Packing for any backpacking trip can be a bit of a nightmare – what to bring, what not to bring…it’s a tough set of decisions!

female packing kit list items south east asia thailand what to bring

What To Pack & What Not To Pack!?

If you’re the type of girl that stands in the middle of the closet staring at a million of items sorted semi neatly whispering quietly under your breath, “I have nothing to wear…” then you’re exactly like me.

I’ll try at least six outfits on before deciding the first one was the suitable and logical choice.

As you can probably imagine packing for trips was a nightmare, the only time I packed light was when I backpacked through central America and that was because I waited till last minute and shoved a few t-shirts and a pair of shorts in my bag hours before my flight.

I know what you’re thinking, ‘Gross! She only wore one pair of shorts!’  Yes, because I pretty much lived in my bathing suit (which I had more than one of).

So when the time came to pack for my ‘who knows how long this trip will last’ adventure in South East Asia, I definitely over packed by a long shot.

You know that old saying, “less is more” well it’s true, the less you pack the better. Don’t pull an me and pack that favorite dress from 2009 that you only wore once but may look cute in the future scenario, because you’ll never wear it… trust me.

Here’s a full breakdown of what I packed versus what I actually wear whilst in South East Asia, and always remember that you can buy items when you’re abroad… especially at airports.

And ladies if you’re hunting for the best backpack for women check out this post


Female Packing List – What To Take To South East Asia (And What NOT To Pack!)


First thing first- Leave the 2009 dress at home!

That was the first thing I got rid of.

So here’s a run down of my clothing packing list for South East Asia…


female packing kit list items south east asia thailand what to bring

Too. Much. Stuff!

What I Thought I Needed

  • 2 Sweatshirts
  • 2 pairs on jeans
  • 1 pair of jean shorts
  • 6 short dresses
  • 2 t-shirts
  • 5 tank tops
  • 1 long sleeve shirt
  • 2 semi nice shirts
  • 2 yoga pants
  • 3 yoga shorts
  • 2 maxi dresses
  • 1 lightweight rain jacket
  • 1 cardigan
  • 10 x bikini sets (yes 10!)


…What I Actually Wear

  • 1 sweatshirt (for rooms with air con, trains, airplanes)
  • 1 pair of jean shorts
  • 2 short dresses
  • 1 t-shirt
  • 2 tank tops
  • 1 semi nice shirt
  • 1 yoga pants
  • 1 yoga shorts
  • 1 maxi dress
  • 1 lightweight rain jacket (I use this jacket ALL THE TIME, it rains a lot in Asia)
  • 1 cardigan (bring one that goes with everything, for those semi chilly nights out)
  • 3 x bikini sets


So as you can see I cut half my bag in half when it came to clothes!

I brought clothes that I don’t have an emotional connect with (yes, there are a few clothing items I just can’t get rid of, leave those at home).

Pack clothes that you don’t mind loosing/destroying/getting rid of – you can donate while on the road and throughout Asia you can buy shirts for 2 dollars, it’s super cheap there (same goes for central and south america).




Shoes, Hats and Scarves

I’m obsessed with hats and scarfs so obviously they would have their own category, and shoes… you need shoes, keep those feet safe and clean (unless you’re my now ex-boyfriend that refuses to wear shoes, damn hippy).


What I Thought I Needed

  • 2 beanies
  • 1 snapback
  • 3 scarfs
  • 2 flip flops
  • 1 pair of walking sandals (you know what sandals I’m talking… be a nerd, buy a pair.)
  • 2 pairs of cute fancy sandals
  • 1 pair of runners


…What I Actually Wear

Again, the key is to pack light, you wont be wearing half of what you think you might!


Super Girly Shower Bag

Alright ladies, as much as I love the grungy ‘I don’t care what I look like’ backpacker vibe, there are times when I want to feel good about myself and smell nice for a change. I use everything in my shower bag so here are my must need shower items.

  • Shampoo & Conditioner (don’t bother bringing “travel size” ones because you’ll end up buying more once you land)
  • Tweezers, nail clippers, 1 nail polish color (for my cute toesies- don’t bother painting your fingers)
  • female packing kit list items south east asia thailand what to bring

    Shower & Makeup Kit – A Girls Essentials!

