Vietnam is one of the world’s most popular destinations, and for good reason – between the capital Hanoi in the north and sprawling metropolis Ho Chi Minh City in the south lies a wealth of culture and natural wonders, all hugging a coastline thousands of miles long. With the right essentials in your luggage, you’ll be ready to explore bustling cities, trek through lush mountains and relax on pristine beaches. Let’s break down what to pack for Vietnam to ensure you have everything you need to make the most of your incredible trip.

Safety First

Before considering what to pack for Vietnam, you’ll want to prepare a few essentials. Using your phone, take photos of your passport, and all your credit and debit cards – front and back. That way you have the details and the emergency numbers to call if they go missing. You’ll want to have a little of the local currency to hand, and some US Dollars too. The official currency is the Vietnamese Dong, but US Dollars are widely accepted. And try not to leave the country with Dong in your wallet as you can’t exchange it once outside Vietnam. 

Packing for the Seasons

Now you’re covered for emergencies, the next thing to do when deciding what to pack for Vietnam is to figure out which season you’re travelling in. During summer (from May to October) it’s hot and humid, so you’ll want to pack light fabrics and moisture-wicking leisure wear. In winter (between November and April), temperatures can range from 17-30°C, so it's best to pack some light layers. Most of the country is experiencing it's driest weather at this time too, but your specialist will be able to advise if and where a raincoat may be needed in your trip! Regardless of the time of year, one of our top tips is to use travel cubes to organise your items so you don’t have to empty your entire case to find to what you want.

Clothing for the Climate and Culture

Vietnam’s climate also varies from north to south, so it’s crucial to pack clothing suitable for the different regions. In the north, where Hanoi and Sapa are located, the weather can be cooler. Pack lightweight layers, including long-sleeved shirts, sweatshirts and a light jacket. In central regions, such as Hue and Hoi An, the weather is generally warm and humid, so opt for breathable fabrics like cotton and linen. In the south, home to Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta, the weather is hot and humid year-round, so pack lightweight, loose-fitting clothing to stay cool. Wherever you are in Vietnam, one of the most popular things to do is to go temple-hopping. For this, your knees and shoulders must be covered - a t-shirt and long skirt or trousers work well for sacred sites.

Swimwear and Cover Ups

You’ll want to pack swimwear to make the most of Vietnam’s stunning beaches, such as Nha Trang and Phu Quoc. It’s worth taking a couple of options if you’re likely to be using them daily. As Vietnamese culture is quite conservative, it’s best not to wander around in just your swimsuit when leaving the beach. A sarong is a great addition for both men and women – not only to cover up but also to use as a makeshift beach towel, pillow and more.

Comfortable Footwear

Vietnam invites exploration, and so comfortable footwear is a must. Pack a pair of walking shoes or trainers for sightseeing and excursions. Flip-flops or sandals are ideal for beach days and for exploring temples, where you’ll need to remove your shoes. If you’re planning on visiting rural areas or trekking in Sapa, consider packing a pair of hiking boots for added support and grip. Just remember to break them in before your trip to avoid blisters and discomfort!

Repellents and Remedies

Strong insect repellent is essential, no matter the season or the region. Spray yourself liberally every day and wear long trousers or skirts where possible, keeping your ankles covered too. And in addition to bringing your own personal medicines and treatments, it can be a good idea to pack a small first-aid kit, just to be safe, particularly if you are heading more off the beaten track. It should contain necessities like disinfectant, bandages and electrolyte tablets; it’s easy to end up dehydrated, especially if you’re out sightseeing in the middle of the day.

Heat and Sun Protection

On that note, bottled water is a must in Vietnam, as the tap water is not safe to drink. Plastic pollution is a serious problem, so avoid single-use plastics whenever you can. It’s worth bringing a reusable water bottle that you can use day-to-day and fill up from larger filtered water dispensers. Even when brushing your teeth, use bottled water.

Another suitcase-essential is sun cream. The sun beats down relentlessly in Vietnam, so go for a high-factor (we usually recommend SPF50) and re-apply regularly. Pop a hat and good quality sunglasses in your luggage too.

Gadgets and Gizmos

If you plan on taking lots of photos (and who doesn’t?) you’ll need a good camera, and remember to back up frequently so you don’t lose any of those incredible shots. A Kindle is great for long journeys as it’s light and you can add to your library wherever you’ve got Wi-Fi. And don’t forget your chargers and a universal power adapter - look for one with built in surge protection to avoid frying your devices.

Now you know what to pack for Vietnam, all that’s left to do is enjoy your bucket list trip! Should you need help ensuring it lives up to all your expectations, our team are on hand to put the finishing touches to your epic adventure.

Contact one of our Vietnam specialists