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What to pack for backpacking trip in Southeast Asia

Updated: Apr 29, 2020

Sometimes you just don’t know where to start when it comes to backpacking, let alone packing in general. I’ve done my fair share of backpacking trips and trust me less is more!

One time, my bible college friends and I went on this 6-week trip to the jungles of Thailand (I will share that in a later blog). We trekked on foot from village to village for a week. After a while, your back gets sore and you start thinking "Why am I carrying a whole bottle of shampoo?" ... As I said, less is MORE!

Here is my essential backpacking list

One of my all time favourite stores to purchase your gear for your next backpacking trip is at Mountain Warehouse. Check them out!


  • 60L travel backpack that is water resistant

  • Packing cubes. They will save you time from continuously searching for things in your bag.

  • Water bottle. Get one with a clip, I've found it very helpful to hang it on my bag while travelling.

  • Ultralight Sleeping Bag + Towel. Easy to roll up and light to carry around, that's what you need to look for.

  • Travel/Neck Pillow. To save on space, think about getting a pillow that blows up.

  • 3 Carabiner Clips. They are great for securing things that are on the outside of your backpack.

  • Camera. Whether you are a photographer or not, sometimes your phone can't do it justice

  • Flashlight (optional). I highly suggest it if you go into more remote areas, but don't forget to bring extra batteries!


  • Passport

  • Parent permission form (only if under 18). They may ask you for it at immigration if you are considered under age.

  • Scan of passport. Just for persuasions incase you loose it.

  • Print out of Health insurance. For short-term out of the country travel World Nomads is great or see if you have coverage through work or your own existing insurance.

  • Printout of Flight Itinerary. I made that mistake once of not printing it out and we almost missed our connection flight in India.


3-4 Pairs of Clothing. Roll up your clothing so you squeeze everything in.

  • 3-4 lightweight t-shirts and/or tank tops

  • 1 pair of athletic leggings

  • 1 pair of lightweight cotton pants

  • 2 pairs of shorts

  • 1 light maxi dress to make you feel special.

  • 10 pairs of underwear

  • 3 bras - 1 sports bra, 1 wired bra, 1 wireless

  • 5 pairs of socks

  • 1 sweater. You never know when it will be cool, especially up North in the winter.

  • 1 bathing suit

  • Flip-Flops

  • Runners

  • Light compact raincoat. It’s rainy season in the summer.

  • A hat for sun protection

Also remember that there are beautiful cotton clothing that you can purchase at Night Markets, such as pants and light-weight shirts. But keep in mind though that you might not find your size. I have lived in Thailand for a few years and I have had a hard time finding things that fit me because I am not petite compared to what "Asian sizing" deems normal.


  • Hand sanitizer + baby wipes + tissue

  • Personal medications + dietary supplements

  • Small, compact hygiene + sanitary products - shampoo, conditioner, soap, perspirant deodorant (since living in Asia, I have not been able to find any of this kind), toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.

  • Eco-Friendly laundry soap bar. There are some laundry shops, but you never know when you have to wash by hand.

  • Pads + tampons or Diva Cup. I've lived in Thailand for a few years and I always bring it over from Canada, I very rarely purchase it in Asia.

  • Razors. Bring extra because you can't find them easily. In Asia, women don't tend to shave.

  • Travel size first-aid kit - bandaids, alcohol swabs, polysporin, etc.

  • Bug repellent. The mosquitos are everywhere!

  • Sunscreen

  • Makeup + pocket mirror + stud earrings. I tend to only bring mascara, tinted lip balm, 1 eyeshadow colour, and Covergirl concealer

  • Small squeezable bottle of face-wash, face-cream, body-cream

  • A couple of small sized plastic bags. This is just something I do because you never when you need this! In Asia, they don't use tissue to go the bathroom, they use what I call "bum guns" to clean themselves. Normally you can't put tissue down the toilet and sometimes there is no garbage to dispose your tissue. Just wanting to warn you, you might thank me later!

BONUS TIP: There are places to purchase hygiene products in Asia. For example, Thailand has this love for 7-11. They are literally everywhere on every street in the urban areas. There you can purchase shampoo, conditioner, soap, tissue, wipes, etc... the sky is the limit!

If you have any more questions about backpacking, please send me an email!

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