Viet Nam Packing List

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I love researching, planning and packing for a trip. Unpacking and doing laundry afterwards, not so much.

What I Brought

Clothing:

  • Hat
  • Sneakers
  • Sandals (Tevas not flip-flops)
  • Scarf
  • Four pairs of socks
  • Two bras (one sports bra and one regular)
  • One swimsuit top
  • 13 pairs of underwear
  • One pair of light weight pants
  • Ten shirts (mostly tank tops)
  • Two pairs of shorts
  • A jumper
  • Two dresses
  • A light hooded sweatshirt

Toiletries and Personal Items

  • Three packages of tissues
  • Three packages of wet wipes
  • Make-up bag with cover up, one lip gloss, bronzer, blush, mascara, and chap stick.
  • Travel sized toothpaste
  • Travel toothbrush
  • Soap
  • Travel sized shampoo
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sun screen (50 spf)
  • Bug spray

Technology/Entertainment

  • Sony RX100 digital camera
  • Gorilla pod
  • Cell phone
  • Cell phone charger
  • Camera charger
  • Viet Nam Rough Guide
  • Caribbean history book
  • Vietnamese phrase book
  • Notebook and pen

Etcetera

  • Day bag
  • Dry bag
  • Two packing cubes
  • First aid kit with band aids, Dramamine, pain spray, Advil, anti-diarrhea pills, and condoms.
  • Sleep sheet
  • Inflatable travel pillow
  • Microfiber Towel
  • Money Pouch
  • Purse

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What I Didn't Need and Why

  • Sneakers. I never once wore my sneakers. I thought I would need them for hiking or the cave, but it was ridiculously hot (typically around 35 degrees Celsius) in Viet Nam and I never ended up needing them. They took up considerable space and weight in my bag.
  • Jumper (or as the boyfriend calls it, "Cocktail Snuggie"). Who knew that onesies would be incredibly difficult to take off in a pocket sized bathroom with a squat toilet? I should have figured. In an attempt to use the toilet in my hotel room, I ripped an enormous hole in the back. It got ditched in our hotel room trash can.
  • Four pairs of socks. Let me give you this important detail: I tend to only wear novelty socks and I only packed novelty socks. I hate socks. They feel like they're strangling my feet. As I never I wore my sneakers, I never wore my socks. The constant stepping in gutters, exhaust fumes, non-stop construction, and bug bites did leave my feet not looking their foot model prettiest.
  • Scarf. The temperature barely dropped below 22 degrees Celsius and the blankets provided on sleeper buses were perfectly adequate if a little scratchy.
  • Hat. My awesomely enormous old lady gardener hat would have been useful if I wore it. Instead, Tyler ended up wearing it most of the time and I came to the realization that I hate wearing hats.
  • Packages of Wet Wipes. They were always giving us wet wipes. EVERYWHERE. Hotels, hostels, restaurants, tour buses, sleeper buses, airplanes. SO MANY WET WIPES.
  • Hand Sanitizer. I just never bothered using it. Maybe I'm unsanitary.
  • Gorilla Pod.  Sure, my gorilla pod would have come in handy in a few places; I would have gotten better shots at the waterfalls and caves. While I wanted to document the trip and be a good travel blogger, I also wanted to enjoy my trip through my own eyes and not the lens of a camera.
  • Swimsuit Top. The water in Viet Nam was delightfully warm and not full of jellyfish. My friends had a great time swimming in it. As we were going to be getting on a train not much later, I was not particularly interested in getting wet or having to change my clothes. I would recommend bringing a swimsuit if you're going to coastal towns.
  • Money Pouch/Belt. This wasn't necessary for me. Viet Nam is a relatively safe country and I kept most of my money locked up in my hostel. When I went out, I kept my money in my wallet inside my purse.

What I Should Have Brought

  • More Underwear. No mater how much I try to convince myself that the inside-out trick is acceptable, I don't really like wearing underwear multiple days in a row.
  • Nicer Clothes. Business casual is my daily grind. Vacation=wearing cut offs and sandals. However, people in Ho Chi Minh City dress very fashionably and people take great care in their appearance across social strata. Grungy tourist was how I felt.
  • Headphones. Noise, noise, constant noise. Viet Nam is cacaphonic. After a week of sleep deprivation, my friend offered me her headphones and I was finally able to sleep through the night. Plus, Viet Nam pop music is not my personal taste.
  • Kindle. I'm definitely investing in a kindle after this trip. Lugging around multiple 500 page books, that's for travel noobs.
  • Extra Memory Cards. Imagine this: second to last day on the trip and we're at Crazy House in DaLat. NO MORE ROOM ON MEMORY CARD. I have to spend a good thirty minutes selecting photos for deletion. On my cracked and scratched LCD screen.
  • Laptop. Now, I would have brought a laptop if I actually had one that could work without being plugged in.

Advice: bring multiple layers and options. You may have access to a laundry machine in your hostel or hotel. You will be sweating a lot and pollution, while not China level, is bad. It feels nice to put on clean clothes when you've been sweaty and dirty all day. Make sure you have a day bag or a smaller satchel to carry items on day trips. It's nice to have a place to put your sun screen, guide book, camera, etc.