I recently visited Vietnam for 10 days, where my itinerary included Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Hoi An and Da Nang. There are a few items you should consider packing for your trip to Vietnam, and here are my top 10 recommendations for your packing list…
Oh how I regret not packing my sleeping bag liner for Vietnam! Although bedding in our accommodation was extremely clean and I didn’t suffer any bed bug bites, the sheets on our 14 hour sleeper train from Hanoi to Da Nang were a different story.
I managed to use a t-shirt to create a make-shift pillow case but avoiding the suspect stains on the bedding wasn’t quite as straight forward. To avoid this unpleasant scenario, make sure you pack a sleeping bag liner with a pillow sleeve. These are also great to have to hand for stays in hostels, just in case you don’t fancy sleeping on their sheets or are concerned about bed bugs.
Another rookie mistake I made was not packing any dry bags or a waterproof cover for my phone. Although we weren’t spending masses of time at the beach, we did spend a few days in Ha Long Bay, which entailed day trips on boats, kayaking, visiting caves and some beach time at Ti-Top Island. I ended up keeping my phone in my daypack while we were kayaking, but wish I’d brought a waterproof phone cover with a lanyard attachment. If I’d had one of these I could’ve taken some pictures while we were kayaking (I missed some great photo opportunities!) and not had to worry about my phone falling overboard or getting damaged!
Vietnamese plug sockets generally accept type C (2 round pins) and type A (2 flat pins) plugs, so make sure you have one of these adapters with you. I used a type C plug throughout my trip with no problems.
Dengue Fever is present throughout Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, so protecting yourself against mosquitoes is essential. I used Trek Ultra repellent, which contains 30% deet with a micro-encapsulated formula for long-lasting protection. If you’re travelling to rural areas with a high risk of Malaria, I would recommend Lifesystems Expedition 50 (or if you’re really concerned about getting bitten, you can opt for Expedition 100+). If you are planning on visiting malarial areas, you may also want to consider anti-malarial medication and should discuss this with a travel clinic before your trip.
While I only got to sample a small part of Vietnam during my trip, this compact Vietnam guide was a handy planning tool and even includes a pull out map to help you find your way around. It also includes information on each region of Vietnam, food and drink, etiquette and useful Vietnamese phrases to help you get by. Unlike many travel guides, this one isn’t too bulky, so you can easily carry it around in your bag during the day.
An essential for any destination, a travel towel is a must for travelling in Vietnam. Choose a body sized option, or larger if you want it to double as a beach towel and one with anti-bacterial protection to keep it fresher in between washes. You may also find that the smoother textured towels are best for the beach, as sand doesn’t stick to them the same way it does with the soft touch microfibre options.
Vietnam has a tropical climate, so you can expect high temperatures and plenty of sun throughout the year. This of course means you’ll need to use sun protection during your trip, and make sure it has a high SPF, as well as UVA and UVB protection. If you’re using a deet based insect repellent, this will reduce the effectiveness of your sun protection, so you may want to go for a higher SPF than normal.
I travelled to Vietnam during the shoulder season, so it did rain on occasion. I’ll admit I only actually used my pack away jacket once on a rainy trip to the Marble Mountains, but it’s always worth having one, especially if you’re visiting during the rainy season. You’ll often see the locals wearing rain ponchos during downpours, so if you don’t want to pack a jacket, this is another option you might want to consider.
Again, an essential item I’d recommend for any destination. I packed a roll up travel wash bag with a hanging hook, which made it easy to hang up in the bathroom and access my wash accessories when I needed them. You can also use your wash bag to store other items and keep them organised during your trip.
I honestly don’t know how I coped before I was introduced to packing cubes. I had a 42 litre backpack and managed to fit a set of three different sized packing cubes inside, using one for underwear, one for shorts and one for t-shirts and dresses. Packing cubes make it easier to pack your bag and maximise your packing space, as they keep everything neatly rolled, contained and easier to find. Living out of a backpack for weeks is certainly less stressful when you use packing cubes!