Packed! 10 Handy Travel Tips for Southeast Asia

Before leaving the United States for Thailand, I got a lot of great advice from my traveling friends. Now it’s time to pay it forward! Here’s my list of 10 essential things to pack before you come, followed by a list of things you may think you need but you can actually easily find when you get here ☺.

Ready to go!
Ready to go!
  1. Sunscreen. While you can find it in most sizable towns here, it costs more, comes in small bottles, and is often expired or doesn’t work well.
  2. A lightweight, super absorbent towel. (like this one)  Because not all guesthouses and hostels offer you one (at least not for free). It’s also very practical for beach days.
  3. Some modest clothes. When entering temples, it is respectful (and often required) to wear long pants and a shirt with sleeves. Of course, if you forget yours, there are shopping stands set up primarily for the purpose of rectifying your limited western wardrobe – just note, most of the options will have elephants on them (the Thailand tourists’ equivalent of Hawaiian flowers ☺).
  4. Campsuds. You can wash anything with it. Even your hair (though I haven’t tried!). I find it particularly useful for washing dishes or clothes in the sink.
  5. Anything but white. White will get dirty and it will never come back from the laundry the way it looked before… it will be yellow… or brown… or yellow with brown spots. Just embrace color and make beige your new white (because it inevitable will be!)

    white gone bad
    Exhibit A
  6. A proper water bottle. It’s an easy way to save a few dollars each day, and help the environment. For about 5 Baht you can have your water bottled filled at 7-11s and other mini marts.
  7. A daypack/ small backpack. If you’re like most travelers, you will want to make day trips with it or if you just want to keep your important things near you while your “big bag” is in that mysterious compartment under the bus…It’s easy to carry at the same time as your hiking bag – just put it in front, like a baby ☺.
  8. A GoPro. You’re on an adventure. You’re gonna wanna get this on film!! Plus, what better way to share your “I’m on top of the world” moments with friends and family back home? (Okay, if not a GoPro then bring a good camera ☺. Good electronics are hard to find and usually more expensive.)
  9. Sufficient underwear. (Um, assuming you like to wear it!!) It is hard to find in many places here. (Even harder in Cambodia than Thailand.)
  10. A rain cover for your bags. It can look clear and sunny one minute and then start pouring the next. Bring a poncho, too, though I’d say it’s arguably more important for your bags! A little rain won’t bother anyone in this heat… It’s also a good idea to always put the cover on your bag when traveling by bus because it could be wet on at your destination. (Lesson learned ;))

Amanda’s list of things you can find here easily:

  1. Bug spray/ Mosquito spray and lotion
  2. Hand sanitizer
  3. Antibiotics (not to mention cheaper and without a prescription)
  4. Paper products: Travel tissues/ TP/ Q-tips/ Cotton pads
  5. Feminine hygiene products (Hahaha, I’m laughing at my own euphuism ☺)

I hope this helps your packing efforts. Of course, there’s not much you can’t live without or find a substitute for, and that’s part of the beauty of traveling. You’ll even find things you like better :).

Side note: This list may be skewed toward traveling in Thailand and Cambodia, so if you have other tips to share from Vietnam/ Malaysia, etc., please share them!! Happy travels.


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