Are you ready for this absolutely RIVETING post about what to wear in Vietnam?
Yeah me neither.
Because in truth, packing lists can be boring AF! I mean honestly, who wants to read a dull as dishwater, Vietnam packing list in their spare time? Especially when you’re planning a beyond exciting 2 week Vietnam itinerary.
I know I don’t!
I mean, I don’t know about you but I don’t consider discussing the finer points of current converters to be the most intellectually stimulating topic on the planet.
A list of Vietnam travel essentials is kind of a necessary evil since well, you really don’t want to forget something uber-important, like a jacket, and basically freeze your ass off the entire time you’re in Vietnam.
Because contrary to popular belief:
Vietnam actually can get quite cold. Like 65°F cold (I see you rolling your eyes. I know the judgment is palpable. But, since I’m been in Southeast Asia for the past six months, 65°F actually feels really cold to me. I know. LAME. Lol.).
And sometimes colder…if you’re in the North and its wintertime.
So, be the incredibly prepared, super cool traveler that I know you are, and check out this ultra-snazzy post on what to wear in Vietnam! Who knows, you might even find a paddleboard or two so that you can do some paddle exercise while at the beach.
I’ll even throw in some lame AF puns; puns along the way that will make you giggle with delight at my astonishing level of social awkwardness, which is all too apparent even when I’m writing something for the blogosphere.
Get those jazz hands ready my swagerific readers because we’re about to cannonball into some expert tips on fun topics like what to wear in Vietnam, what NOT to wear in Vietnam, the Vietnam temple dress code, and the difference between modern Vietnamese clothing in the North and South!
If you’re planning on doing some hiking in Asia, then this is the post for you.
By the end of this post, you’ll think I’m almost as hip as Betty White. Because well, frankly, nothing on this planet can be quite as cool as Betty White.
Dear reader, since I am incapable of making it rain money, there’s a high probability that this post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
What to Wear in Vietnam: 11 Essential Packing Tips
1. The Ultimate Vietnam Packing List
- Short-Sleeve Shirts (2)
- Sleeveless Shirts (1)
- Summer Dresses (2)
- Light, breathable pants (1)
- Leggings (1)
- Light breathable shorts (1)
- Long Skirts (1)
- Sunglasses (1)
- Bug Spray
- Water Bottle
- Bras (3)
- Underwear (7)
- Socks (7)
- Comfortable Sleep Clothes (1)
- Light Jacket (1) or a Heavy Jacket if You’re there in Winter
- Cardigan (1)
- Heavy Sweatshirt or Sweater (1)
- Comfortable Sandals (1)
- Fashionable Slip-on-Sneakers (1)
- Sturdy Boots (1)
- Bathing Suit (1)
- Quick Dry Towel (1)
- Hospital Mask
- Visa (or other travel documents)
- Electronics (Cell Phone, Camera, Kindle, Charger, International Adaptor,etc.).
2. Believe it or not, Vietnam Can Actually get REALLY cold. So, pack accordingly!
Cold is obviously a relative term here.
When I say cold, I mean like somewhere between 50 and 65 ° F.
Depending on when and where you travel in Vietnam, you’ll definitely need a jacket of some sort.
A fact that surprises a lot of people since Vietnam is in Southeast Asia.
Most people just assume that the entire country is basically hot and humid, ALL YEAR LONG.
And while this is true for Southern cities like Ho Chi Minh, that’s NOT really the case when you move into more Central and Northern areas of the country, especially during the winter.
To help you create the PERFECT Vietnam packing list for your trip, here is some information about the different climates that you’ll experience through Southern, Central, and Northern Vietnam.
Southern Vietnam – This region has a tropical, equatorial climate that is characterized by both high temperatures (between 25 – 35°C) and humidity levels (between 80% and 85%) throughout the year. There are also two distinct seasons here, with the rainy season extending from May through November and the dry season extending from December through April.
Central Vietnam – Because much of Central Vietnam sits along the coast, weather here can be very hot and dry, with winds coming in through the Southwest. Therefore, expect hot and dry weather from mid-January to late August (with temperatures between 19°C in January and 34°C) in August). In contrast, the weather between September and December can be quite cool (with temperatures between 24°C in September and 19°C in December) and rainy since this is when intense monsoons hit the area.
Northern Vietnam – Like most parts of the Northern hemisphere, winters here (between November and April) are quite cold and dry, with average temperatures between 17 °C and 22°C. In contrast, summers here (from May through October) can be quite hot, humid, and rainy, with average temperatures between 28°C and 30°C.
3. Don’t Forget to Buy a Local Sim Card Upon Arrival!
Prior to becoming a digital nomad:
I never actually bought a local sim card.
Crazy, I know!
But totally true since I had a monthly cell phone plan with T-Mobile.
With this plan, I got unlimited international data for just $50 per month (Hint, hint. GET THIS PLAN if you travel a lot but are permanently based in the US).
As a result:
A local sim card was just never really all that necessary.
Until I said a fond farewell to the USA and stopped visiting regularly.
Once I did this:
I inadvertently violated the terms of my contract (WHOOPS) and found myself in desperate need of another way to use mobile data while on the road.
I really am both literally and figuratively lost without continual access to Google maps (I tried using Google offline and it was a disaster of epic proportions that will NOT be repeated).
And while Vietnam does indeed have WIFI just about everywhere:
I still recommend getting a local SIM card for convenience, especially if you want to use Grab (a local rideshare app).
A local SIM card, with about 2 GB of data, will cost you around 200,000 VND (or about $8) in most major cities (Just go to a super touristy area since more tourists = more SIM cards for sale).
If you’re super worried about it, you can always get one, upon arrival, at one of Vietnam’s major airports.
There will be a HUGE desk with signs advertising “Local Sim Cards”, just past baggage claim.
