Venturing into a new country means not always having the same comforts and conveniences you’re used to. Unfortunately, bringing all those home comforts with you to Vietnam may prove too costly or impractical.
This article will tell you everything you need to know about what to pack for Vietnam to ensure you are comfortable and safe on your journey.
Vietnam Travel Tips
Deciding what you’ll need during your trip depends on where in Vietnam you’re going, what time of year you’re traveling, and what you’re planning to do while you’re there.
Best Time to Travel
You’ll most certainly want to take advantage of some of the country’s outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, a riverboat cruise, parks, and beaches. Vietnam has two distinct monsoon seasons (April-September in the south and May-October in the north), but don’t let this deter you from traveling during these times. Some travelers prefer the rainy seasons because it’s less crowded and the rain is usually short-lasting each day.
You should also make sure you’re up-to-date on your vaccines before you travel to Vietnam. Talk to your doctor to see if there are any boosters you should receive, as well as optional vaccines that will keep you healthy. You may want to inquire about a vaccine or treatment to prevent traveler’s diarrhea, which can be caused by eating unusual food or poorly prepared foods and drinks.
Most people in Vietnam do not speak English, so it’s wise to enlist the help of a tour guide or stick to touristy areas.
The dong is the official Vietnamese currency. $1 US roughly equals 20,000 dongs. For the most part, you will need to pay for items with dongs, but some larger centers may accept credit cards or US dollars. You’re likely to find many ATMs in tourist centers that can provide you with the right cash.
What to Pack for Vietnam
Once you’ve set your itinerary, it’s time to start packing. Everyone’s suitcase will vary, but the following items should be non-negotiable:
Clothing for Winter in Vietnam
Winters in northern Vietnam, including Hanoi, are usually dry from November through April. The weather is mostly cool, with temperatures ranging from 17-22°C (62-71°F). Southern winters in Vietnam, including Ho Chi Min City, are usually warm and dry, with temperatures averaging 25-35°C (77-95°F) year-round.
- Cotton Shirts – Cotton is breathable, making it an ideal choice for the Vietnam climate. It’s also easy to iron after being stuffed inside your suitcase, plus it’s usually durable enough to withstand whatever activity you’re doing.
- Shorts – Two or three pairs of shorts will help keep you cool, plus they take up less space in your suitcase. Just make sure they’re modest.
- Dresses – Women will appreciate a light dress or two to keep them cool while shopping or doing other leisurely activities.
- Long Skirt – Women who want to enter religious pagodas will need to have below-the-knee attire, such as a long skirt.
- Long Pants – Having a pair of long pants can keep you drier on a rainy day, plus it helps keep the bugs off your legs.
- Moisture-Wicking Shirt – If you plan to spend time outdoors, a moisture-wicking shirt is a must. These are especially helpful during rainy seasons, when you’ll want to feel dry again as soon as possible.
- Lightweight Rain Jacket – Even though it’s technically dry season, you’ll want a light rain jacket to prepare for whatever type of weather you encounter. Rain does still happen, though rarely.
- Hat – Opt for a lightweight hat to keep the sun off your face.
- Underwear – Sports bras and a thin base layer will make hiking and other outdoor activities more comfortable and enjoyable.
- Sunglasses – You might want to bring two pairs, just in case.
Clothing for Summer in Vietnam
Summer signals rainy season for north Vietnam, with the wettest months spanning July, August, and September. South Vietnam also experiences its wet season, with the most rain falling in June, July, and August. However, the rain is usually fleeting, offering a brief but heavy downpour in mid-afternoon.
The above list for winter clothing remains almost the same for the summer, but with a few additions:
- Poncho – If you’re using motorbike transportation, opt for a full body poncho.
- Extra Socks
- Extra Towel
- Waterproof Shoes – No one likes traveling in soggy shoes with soaked socks. Make sure whatever shoes you bring will provide comfort all day.
- Hiking Boots – Outdoor adventures like hiking and biking require good shoes. While hiking boots aren’t exactly a necessity, they can make your time outside safer and more enjoyable.
