Are you planning a Backpacking trip and now the only question is: What do I back for my Backpacking trip to Southeast Asia? On the one hand, you probably don’t want to carry unnecessary things with you but on the other hand, you don’t want to miss anything, right? Before our trip, we had the same problem. But now, after around seven months on the road, we know exactly what we should have packed and what we could have left at home. That’s why we created his ultimate backpacker packing list for Southeast Asia in order to help you packing everything you need.
And in the end, we realized that a 40-liter backpack is surely enough space for 6 months of backpacking. Little did we know that there still were some things in our backpacks that we actually never used.
At the end of this post, you can also find a free printable checklist to be sure that you got everything from his ultimate backpacker packing list for Southeast Asia with you.
Packing List for your girlfriend
In case your female travel buddy needs a comprehensive packing list as well be sure to check out my ultimate Backpacker Packing List for Southeast Asia for her here as well.
What to find out in this post
- 1 The perfect Backpack for Backpacking in Southeast Asia
- 2 Daypack
- 3 Clothes for Backpacking Southeast Asia
- 4 Toiletries Backpacker Packing List for Southeast Asia
- 5 Electronics on your Backpacker Packing List for Southeast Asia
- 6 First Aid Kit for Southeast Asia
- 7 Different things to have on your Backpacker packing list for Southeast Asia
- 8 Travel Documents
- 9 What to put in your carry-on
- 10 Download your free printable ultimate Backpacker Packing List
- 11 Let's travel!
The perfect Backpack for Backpacking in Southeast Asia
The first step to pack for your backpacking adventure in Asia is, of course, finding the perfect backpack. For us, the decision was super easy.
In our backpacking trip to Morocco and our trips to Germany, Spain, and France, we already got convinced by our 20-liter and 30-liter backpacks by Quechua. The price-performance ratio is simply amazing.
That’s why we chose a 40-liter backpack from Quechua to be our backpack for 7 months of traveling in Asia. And we are totally happy with it! After all this time traveling in buses, airplanes, boats, and trains, carrying the backpacks in monsoon rain, wind and extreme sun, they still look almost new. And the best is that those backpacks were even the most affordable high-quality backpacks we could find around.
Another plus is that we even could attach our travel guitar to it. 🙂
Another thing that you will need when going backpacking is a Daypack.
During your flight, you can already store everything in it that you will want to have near you during your journey. Later in this post, we will look into the daypack in more detail.
But first, let’s check which daypack to take.
You will need your daypack everytime you will be on your way without your big backpack. Therefore, your ideal backpacking daypack should be big enough to be filled with everything you might need during the day, such as a bottle of water, your camera, phone, a map, your raincoat, etc.
Clothes for Backpacking Southeast Asia
Now that we have chosen a backpack we gotta ask ourselves what to pack in it. Let’s start with the clothing.
T-Shirts and Tops
For Eduardo, it was much easier to choose which shirts to take than it was for me. (
Rumor has it for men such things are simply easier)
Tip: Don’t bring your favorite shirt! You will be sweating, washing your clothes a lot and they will be bleached a little by the sun. So most probably your shirt won’t be your favorite anymore when you come back.
Take around 4-5 T-shirts.
Preferably, they shouldn’t be white (Otherwise, you will probably see discolorations due to sweat quite soon). Moreover, you might wanna choose shirts that are more or less wide and breathable. One can be a little fancier in case you want to go out.
You should bring around 2-3 tops.
The same as for the shirts applies to the tops. They shouldn’t be white, but large and breathable.
You should bring at least one pair of long (full length) pants. Not only for the cold buses and airplanes but also since in some regions (in the mountains) it might be much colder. It doesn’t necessarily have to be jeans, as they can be uncomfortable and use a lot of space in your backpack.
For our trip, Eduardo got some Zip-Off Pants, which were a great choice! They are so practical because you can just wear them as shorts until you get cold or want to enter a temple. Then, you can adjust the legs in a few moments and are ready to go with full-length pants.
Eduardo had 3 pairs of shorts with him during our trip.
He chose shorts that are quick drying, which is super practical if you move often and don’t have enough time to wait for everything to dry. Moreover, if you get surprised by rain, it is nice when your pants are drying fast and you are not obligated to walk around all day with wet pants.
Be sure to bring enough underwear for around 7 days. This way, you don’t have to wash your laundry so often.
Another part of his ultimate Backpacker packing list for Southeast Asia should be around 7-10 pairs of running socks. On days that you can walk around with sandals or flip-flops, maybe you won’t use them all.
(Please, don’t be that guy that is wearing sandals and socks!)
But in destinations, in which you wear your sneakers a lot (e.g. Angkor Wat or when hiking [in the jungle]) you will be thankful for having 7 pairs of socks or more, so you can change them if necessary.
For your Southeast Asia backpacker trip, it might be a good idea to bring two pairs of swimming shorts. So, you can wear a dry one if the other one is wet.