***For more information on how to use a local SIM card in Vietnam, check out some of my favorite Vietnam travel tips right now (tips you will NOT find in most guide books)!***
4. Local Dress is Generally More Conservative in the North than it is in the South
WAY back in the day:
Vietnamese women would traditionally wear a long sleeve, floor length, narrow dress, with a little turtleneck, that is known as an Ao Dai.
Typically made of silk:
These dresses would be synched at the waist, come with slits on both sides (for increased mobility), and be paired with matching, high waist pants.
But, per usual:
Times they are a-changing!
And the result?
Well today, women generally only wear these types of garments for special occasions and have largely replaced them with more typical forms of Western-style dress.
Super un-unique things like leggings, t-shirts, jeans, short skirts, dresses, and sweatshirts.
Modern-day styles of dress can vary slightly, depending on whether you’re in the North or South of Vietnam
During the Vietnam War, the North was supported by China, whereas the South was supported by the USA.
As a result:
Both parts of the country adopted a variety of cultural norms, and styles of dress, that reflected the regions of the world that they were in direct contact with.
It’s not really all that surprising that you can basically wear whatever you want in the South.
I saw local girls walking around in booty shorts and tank tops. And while I personally wouldn’t wear that, it just goes to show you that you really can wear almost anything you want in the South (Obviously within reason. I mean, I wouldn’t strut around Ho Chi Minh in a bathing suit, but walking around in shorts and a tank top is totally fine).
Locals in Northern Vietnam tend to dress a bit more conservatively since there is a lot of direct, conservative, Buddhist influence from China.
What you might wear in the South may not be as appropriate to wear in the North.
While you can still wear shorts and a tank top here, do try and minimize the amount of cleavage and bootyness (Yes, that is now a word) that you allow to hang out while in this part of the country.
I have no idea why people only use pads in Vietnam.
Maybe it’s a cultural thing?
Well, whatever the reason, tampons are NOT common in Vietnam and are incredibly hard to find.
If it’s THAT time of the month and you feel like you will simply cease to be without tampons, then be sure to pack some in your bag before you leave for Vietnam.
Now that I think about it, the same holds true for sunscreen and facial creams/moisturizers.
Because while you can easily find both in Vietnam:
Sunscreen can be ridiculously expensive and is best purchased at home, before the start of your trip.
And facial creams?
Well, most of the products that you’ll find in Vietnam come with skin whiteners in them since locals generally see lighter skin as infinitely more desirable (If only my nearly translucent skin was viewed as beyond beautiful in the Western world. SIGH.).
Be sure to add sunscreen, tampons, and face cream to your suitcase before leaving for Vietnam.
***Not gonna lie. I generally hate talking about periods since they are kind of gross. But, I still feel like I have to share this with you since I have found this product to be incredibly helpful. And the product that I am referring to just happens to be THESE PERIOD PANTIES by Funcy. Not only are they comfortable and super absorbent, but they also wick away excess moisture, keep you feeling dry, are easy to wash (say goodbye to nasty AF period stains), and eliminate odors. Now, are they the most fashionable pair of underwear that I’ve ever seen? No, especially since they resemble something that my granny might wear when she’s feeling extra spry. They also aren’t great on super heavy days and should be worn in tandem with some other form of protection (i.e. a pad or tampon). However, they are fantastic if you’re looking to travel more sustainably and want something to help protect you against leaks. They’re also perfect for when, surprise, your period rears its ugly head and you had no idea it was coming. Once you use them though, I would wash them immediately (with extra cold water) since it’s kind of gross to carry them around in your bag when they’ve been, um, gently used. Yeah, no Bueno for sure.***
6. What NOT To Wear in Vietnam!
Like in most parts of the world:
There are certain things that you should NOT do, or wear when traveling to Vietnam.
And some of these fashion faux pas include:
Walking Around Half Naked – Yeah, don’t do this. Even though Ho Chi Minh city can get pretty hot and humid (especially during the summer) it is NOT okay to walk around the city wearing just a bathing suit and flip flops. Can you wear a tank top and shorts? Absolutely! But just try and keep your mid-drift covered and the cleavage to a minimum.
Not Wearing a Bra – Umm, no one here really wants to see your nipples because you decided not to wear a bra with your thin, white shirt. So, if you really just cannot wear a bra, then avoid exposing your nipples to the world by wearing either nipple covers or by rocking a dark, thick fabric shirt. And yes, you obviously do NOT have to wear a bra to the beach, as long as your girls are fully covered.
Not Taking Off Your Shoes Before Entering Someone’s Home (Or a Temple) – In Vietnam, feet are seen as the absolute nastiest part of your body. That’s why wearing shoes inside someone’s home is considered incredibly rude. So, pay close attention to local customs and always take off your shoes when signs, or other people, tell you to do so.
Wearing Something Critical of the Government – This is kind of rude, to begin with since you’re a guest in someone’s country and probably shouldn’t be making bold statements about their political system with your attire. But, all that aside, Vietnam is a one-party, Communist country, with a government that does exert some level censorship upon its citizenry (It’s not like China but self-expression here is still somewhat limited). Therefore, try not to wear that beyond awesome, “Damn the Man’ shirt of yours if you want to avoid any unnecessary run-ins with local authorities since open criticism of the government can land you in jail.
Not Covering Up When Entering a Pagoda, Church, Mosque, Temple, or Sacred Place, like Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum – Men AND women will need to dress appropriately before entering any sacred space in Vietnam. This means that both your knees and shoulders will need to be covered (You’ll also need to take off your shoes before entering any temples). Remember, these are incredibly devout places where dressing conservatively is seen as a sign of respect. So, be the awesome, super respectful traveler that I know you are and always dress conservatively before entering any of these areas.
Going Nude on the Beach – Yeah, Vietnam is not the place to let it all hang loose. Therefore, women should NOT go topless on the beach. Nor should they wear string bikinis. I mean, you can wear a bikini, but just make sure that your breasts and butt are both fully covered. And yes guys, you should also wear a bathing suit that completely covers your awesome manness while strutting your stuff on the beach.
