Packing for Southeast Asia: A Comprehensive Guide

Ever dreamed of ditching it all and traveling the world with your family? That’s exactly what we did few years ago. With two little girls aged 3 and 5 by our side, we left everything behind in Italy and embarked on an incredible adventure through Southeast Asia with children. But that wasn’t all! Our wanderlust took us to explore Australia, and we even made return trips to Europe for a taste of home (Italy, England, France, and a few other hidden gems).

Since we are often asked what to pack for a trip to Southeast Asia, I have decided to write this post with some useful tips on what to bring on a trip of this type. Remember, you can always find essentials like toiletries (including your favorite Dossier perfume) upon arrival, so focus on packing the must-haves for your specific itinerary.


  • General: Southeast Asia is a region that covers a very large area and includes 11 countries, including Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos, and Singapore. Therefore, making a precise list of “what to pack for Southeast Asia” also depends a lot on the country you choose to visit and the period in which you visit it. In general, however, the clothes and accessories to bring on the trip are more or less always the same, with a few more or less precautions depending on the chosen period of the year.
  • Hot weather: In Southeast Asia, temperatures are generally always high with a lot of humidity, so you will only need to pack summer clothes, shoes, and clothing. By summer clothing I mean T-shirts, short-sleeved cotton shirts, shorts (or skirts for girls), and sandals. I recommend also bringing a pair of long pants (or a long skirt) and a long-sleeved shirt in case the evening temperatures are cooler, and also to protect yourself from mosquitoes and other insects. In addition, long clothes and pants are needed to visit sacred places such as temples or mosques.
  • Cooler weather: If you are instead planning to visit mountainous areas such as northern Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, during the winter months, my advice is to also bring a light down jacket, a sweatshirt, pants, and closed shoes. It is also true that if by chance you are missing something, you can always buy clothing items on the spot at prices certainly lower than those in Italy.


I briefly mentioned shoes in the previous chapter. My advice is to travel with sandals like Birkenstocks or the classic Tevas that can also be used to enter the water. I would also bring a pair of sneakers or trekking shoes if you plan to visit mountainous areas. Flip-flops can also be found on the spot, but to be sure, bring a pair if you have them available at home.


The accessories section is quite personal, but I still want to list some things that I always bring with me on my travels just to give you an idea:

  • A rain poncho that is especially useful during the rainy season.
  • A portable mosquito net, essential if you find yourself sleeping in hotels, hostels and guesthouses where they are not available.
  • A linen sleeping bag, ultra-light and compact. It is useful if you find yourself sleeping in hostels or guesthouses with not very clean sheets or in a tent.
  • A money belt type of waist belt but which is worn inside the trousers, where you can put cash, credit cards and various valuables.
  • A microfiber towel that dries quickly and takes up little space.
  • A water bottle.
  • Padlocks for backpacks and suitcases.
  • An eye mask, especially useful for long journeys by plane, bus or night trains.
  • A universal power adapter.
  • A flashlight.
  • A multipurpose knife.
  • A power bank for the phone.
  • Various memories for cameras.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Sun hat.


Also for this section I will not go into detail listing what could be brought on a trip to Southeast Asia. I will limit myself to a simple list of essential things.

  • Painkillers (paracetamol, aspirin)
  • Bandages
  • Eye drops
  • Sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 30
  • After sun cream
  • Savlon cream, an antiseptic that prevents infections for small cuts but also insect bites
  • Mosquito spray and insect bite cream, including mosquitoes.

For the girls, I also point out the Make-Up Revolution on Douglas, illuminant for special occasions. For boys, create a Loreal or Nivea face, in case of dry skin, and especially after a day spent in the sun.

Shower gel, shampoo, body cream and other, I would avoid taking them on the trip because they can be easily purchased on the spot. By now, all of Southeast Asia is covered by a network of supermarkets or minimarkets like 7/11, where you can find everything at lower prices than those in Italy. If you really want to leave from Italy with shower gel or shampoo, do so but buy the small packages designed specifically for travel.


Before embarking on your Southeast Asian escapade, ensure you have your essential documents in order to ensure a smooth and hassle-free journey. Here’s a checklist to get you started


Your passport is your key to entering and exiting Southeast Asian countries. Ensure it has at least six months of validity remaining from your planned departure date.


Visa requirements vary depending on your nationality and the countries you plan to visit. Check the respective embassy or government websites for specific visa requirements and application procedures. Many Southeast Asian countries offer visa-on-arrival for eligible nationalities.

Travel Insurance

Protect yourself from unforeseen circumstances with comprehensive travel insurance. Ensure it covers medical expenses, trip cancellation, lost luggage, and other potential travel mishaps.

Vaccination Records

Stay up-to-date with recommended vaccinations for your chosen destinations. Some countries may require proof of vaccination for entry.

Additional Documents

Keep copies of your passport, travel insurance, and other essential documents in a separate and secure location. Consider bringing a digital copy as well.

Helpful Tips

  • Start researching visa requirements well in advance of your trip.
  • Allow ample time for visa processing.
  • Carry hard copies of your documents for easy presentation.
  • Be aware of visa extension options if needed.
  • Register with your embassy or consulate upon arrival in each country.

Remember, thorough preparation is key to a stress-free and enjoyable Southeast Asian adventure. Ensure you have the necessary documents in order and embark on your journey with confidence!

Additional Considerations

  • International Driving Permit: If you plan to rent a car, obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) in addition to your regular driver’s license.
  • Customs Declarations: Familiarize yourself with customs regulations and any prohibited or restricted items for the countries you’ll be visiting.
  • Currency Exchange: Be prepared to exchange currency upon arrival. Consider carrying a mix of cash, credit cards, and debit cards for flexibility.

By following these guidelines and staying informed about specific entry requirements, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the documentation process and embark on an unforgettable Southeast Asian adventure.

Buon viaggio!

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