10 Things to Pack (Backpacking in Southeast Asia)

When planning a backpacking trip around Southeast Asia I strongly advise you to pack light. It’s easy to get a 65 litre backpack and fill it to 15-20kg, but you really don’t need to take much stuff. It’s better to take fewer items of clothing and get them washed whilst you there. Almost everywhere I went in Southeast Asia had laundry services, 50 baht per kg. Express service some offers same day collections, whilst the standard service is overnight.

If you are starting your backpacking trip in Bangkok, Thailand. Then no doubt you will see the masses of t shirts for sale on Khaosan Road and the MBK center. These t-shirts are as cheap as 50 baht each and are better for the climate, thinner cotton that allows ventilation in the humid environment.

What to Pack

So my advice is to pack light on that account. Here are 10 things I recommend taking.

1. Camera – A necessity in my opinion. Depending on the purpose of your trip you could either take a cheap compact digital camera or a more expensive SLR. If you are planning on doing the full moon party or tubing. I recommend a cheap compact camera and several memory cards. Instead of taking one 8gb card, take four 2gb or two 4gb cards. Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket, you could lose your camera or it could get stolen, don’t let the memories be lost too. Another thing you could do to prevent data loss is use a online hosting service, such as Dropbox (its free)

2. First aid kit – You will almost certainly get cut if you go tubing or to the full moon. You can pick first aid kits up pretty cheap and they are compact in size, so ideal for the small pocket inside your bag and will come in handy.

3.  Toiletries – I recommend buying these before you leave, especially sun cream, branded products like these are only targeted towards tourists and the import costs make these more expensive to buy whilst backpacking in southeast Asia. Put all your toiletries in a zipped bag, in case they get damaged in transit. You can not take toiletries through as hand luggage, so put them in your main bag before you get to the airport.

4. Toilet Paper – Definitely take some of this. Most toilets in Southeast Asia do not have toilet roll and even in some of the budget rooms. Especially good for the road side stops, where the toilets are normally disgusting.

5.  Pen & Paper – Pretty simple but will save you a lot of time, if you are backpacking all of Southeast Asia, you will have to fill in visa forms at every entrance and exit, and at these times pens are like gold-dust.

6.  Passport Photos – When entering most countries in Southeast Asia two or more passport photos are required, if you don’t have them when you get there, you will most likely be ripped off and delayed entrance. Save money by printing some off yourself, take a photo of yourself and use some photo editing software to resize to passport dimensions, then get these printed at any photo shop. I did this and it cost me 79p for 20 photos on an a4 sheet, instead of £5 for 4 photos and the rip off photo booths.

7.  Waterproof Bag – Take a small waterproof bag that you can keep valuables in, especially if you are backpacking through Southeast Asia in the monsoon season.

8.  Small Backpack  – Take a small backpack. Then you can leave your main backpack at your room but still take drinks, food, money, cameras etc. Out with you. Especially good for day trips. Save room by purchasing a CamelBak style bag, fill it up with bottled water.

9.  Alarm Clock – Take a small alarm clock, there will be days where you will have to get up very early to get a bus or taxi somewhere. You could use your mobile phone.

10.  Mobile Phone – Ive got a mixed opinion on whether these are needed or not. You could either get a pre paid SIM card or just use Skype. There are internet cafes everywhere in South east Asia and they are normally cheap. Just set a skype account up before you leave.

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