and sticky to wear. Things are pretty cheap, in general you can stay in 3*+ hotels for $10/$20 a night. They’re generally very clean and always seem to have very helpful staff. Most rooms have hair dryers, shower gel and a kettle so leave these basics at home. Flip flops are king here, save any nice shoes from getting waterlogged and ruined, definitely no heels! A scarf or sarong is a must for covering up in temples. A travel scarf is a very versatile and useful item essential for any traveller. It can be used as a sun shade, beach towel, temple cover up or even a small blanket. This one from Amazon even has a secret pocket to keep a few coins or your passport;

Dog at Angkor Wat


I had jabs for Hep A and Typhoid. It is your choice alone and it’s best to talk to your doctor or travel clinic before travelling. The government website gives a good guideline. In Cambodia I took Malarone tablets to prevent Malaria from Mosquito bites, generally most cities are OK but if your going off exploring or to any jungle areas it’s just peace of mind.

Good sun cream is always essential anywhere this hot. I always go for a Reef Safe sun cream especially if I’m planning on any swimming. High Deet insect repellent is too, apply everyday even before bed if there’s no mosquito net. Imodium, not a pleasant thought, but very useful when on the move and eating unusual food as the toilets aren’t always that great or readily available! Wet wipes/ antibacterial gel are always nice to have to keep fresh and clean.

Rice Paddies in Cambodia

In general

Everything is affordable here but it’s not always easy to find specifics. Bottled water is cheap and available everywhere, but consider a Lifestraw to cut down on plastic waste. You can drink water from anywhere and save yourself money in the long run. If travelling in a group you could consider buying big bottles and share by decanting into smaller ones, saving both money and the environment. The WiFi seems to be better here than in most western countries so you can make use of your mobile and not worry about needing a local data sim. The markets in Siem Reap are great to pick up locally made crafts and practice some haggling. Just remember the locals have worked hard and always offer a fair price.

And most importantly have fun, I loved travelling here and would highly recommend it to everyone. I did get quite a severe stomach bug in Halong Bay and would highly recommend avoiding any contaminated water. But with an open mind and a bit of preparation South East Asia is a perfect first trip for any traveller. Just leave the health and safety handbook at home!

Some links in this post are to affiliate sites. If you purchase something through them, I may earn a small commission at no cost to you. I am very grateful when you use my links to make a purchase!

About Lost Wanders

Hey! Want to travel more and daydream less? You're in the right place! Lost Wanders is all about helping you to travel more by saving you money and making more sustainable choices. I travel for a living and want to share the secrets of the industry with you! Have a look around and follow for some lunch break inspiration.
Because we can't all travel all the time, or can we?

Jo Williams

A Brit that got fed up of the 9 to 5 corporate life, I sold everything to become a full time wanderer. Having travelled to over 70 countries so far, I share my money-saving tips and secrets from inside the travel industry. Hoping to inspire you to work less and travel more.

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