- Flip Flops – Open-toed shoes like sandals are perfect for shopping, dining, or a day at the water.
- Lightweight Socks – You’ll be doing plenty of walking, so make sure you choose socks that won’t slow you down.
- Hiking Socks – You should bring at least one pair of hiking socks, which should be thicker than normal socks to provide extra cushion and protection.
Health and Safety
- Hand Sanitizer – Foreign germs can make you sick simply because they’re foreign to you. There’s nothing more miserable than trying to enjoy a vacation while you’re sick.
- Bug Repellent – Mosquitos are a nuisance here, so don’t forget to slather yourself in bug spray every time you venture outside.
- Cortisone Cream or Anti-Itch Medicine – In the event you forget to coat yourself with bug spray, make sure you have some anti-itch cream to combat any stray bug bites.
- Disposable Toothbrush – Leave the electronic toothbrush at home and opt for one you can dispose of when you’re done traveling, especially if you have to use the local water.
- General Toiletries – Not all hotels or hostels will provide things like shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, and deodorant. It’s helpful to buy refillable bottles than to bring full-sized toiletries with you.
- Small First Aid Kit – You can buy a pre-made first aid kit complete with band-aids, antibiotic ointment, gauze, and other essentials. Or, make your own before you leave.
- Sunscreen – Even on cloudy days, you’ll want to protect yourself against U.V. rays. This is something you’ll be glad not to buy when you get there, as it can get expensive.
- Chapstick – Being outside can dry out your lips quickly.
- Tissues – Tourists have noted that there’s never a guarantee that restrooms will have toilet paper. Keep some tissues with you always.
- Anti-Diarrhea Medicine – Traveler’s diarrhea happens. Whether it’s from introducing a new food to your body or drinking the local water, be prepared to stop it fast. Sleep Aids – Jet lag and the sheer fact you’re in a new place can mess with your sleep rhythms. Consider bringing along some melatonin supplements to help you catch your zzz’s.
- Hair Care Products – Given Vietnam’s humidity, there’s no telling how your hair will behave. Make sure you bring things like hair ties, hair spray, bobby pins, and other essentials to tame your mane.
- Travel Insurance – This is a huge must if you’re traveling in Vietnam. Aside from things like changing travel plans, your traveler’s insurance can help you get medical care in the event of an emergency.
Miscellaneous Travel Items
- Travel Pillow – If you’re venturing out of your main city, be prepared to spend some time on the road. Transportation is usually slow-going, and a travel pillow can help ease the ride a little.
- Backpack – Opt for a comfortable backpack that’s easy to carry and big enough to hold all the gear you’ll need on the go. Bonus tip – bring a small padlock or two to secure your valuables.
- Ear Plugs – If you’re using public transportation or staying in a hostel, ear plugs can give you that little bit of peace and quiet you’ll be craving.
- Towel – A quick-dry towel can be a lifesaver if it rains. Also, not all lodging will have towels available.
- Electronics Adapter – The power outlets in Vietnam aren’t the same as back home, so you’ll need an adapter if you’re bringing any electronic devices.
- Pre-Charged Power Banks – These are travel game-changers, ensuring you have a charged phone, tablet, iPod, or other devices at all times – no outlet required!
- Water Bottle – Ideally, you’ll bring one that has built-in filtration for the cleanest drinking water possible.
- Packing Cubes – These storage buddies can help you keep your stuff organized, separate your dirty clothes from fresh ones, and help you fit more in your suitcase.
- Flashlight – Opt for a small one that can attach to your backpack.
- Zip-Closure Bags – These come in handy for a multitude of reasons. You’ll be glad to have some with you.
- Umbrella – If you’re traveling in the summer, a small umbrella could be the only thing standing in between you and an unexpected downpour.
There’s no shortage of things to see and do in Vietnam, and you’re almost guaranteed to run out of time before you can visit them all.
Don’t start packing yet, though. You’ll first need to secure a travel visa that will let you experience all that Vietnam has to offer. We can help you save time at the airport by helping you complete the necessary paperwork online. It’s fast, easy, and can help you start enjoying your vacation from the moment your plane touches the ground.