Your travel to Southeast Asia is already planned and now you have to pack your bags? Especially Backpacker should avoid packing unnecessary things. But you also don’t want to miss anything important, huh? I feel you, girl. We were stuck in the same dilemma before our trip. But now, after seven months of traveling, we surely know what is necessary and what is not and wrote everything down to become Your ultimate Backpacker Packing List for Southeast Asia.
And in the end, we realized that a 40-liter backpack is surely enough space for 6 months of backpacking. We even brought some stuff that we actually didn’t need or use (Just in case, you know). Next time, we will definitely leave them at home! So let’s find out together what to pack on your backpacker packing list for Southeast Asia.
Later in this post, you will also find a free printable checklist to download. Just to be sure that you really don’t miss anything important. 😉
What to find out in this post
- 1 The perfect Backpack for backpacking in Southeast Asia
- 2 Daypack
- 3 Clothing Backpacking Packing List for Southeast Asia
- 4 Toiletries Backpacker Packing List for Southeast Asia
- 5 Electronics on your Backpacker Packing List for Southeast Asia
- 6 First Aid Kit on the Backpacker Packing List 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 of packing for your backpacking adventure in Southeast Asia is to find the perfect backpack. For us, the decision was not hard at all.
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 this 40-liter backpack from Quechua to be our backpack for six months in Southeast Asia. (+One month in Japan). And we haven’t been disappointed at all! 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. 🙂
Also, a Daypack is important for your Backpacking trip to Southeast Asia.
During your flight, you can already store everything there that you need to have near you during your journey. But I will give you a more detailed view into your daypack later in this post.
But first, let’s check which daypack to choose.
You will need your daypack everytime you will be on your way without your big backpack. Your backpack 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.
Clothing Backpacking Packing List for Southeast Asia
Now that we have a backpack, we get to the question What do I put in my backpack? So let’s start with the hardest topic for women What should I wear?
T-Shirts and Tops
Personally, this category was the hardest to choose from. I collected around 15 tops and just couldn’t decide which ones to take…
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 that beautiful anymore when you come back.
Take around 3 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 not completely tight and should be breathable. At least one of the shirts should be comfortable for sleeping and long bus trips.
You should bring around 3-4 tops.
The same as for the shirts applies to the tops. They shouldn’t be white, but large and breathable. One can be a little bit fancier though, in case you wanna wear it for going out.
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.
Thin full-length pants, such as Harem Pants are recommendable, as they are the perfect thing to wear in this warm weather conditions and should definitely be part of your backpacker packing list for Southeast Asia. It’s also practical if you are going to visit temples, in which you have to cover your legs (up to your knees). You can either buy a pair before you leave or get one on-site as they can be pretty cheap around Southeast Asia.
Sports Pants / Three-quarter length Pants
For our travel, I bought myself new three-quarter lenghts pants. And I totally love them. They are not only super comfortable but also dry much faster than normal pants. That is super practical when you have to either wash your clothes or get surprised by a heavy monsoon rain. (Which happened to us quite frequently)
Shorts & Skirts
In my backpack, I brought 2 pairs of shorts and a short skirt.
One of my shorts was large and out of cloth so that I could also wear it for sleeping. The other pair were jeans shorts.
Next time, I’d most probably bring two pairs of cloth pants, since they are simply more comfortable and you sweat less by wearing them than in jeans shorts when you walk a lot.
Next time, I will also let the skirt home. It was super unpractical when you are in nature as much as we were. So basically it just fits when you go out or check out downtown.
Unfortunately, my long summer dress didn’t fit into my backpack. But if you have a nice summer dress which doesn’t take up too much space, you can surely bring it. It’s useful for when you want to look good on hot days 🙂
I brought enough underwear for 7 days with me, so that we didn’t have to wash our clothes so often. Next time, I’d probably bring enough underwear for 10 days.
Especially during raining season, you sometimes have to change your clothes from top to bottom. So, it is nice when your clothes are enough for at least one week without washing in between.
Another part of my Backpacker packing list were 7 pairs of running socks. Usually, I didn’t use all of them before washing the next time, as I usually wear flip-flops (and therefore obviously no socks).
But in destinations, in which I was wearing my sneakers a lot (e.g. Angkor Wat or when hiking [in the jungle]) I was thankful for having 7 pairs of socks with me.
Moreover, I got one pair of big cozy socks with me for long bus rides or flights.
For our Southeast Asia backpacker trip, I brought two bikinis, which I realized was super practical. If one of them was still wet, I could just wear the other and therefore always had something to change.
My hooded jacket, I could attach to the outside of my backpack and could, therefore, reach it easily every time I needed 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.
Scarf / Sarong
A big and thin scarf can be super practical while traveling in Southeast Asia. You can either wear it while being on cold buses, as a blanket if you sleep in accommodation without blankets, or do Couchsurfing or as a blanket to lay on while on the beach or park. We brought two scarfs and didn’t regret each of them.