    Coconut oil and coco butter (great for skin after soaking up hours of UV rays from sun bathing)

  • Sunscreen (don’t be dumb- slather it on)
  • Fruity smelling lotion for when I want to be super girly
  • Lip gloss, sunscreen lip balm, Berts Bee Aloe Vera Lip Butter (keep those smackers kiss worthy)
  • Face Wash, Face Serum, Face Cream (I buy this kit from Benefits, keeps the face super smooth)
  • Tea Tree Oil (I swear by this, you can use it for acne, infections, and to smooth and rehydrate your hair- must have)
  • Lavender Oil (if you have trouble sleeping, lavender oil with help you ease into a peaceful sleep in those loud dorm rooms. 100% natural and smells wonderful- rub it on your forehead and smooth into your hair)
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste and mouth wash
  • Travel size hair brush
  • Quick Drying Travel Towel
  • Tiger balm (I lather this on like butter- great for bug bites!)


I bought a wash bag to keep everything, it might take up a little more room in your bag but its easy when you have to shower in hostels – extra bonus if you invest in the self hanging ones which are perfect for hostel life!


Make Up

Yes, I did in fact bring make-up, but not as much as you think. There are times when I’m abroad and want to get all dressed up, but keep to the bare-minerals (see what I did there?!)

If you’re going to be in hot & sweaty country’s this is what I recommend:

Keep it light and simple!


First Aid Kit

I’m prone to accidents so I carry a first aid kit, I learned the hard way in Nicaragua when I was in a motorbike accident had tore a good chunk of skin off my body.

The Hostel I was in didn’t have any bandages or ointment so I had to wait for the pharmacy to open… it was awful.

Keep a few first aid things handy in your day pack for when you’re stuck on a mountain that’s no where near a first aid kit.



Everyone is different when it comes to packing electronics, I take most of my photos on my phone and use the GoPro for action shots.

If you don’t use a laptop a lot bring a tablet to watch movies on or play games. There will be days where you want to be lazy and watch 3 seasons of Brooklyn nine-nine, its okay to do so.. no one will judge you!


female packing kit list items south east asia thailand what to bring

Be Ruthless But Stay Fabulous!

You Do You

My list may seem like a lot but I have an open end ticket where I don’t know when I’ll be returning home. If you’re traveling for a few months then it’s easier to pack lighter. If you’re doing a round the world trip just pack things you know might be difficult to buy abroad.

Stick to same climate countries so you don’t need to pack warm and cool clothes. South East Asia is actually extremely easy to pack for, some people even show up with a carry on backpack and buy clothes when they land.

Each to their own, but seriously, don’t bring the 2009 dress that you wore once and might wear again because you know you wont ;)


Any other essential items you’d suggest everyone add to their packing list for South East Asia? 

Share the love in the comments!


Related Posts

12 Responses

  1. Kat

    This is very accurate! Also people forget you end up buying stuff along the way, so definitely save room for that. I even found yoga pants to be too hot for SE Asia! Mind you, I was in Bangkok in April so it was +35C everyday.

    • Chris

      Glad you agree with it Kat and indeed saving room for stuff you buy along the way is a must!haha!We’ve had some cover weather on our trip (especially in Taiwan and northern Vietnam) so the yoga pants have been busted out a lot!

  2. Lucy B

    This is one of the most accurate lists I have found and makes me think I am on the right lines with my list (though prob could still get rid of a few things) Thank you for keeping it real and not going OTT with all this random stuff you suddenly think you need because you will be away indefinitely.
    I leave in 40 days, I may see you on my travels :D x

    • Chris

      Glad it helped out Lucy – and indeed less is more…remember you can always buy extra stuff on the road if you REALLY need it!

  3. Laura Grant

    Love this so much!!! I am 6 weeks away from my year long trip and this post made me laugh a lot. I definitely know now that I do not need those 6 lipstick and 4 million dresses I had in mind. My ASOS wishlist is going to grow considerably smaller now. Thank you xx

    • Chris

      Hey Nora, that toiletry bag came was something I picked up on Amazon I think, although I cant seem to find the link!

  4. J

    LOL probably the best makeup and fashion inspired backpack post I’ve read. “bare-minerals” I was laughing!
    Just came to say I really liked the article, im leaving In January for a few months – im not too stressed about packing. Thanks :)

  5. jenifer

    This is a standout amongst the most precise records I have found and makes me think I am on the correct lines with my rundown (however prob could in any case dispose of a couple of things) Thank you for keeping it genuine and not running OTT with so much irregular stuff you abruptly think you require in light of the fact that you will be away inconclusively.

    I leave in 40 days, I may see you on my movements :D x

    • Chris

      Good luck with your adventures Jenifer…let me know if there’s anything you end up ditching or buying en route!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge