What to pack for Vietnam?
Even though you are a seasoned traveller and you know what to pack and take with you, there are some issues you should know about Vietnam before packing your luggage.
Although you can buy almost anything you need in Vietnam, it can be difficult to find your sizes or familiar western brands. There are some items that you should remember to pack to avoid any extra hassle during your vacation. This is my “must bring” list:
Sunscreen products are not widely sold in Vietnam. Having sunbaths does not belong to the Vietnamese culture. Local people avoid getting tanned by staying in the shade or wearing long sleeve shirts. During my six months in Vietnam, I have seen only one small bottle of Nivea sun lotion in a small shop in Hoi An!
Phu Quoc and other popular beach resorts may have better selections. However, you will need sunscreens also in big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Better bring them with you!
In Vietnam, bandages are not sold in supermarkets. If you get a cut or a scrape, you don’t want to spend any time searching for the pharmacy. I always carry some bandages and disinfection wipes in my bag.
Pain Killers and Medication for Diarrhea
These do not take much room in your luggage. In case of illness, it is much nicer to treat it with familiar medication.
Good Walking Shoes
When travelling in Vietnam, appropriate shoes are even more important than in many other travel destinations. Bring a spare pair, too. If your shoe size in a Western scale is average or big, you will probably not find proper shoes in Vietnamese stores. Flip flops are then your only choice.
You really need good walking shoes in Vietnam. Even in big cities, sidewalks can be in bad condition. They are uneven and have holes, cracks and garbage. In Hanoi, sidewalks in Old Quarter are taken over by motorbikes, shops and restaurant tables and you must walk in a roadway. I would not feel comfortable there wearing flip flops.
Underwear and swimsuit
This especially concerns women. If you forget these home, you may have serious troubles in finding bras or bikinis big enough for you. If your size is petite, you have more choices.
Vietnamese people are early birds and the cities are full of life and noise – even karaoke singing! – already at seven in the morning. Earplugs may help you sleep later.