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I recently spent three weeks, 20 days to be exact, scurrying around 7 cities across Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. As a first time visitor to this region of the world during a time that would be both extremely hot and humid AND rainy, I found myself furiously googling packing lists (like this one “for her”). I’m an over-packer and some of those lists were pretty sparse, and though I knew I would be totally okay, I did bring a few extra things I could have left behind.

In total, between the two of us we left Los Angeles with five bags (one basically empty).

We flew to Bangkok from Los Angeles by way of Hawaii to stopover for a friend’s wedding. We had some formal clothing items that we needed to bring with us, so we seized the opportunity to mentally allow ourselves more luggage and brought a really big duffle bag. We left that bag at our hotel in Bangkok when we arrived (as we were starting and ending the trip in Bangkok).

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Big bag all packed and ready to go.

For the rest of the 20 days, Zach and I each had a big backpack and a smaller daypack and as we acquired new items we did spill over into a plastic bag that first was mainly a snack bag but then grew to fit gifts and new purchases. When we reunited with that big duffle bag in Bangkok we threw our extra overflow stuff in there and checked it on our flight back to Los Angeles.

Other things I was keeping in mind when I was packing: we weren’t going to really be doing that much rugged outdoor exploring or hiking (one day visit to an elephant sanctuary where we’d get our clothes dirty, one day in a cave, and a few days with swimming opportunities). I chose clothes that I was excited to wear, felt cute in, and liked the look of over clothes that were fit for outdoor or backpacker-y activities. We also took a few overnight trains and long bus rides, so I wanted as many loose and comfortable items for these journeys as possible.

Probably didn’t need to explain all of that, but it’s after 1:45 AM and I’m still on Bangkok time. Please leave me alone, jet lag. Please.

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MY MAIN BAG:
It’s a 46-liter travel backpack that does fit in the overhead of most airlines. I had two packing cubes that I fit the list of clothes below inside of. Toiletries went in another bag. Electronics went in a more protective case, but all into the same bag.

CLOTHING:
4 sleeveless tank tops
1 long sleeve hiking shirt
1 sleep shirt
1 long pair of light cotton pants
2 calf-length light cotton pants
2 pair of shorts
1 long pair of workout pants
1 dress for the beach (or beach cover)
1 dress a nice occasion
2 swimsuits
1 raincoat
4 pairs of socks
Undergarments (don’t worry, so many opportunities to do laundry!)
1 pair of Tevas (or other waterproof hiking sandals)

WEATHER AND ATMOSPHERE:
Umbrella
Scarf (for temple visits)
1 tiny waterproof dry bag
5 extra plastic bags

TOILETRIES: 
1 toothbrush
3 travel toothpaste
1 travel deodorant
Eyeliner
Mascara
Eyebrow
Pencil
Lush Shampoo Bar
1 travel size conditioner
2 travel size witch hazel
1 travel size lotion
Face Moisturizer
Face Cleanser
Retainer
Sunscreen
Travel towel
Pepto pills
Claritin
Prescription Meds
Poop Regulators
First aid kit
DEET bug repellent
Hairbrush
Toilet paper

ELECTRONICS:
Fujifilm X-T2 camera
3 camera batteries
Camera charger
Phone
Phone Charger
Laptop
Memory card reader
2 TB hard drive

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MY DAY BAG:
By day three of the trip, my shoulders were in pain from the cheap drawstring backpack I brought with me so I purchased this cute red backpack from the Happening Shop at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. Two pockets on the sides for water bottles and safe with zippers and the ability to wear over the shoulder or as a backpack.

Main pocket:
Passport holder (I left this in our accommodations on non-travel days)
Card holder (money, debit card, health insurance card)
Waterproof dry bag (big enough to hide my camera in just in case)
Camera
Extra batteries
Moisturizer (in case my eczema screamed at me)
Scarf (to cover my shoulders when entering wats, temples, shrines, etc.)
Raincoat

Front pocket:
Hand sanitizer
Headphones
Sunglasses
Pepto-bismal pills (hey, you warned me!)

