Vietnam is a country with an interesting history, rich with culture, magnificent beaches, and coastlines, hundreds of spiritual temples, breathtaking landscapes, buzzing cities, delicious food, and wonderful people. Vietnam is one of my favorite destinations in South East Asia!
Having backpacked all over Vietnam myself, I have a pretty fair idea of what you need to add to your Vietnam packing list and why!
FIRST TIME IN VIETNAM – WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
Being one of the most popular countries in Southeast Asia for backpackers, honeymoon destinations, and family trips, it isn’t as popular as other neighboring countries such as Thailand. Let’s dive into the most important factors to know when visiting Vietnam for the first time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT VIETNAM
Vietnam can be visited year-round, however, the recommended time to visit is in Spring (February to April) and in Autumn (August to October), this is when the temperatures are more moderate and the rainfall is light. That being said, you should know that Vietnam is actually a massive country and weather varies from North to South.
In Northern Vietnam, the winter is very harsh with temperatures dropping dramatically, especially around the border with China. The summers are hot and it rains at times during this season. So the ideal time to visit the north is between March and May, or just after the monsoons and before summer arrives in October.
Oppositely, in Central Vietnam, the weather is quite tropical with the dry season lasting from January to August. The wet season starts in August and usually lasts until November. The best moment to travel to Central Vietnam is between October and January.
Lastly, in Southern Vietnam, the climate is very tropical, with two seasons that are notably distinct: wet and dry, which are somewhat comparable to central Vietnam’s.
BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN VIETNAM
Make Sure to Check My 4-week Vietnam Itinerary Guide to Visit the Best Places
On a side note, Da Nang is one of the most loved cities in the world by Digital Nomads and that is certainly something to consider if you work online. WiFi is stable and fast all around the country.
Last but not least, in Southern Vietnam, make sure not to miss the crazy Ho Chi Minh, the ride on the Mekong Delta, Phu Quoc Island, and Con Dao.
TRAVELING AROUND VIETNAM ISN’T DIFFICULT
While all the cities spread out around the country could make you feel overwhelmed when preparing your Vietnam packing list, it’s actually much easier to travel around than you think.
In fact, while it’s a massive country, traveling from the South (say, Ho Chi Minh) to Central Vietnam (Da Nang) will only take you over 1-hour flying. Saigon to Hanoi, on the other hand, the flight journey will only last 2 hours.
If you have more free time available, for instance, 2 weeks, you’ll be able to visit all 3 parts of the country easily.
CHOOSE SLEEPER BUSES RATHER THAN TRAINS
Sleeper buses in Vietnam are a great option to travel around, especially if you have time and/or when you travel on a budget. The best example is traveling from Hanoi to Sapa. While both train and bus journeys are available, traveling on a sleeper bus is probably your safest and most convenient bet.
NOT EVERYONE SPEAKS ENGLISH
If this is your first time in Vietnam, you should know that not everyone there will speak English, and it would be sometimes challenging to get around. Although most hotel owners, customers in restaurants in major cities speak English, they aren’t fluent and it is simply basic English in most cases.
So bear that in mind and don’t forget to download Google Translate and even include a dictionary into your Vietnam packing list.
Vietnam has a wide range of accommodation options from luxury resorts to budget hostels and everything in between. I use booking.com to search and book all of my accommodations.
VIETNAM PACKING LIST
One of the most popular cameras on the planet. I love using the GoPro Hero 9 for everything involving water shots and those fast-paced adventures overseas. It captures all of my best moments with its wide range of functions that are very simple to use and I highly recommend this camera when backpacking.
Check Prices → GoPro Hero 9 Waterproof Camera
Most likely you are going to get up to a lot of adventures overseas whether it be hiking volcanoes, exploring waterfalls, or beach hopping! A waterproof phone case is a must-have item to keep your phone safe from water damage, sand, and scratches. Suitable for all smartphone models.
