Are you planning a trip to Vietnam and you don’t know what to pack? Then use my Vietnam travel checklist to tick off all the items you need!
As someone who’s been to Vietnam three times and spent 10 weeks travelling around the country, I feel like I know what you need to pack for an amazing holiday.
Look at this as your ultimate Vietnam Travel Checklist, all those items you just can’t leave home without. Bookmark this one because you’re likely to keep coming back to check it!
On my most recent trip to Vietnam, there were a few things I packed that really made a big difference to our trip.
We also travelled with our 8-month-old baby, so if you’re travelling with little ones then there are a few must-haves which I recommend you take too. Where would we have been without our spinners and our baby highchair!
So, if you’re wondering what your travel essentials for Vietnam are, then you’re in the right place. Use this packing list so you can spend less time worrying about what to bring and more time planning the holiday of a lifetime.
If you’re looking for a bit of inspiration when planning your trip, then here are the best experiences in Vietnam. Tick off a few of these and you’re in for an amazing holiday!
Is it difficult to pack for Vietnam?
Absolutely, yes. Because it’s so long and thin, it covers a number of different climates. Also, you can pack for beach weather, but if you go to the mountains of Sapa then it can get super cold no matter the time of year.
Just a note that monsoon season is between May, June, July, August and early November. In central Vietnam the monsoon season can drag on till early December.
When I visited recently it was late November/early December, and the central region had been hit hard with flooding. It was some of the worst they’ve ever had on record, so the seasons are definitely changing and monsoon season is getting more extreme.
This makes the packing a little harder than some other countries. Basically, it means you have to pack that travel umbrella – just hope you don’t have to use it!
Passport – Obviously you can’t leave home without this one! Check your passport is valid for at least six months before your arrival date in Vietnam.
Visa – Depending on which country you call home, you might need a visa. Obviously check this before you fly with your local embassy.
Insurance – Don’t ever leave home without travel insurance. I often change my travel insurance provider each year to make sure I’m getting the best quote. It’s so important having travel insurance though.
Local currency cash – In Vietnam, the local currency is Vietnamese Dong (VND). The exchange rate is roughly £1=30,000VND (or $1=25,000VND). Most of the time I would get out 3 million dong which would be about £100, and then use cash for a few days to pay for things. I would always use my Starling card as international withdrawals are free and they offer the best exchange rate.
Credit/debit cards – Even though I had my credit/debit cards with me, I didn’t use them much apart from taking money out of an ATM. On that, I’d recommend using Agribank while in Vietnam for cash withdrawals. These have one of the lowest ATM fees and there are plenty of banks around the country.
Medication (including any vaccinations, ideally eight weeks prior to travel) – If you’re on any mediation, please make sure you take enough with you. Also, check to see if you need malaria medication, or any vaccinations like hep B or rabies before you go. The FitForTravel website gives you a comprehensive breakdown of which ones you’ll need.
First-aid kit – I think it’s a good idea having a simple first aid kit if you’re travelling for longer than a week. You can check out some of my healthy travel tips here – this post is packed full of useful information.
Camera – This is always one of my most important items. I’ve travelled with everything from big DSLRs to drones to Instax Polaroid cameras. Whatever your style is, don’t leave your camera at home.
Small external hard drive – This is so I can back-up all my photos when I’m on the go and leave it in the room. This is just in case anything bad happened to my camera.
Portable power bank – Phone batteries are pretty good these days, so I use my power bank as a backup charger for all electronics.
Waterproof phone pouch – It’s amazing what a little bit of plastic can do. I have this waterproof phone case/holder that’s really good for water activities. It’s simple but it really does the trick and protect your phone.
Kindle or books
Refillable water bottle – A lot of hotels give you glass bottles of water each day, so it’s a good idea refilling your water bottle with these and taking it out with you instead of buying plastic bottles.
Travel adaptor – Vietnam uses type A, C, and F
Other essential items for Vietnam
Prepaid SIM card – I found this essential for navigating and using my phone. I bought a 10GB prepaid SIM before I arrived just so I’d have internet from the moment we landed. It was so useful for using Google Maps and ordering taxis with Grab.
Eye mask – I never leave home without my eye mask these days! This is my absolute fave eye mask that I’ve discovered over the years. It’s expensive but trust me, it’s worth it.
Vietnam packing list for men
This is pretty much everything I packed on our most recent trip to Vietnam. This was for a 3-week trip, and every 5 to 7 days we’d wash all our dirty clothes. Laundry costs about 25,000 dong ($1) per kilo, so it’s very affordable and means you don’t have to overpack.