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STUFF I DIDN’T END UP NEEDING:

Running shoes—it rained almost every day (even just for a little) and my Tevas were comfortable and great in the water or on a hiking trail.

Travel towel—ironically, I read that I needed this on a packing list. I never used it, not once (we stayed at a mix of private rooms in hostels, guesthouses, and hotels) perhaps because we didn’t ever stay at super duper budget accommodations, we were always provided towels? However, I did have a smaller face towel I did use on the overnight trains.

Extra toothpaste—in Bangkok, Hanoi, at many of the train stations, there is easy to access toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, etc.

Running shorts—did I really think I was going to run?

Shorts in general—except for my pajama shorts, I rarely wore the other pair I brought. Many sites have a dress code for women that recommend covering shoulders and having your legs covered as much as possible. I wore my light cotton pants way more than my shorts.

A graphic of a list of clothes, toiletries, eletronics and miscellaneous things packed on a three week trip to Southeast Asia during Monsoon Season.
In case it is helpful, you can download and print here.

I made this maybe semi-useful graphic of the breakdown of everything I brought with me originally (this doesn’t include things we purchased along the way).

Hope this helped one person!

I have so so so many photos and things to share about our trip. It feels weird to think that just one week ago I was in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I’m still adjusting to life and work back in Los Angeles, but I’ll share as soon as I can. But I can say that given the chance, I’d jump back on a plane tomorrow and head back…

Much love friends.


Related | My Southeast Asia trip planning posts:

Posted by:sarahwaldo

By day I'm a content producer at an arts org in Los Angeles, by night I am the overly apologetic brain and face of sleepywaldo.blog

16 replies on “PACKING LIST FOR 3 WEEKS IN SOUTHEAST ASIA (DURING MONSOON SEASON)

  1. LOL nice to know you didn’t need the poop pills!! I’ve been wanting to do this for the longest time, but I’m just iffy about the ~pooping uh situation haha.

    This is super helpful, thank you for posting this!! (And I love your red backpaaaack!!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I WAS WAITING FOR THIS!

    I loved looking at the pictures you shared here and on Instagram, and was curious as to how you decided to pack and what. Thank you for sharing! And I’m glad that you both had a fantastic time. It sounds like the trip of a life time and I’m glad y’all enjoyed!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello!

    Bless you and this post. So helpful and informative!

    I will be spending three weeks in Cambodia in January and cannot wait to see your photos and read about your experience.

    I always look forward to your posts 🙂

    Sincerely,
    A rando lurker who has been following your online adventures for years #adiml

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So happy it is helpful! Enjoy Cambodia, I truly wish I was able to spend more time there outside of the temple circuit!! Especially to visit Phnom Penh.

      (And thanks for following along all these years 😭 #adiml)

      Like

  4. “I’m still adjusting to life and work back in Los Angeles, but I’ll share as soon as I can. But I can say that given the chance, I’d jump back on a plane tomorrow and head back…”

    I feel so giddy knowing you feel this way about our side of the world 🙂 Can’t wait for your posts!

    Like

  5. Greetings! I just found your site (beautiful) in my search for information about our own upcoming SE Asia trip. Did you not bring any sort of sweater or sweatshirt? I know it’s hot there, but for airplanes, etc? And how did you find using a backpack for that whole trip? I’m feel like I would need my carryon with wheels?

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    1. Hello! I had one thicker sweater that I packed for our long-haul flight from the US to Thailand (and back) that I left in our large duffel bag at our hotel in Thailand. It was too bulky to travel around with it and it was truly so hot and humid, even when it rained (we went in October). I am a cold person, so I used my raincoat on trains and planes, and wore my longer cotton pants. On overnight trains they do provide blankets!

      Hope this helps! Have fun on your trip!

      Like

    2. Hi again, just noticed I didn’t answer your question about having a backpack. I prefer the hands-free freedom of no rolling bag. To me it was easier navigating new places (esp busy narrow streets) and crossing streets and sometimes uneven roads without worrying about my rolling bag.

      Like

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