Check Prices → Waterproof Phone Case
Arriving in Vietnam and not being able to charge your phone, laptop, camera, and other accessories is a nightmare for most travelers. I highly recommend equipping yourself with a universal power adapter that can be used everywhere in Asia and also in the UK, Europe, Africa, the United States, and Australia.
Check Prices → Universal Power Adapter
One of the best things about having a portable power bank is that you can keep your phone and accessories charged on those longer adventures throughout Vietnam. This Anker Power Bank features 2 USB charging ports, a rechargeable battery, works with iPhone, iPad, Samsung, Oppo, and more! Also included is a micro-USB charging cable, travel pouch, and 18-month warranty.
Check Prices → Anker Portable Power Bank
Kindles are the best alternative for books when traveling. The Kindle e-readers are perfect for long-haul flights, a relaxing read on the beach, or a quiet evening away from the beach bars. The new Kindles are waterproof, linked with Audible, pair with Bluetooth headphones or speakers, adjustable light settings to suit indoor/outdoor conditions, 8GB – 32GB storage, and rechargeable batteries that last for weeks!
Check Prices → Kindle E-Reader
There’s an old saying, ‘If you can’t afford travel insurance, you shouldn’t be traveling’. I have been traveling for almost a decade and in that time I have tried many different travel insurance providers. As of late, I have been using World Nomads Travel Insurance on every trip, and in my opinion, they are without a doubt the best travel insurance provider on the market. I always choose theWorld Nomads Explorer Plan as it covers just about everything.
Check Prices → World Nomads Travel Insurance
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A lightweight rain jacket is an absolute must when deciding on what to pack for Vietnam. The weather in Vietnam can be very sporadic due to the tropical climate and a downpour can happen at any moment. The best rain jackets I have come across for men and women are the North Face waterproof rain jackets with a breathable mesh lining and adjustable hood that can be tucked away inside the collar. Be prepared and add this essential item to your Vietnam packing list.
Check Prices → North Face Lightweight Rain Jacket (Mens)
Check Prices → North Face Lightweight Rain Jacket (Womens)
A reusable water bottle is an essential Vietnam packing list item and something I take with me on all of my adventures. Not only will the Hydro Flask keep your water icy cold all day but you will also be helping the environment by reducing the use of plastics in Vietnam.
Check Prices → Hydro Flask Water Bottle
Packing Cubes are honestly my favorite item in my backpack! Perfect for organizing your shirts, pants, jackets, socks, underwear, and more! Packing cubes make packing easier and more efficient, adding extra space and reducing packing frustration for your next trip to Vietnam.
Check Prices → Packing Cubes
I think it is safe to say that 9 out of 10 of us have been a victim of travelers’ diarrhea. I personally eat a lot of street food and enjoy the odd seafood BBQ on the beach, but typically these types of eateries are known for bacteria-infected or out-of-date foods. So to be better safe than sorry, I recommend purchasing these Organic Activated Charcoal Tablets which are fast-acting and a safe way to rid your system of the toxins that cause stomach upset.
Check Prices → Organic Activated Charcoal Tablets
The last thing you want when visiting Vietnam is a body covered in itchy mosquito bites or worst-case scenario, dengue fever. As I mentioned earlier, Vietnam has a very tropical climate and mosquitoes along with other nasty insects like to hang out almost everywhere on the island. Be sure to get a bottle of insect repellent to throw in your check-in baggage when packing for Vietnam.
Check Prices → Insect Repellent 100% Deet
Yes, sunscreen! Some of us hate it, others can’t live without it. Nevertheless, it won’t hurt to throw in a tube of sunscreen when packing for Vietnam and I guarantee you will end up using it every single day when you are out exploring! In my experience, sunscreen is quite expensive in Vietnam so it’s best to pack some before you go.
Check Prices → Sun Bum 50+ Sunscreen
I know for sure that you are likely to visit at least one waterfall or find an epic cliff jumping spot during your travels. Vietnam is a mecca for water adventures and muddy hikes so definitely consider purchasing an affordable pair of slip-on waterproof shoes when deciding on what to pack for Vietnam.
