What to Pack for Your Vietnam Trip
Chances are you’re traveling a considerable distance to visit Vietnam and are planning to stay for at least a week in this beautiful country. While Vietnam is a tropical country, it’s over 4,500 km long with beaches, mountains, and lowlands, which means temperatures and climate can vary greatly from city to city. There’s also dry and rainy seasons to account for.
While you can usually buy whatever you might have forgotten to bring, a little bit of planning and research in what to pack for Vietnam can go a long way in saving money and ensuring you’ll have access to your favorite things from home.
What to Pack
- Travel insurance: While basic medical care is relatively cheap at public hospitals in Vietnam, the standard of care as well as the quality of facilities will likely fall short compared to more advanced countries. Having your own travel insurance ensures that you’ll be able to go to international-standard private care facilities without having to worry about the additional cost. Also, should a serious condition arise, travel insurance often includes the option of flying you out to a better-equipped third country.
- Medicine: Pharmacies are everywhere in Vietnam, but having to look for one in the middle of the night in a strange town is the worst, and even if you find one, brand names will likely not be the same as the ones you’re familiar with. You’ll want to bring the necessities with you, including any prescription medication and some old standbys including anti-diarrheal, antacid, pain relief, cold/flu and allergy medication.
- Beating the Heat: There’s a reason why you rarely see Vietnamese people walking around during the day. It’s a hot country, often with high humidity! When they are out and about, you’ll often see Vietnamese motorcyclists in windbreakers as protection against the sun, and women with long cotton gloves and wrap skirts. While you don’t need to go that far, protecting yourself against the elements is wise. So remember to pack sunglasses (which double as protection against dust), sunscreen, and a hat. Where there’s heat and humidity, chances are good that there’ll also be mosquitoes, especially in less urbanized areas. While even the most basic of guesthouses will have mosquito nets for the beds, you’ll do well to bring insect repellent for when you go out (they have a knack for finding exposed skin, including ankles under the table). While malaria is uncommon (limited mostly to the very rural areas), dengue fever remains a concern, even in the cities.
- Beating the Rain: Unless you’re unlucky enough to encounter a monsoon, the rain in Vietnam usually comes in heavy but quick bursts. Inexpensive, single-use plastic ponchos are widely available from corner shops, supermarkets, and roadside stands, but it might be best to pack your favorite rain jacket. Flip flops, sandals, or other waterproof shoes also come in handy when walking in the rain.
- Cold Weather and Specialized Gear: It may seem counterintuitive to bring cold weather gear to Vietnam, but temperatures in Northern Vietnam (Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay, etc.) can dip down to near freezing, especially in the mountains of Sapa where snow and frost are possible. Even if it’s not freezing, low temperatures along with drizzling rain will make you wish you had packed something more substantial. Any activity on the water, including a cruise in Halong Bay during winter, might require warmer clothing. So check the historical temperatures for when and where you’re visiting and consider adding a thin but warm jacket and possibly even a hat that covers your ears to your list of things to bring. If you plan on doing any trekking or hiking, a good pair of sturdy shoes will come in handy. Nothing like flimsy flip flops or sandals on a muddy track to make you long for a decent pair of hiking boots!
- Everyday Carry: While out and about, it’s good to have a little kit with the essentials, including hand sanitizer for those times when there’s no sink handy; wet wipes for wiping down tray tables on the plane, after eating in a restaurant, and wiping the dirt and dust off your face after riding on a motorbike; tissues which can double as toilet paper in a pinch (or if you find yourself at a squat toilet with a hose, local style!); and a water bottle. While single-use plastic water bottles are sold everywhere, do yourself and the environment a favor and bring your own. A few major cities in Vietnam participate in the Refill My Bottle app or you can top up before leaving your hotel. Having your own water comes in handy even at very local restaurants where tea is available, but from communal cups.
- Backpacks vs. daypacks: Large backpacks are great for lighter travel, especially if you’re getting on and off buses and planes. But bring along a smaller daypack which will come in handy on excursions while leaving the bulk of your belongings back at the hotel. Foldable totes are also great to carry essentials whenever you need to stow your backpack away.
- Power adapter: Vietnam uses 220v electricity and round two-prong plugs. Ensure your electronics are travel-friendly and that you’ve brought the correct power adapter. Your travel companion will also thank you for packing a multi-socket plug and USB charger.
While you’ll have to decide what to pack for yourself, let Victoria Voyages look after the rest with our all-inclusive packages throughout Vietnam designed for every type of traveler including the foodie, the adventurer, and the culture-seeker! Our trips range from as little as 3 nights all the way to 13 nights with lots of options to see more.