Wearing Overly Revealing Clothing – In general, try to avoid wearing clothing in which your butt, breasts, and mid-drift are hanging out. Do this and you’ll easily blend in with the locals and avoid unwanted attention.
7. Wear a Hospital Mask to Avoid Air Pollution
Spend even a day in any major Vietnamese city and you’ll immediately notice that almost everyone around you is wearing a hospital mask.
Those not-so-fashionable, Center for Disease Control level serious, medical masks that all the docs on ER used to rock.
Vietnam hasn’t had some insane, SARS outbreak that the US government knows nothing about.
Locals are actually wearing these masks to help reduce the amount of dust, and various other pollutants, that they inhale while in the city.
Most major cities in Vietnam really do have seriously high levels of pollution.
To avoid coughing up a lung for the entirety of your trip to Vietnam, consider buying, and wearing, a hospital mask, especially if you’ll be in Vietnam for a prolonged period of time.
***FYI: You can get these masks just about ANYWHERE in Vietnam. But, if you’re really worried about it, you can always order yours here from Amazon! I use them myself and find that the cotton material is super breathable and incredibly comfortable too! And while they definitely aren’t the most fashionable item on this Vietnam packing list (unless you think Micheal Jackson was uber-chic), you can get three masks for just $9.99. A price that really couldn’t get any better.***
8. Watch Out for Pickpockets in Ho Chi Minh City!
Vietnam is probably one of the safest countries that I’ve traveled to.
And trust me:
That means a lot since I’ve been to my fair share of countries.
I’ve been here, alone, for well over two months and have never once felt unsafe.
Except in Ho Chi Minh City, where I caught a guy trying to pick my pocket.
If you plan on visiting Ho Chi Minh city, always be aware of your surroundings and keep a close eye on your belongings (This also means that you should never carry all of your credit cards and cash on you, at one time, just in case the worst should happen and someone steals your wallet).
You also shouldn’t walk around the city with your cellphone in your hand since it’s quite common for motorbike drivers to steal pedestrian’s phones as they drive past.
That being said though:
This is JUST in Ho Chi Minh city and not in the rest of Vietnam, where I ALWAYS felt 100% safe.
***Still feeling a bit anxious about traveling to Ho Chi Minh city? If so, then you can always travel with some of my favorite safety devices for solo female travelers (You can also read my extensive, Vietnam solo travel guide now!)! These include the Pacsafe Messenger Bag (It has a wire running through the shoulder strap so that no one can slash your bag), a locking electronics bag, a personal safety alarm, and a lock. But, for more information about ANY one of these products, feel free to check out my post on 24 Travel Essentials for Women.***
9. Bring Earplugs since Vietnam is really FLIPPING Noisy!
I love Vietnam.
But man oh man are the streets here noisy!
Which is more than a little problematic when you’re an incredibly light sleeper, like me.
Because, if I’m honest:
I have difficulty sleeping under the best of circumstances.
Vietnam only exacerbates my already high levels of insomnia since things here are LOUD.
No, like REALLY loud.
Most of the houses in Vietnam are small and cramped (especially in major cities), which is why many locals tend to spend the majority of their time outside.
It is not at all uncommon for locals to be publicly honking, shouting, eating, and generally living their best lives, well into the night… right on your doorstep.
Add in some paper-thin walls and no insulation (hotels included), and you’ve got basically every chronic insomniacs worst nightmare.
If you’re a light sleeper like me, then you’ll probably get woken up by anything and everything that’s happening around you.
And at not-so-awesome times, like 5:30 am.
If getting copious amounts of sleep is sometimes an issue for you, then you may want to add Melatonin (a natural supplement that helps you fall asleep) and earplugs to your Vietnam packing list, just so that you can at least try and get the rest that you deserve.
10. Don’t Travel to Vietnam Without Travel Insurance!
Oh look, travel insurance made this Vietnam packing list.
Insert my feigned shock and awe here.
In all seriousness though, this item really isn’t all that shocking since I tend to put it on basically every single packing list that I write.
And for good reason!
Because as the undisputed queen of travel-related blunders, travel insurance is ALWAYS essential for me, no matter where I go in the world.
It would not be unheard of for me to plummet down the side of a mountain and, whoops, end up in a full-body cast after a leisurely stroll through the woods (Or slice my thumb open and need four stitches right before my flight to London, which actually did happen).
I obviously NEVER leave home without travel insurance.
I guess the really important question here is, “What is the best travel insurance out there?”
In my not-so-humble opinion, I think that is without a doubt, World Nomads Travel Insurance!
Because while their policies maybe a little on the expensive side, let’s be honest, If you can’t really afford travel insurance then you probably shouldn’t be traveling (Sorry, not sorry because it is kind of true).
Their policies are a tidbit expensive for a reason!
Not only does World Nomads travel insurance cover pretty much any destination that you might want to visit (besides SUPER offbeat places like Pakistan), but they also give you an amazing level of coverage that includes almost any travel disaster imaginable, short of being impaled by a unicorn.
Their insurance is also super customizable and can even be extended or changed while you’re still traveling.
Amazing no? However, the real question is, what plan should you get?
Well, if all of your gear is worth less than $1000, get the basic plan.
If you’re a not-so-fancy travel blogger like me and your camera, laptop, tablet, and phone could EASILY cost well over a $1000, then the explorer plan is where it’s at (both offer emergency medical coverage of up to $100,000).
Do what all the cool kids are doing and get travel insurance, avoid impending doom, and be happy!
***Need more Vietnam travel tips? Then check my post about the 29 Things That No One Tells You About Traveling to Vietnam!***
11. Don’t Drink The Tap Water!
I know, this Vietnam travel tip really isn’t exactly SHOCKING.
I’m sharing it anyway because I really don’t want you to spend the majority of your trip in the bathroom..with bodily fluids coming out of both ends (#SuperIck).
Yup, been there. Done that.
And it is even more un-fun than it sounds.
This issue is a very real concern in places like Vietnam, where much of the water supply is contaminated with all manner of sea creatures (and not the cute ones, like mermaids).
Which makes sense when you realize that most of the country’s drinking water is being transported through ye olde, totally out-of-date, pipes.
Avoid drinking tap water (including to brush your teeth) at all costs and consume only bottled water/pre-boiled water instead.
And if you’re absolutely DESPERATE for some drinking water:
Then you can always head to your local convenience store and buy a HUGE AF, super-sized bottle of water (You could also just carry a filtering water bottle with you instead, and help save the environment!).
And if you do buy bottled drinking water:
Always remember to check the cap and make sure that it is properly sealed since people have been known to refill empty bottles of water with tap water.
Not that this is a common occurrence in Vietnam.
But it’s just a good safety practice in general!
***Okay, so while I love this Brita Filtering Waer Bottle, I have two HUGE problems with it. The first is the price since each one costs a whopping $35. And the second is the weight since It’s just TOO dang heavy for me to carry around while traveling the world full time. Therefore, I recently replaced my filtering water bottle with a Lifestraw Personal Water Filter and LOVE IT! I mean, not only is this water filter incredibly light and easy to use (no moving parts or batteries needed), but each Lifestraw costs just $17.47. Plus, each once can filter over 1000 liters of contaminated water (all without the use of iodine, chlorine, or various other chemicals) and removes up to 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria (Yup. that’s an exact number) and 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites. So, just put one of these inside your collapsible water bottle and prepare to be the most awesome, space-saving, eco-friendly, budget-conscious traveler EVER!***
The Ultimate Vietnam Packing List: 16 Vietnam Travel Essentials!
Oh wow! What a SUPER fun topic of conversation (insert ridiculous amounts of sarcasm here)!
Who DOESN”T want to discuss the finer points of personal hygiene while in Vietnam?
I know I do! LOL.
Especially since that’s all I talk about, all day every day!
I’m obviously kidding here since toiletries aren’t exactly the most scintillating topic of convo on planet Earth.
It’s a necessary evil when discussing what to wear in Vietnam since I really don’t wanna walk around Vietnam smelling like a giant dung heap.
Yeah, copious amounts of BO are NEVER a good look for anyone…EVER.
We definitely need to discuss toiletries, at least a little bit. Just to make sure that you don’t forget something super important things like sunscreen and bug spray, both of which are insanely important as you struggle to cope with the intense heat and humidity of Southern Vietnam.
Packing toiletries for Vietnam really isn’t all that difficult since you’ll need most of the same things that you would for any other country on planet Earth.
Must-haves like a hairbrush, hair ties, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, body wash, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, deodorant, moisturizer (bring this with you since most skin care products in Vietnam have skin whiteners in them), contact lens solution (if you wear contacts), medication, the aforementioned sunscreen and bug spray, as well as any makeup or sanitary products that you can think of.
If you do forget something monumentally important, not to worry.
Because guess what?
Vietnam is incredibly well developed and has a Vin Mart or Circle K (two popular, local, convenience store chains) on almost every corner.
You’ll have no trouble procuring just about any toiletry that you might need while traveling Vietnam.
When it comes to toiletry bags, I usually just toss all of my shizzle…, I mean incredibly valuable personal hygiene products, into a plastic bag and call it a day since I’m not really all that fancy.
But, times, they are a-changing’!
Because I recently found this modern marvel of a toiletry bag that helps me keep all of my toiletries clean, dry, and uber-well organized.
So much so that I’m actually starting to feel like a REAL, LIVE, grown-up!
See! Miracles really CAN happen!
Especially since this bag not only comes with a durable hook that you can use to hang up your bag, making it about 10,000 times easier to find something you need, but it also comes with a super sturdy zipper, a breathable mesh pouch, a strong handle, and is large enough to hold everything that I could ever need,
And added bonus?
This beyond epic toiletry bag also comes in this super snazzy turquoise color and costs just $16 per bag, which is the perfect price to pay for a bag that will only ever see the inside of my bathroom.
***Also don’t forget to add some chapstick to your Vietnam packing lust since your lips can get wicked dry in the intense heat of Vietnam.***
2. INFLATABLE NECK PILLOW
I absolutely HATE sleeping on planes.
It is literally the worst since I am unable to sleep under the best of circumstances.
It’s not at all surprising that when I’m on a long-haul flight, I just basically sit there, like a total wide-awake weirdo, glaring at everyone else around me, who is peacefully sleeping and happily counting sheep.
JK! I pinkie promise THAT I’m not Hannibal Lecter level creepy.
I just have a chronic case of insomnia that never seems to go away, especially on planes.
The one and only Vietnam travel essential that actually makes the whole ordeal even slightly bearable is my handy dandy neck pillow.
And my personal fave neck pillow?
Why, the inflatable daydreamer neck pillow!
Because whoever invented this little modern miracle is a total genius and has earned my undying love and devotion.
Not only does this pillow provide me with the neck support that I need to sleep on a plane (at least sometimes), but it’s also incredibly easy to store in my carry on.
When you’re not using it, you just deflate the pillow, roll it up, and place it inside its accompanying storage bag.
It now occupies a fraction of the space that a normal neck pillow would.
Just add this safe spacing miracle to your Vietnam packing list and enjoy stress-free, carry on travel at its finest.
This fantastic, inflatable neck pillow also has a velvety soft exterior and even comes with a built-in air pump that makes for easy inflation.
This little sleep-inducing wonder really will assist you in getting the rest that you deserve and all for the budget-friendly price of just $19.95 per pillow!
If all else fails and you really can’t get to sleep, you can always take some Melatonin (a natural, sleep-inducing vitamin) if you want to get some of the best sleep of your life.
3. LIPSTICK-SIZED PORTABLE CHARGER
Raise your hand if you love it when your cell phone dies and you get totally lost because you’re unable to access Google maps and navigate your way through a foreign city.