You can attach it to the outside of your backpack and can, therefore, reach it easily every time you’ll need it. This way, you can also save a lot of space inside of your backpack.
Especially, if you are traveling during the rainy season, you definitely need to bring a raincoat or Rain Jacket. We needed it so often. But even in high season, you can experience heavy rains. Even better when you can fold your rain jacket together really small so it fits into every backpack.
Traveling with towels can get so annoying because they use so much space and take so much time to dry. The solution: A Microfiber Towel. It’s drying super fast and can be folded really small. I only travel with microfiber towels.
Trust me on this one, you will be super thankful if your worn socks don’t mix with your (still) fresh clothes in your backpack. So it’s nice to bring a laundry bag for your dirty laundry.
When backpacking it is important that you have a pair of shoes that is comfortable and allows you to walk long distances in it.
Important: Get used to your new shoes before leaving! To our backpacking trip to Morocco, I went with new shoes and already the first night, after exploring the Medina of Fez all day, my feet were full of blisters.
Flip-Flops or sandals
Even though Eduardo was wearing his sneakers a lot, he put on his Flip-Flops and Sandals even more. Due to the hot weather there, it just the perfect alternative to sneakers on your Backpacker packing list for Southeast Asia for him.
Especially, if you are at the beach or visiting temples, in which you have to put off your shoes and socks (e.g. in Myanmar) they are totally useful.
Toiletries Backpacker Packing List for Southeast Asia
If you want to bring your backpack as a carry-on, keep in mind that you can only bring 1-liter liquids in total, from which each should not have more than 1000 ml. So, make sure to either buy travel-sized products or decant your favorite products into Travel sized bottles.
Shampoo & Shower Gel
If you want to check-in your backpack, you can bring a whole bottle of your favorite shampoo. If you bring it as a carry-on, be sure to bring your shampoo and shower gel in Travel sized bottles.
However, in Southeast Asia, you can also buy shampoo and shower gel at affordable prices.
Sunscreen is usually pretty expensive around Southeast Asia. So better bring 2-3 bottles if possible.
Depending on your skin, you should bring at least one (small) bottle of sunscreen with SPF 50. The sun intensity in Southeast Asia is not comparable with the one in most Western Destinations.
It’s likely that you might have a sunburn at one point or another. So better be prepared! 😉
Toothbrush & Toothpaste
I guess, I don’t need to explain much about that, right?
It’s gonna be hot in Southeast Asia. Do yourself and the people around you the favor to bring your deodorant 🙂 One should be enough as you can buy more at reasonable prices in Southeast Asia.
Contact lenses & Contact lens fluid
If you depend on contact lenses, you should definitely bring them with you. For the airplane, there are even contact lens fluid options in travel size.
Super important when you are traveling in Southeast Asia is a good Mosquito Repellent! There is just no other way to get rid of these evil beasts!
You can get double protection with a good Mosquito Repellent Bracelet, which helped us a lot in Myanmar.
Another thing which shouldn’t be missing on your Backpacker packing list for Southeast Asia are Nail clippers.
Shaver or Disposable Shavers
If you aren’t planning to return with a full beard better bring some shaving equipment.
Hand-Sanitizer is always a practical must-have when traveling in Southeast Asia. I’m usually not this kind of person sanitizing my hand after touching every little thing and even less is Eduardo. But there truly are situations on the road where I just can’t go without, e.g. after using a dirty restroom without water or soap.
Tissues / Toilette paper
Talking about dirty restrooms in Southeast Asia: On many public toilets, you will most likely not find (free) toilet paper. That’s why you should always bring some or at least tissues. You can either bring it from home or buy it in Southeast Asia.
Electronics on your Backpacker Packing List for Southeast Asia
After coming home, you will most likely want to share all your beautiful travel memories with your friends and family. That’s why it is important to have a camera which is able to take beautiful pictures.
It can be difficult to decide which camera to bring, as there are so many different models differing in size, price, and quality.
After we tried different models, we found the Sony Alpha a6000. This one is way lighter and smaller than other models but you wouldn’t realize when it comes to the quality of the pictures.
Go Pro or Action camera
If you plan to go snorkeling or diving, you should bring a waterproof camera with you can take pictures of your breathtaking adventures underwater as well.
The other kind of camera we carried with us was a Drone. We just love it because it enables us to get a totally new view of the landscapes and to take high-quality pictures and videos.
If you want to learn more about which drone we chose and why or just about traveling with drones in general, be sure to check out my post on this topic here.
Phone and Charger
I guess everyone has their favorite when it comes to phones. I am in love with my Huawei and can simply recommend it to everyone.
Since we both were working while being abroad, we had to bring a Laptop. But even for everyone that isn’t working from abroad, it still can be super useful for directly uploading your pictures, or for relaxed nights in your room with Netflix and chill.
