Planning a trip to Vietnam? The country is very diverse in terms of landscape and climate so figuring out what you should pack can be incredibly challenging.
We spent 3 months exploring Vietnam from July to October and encountered extreme heat, a lot of rain, and a few chilly days. We spent time trekking through the mountains, lounging on beaches, and exploring big cities. And that meant we needed a lot of different types of clothing options in our luggage.
So we compiled a list of everything you’ll need during your vacation in Vietnam so you’re prepared for anything and everything!
Essential Vietnam Packing List
Navigating the streets and the traffic of Vietnam can be quite challenging – sidewalks are filled with motorbikes and just crossing the street seems death-defying. Your bag will have to be carried by a motorbike taxi in smaller towns. Plus if you are staying in any Airbnbs, you’ll likely have several floors of stairs to climb to get to your apartment.
A durable duffle bag that you can carry rather than roll is ideal for this country.
If you have Sapa on your itinerary, you’ll likely be doing some trekking through remote villages. You’ll want a smaller day-pack like this one by Osprey that has padded straps and lots of room for all of your goodies. It’s also the perfect size to be your airplane carry-on.
If you are coming to Vietnam from the United States, you’ve got an unbearably long travel schedule ahead of you. And you’ll have a big time difference which usually leads to jet lag. Don’t let that ruin your trip! Bring a travel pillow on your flight so you can get some shut-eye during that flight.
You’ll absolutely love taking photos of the stunning landscape in Vietnam! We travel with a Nikon DSLR, a zoom lens, a wide angle lens, and a tripod – ideal for avid photographers.
Universal Travel Adapter
The power outlets in Vietnam are of type A, C and D. The standard voltage is 110/220 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. Meaning you won’t need an adaptor if you are coming from America, China, Japan, Europe, or India. Regardless, I always find that having a universal adapter with multiple USB ports comes in handy so that I can charge multiple gadgets all at once.
You’ll need your phone pretty much all day, every day in Vietnam. From calling Grab, to mapping your way around, reading restaurant reviews, and taking photos of the lush landscape – you’ll be bummed if your phone runs out of juice. Invest in a small, lightweight power bank like this one by Anker and throw it in your bag when you head out for the day.
Vietnam is a very long country so you will have some flights and/or bus rides in your future. Be sure you keep yourself entertained with your favorite music and/or podcasts and a set of earbuds. This set by Kissral are bluetooth equipped, noise canceling, and have a battery length of 8 hours.
There are plenty of pharmacies and beauty supply stores in Vietnam where you can buy many products that are popular in the states. However, there are a few things that are difficult to find and/or quite expensive. Tampons (especially those with applicators) are uncommon and many of the lotions in Vietnam contain “whitening” agents (i.e. bleach). Bring your own favorite lotions from home if you’d rather leave with a tan.
Travel beauty essentials for Vietnam
- Sunscreen and after-sun lotion
- Face wash
- Face and body lotion with SPF
- Mosquito repellent
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Body wash
- Toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss
- Feminine hygiene products or a Diva cup
- Any medications
- Hairbrush and hair ties
Trekking in Sapa
If you are planning to visit the town of Sapa you’ll most likely do some trekking through the mountains to the small, remote villages. Bring clothes that are comfortable for hiking long distances and won’t take up a ton of room in your luggage.
Bring a few pairs of stretchy pants, several comfortable sports bras, and tanks tops to wear while trekking around Sapa.
These hiking shoes by Merrell are lightweight, super durable, and have a breathable mesh lining to keep your feet cool. They also have great traction which is perfect for the slippery trails in Sapa.
Other Trekking Gear
- A hat to shield your face from the sun
- Sweat-wicking socks
- Candy to give to the cute little kids you see along the way!
- A warm jacket if you visit in the winter months
Exploring the Cities
Vietnam isn’t necessarily conservative when it comes to clothing, but you’ll find that many of the locals have their shoulders and knees covered (regardless of the temperature outside). You can pretty much wear whatever you’d like around town (although I’d stay away from half-shirts) and you should make an effort to cover-up when visiting religious sites.
Comfortable Walking Shoes
The streets of Vietnam can be very uneven and if it’s rained recently you’ll be in danger of getting “swampfoot” if you walk around in flip flops. I’ve been traveling for the past 2 years with a pair of Sorels that I wear almost every day. They are incredibly sturdy, comfortable, and even water resistant!
You’ll likely be visiting a few religious monuments during your trip to Vietnam. And while the country isn’t nearly as strict about enforcing a dress code at temples, it is respectful to keep your shoulders and knees covered regardless. Bring a few long, comfortable dresses that will keep you cool and covered.
If you visit Vietnam during the rainy season you’ll want to bring either an umbrella or a rain jacket to keep you dry. You won’t want to spend your entire vacation indoors!
Other clothes to pack
- Several pairs of shorts
- T-shirts and tank tops
- One pair of jeans (weather dependent)
- One pair of underwear per day
- One pair of socks per day
Lounging on the Beach
While Vietnam isn’t exactly known as being a beach destination, Da Nang, Hoi An, and Phu Quoc all have sandy white beaches, perfect for relaxing. You may also want swimwear if you visit Halong Bay as there are opportunities for kayaking or if you stay in a hotel that has a pool.
You probably won’t spend a ton of time at the beach so just bring one swimsuit that you love with you to Vietnam. If you plan on visiting Dark Cave in Phong Nha, avoid bringing a white suit since it will get covered in mud!
Not only will you want flip flops for the beach, but you’ll probably want to wear them while wandering around town when temperatures are really warm. Bring a durable pair that will be comfortable to walk around in all day. We love Ipanemas!
This cute cover-up is not only perfect for the beach, you can also throw it on over shorts and a tank top to wear around town! I’ve been wearing mine all over Vietnam!
Keep those eyes protected from the harsh rays with a pair of polarized sunglasses and a sturdy case to keep them safe in your carry on!
Vietnam is a reasonably safe country but, as with anywhere else, opportunistic crime can happen. Pack a cross-body bag and keep your hand on it when traveling in crowded areas of larger cities. This particular bag is one that you can purchase on Amazon or at any of the markets around Vietnam – the style is really popular there right now!
- Your passport!
- To get your e-visa sorted out ahead of time.
- Sign up for a credit card with no international transaction fees.
- To call your credit card company and release your card for use in Vietnam.
- A back-up credit card in case you have any issues with your primary.
- To upgrade to an international cell plan during the month that you’ll be gone.
Apps and Entertainment for your Trip
- Don’t forget to download offline maps of the cities you’ll be visiting in Vietnam.
- Download Grab, the Uber of SE Asia (iPhone | Android).
- Get a subscription to Amazon Audible for access to a huge selection of audio books to listen to while at the beach or on the plane.
- Check out the must-visit destinations in these Vietnam travel guides:
Are we missing anything important? Let us know in the comments so we can add it to the list!
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