Yeah, I get it.
That is one of my not-so-favorite travel scenarios too.
Because like the rest of my cell phone addicted generation, I too would probably fall down a rogue canyon and get impaled by a pissy unicorn if the GPS on my phone wasn’t working at ALL times.
It is beyond essential that I keep my phone up and running at ALL TIMES (I mean, you never really know when you’re gonna find that one cat video on Youtube that just sings to your soul and that is pure, unadulterated, cuteness overload).
And if the battery on my phone should forsake me and die unexpectedly?
Then we’re talking a Chernobyl level state of emergency here people!
No need to worry because thankfully, that’s where this portable charger comes in handy!
Not only does it quickly and easily charge almost any electronic device that you can think of, but it can actually charge multiple electronic devices at the same time!
Pretty awesome. Am I right? Plus:
This charger is so tiny, that you can actually fit it neatly inside your makeup bag, leaving plenty of space for super important things like snacks.
Because we all know that I think about one thing and one thing only.
And yes, that thing is food, my one true love.
Since, well, I like to eat ALL my feelings!
4. CAMERA GEAR
I am OBSESSED with my Manfrotto Compact tripod! Not only is it lighter and easier to use than my old tripod, but it’s also durable enough to hold both my camera and its rather large lens!
Vietnam is amazing and beyond beautiful.
Unless you’re some ultra-bizarre human who doesn’t want photographic evidence of the majestic, awe-inspiring, natural beauty that is Vietnam (or unless you’re on America’s Most Wanted), then you’ll probably want to snap some tres chic Instagram shots of the BaNa Hills (In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s that giant golden bridge with the enormous hands).
Truth be told though:
I probably wouldn’t even carry a camera with me if I wasn’t a total walking, millennial cliche, AKA a digital nomad, and needed at least some semi-decent photos for my bloggy blog.
Somehow documenting every waking moment of my life just isn’t really my cup of proverbial tea.
But I swear:
I legit love blogging. I just hate taking photos of myself.
However, that’s a story for another post.
What I’m trying to say rather not so fantastically is that unless you wanna channel your inner Leonardo DaVinci and paint a not-so-swagerific fresco of your trip, you’re gonna need a camera, and all the gear that comes with it.
Unless, of course:
Your trip was the stuff that travel nightmares are made of.
In which case:
You absolutely do not need that type of negativity in your life.
When it comes to camera gear, I for one am not a huge fan of selfie sticks and feel like a total moron whenever I attempt to use one.
As an avid solo traveler with no minion, I mean Instagram husband, to take photos of me, I need to suck it up on the reg, force my eyelids open at the a$$ crack of dawn, and drag my tripod around with me as I take pictures of myself.
It is just about as un-fun as it sounds, but it is totally worth it when you finally get that wicked awesome shot that will make the entirety of your Instagram fandom swoon.
If you need a selfie stick in your life, that’s totally cool.
Because this blog is a judgment-free zone.
Just do yourself a favor and always be aware of the fact that in most major cities, a selfie stick is like a giant homing beacon for criminals since it signals to them that you are a possibly naive, slightly clueless tourist who they can easily pillage at will.
You’ll always wanna be extra aware of your surroundings when using one.
Some other photography essentials that you might want to add to your Vietnam packing list include a Sony A6300 Camera and its associated Sony SELP18105G E PZ 18-105mm F4 G OSS lens (both are easy to use and result in great, high-quality photos), spare batteries, extra memory cards, a UV filter, and a great camera bag to store all this ridiculously expensive camera gear in.
My new fave camera bag happens to be this Evecase Urban Life DSLR Shoulder Bag/Case.
Not only is it a snazzy, vintage-style camera bag, but it’s also made with water-resistant, ultra-durable material.
This bag can also accommodate a wide array of different camera brands (think Sony, Canon, Nikon, Olympus, etc.), has a nifty little cart sleeve in the back that you can use to attach your camera bag to the handle of your rolling luggage, has an additional sleeve where you can keep a 10-inch tablet, and has a super cushy, padded interior, with removable foam inserts.
And, not gonna lie:
This is probably one of my favorite things about this bag since this characteristic allows for a super customizable fit that will help protect all of your most coveted camera gear.
But the best part of all?
The price since you get all this awesomeness for just $33.99 per bag.
SCANDALOUS…but in the best possible way!
Make sure you pack some extra Ziploc bags that you can use to help keep your electronics dry, in case of an impromptu torrential downpour.
***And if you plan on spending a lot of time both in and around the water while in Vietnam, then you can always bring a dry bag with you to help keep all of your electronics safe while you’re blissfully frolicking through the waves at the beach.***
Vietnam is amazing.
It can also get hot AF, especially during the summer.
It’s beyond important to always carry a water bottle with you no matter where you go.
And while there are about 10,000 different space-saving, collapsible water bottles out there for you to choose from, this Nomader Collapsible Water Bottle is definitely my new favorite, travel-related obsession.
It’s a bit expensive at $24.95 a water bottle, but like with most things in life, you get what you pay for.
With this upscale water bottle, you get a sturdy, durable (thanks shatterproof silicone body), comfortable to drink from, easy to roll up water bottle that is also free of BPAs, as well as any other harmful chemicals that you can think of (like BPS, PVC, phthalates, lead, latex, etc.).
This nifty little water bottle is also dishwasher safe, stores both hot and cold liquids, and even has this awesome, super unique, leak-proof, sealing cap that allows you to place a totally full bottle of water in your day bag, without any of the liquid spilling all over, and possibly destroying, any or your precious electronic devices.
A nice little perk that I absolutely adore since my last collapsible water bottle basically had water perpetually leaking out of its lid, which forced me to carry it around all day since I couldn’t fit it in the outer pocket of my day bag.
And if you do decide to get this water bottle (or any water bottle for that matter):
Then be sure to add a Lifestraw Personal Water Filter to your Vietnam packing list since there are no public water fountains where you can fill your water bottle up and the local tap water is unsafe for you to drink.
