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).
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.
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.
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
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:
Scarf (for temple visits)
1 tiny waterproof dry bag
5 extra plastic bags
3 travel toothpaste
1 travel deodorant
Lush Shampoo Bar
1 travel size conditioner
2 travel size witch hazel
1 travel size lotion
First aid kit
DEET bug repellent
Fujifilm X-T2 camera
3 camera batteries
Memory card reader
2 TB hard drive
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.
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)
Moisturizer (in case my eczema screamed at me)
Scarf (to cover my shoulders when entering wats, temples, shrines, etc.)
Pepto-bismal pills (hey, you warned me!)
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.
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:
- Two days out from our trip, September 2017
- Our itinerary and to do list five weeks out from the trip, September 2017
- Starting to plan a trip, August 2017