Check Prices → Slip-On Waterproof Shoes
To pack a towel or not to pack a towel? It’s a question I ask myself too often when planning a trip to Vietnam. A standard beach or bathroom towel can take up quite a lot of space in your travel bag, though a quick-dry travel towel is a perfect alternative! This lightweight, microfibre travel towel is perfect for the beach, camping, backpacking, and general traveling.
Check Prices → Quick-Dry Travel Towel
I never go on a trip without my hidden money belt. The best thing is that they are always out of sight, hidden beneath your clothing to prevent pickpockets. They are perfectly designed to keep your cash and other valuables safe for when you are out and about enjoying Vietnam’s nightlife.
Check Prices → Hidden Money Belt
Along with the money belt, a travel passport wallet is a great addition to your Vietnam packing list. I find it best to always keep my passport, valuables, travel documents, credit cards, and cash all in one place, stowed away in this easily organized travel wallet.
Check Prices → Travel Passport Wallet
A dry bag is always a good item to consider packing on your next trip to Vietnam, especially if you are planning on going snorkeling, spending some time at the beach, exploring waterfalls, or island hopping. Best to keep your phone and other valuables safe from water damage.
Check Prices → Earth-Pak Dry Bag
Something that I have surprisingly been using quite often is a head torch. It may not be an essential Vietnam packing list item for everyone but if you do plan on hiking, which I highly recommend, then this waterproof and USB rechargeable head torch will quickly become your best friend on your Vietnam adventures!
Check Prices → Foxelli Head Torch
WHAT CLOTHES TO BRING ON A 3-MONTH TRIP TO VIETNAM?
When you travel for so long, you definitely will bring some items that you normally wouldn’t need – just because you want to be on the safe side.
While this Vietnam packing list covers everything you need and more, here’s a short glimpse of the most essential goods you should take on a 3-month trip:
- 5 to 6 pairs of socks
- 5 to 6 pairs of underwear
- 1 pair of compression socks – ideal when flying
- 3 pairs of pants – 2 shorts and 1 long pair should suffice
- 1 athletic outfit – to go to the gym or on a hiking trip to Sapa
- 4 to 5 tops – tank tops and tees are best when traveling to Vietnam
Sure, you may add some other items but this purely depends on your preferences and situation.
WHAT SHOULD YOU WEAR IN VIETNAM?
I’d recommend bringing clothes that would allow you to remain respectful of the culture and respect the locals. That being said, in big cities such as Hanoi, you are free to wear pretty much what you want since it’s more modern and relaxed.
When traveling to the countryside to visit temples, however, revealing clothes will not be well seen and you could even be denied entry in some areas.
WHAT TO PACK FOR VIETNAM WHEN TRAVELING FOR 2 WEEKS?
A 2-week trip is much easier to organize as opposed to 3 months and you can travel much lighter.
First of all, you’ll want to take the basic yet most important electronics. Your camera, your GoPro, a power bank, and some noise headphones or earplugs are your most essential items to take.
Secondly, pack a few clothes but not too many. After all, you only travel for 2 weeks and a few tee-shirts, pants, and underwear should be enough.
Unlike a 3-month trip, I wouldn’t recommend a first-aid kit since you’re probably only going to join day tours or stay in cities. However, packing the essential medication for motion sickness, stomach issues, and paracetamol is a great idea.
VIETNAM TRAVEL GUIDES
- Vietnam Travel Guide: 4 Week Vietnam Itinerary
- Ho Chi Minh City Guide: 7 Things To Do In Ho Chi Minh
- Nha Trang Travel Guide: 3 Things To Do In Nha Trang
- Hoi An Travel Guide: 4 Things To Do In Hoi An
- Ninh Binh Travel Guide: 3 Things To Do In Ninh Binh
- Da Nang Travel Guide: Golden Bridge Ba Na Hills
- Cam Ranh Travel Guide: Things To Do In Cam Ranh
- Ha Giang Travel Guide: 3 Day Ha Giang Loop Adventure
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