6. A Nice Pair of Black Leggings
It’s no secret:
I LOVE black leggings.
And If I could, I would literally wear them all day, every day.
But can you blame me?
I mean, not only are they incredibly versatile, but they never make you feel fat and won’t leave you sweating to death as you endure the notoriously intense hit and humidity of Southern Vietnam (They also keep your legs warm in cooler parts of the country, like Hanoi, Sapa, and Halong Bay).
They’re also relatively cheap (this pair will cost you just $22.26), don’t retain odors like jeans, and will keep your knees securely covered, just in case you plan on entering a sacred place, like a temple.
Not all leggings are created EQUALLY! Which is why I ONLY buy these American Apparel Women’s Stretch Leggings!
I’ve had mine for well over a year and still think they’re the most comfortable pair of leggings that I’ve ever owned.
They still haven’t worn out on me and are totally hole free! They’re also relatively thick, so you don’t have to worry about them becoming see-through.
And added bonus?
They actually look stylish and aren’t just a glorified pair of yoga pants.
You can easily pair them with a nice top and a chic pair of boots if you want to enjoy a fancy dinner at a swank AF restaurant.
You really do deserve it, you awesome human you.
***Because I don’t want to turn this article on what to wear in Vietnam into a War and Peace size novel, I’m not gonna go into depth about what tops to wear in Vietnam. But, Vietnam isn’t quite as conservative as nearby Cambodia and Thailand. Therefore, you could totally rock some neutral tank tops (I like these because they’re good quality, come in a variety of colors, and cost just $15 for two tank tops) and some nice, short sleeve tops while in Vietnam. And if you’re looking for a nice pair of shorts to beat the heat in, then try this Roxy’s, Oceanside Beach Short for just $22 a pair!***
7. KENNETH COLE REACTION CHELSEA WOMEN’S CHEVRON QUILTED 15-INCH LAPTOP & TABLET FASHION TRAVEL BACKPACK
Guys, I have good news!
I got this day bag right before I left the United States to travel full time, have been using daily for well over 6 months, and have had no issues as of yet!
This black, Kenneth Cole, women’s travel backpack has no holes, no broken zippers, no nothing! Meaning that this bag really is durable AF.
That’s because this bag is made with a chevron-quilted, polyester twill material that also comes with a tear-resistant interior. Throw in some beyond awesome, self-repairing gold-plated coil zippers and you have a pretty perfect day bag.
It’s also pretty dang stylish and doesn’t look super utilitarian, like some other, not-so-pretty travel day bags that I’ve seen.
The exterior side pockets are also big enough to hold my water bottle, even when my bag is filled to maximum capacity and has my camera, tripod, laptop, and wallet inside.
I also love that this bag has a completely separate, padded, laptop compartment that can easily hold a 15′ laptop.
A fantastic little detail that helps make my life so much easier since I now always have a safe place safe to put my laptop (There’s also a padded tablet pocket in there too).
There are even these awesome, front, exterior pockets that give you easy access to frequently used items, like that ever-important but always elusive, tube of chapstick.
But wait, because it does indeed get better!
See, this backpack also comes with these uber-comfy, padded shoulder straps that make carrying this bag a total breeze.
If this bag does get a bit too heavy for you, you can always place the horizontal strap on the back of the bag through the handle of your rolling bag, for easy, hands-free carrying.
That being said:
The bag does have one slight drawback. And that’s the price tag, which is $60.00.
But in all honesty:
I’d rather invest a bit of money in a bag that I know will last so that I don’t have to constantly worry about my bag breaking while I’m traveling.
That is indeed exactly how I roll.
***Looking for an ultra-fab carry-on bag that won’t leave you looking and feeling like a hunchback? Then check out the Hynes Eagle 38L. It has a top handle, a side handle, and adjustable, air-mesh padded shoulder straps that make this bag super easy to carry. Which is important since it has an enormous, 38 L capacity. And if you want to, you can always convert this carry-on backpack into a duffel bag and stow it in the plane’s overhead compartment during a long haul flight. It also costs a mere $62.99, comes in a range of different colors, includes a set of three packing cubes, and has compression buckle straps that adjust to your height. But, if this bag still doesn’t sound like it would tickle your fancy, then read this article on some of the top carry-on bags for women!***
8. ELECTRONICS AND AN INTERNATIONAL ADAPTOR
Good news travel fans!
Your electronics will probably fit into any electrical outlet in Vietnam since most of the plugs here support either two flat vertical pins or two round pins (So if you live in North America, Central America, Europe, China, or Japan, then your electronics should fit into most Vietnamese outlets, no problem).
The voltage is an entirely different story. Because while most appliances in Vietnam run on 220 volts of electricity at 50 Hz, this can vary depending on the city and the region of the country that you’re in.
If you’re from the United States (like me), then It’s a good idea to always use a current converter when in Vietnam since the voltage here is different than the one used in standard, American electrical outlets. (Remember, Vietnamese appliances run on 220v of electricity while American outlets only run on 110v of electricity).
While most laptops, cellphones, and cameras should be totally fine when you plug them in since they all support multiple voltages, some electronics won’t be since they don’t support multiple voltages (think appliances like hairdryers, curling irons, and hair straighteners).
To be certain though:
Just look at the tag on the item that you want to use and see if it explicitly states that the device is dual voltage. If it does then you can use it while in Vietnam.
But wait! TIMEOUT!
What type of electronics should you actually put on your Vietnam packing list?
Well, you know, super-nifty things like your cell phone (Friendly reminder to get a local sim card so that you can use the internet while you’re abroad), a tablet with a keyboard, a lightweight laptop, an e-reader, like a Kindle, and a decent pair of headphones since this is the only socially acceptable way to ignore people who try and talk to you (I may or may not do this. LoL).