In case, you don’t have any, you can as well buy one in Southeast Asia at usually affordable prices.
A few days before our departure to our Southeast Asia adventure, I bought a Kimono. And it was one of the best purchases I did. It perfectly fits into our daypack and we can thus easily bring it everywhere. It’s just so practical, when you have to cover your shoulders before entering a temple or sight, or if you want to cover your shoulders from cold wind at night. Furthermore, it can also protect from getting burned when taking a motorcycle.
When I traveled before, I always used to bring a normal towel with me. That’s taking up so much space and usually takes ages to dry. But this was until I discovered the Microfiber Towel. It’s drying super fast and can be folded really small. Since then 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.
Before our trip to Southeast Asia, I got some new sneakers. For me, it was important to find some shoes with good (walking) quality which wouldn’t break the bank. That’s why I was extremely happy with my purchase. (Even the first words of my father, who is a physiotherapist, when I picked him up from the airport in my new shoes (after years of complaining about my poor choices of shoes) were: Finally, she has a reasonable pair of shoes!)
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.
Even though I wore my sneakers a lot, I put my Flip-Flops on even more often.I just couldn’t imagine going without them! Due to the hot weather there, it just the perfect alternative to sneakers on your Backpacker packing list for Southeast Asia.
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 tottaly useful.
If you want to go out or want to look cute when going downtown, you can bring an additional pair of sandals. But be sure to bring a pair without high heels as your feet are probably going to hurt after a short time already.
I actually didn’t bring a pair of sandals and I survived also without 😉 Even though I have to admit sometimes they would have been practical.
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.
After Sun / Lotion
Due to the sun, salt and dry AC-air, your skin is probably getting pretty dry at some point. So be sure to bring something to moisturize it. You probably know best what works for your skin.
Toothbrush & Toothpaste
I guess, I don’t need to explain much about that, right?
Make sure to also bring a hairbrush for obvious reasons 🙂
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.
Everything you can’t go without can be brought. But make sure you just bring stuff, you are actually gonna use. And keep in mind that it’s gonna be hot in Southeast Asia. Usually, you are thankful for every layer you can wear less, same for your face 😉
Sanitary Products for this special time of the month
Tampons can be found almost everywhere in Southeast Asia now. But often they can be quite expensive. So it might be a smart thing to bring as many as you need from home.
Many female travelers are only using Menstrual Cup while traveling. If you want to bring one to your trip, I recommend you to try them at home before to see whether it is the right fit for you.
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! These evil beasts are just everywhere waiting for you and are ready to attack as soon as you leave your room. So make sure to use enough Mosquito repellent.
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. When bringing your backpack as a carry-on, you should keep in mind not to bring a metal nail file as they might be taking away from you from the security staff of the airport. But if you check-in your luggage, you can even bring a whole travel manicure set.
There is nothing better as a refreshment in between or to get rid of make-up and dust at night than wet wipes.
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. 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
Probably, the most important electronic on your backpacker packing list for Southeast Asia is your camera. As most probably you will want to have beautiful memories of your trip for a long time.
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 modells, we found the Sony Alpha a6000. This one is way lighter and smaller than other modells 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 third kind of camera we carried with us in Southeast Asia is a Drone. We bought it while being on the way and didn’t regret it at any point. Because of our drone, we are able to get an amazing landscape view of Southeast Asia from above and high-quality pictures.
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
Let me guess, you wouldn’t forget that one anyway, would you? For everyone that doesn’t bring a laptop a phone is important to book flights, accommodation or just send a message home telling your loved ones that you are doing fine.
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.
I did the mistake of bringing a super cheap tablet which we got for free. You already guessed it, the quality was awful and working with this tablet was impossible. And after it deleted 2 hours of work by itself, I knew I had to buy a new one. So for my birthday, as a present from me to myself, I bought a cheap Tablet in Southeast Asia.
And I am super surprised by its quality. I am using the same brand for my phones for years now and I just love it. Even now that I am back home, I am still using my tablet every day.
For everyone that is traveling without a laptop, it is a nice substitute. You can book your Flights/accommodation, read books or even watch movies from it.
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 better to listen to relaxing music than children screaming?
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
When I was small, my mom bought a Double Headphone Plug for me and my sister, so we could listen to our cassettes on our Walkman together on long car rides. Even though I don’t own a Walkman anymore since many years, I am still using this plug. It comes in handy when you want to listen to music together during bus rides.
First Aid Kit on the Backpacker Packing List 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
- Cozy Socks
- Pullover/ Sweater
- Nose spray (for dry airplane air)
- Spare Clothes (Shirt and underwear in case your checked-in luggage gets lost)
- Labello and/or Mini Lotion
- 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!
Just awesome content. Promise.