The Efficient Female Carry On Packing List for Vietnam

Vietnam / Tuesday, February 13th, 2018
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As Vietnam is such a long country, you will most likely need take internal flights in order to see as much as you can in a short amount of time. Why waste money on extra baggage when you can fit everything you need in your carry-on backpack? If you’re thinking “I’m female, I need more space than that!” then think again! Keep reading for the efficient guide on what to take to Vietnam for a 3 week trip. Side note: I went in June/July.

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My rule when packing for any overseas trip is to be able to match any top with any bottom. Stick to the colours that suit you best and tone well with each other then you’re all set!

5x T-shirts

100% cotton t-shirts in 5 different colours. Opt for 100% cotton and no synthetic fibres (such as polyester) to stay cool in this hot and humid climate. Vietnam isn’t too strict on covering certain attributes but it’s best to be respectful and avoid showing large amounts of cleavage. Bare shoulders are acceptable.

1x Long sleeve shirt

A light blue cotton chambray shirt is my favourite throw-over for cooler nights and sun protection.

2x Skirts or dresses

A lightweight skirt or dress that doesn’t require ironing. Can be above the knees but not as short as a mini skirt.

Loose pants and leggings

One pairs of loose rayon pants and one pair of black leggings.

1x pair of shorts

Above the thigh is suitable but longer would be more respectful. A loose fit is the best option for comfort but make sure to avoid denim as it’s hot, heavy and bulky!

10+ pairs of underwear

10 seems to be the magic number when it comes to underwear. They don’t take up too much space but there are enough pairs to only have to do your washing sparingly.

2x Bras

Whichever colours go well under the shirts and dresses you’re bringing.

2x Socks

You’ll probably wear flip flops or sandals most days but bring a couple of good pairs for all those hikes you’ll be doing!


A singlet and cotton shorts pack down nice and small.

Jumper and waterproof jacket

A lightweight rain jacket is great for those unexpected warm downpours. The hills (e.g. Sapa) can become quite cool even during the daytime and a jumper is recommended.

Tip: Wear both of these on the plane to lighten your pack.  If you’re traveling from a warm climate, just wear them when you’re checking in your bags.


Hat (wide brimmed) – The Vietnamese sun is hot and harsh!


Sneakers/hiking boots – ones you can walk all day in and that breathe. (Wear on the plane)

Flip flops

Sandals – A reliable but nice, comfortable leather pair that you don’t mind getting a little dirty.


Toiletry bag – lightweight mesh ones work great. Handle is bonus.

Toothbrush with cover

Travel toothpaste

Lip balm with SPF

Deodorant – roll on

Facewash – under 100mL

Sunscreen – under 100mL

Cotton ear buds – only as many as you will use in 3 weeks

Tissues – just one little packet

Hair brush (small fold up comb)

Hair oil (or whatever you use to combat humidity!) – under 100mL


Contact wearers: Saline, eye drops, contacts and spares, glasses, glasses case

Pads, tampons or diva cup (if needed, or you can buy there)

Shampoo/Conditioner – under 100mL (can easily buy there if your pack is getting heavy)

Hair ties/bobby pins

Medicines – visit your doctor before you go to get necessary vaccinations

Other health: antihistamines, dehydration tablets, insect bite cream, paracetamol, ibuprofen, birth control, period pain medication, gastro-stop, and any personal medications.

Bug repellent

Dirty laundry bag

Wet ones (a few in a ziplock bag) and hand sanitiser



Mesh bags – I use different sized mesh bags as compartments within my pack. They’re also a great way to condense your clothing without having to use those vacuum bags. I buy these from Daiso but you can also find them at Kmart, Target etc.

Eye mask and ear plugs

First aid kit – including band aids, antiseptic cream, tweezers, nail clippers

Head torch


Quick dry microfiber towel

Camera and accessories: charger, memory cards, case, tripod, spare batteries (if my bag is a little on the heavy side I keep my camera over my shoulder during check-in)

Music and compact headphones

Mobile phone, charger and power bank

IPad or tablet – good for movies on budget flights as well as booking accommodation on the road and researching sights. I like to use both my phone and ipad together and prefer the larger screen.

Power adapters – Bring one with a plug inlet and USB inlets so you can charge you phone and camera at the same time (for the rooms that only have one outlet!)


Don’t forget!

Visa – make sure this is organised well in advance to arriving. You can get it on arrival but it will take a few hours out of your trip.

Passport – with at least 6 months left before expiring

Identification card

Credit/debit cards – inform your bank the dates you’ll be away before leaving the country

Cash – I exchanged about AUD$50 before leaving. Cash is easily accessible but there are limits on how much you can withdrawal at a time. The airport ATM’s were the only place to withdraw large amounts. Don’t exchange cash as the exchange rate is very poor. If you’re going to get money out at the airport, make sure to transfer when you have internet before you arrive and know how much is in your account. I accidentally withdrew $30 instead of $300 as I got confused by the conversion rate. Download the currency converter app to your phone before leaving home (check if it requires internet to work)!

Take advantage of the 2 bag rule! You’re generally allowed a backpack AND a handbag/camera bag which I recommend putting the heavy items in as it’s rarely weighed.

Don’t bother

Make up – personal preference. I brought foundation and mascara for nights out.

Sports bra (unless you’re going running)

Jewellery – best not to bring anything valuable

Jeans/denim shorts – hot, heavy and dry slowly

Is there anything I missed? What are your essentials for travelling to Vietnam? Please leave a comment below.

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