I adore a good pair of noise-canceling headphones since they drown out any ambient noise and allow me to watch my movie in peace.
But, let’s keep it totally honest.
You could rock just about any pair of headphones that you want since It all depends on your budget.
No matter what though:
Choose wisely and resist the neverending temptation to overpack!
9. A NICE PAIR OF WALKING SHOES
A nice pair of slip-on sneakers will be absolutely essential in Vietnam.
Well, like in most of Asia, feet (and shoes) are seen as the absolute dirtiest part of your body.
Removing your nasty ass shoes, before entering either a home or temple, is seen as a huge sign of respect (and personal hygiene).
You’ll definitely be putting your shoes on, and taking them off, quite A LOT while in Vietnam.
Which is why you’ll definitely want to add a nice pair of comfortable, slip-on sneakers to your Vietnam packing list.
And if you’re in the market for a pair of stylish, incredibly durable, slip-on sneakers (with excellent traction) then these Steve Madden, slip-on sneakers are where it’s at.
Not only are these shoes WAY sleeker than your average sneaker, but they’re also wonderfully comfortable (it feels like walking on a cloud), last virtually forever, and don’t leave you with that awful gift that keeps on giving…BLISTERS!
That’s because this shoe has a rounded, extra padded design that helps protect the back of your foot against blisters.
I’d still be extra careful and wear some no-show socks with these shoes since you don’t want them to start to smell extra funkilicious.
***Looking to do some trekking while in Sapa? Or are you planning an extra outdoorsy, Vietnam itinerary? If so then you’ll need a comfortable, light, durable, quick-dry pair of shoes that you can wear into the great outdoors! Well, luckily for you, I have the PERFECT pair of sneakers for you! I own these New Balance Women’s FuelCore Sneakers and absolutely LOVE them. Sure, they’re not the most stylish shoes ever, but they’re incredibly comfortable, easy to get on and off and give you enough grip so that you won’t actually slip while traversing wet rocks. You can also get them totally wet and they’ll completely dry within an hour or two. They’re also super lightweight and incredibly breathable, something that is ultra-important when doing physical activity in Vietnam’s hot and humid climate. They also cost just under $100, which isn’t painfully awful for a new pair of sneakers.***
10. BIRKENSTOCK WOMEN’S MAYARI OILED LEATHER SANDAL
I feel like I don’t really need to explain my undying love and devotion for all things Birkenstock since the brand kind of speaks for itself.
I’ve been rocking a pair of Birkenstocks every summer since ye olde 1999 and have never had a problem with them.
That being said:
The style of Birkenstock’s that I now wear is definitely way different from the ones that I used to wear in high school.
I guess that’s to be expected since I am now painfully close to being middle-aged.
The question remains, “Why do I love these sandals SOO much?”
Not only do they last forever (I always get tired of my Birks WAY before they wear out), but the Birkenstock Women’s Mayor sandals are also super comfortable.
And unlike the Birkenstocks of my youth, this pair also gives me the built-in arch support that I need as a semi-old woman.
Truly the perfect sandal for walking along the beaches of Mui Ne.
This style of sandal is infinitely more fashionable, and feminine, than the traditional Arizona style.
And like all Birks:
They are super well-made and practically mold to the shape of your foot over a prolonged period of time.
The only negative?
They do take forever and a half to break-in, are virtually impossible to clean once they get dirty, and easily get water stains.
And if you have narrow feet:
Well, then definitely order a size smaller than you normally would since these shoes for travel tend to run big.
Other than that though:
They’re basically the perfect sandal for to wear in Vietnam.
***If you feel like you need a solid pair of boots while traveling Vietnam, then try these Dream Pairs, Mid-Calf, Lace Up Boots. I’ve had them for well over a year now and really love wearing them. I mean, they’re fashionable, comfortable, easy to zip on and off, have a secret pocket where you can store some extra cash and credit cards, and cost just $36.99. So I mean really, what’s not to love?***
The first rule of traveling to Vietnam?
Always remember to pack a wicked awesome pair of sunglasses since you don’t really want the intense UV rays of this Southeast Asian country to sear your pretty little retinas.
And while I love a nice pair of sunnies:
I definitely have a cash flow problem and don’t really want to spend $100 on a pair of sunglasses that I’m probably going to lose/break in about 2.5 seconds flat.
At just $15 a pair, these sunglasses are an economical way to look and feel like a mildly, self-important, wannabe celebrity.
But not about the quality of these sunglasses since they’re durable, have a chic look about them, are incredibly lightweight, fit my face well (even though they are slightly loose), and come with a bunch of super snazzy extras like a case and a cloth to clean your glasses with.
The customer service at this company it totally, next-level amazing!
When I reached out to them about a pair of faulty glasses that I had received, they apologized profusely and immediately gave me my money back, no questions asked.
I literally had to pick my jaw up off the floor since I was utterly dumbfounded by the pure awesomeness of this company.
12. MICROFIBER TOWEL
Not gonna lie:
I don’t typically bring a microfiber towel with me on most of my trips abroad.
When you’re in Vietnam, it’s kind of sort of your duty to go to the beach.
I always make sure that I have this towel tucked away in my carryon, especially since it’s huge and is made of this amazing, microfiber material (hence the name) that practically dries instantly.
Not only can you use this towel to quickly dry yourself off, but you can also pack it up while it’s still wet.
The microfiber material dries SO quickly that you really don’t have to worry about this towel getting all nasty and moldy while sitting around in your bag (It also comes with an accompanying storage bag that makes it easy to pack up).
Just an all-around amazing, Vietnam travel essential for anyone who wants to hit up the island of Phu Quoc.
It kind of goes without saying that you’re probably gonna hit up the beach while in Vietnam.
Given the supremely awful levels of heat and humidty in the South, a trip to the beach is kind of sort of essential.
Clearly a bathing suit of some kind will need to be on your Vietnam packing list.