I will say this. Vietnam is hot as hell, and the humidity can be unbearable at times, especially if you’re not used to it. That’s why I always recommend packing light, breathable clothing that won’t stick to your body. It’s also a really good idea to opt for fast-drying fabrics like cotton or linen.
4-6 pairs of socks – I actually only use little slip-on socks as they’re the smallest and lightest. Other socks are just too hot for the humid climate of Vietnam.
5-7 pairs of underwear – A word of wise to the men, my advice is don’t pack tight boxers. I used to wear hipsters, but things were tight down there and as I’ve said, it’s a very humid country. It’s not a good mix.
4 short-sleeved shirts – I find these much lighter and airier than t-shirt.
1 pair of jeans/trousers – These were just in case it got very cold at night or up in the mountains of Sapa.
1 rain jacket
1 swimming shorts
1 pair comfortable trainers – I just brought my running trainers so I could either go running or hiking in them.
1 pair of light shoes – I always wear my Toms as I find these super comfortable for trips like this. They’re also smarter than trainers for the evening.
1 pair of flip flops – I pretty much lived in these during the day.
Vietnam packing list for women
Don’t worry, I’m not pretending like I know what I’m talking about. My wife Chloe helped me come up with this packing list for women.
4-6 pairs of socks
5-7 pairs of underwear
3 bras (1 sports bra)
3-5 assorted tops (tees/light long sleeve/tank tops)
3 dresses – These are really lightweight and airy
2 skirts – Again, very lightweight and airy
1 pair of trousers – Comfortable for flying in and for the evening
1 rain jacket
Sarong or travel scarf – Particularly useful for cold days or visiting temples
1 pair of flip flops
1 pair of sandals – It’s nice to pack something quite smart so they can double up for evenings out
1 pair comfortable walking shoes/trainers
3 hairbands – Chloe used these a lot to keep her hair up
What to pack for rainy season in Vietnam
If you’re travelling to Vietnam between May and early November, then make sure you pack for rainy season. This means you need to be prepared for short downpours of just 10 minutes, to raining all day.
Small travel umbrella
Wet cover for your bag – This is particularly important if you have an expensive camera in your backpack!
Emergency poncho – You’ll see a lot of Vietnamese wear rain ponchos when it starts chucking it down. It’s always a good idea having one of these on you in an emergency. They also will cover your backpack or handbag which is why they’re so good.
I have a really good travel toiletries bag which gets packed full before I leave. Then I have everything I need in one place without having to hunt down items in a foreign country.
Tissues – A must now that we’re travelling with our little one.
Baby wipes – Also a must!
Hand sanitiser – We got into the habit of using hand sanitiser before most meals.
Insect repellent – I would say this is one of those essential travel items for Vietnam as the mozzies can be particularly nasty here. I would always recommend 50% Deet and spraying around the hours of dawn and dusk if you’re out and about.
Sunscreen – Surprisingly, this is always cheaper at home than abroad. If you’re snorkelling or going in the ocean, then please wear marine-friendly sunscreen. Just think of the turtles guys!
Toothpaste and toothbrush
Contact lens solution (especially if brand specific for sensitive eyes)
Menstrual products of choice (the type you like might be harder to find)
First aid kit
Vietnam travel checklist for babies
As I said, on this most recent trip we travelled with our 8-month-old son Cooper. As he was still a baby, there are a number of essentials we brought with us that really made a difference to our trip. If you’ve got a little one, then I’d recommend packing these.
Foldable baby highchair – This was voted our no.1 most useful item we brought with us. A lot of restaurants didn’t have highchairs in Vietnam; it’s something they don’t use. That’s why we loved our foldable baby highchair. It meant we could secure it to a normal chair and he could eat with us at the table. Very useful, especially when eating all that pho and noodles!
Spinners – These are colour toys that are a bit like fidget spinners. You just give them a big ol’ spin and babies are mesmerised. Anytime Cooper needed distracting, we whipped out our spinners and he was immediately transfixed.
Food pouches – We actually travelled with quite a few food pouches. This was because we had heard it was difficult to get them in Vietnam (it really was) and we knew we could feed Cooper with them on the go. Even though they took up a bit of space in our luggage, we’re actually really glad we brought so many with us.
Swimsuit with a hat – We bought a really nice UV swimsuit with a hat that covered his neck. Considering it was 30+ degrees we very much needed this one!
Other packing tips for Vietnam
Even though this looks like the longest Vietnamese travel checklist, hopefully you can pack it all down. I would add this in though – you really don’t need to overpack for Vietnam. Anything you forget, they will have out there.
Also, if you’re planning on getting some clothes tailor-made for you in Hoi An, then it’s important having some space in your luggage. If you’re already struggling to close your backpack or suitcase then you’re not going to have any room for new clothes!
As ever, let me know if you have any questions at all!