The best laptops for traveling are the ones that weigh less but are still robust.
Another thing I wouldn’t wanna miss on my trips is my Tablet.
And I am super happy with its quality. I am using the same brand for my phones for years now and I cannot complain.
Southeast Asia Travel Adapter
If you want to charge your phone or laptop, you name it, you usually have to use a Travel Adapter as every country has different outlets. Better buy one which is usable all around the world rather than one for each outlet. Another practical thing is to buy one with USB-outlets as you can charge different things at a time.
I am this lucky person that whenever I take an airplane, I sit next to or at least near a screaming kid. That’s why I always bring a pair of Headphones with me. Isn’t it so much better to listen to your favorite song rather than to creaming children or talkative neighbors?
I know, I know, nowadays, people are listening to music from their phones. But if you don’t have enough memory on your phone for all of your favorite music and don’t have a Spotify-subscription either, you can still use an MP3 Player. This way, you can also spare some battery on your phone 😉
But even if you don’t use your phone to listen to music it can still happen that you run out of battery. That’s why we always had our Power Bank with us to charge our phone, MP3-Player, Tablet or even or camera.
Double-Plug for headphones
Another practical thing when traveling (as a couple) is a Double Headphone Plug. This way, you can share your music with each other during long bus rides.
First Aid Kit for Southeast Asia
Regarding this topic, be sure to talk to a doctor or pharmacist before your departure. (Same goes for the vaccines)
In general, you should bring something against a headache, something for your stomach/ diarrhea, band-aids, something for itching bugs- and mosquito bites and things along those lines.
Different things to have on your Backpacker packing list for Southeast Asia
There are some other things that should be included into your Backpacker Packing List for Southeast Asia.
Obviously, if you are traveling into a region with that much and strong sun, you should be bringing your sunglasses. I got one fitting my eyesight, so I can avoid wearing my contact lenses as often as possible.
Another thing that you should definitely write down on your packing list is a Combination Lock. You can use it for lockers or your backpack. And the benefit of a combination lock is that you can’t lose or get stolen the key for it 😉
In the beginning, I felt like it was unnecessary when my partner presented me the Travel Cutlery he has bought for our trip. Little did I know that in the end, it was super useful. We bought a lot of fruits and couldn’t have cut them without our travel cutlery.
Empty Water Bottle or Lifestraw
Another practical thing is to bring an empty water bottle. So after check-in, you can simply refill it without having to buy the expensive water at the airport.
If you have a LifeStraw it even allows you to drink tap water in Southeast Asia by filtering the water and making it drinkable. This can also save you a lot of money as you can filter up to 1000 Liters of water with one lifestraw.
Inflatable Neck Pillow
I love traveling with a neck pillow as it helps me a lot to sleep in airplanes or on bus/ car rides. But I hate the big amount of space, they are usually taking. The solution? An Inflatable Neck pillow. Since I have mine, I am not traveling without anymore!
It is such a small item and seems so unimportant. But already when filling out the Arrival Cards in the airplane it will come in handy. And you might use it all the time to make notes, write postcards etc.
A notebook is practical, as you can write everything that comes to your mind or is important during your trip. This way, nothing can get lost anymore.
Yes, you read correctly. We brought souvenirs from our own city /country. Especially if you are traveling with Couchsurfing or hitchhiking it is always a nice gesture to leave your host/driver/helper a little souvenir which will remind him of you.
We brought some Barcelona magnets for instance.
Travelers can’t agree on whether to bring or not to bring an umbrella on your trip. We actually didn’t bring one, but had to buy one in Indonesia, when finding ourselves in the middle of a strong monsoon shower with 3km left to walk to our accommodation.
In the end, it is up to you whether you want to bring an umbrella or not.
Passport + Copy
Before your trip, make sure to make some copies of all your important documents and store it in another place than the original documents. In case you lose or get stolen any of them at least you have something left.
Print your travel insurance confirmation before your trip and be sure to always carry it with you. As you never know when you might need it.
Vaccination Card or Copy
(International) Driver License
You will need this driver license in case you want to rent a motorcycle, motorbike or car in Southeast Asia. Usually, you will need an international driver license to drive there.
What to put in your carry-on
As already mentioned above, you can bring your daypack as a carry-on with everything that you want to have near during your journey.
- Toothbrush & Toothpaste
- Phone/ Tablet
- Empty Waterbottle (To fill up after Check-In)
- Travel documents
- Nose spray (for dry airplane air)
- Spare Clothes (Shirt and underwear in case your checked-in luggage gets lost)
- Sleeping mask
- Book/ E-Reader /Magazin
Download your free printable ultimate Backpacker Packing List
So, that was a lot, right? Here you can download the free printable to check whether everything is there manually. Have a safe trip!
Is everything included that you need? Or maybe, you have one special tip for me? Let me know in the comments below!
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