I’ll be the first one to admit that bathing suit shopping can be the very antithesis of awesome, especially if you love food even more than you love breathing (And yes, I’m referring to myself here).
If the experience of bikini shopping has ever left you feeling more than a little inadequate, then I am right there with you.
Because the eternal, muffin top struggle is all too real!
And if I’m being brutally honest here, no matter what I weigh, I always come away feeling utterly exposed since I feel as though everyone can see each little lump, bump, and globule of fat that is present on my body.
And that’s where this high-waisted bikini comes in handy!
It’s stylish enough to show off some skin but is also high-waisted enough to keep that muffin top of mine tucked in and looking equal parts slim and trim (now if only this bathing suit could give me six-pack abs too).
The top also has a feminine feel about that still gives my D-size girls the copious amounts of support that they desperately need.
Because as all of my fellow, top-heavy ladies know:
There is nothing worse than inadvertently flashing a group of ten-year-old boys while frolicking through the waves at the beach (Whoops.Not that that has ever happened to me or anything).
That’s really not an issue with this bathing suit since the top comes with removable, padded cups, as well an adjustable neck/ back closure, that creates a super, customizable fit that you’ll absolutely love.
And with no less than 17 different styles and colors to choose from:
You’re sure to find a bathing suit that will fit your personal style of dress.
My favorite part has to be the price since I love to spend my money on experiences, not clothes.
And the price of this bathing suit cannot be beat because you will pay just $20 for this ENTIRE bathing suit!
Pretty sweet right?
So, snag this bathing suit today and be sure to smise (America’s Next Top Model anyone?) like Tyra Banks while sipping on a luxurious, umbrella drink at one of Vietnam’s many, very sandy beaches.
14. A NEUTRAL CARDIGAN
Not gonna lie:
I have an unhealthy obsession with this cardigan since I’ve worn it almost every day since I bought it.
I can’t really help it since this ultra-soft, cardigan of wonder costs just $20, fits like a dream (I got the medium and it fits my medium-sized frame really well), and comes in almost every color imaginable.
Let’s be honest, this cardigan is about 10,000 times more stylish than that ratty old college sweater that you have.
The one with all the holes in it that you just can’t bear to part with for sentimental reasons?
Yeah, no shame because I have one too.
And did I mention:
This soft knit, crewneck cardigan is made by Floria (not that that actually means anything) and has a 70% Viscose, 30% Nylon, material that comes with functional buttons, a ribbed hem, and full-length sleeves.
And while this cardigan does shrink a bit when you put it in the dryer:
It won’t really shrink enough to change the fit or to make ordering a larger size necessary (FYI: The company recommends that you only handwash this item of clothing, A memo that I totally missed when I first bought this cardigan).
***If you plan on visiting Northern Vietnam, especially during the winter, then you’ll need something a bit warmer than a cardigan. Because yes, Sapa really can be a solid 15 to 20 degrees colder than other parts of Vietnam (FYI, that number is in Celcius so just know that it’s A LOT colder). And while you can get a really nice, totally inexpensive, imitation North Face Fleece while in Vietnam, you could also purchase one before you arrive, like this Amazon Fleece right here. Sure, it’s not a North Face but it costs just $29, looks relatively nice, and will keep you warm. And yes, I really do prefer fleece to a sweatshirt since the material has the ability to keep you warm, even when it’s wet. Something I learned the hard way, while white water rafting in Maine.***
15. RAIN JACKET
Like I mentioned earlier in this article:
Vietnam is so big, that it actually encompasses three separate climatic zones, South, Central, and Northern Vietnam.
Unless you’re infinitely cooler than me (something that is not difficult to do), you’ll probably experience a bit of the rainy season while in at least one of these areas, which is why having a high-quality raincoat is essential when traveling to Vietnam.
And trust me:
These rainy days really aren’t for the faint of heart since they can be cold and sometimes include monsoon-like rains since well, monsoons really do affect Vietnam.
Unlike umbrellas, raincoats really don’t “break” or flip inside out and become totally useless.
Raincoats don’t really help protect the contents of your backpack, which is why I always have a rainfly for my backpack too.
If you do decide to get a raincoat, then I highly recommend the Cole Haan packable raincoat!
Not only does it neatly fold up into your suitcase, but it also comes with a removable hood and a charming belt, that when sinched, gives you a chic, tailored look that makes your waist look extra tiny (And I mean really, who doesn’t want to look like they have a tiny waist?).
I also love that the fabric is durable, comfortable, 100& waterproof, and heavy enough to be worn on chillier days.
Before you run out and purchase this raincoat for yourself, do be aware of the fact that this jacket does tend to run a bit small, especially throughout the back and arms,
Try ordering a coat that is a size or two larger than you normally would.
***I feel like a total broken record here but I’m gonna say it again anyway because I think most people don’t actually understand just how cold some parts of Vietnam can get. So, if you plan on spending winter in places like Dalat, Sapa, and Hanoi, you WILL need an insulated coat of some kind. And while you can get a nice, inexpensive, imitation, North Face coat while in Vietnam, you can also pack a nice, insulated coat like this Columbia Women’s Peak to Park, Water-Resistant, Insulated Jacket, which starts at $80 a jacket and comes with a charming, faux fur-lined hood.***
16. A Light and Breezy Summer Dress!
Spend any time in the heat and humidity of Southern Vietnam and you’ll definitely want to wear an easy, breezy sundress, like this one from Styleworld!
But, why purchase this dress specifically?
Well, not only does it come in no less than FORTY different colors and styles, but it’s also light, breathable, well-made, has a flattering fit, and even comes with pockets that you can not-so-covertly hide your cellphone in,
At a cost of just $25 per dress, it’s actually way cheaper, and easier, to pack a dress than your traditional, short and t-shirt outfit combo.
And if you’re going into a temple?
Well, then just throw a cardigan over your shoulders and you’ll be good to go!
This dress is hand wash only. Which is kind of annoying but something that I can totally deal with, given how well this dress fits me.