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What to pack and what to wear


Functional Tips

  • Most of your clothing can be cotton or cotton-synthetic blends. If you like to hand-wash your clothes, bring socks, underwear, and even shirts and pants made of synthetics or cotton/synthetic blends that will dry overnight. You can buy clothing specially designed for travel.
  • You’ll be on your feet and walking a lot, sometimes over rough and slippery surfaces, so choose your footwear carefully. The soles of your shoes should offer good traction. You can find especially supportive shoes designed for walking. Light hiking boots might be useful for the ankle support, but they are optional. And one more tip—when traveling with a companion we recommend “cross-packing”, i.e. pack 2 outfits of your clothing in your companion’s luggage and vice-versa, in case one bag is delayed.
  • December and January travel: If you are traveling during December and January, please bring extra warm clothes, as it might get chilly during these two months in northern Vietnam.

Style hint

Wearing shorts is acceptable in most situations for both men and women. However, Vietnam’s traditional culture is somewhat conservative, so avoiding sleeveless shirts, tank tops, or short shorts—especially while visiting Buddhist temples—shows the greatest respect for it. Shorts and leg-baring skirts are forbidden in the temples, though you will be given cover-ups when entering.

Recommended clothing

  • Short-sleeved cotton shirts: Polo-style shirts are more versatile than T-shirts.
  • Long-sleeved cotton or cotton-blend shirts: for sun and insect protection
  • Trousers: comfortable and loose fitting. Avoid tight-fitting jeans.
  • Cotton sweater or sweatshirt for the air-conditioned bus
  • Walking shorts, long-cut for modesty
  • Wide-brim sun hat
  • Swimsuit
  • Shoes should be comfortable walking/ running shoes or low-cut hiking shoes, with arch support
  • Sport sandals with secure ankle strap, such as Tevas (not flip-flops).
  • Light rain jacket/windbreaker with hood
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • December/January: Warm clothes for Hanoi area


Essential gear:

  • Daily essentials: Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, hairbrush or comb, shaving items, deodorant, shampoo/conditioner, shower cap, body soap, etc.
  • Eyeglasses/contact lens
  • Sunglasses, 100% UV block
  • Sunscreen, SPF 30 or stronger
  • Insect repellent with DEET (30-35% strength)
  • Travel money bag or money belt (to be worn under your shirt/jacket if possible)
  • Folding umbrella
  • Packets of tissues or small roll of toilet paper
  • Moisturizer and sun cream
  • Moist towelettes (not individual packets) and/or anti-bacterial “water-free” hand cleanser
  • Flashlight or headlamp, extra batteries
  • Written prescriptions for your medicines
  • 2 extra passport-sized photos in case of passport loss
  • Photocopies (you keep) of passport, air ticket, credit cards (and the originals!)


  • Your own prescription medicines
  • Cold remedies: Sudafed, Dristan, etc
  • Ibuprofen or aspirin
  • Laxatives
  • Pepto-Bismol or Mylanta
  • Benadryl or other antihistamine
  • Anti-diarrhea tablets, like Imodium
  • Neosporin or bacitracin
  • Band-Aids, several sizes; butterfly closures
  • Antiseptic towelettes
  • Moleskin foot pads
  • Prescription antibiotic for diarrhea
  • Optional: Prescription medicine to prevent malaria, tylenol with codeine, or another strong pain medication for rare emergency purposes

Optional Gear

  • Camera gear
  • Travel alarm or travel watch with alarm
  • Lightweight binoculars
  • Folding walking stick, sold in most camping stores
  • Hanging toiletry bag (with hook to hang on doorknob and pockets to organize items)
  • Basic sewing kit
  • Hair dryer (useful for drying damp clothing).
  • Wash cloth, and small thin towel
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Eye drops
  • Reading materials, phrase book
    • Travel journal/note pad and pens
    • Favorite snacks
    • Electrical converter & plug adapter
    • Home address book
    • Photos or post cards from home, small gift for home-hosted visit
    • Pocket-size calculator for exchange rates
    • Personal repair kit: piece of duct tape, tweezers, small pliers, etc.
    • Packets of decaffeinated coffee/tea and/or sweetener

Tips on photo gear:
One of the most enjoyable aspects of traveling to new places is the chance to photograph and thereby capture and bring home some of the wonders of that experience. You will be able to share them with others, relive some of the moments, and savor them for years to come. So please remember to enough memory cards.

Always be sure to bring enough batteries as well. If your camera uses rechargeable batteries, it is handy to carry a spare set, and be sure your camera’s battery charger will work with the local electrical current (Voltage: The power supply is 110 and 220 volts, 50 cycles, an AC. Teo-pin plugs are the norm, but as some are flat pin and others round, visitors are advised to take an adapter). Protect your lens with a UV filter. When traveling it is easy to get dirt or moisture on the front of your lens, which could permanently damage it. A simple screw in filter can protect the lens, and if the filter were to be damaged, it is much less expensive to replace. And bring a waterproof bag to protect your camera—a simple Zip-loc is sufficient. If your camera’s flash is detachable, don’t forget to pack it. Be sure to bring a camera whose flash can be turned off, and learn how to turn off the flash when it’s not needed. Flash photography is not allowed inside some buildings.

Security at airports has become much more stringent and some of the x-ray machines are potentially powerful enough to fog or damage film. You can ask that the film be hand inspected, but the film must be removed from the canister—so ziplock plastic bags are vital. You can use one for exposed film and one for unexposed film. X-rays do not damage the data of digital cameras.

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