Tips for Packing for a First Trip to Vietnam
Some destinations are harder to pack for than others. Vietnam is one of those. It is a hot, humid country. It can also be rainy. On top of that, it’s a conservative country and you don’t want to offend the locals with your clothing choices.
This post covers the basics of what to pack for a comfortable and enjoyable trip.
Bring comfortable shoes
You will probably have to walk a lot in Vietnam. That’s why it is essential to bring comfortable shoes with you. If the shoes do not fit you properly, you won’t be able to withstand a lot of walking. Pack sneakers or sandals that provide good arch support and are sturdy but not too heavy.
Sandals are excellent for beaches and for evenings in the towns and cities. Boots and sneakers are useful while trekking in the countryside or visiting temples and ruins.
Vietnam is a conservative country, so make sure to dress modestly. Especially so when visiting religious sites. This way, you respect the culture of the country and also feel more comfortable yourself. Note that the north of Vietnam is typically more traditional and modest than the south.
Pack clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. For example, you may wear long shorts, trousers or skirts on the bottom and a short or long-sleeved shirt on top. You may also bring a sarong which doubles as both a cover-up and a blanket.
Vietnam is a hot and humid country, so it’s best to pack lightweight and breathable clothing that dries quickly. Choose lightweight fabrics such as cotton, linen, or synthetic blends. This way you will also be able to wash it often.
Bring rain gear
Vietnam has a tropical climate and sudden rain showers often happen, especially during the rainy season (from May to November). Pack a lightweight rain jacket or poncho to stay dry and prevent yourself from getting sick.
Get a Vietnam eVisa
Foreign travelers who are not visa-exempt need a visa to cross the borders of Vietnam. A Vietnam eVisa was launched in 2017 to simplify the application process: now it takes place entirely online. It allows travel to Vietnam for tourism, business, and transit matters.
To apply for a Vietnam eVisa, you need to submit a Vietnam visa application form. It is very easy: you just fill out the form, upload a photo of your passport and pay the fee. The approval will arrive as a PDF document and usually happens 5 -7 days after application The electronic visa permits you to have one 30-day stay. You must enter the country within 30 days of approval so you should apply less than a month before your planned arrival date (but you should allow for the 5-7 day processing time).
Getting the eVisa means you can skip the long lines upon arrival. You just show your visa and passport to customs officials and they let you in. It’s easy.
It may be difficult to buy some medications in Vietnam so it is recommended to buy the necessary items at home and pack them in your suitcase. First of all, take your prescriptions, altitude sickness medicine, and medicine to prevent malaria.
Your first-aid kit must include an antiseptic wound cleanser, antihistamine, medicine for pain and fever, cough drops, rehydration salts, and a digital thermometer. Additionally, depending on your needs, you may need to bring glasses or contact lenses, inhalers, diabetes testing supplies, or insulin.
Pack a hat and sunscreen
The sun in Vietnam can be intense and temperatures may soar to 39 degrees, so it’s necessary to protect your skin from UV rays. Buy high-SPF sunscreen that is easy to apply and water-resistant.
A wide-brimmed hat to shade your face is also a must-have. It can be a stylish accessory and functional protection at the same time. For instance, you can choose a bamboo hat, an Asian conical hat, a rice hat, or a Chinese sombrero.
Take an insect repellent
Mosquitoes and other insects are spread out in Vietnam, especially in rural areas. Pack insect repellent with DEET or a natural alternative. You may not like to wear insect repellents, but DEET-containing repellents are still the best way to protect yourself from bites.
Bites are not only painful but can also be extremely dangerous. First, you may get infected if you scratch your bites with dirty fingers. Moreover, in Vietnam, mosquitoes transfer the scariest diseases in the world: Malaria, the Zika virus, and dengue fever.
Use packing cubes or compression bags
These tools can help you organize your suitcase and maximize your luggage space. You can use compression bags to fit more things into your bag or backpack. With packing cubes, your clothes stay neat, and your smaller items are less probable to be lost.
Compression packing cubes are even more beneficial, as they combine the advantages of compression bags and packing bags: they not only allow you to fit more luggage but also prevent your clothes from getting wrinkled.
To sum it up, packing for your first trip to Vietnam can seem overwhelming, but by following these tips, you can simplify the process and ensure that you have everything you need.
Remember to pack lightweight and breathable clothing, dress modestly, bring comfortable shoes, and pack a rain jacket or poncho, insect repellent, and sunscreen. Use packing cubes or compression bags to make the most of your luggage space.
With the right gear and a well-planned packing list, you’ll be able to enjoy all that Vietnam has to offer!