The Ultimate Southeast Asia Packing List For Female Travelers

backpacking se asia

The Ultimate Southeast Asia Packing List For Female Travelers

You are about to go on a new adventure, and you are freaking out a bit (totally normal), but don’t you worry because this Ultimate Southeast Asia Packing List For Female Travelers is all you need!

Planning what to wear in Southeast Asia can be a bit overwhelming especially if you are backpacking and do not have much room. 

I want to reassure you that everything will be alright.

This Southeast Asia Packing List For Female travelers is based on my experience backpacking in Southeast Asia with my husband for three months.

Why Travel To Southeast Asia?

Short answer(s):

It will change your life.

White sand beaches.

Waterfalls.

Rich history (a lot of colonialization, but I will now keep my mouth shut).

Amazing wildlife.

Cheap delicious foods.

All the views and hiking!

Long answer:

Because you will experience all the adventures you need in your life from

There really is no reason for you not to go unless 

Southeast Asia Climate

If you are going anytime other than the cooler season (January to March), Southeast Asia’s climate can be summed up in 2 words:

HOT AND HUMID.

While you can get away with wearing summer clothes, you also have to think about sweating and dealing with rain.

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General Packing Tips For Southeast Asia

These are some of my general rules/mindset when planning what to pack:

  • Everything will be okay. It’s really not that deep
  • Unless it is a special medical or beauty item, if you forget something, you will be able to buy it when you reach Southeast Asia.
  • This Southeast Asia Packing List for Female travelers is pretty comprehensive already, but in case you forget something, you should not worry too much!
  • It is fine to re-wear outfits. At the end of the day, nobody cares about what you are wearing.
  • You do not have to buy anything new. Anything that you already own works.
  • Do not bring any luxury or valuable items with you such as jewelry (if possible). 
  • Leave room for things or souvenirs that you buy while abroad.
  • The less you bring, the less you have to carry and worry about.

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Southeast Asia Packing List Female: Travel Essentials

BACKPACKS

For adventuring in Southeast Asia, I highly recommend bringing a backpack instead of pulling around a luggage.

A backpack makes more sense, especially if you will be going to beaches and moving from city to city. 

They are more convenient to carry during times when you have to run after a bus or when you are booking it in the airport to get to your gate for your next flight.

I own an REI 40L Ruckpack (which unfortunately is no longer available). I will link it here once it is available again.

During most flights, I got away with bringing this size as a carryon and did not have to pay to check it in. 

You also have to think about the weight of the backpack and how much you are willing to carry. 

As a 5”4 woman, I was comfortable with carrying the 40L because any more than that was way too much and would get too heavy.

In addition, carrying a 40L backpack was not as “in your face” as the bigger sizes.

With the 50-70L, you really stand out like crazy because these sizes ARE GIANT.

If that’s your style and you can carry that much, then go for it.

Here are my recommendations for backpacks that are similar to the REI 40L Ruckpack:

osprey fairview backpack
osprey kyte backpack
osprey fairview backpack

LOCKS

Keep your backpack/luggage and belongings safe by purchasing locks.

These locks are ideal for times when you can’t leave your backpack in a locker and for when you are flying.

People can’t easily get in your stuff.

travel locks

WATER BOTTLE

If you have seen my other travel list, you know I swear by the Nalgene water bottle.

I have mine for almost 2 decades.

I do not think I ever travel without a water bottle. It is a must have.

It is environmentally friendly and comes in all the colors you can think of.

If you prefer to keep your water cold, I also recommend the Takeya water bottle. 

It is a cheaper alternative to a hydroflask.

I own both the Nalgene and Takeya. 

If you are someone who is careless and just likes to throw things on the ground, definitely get the Nalgene. 

If you buy the Takeya, know that the stainless steal can get dented and scratched easily.

southeast asia packing list female
southeast asia packing list female

MICROFIBER TOWEL

If you only buy one thing on this Southeast Asia Packing list for female travelers, it has got to be a microfiber towel.

I talk about this towel in a lot of my blog posts.

I have reviewed this in the past, but you will definitely need this if you are planning a trip to SE Asia.

I swear this thing is magic because it dries so quickly after use unlike a regular towel.

It’s perfect for backpacking and traveling because it is compact, absorbent, dries quickly, and can be used multiple times without developing any type of odor.

You can use it for:

  • The beach
  • Travel
  • Camping
  • Yoga
  • Swimming
  • Rainy days
  • Sports
  • Backpacking

Link to this magic towel here

southeast asia packing list female

PACKING CUBES

Not the be dramatic, but packing cubes changed my life and whoever you give them to will also change their life.

Packing cubes are perfect for overpackers.

These might be a foreign concept for some people, but they are basically smaller bags that help you organize and compress clothes and whatever else you are packing for your trip. 

Packing cubes help maximize space, which gives you more room to bring other things.

I do not ever travel without them after taking them to my 3 month backpacking trip in Southeast Asia. 

southeast asia packing list female

EAR PLUGS

If you are going to be staying in hostels or have a hard time sleeping when there is any type of noise, then you need to bring earplugs.

Don’t get me started with party hostels. It is like staying in a club. 

The walls are thin. 

Need I say more.

Purchase the ear plugs here.

Ear plugs backpacking

SUNGLASSES

I am so guilty of always forgetting sunglasses.

If you are clumsy like I am, I would not recommend bringing any luxury sunglasses.

I actually would not recommend bringing luxury items in your Southeast Asia packing list as a female when you are traveling for a long time.

aviators
southeast asia packing list female
pink sunglasses

Southeast Asia Packing List Female: Feminine Items

PERIOD PRODUCTS

Let’s talk about periods.

If you are a tampon wearer, I will be the first to tell you that it was difficult finding tampons in SE Asia.

You will find pads, but most stores do not carry tampons. 

I lived in Southeast Asia for about 13 years, and I did not learn about tampons until I moved to the US. 

Most, if not all, of SE Asia and Asia in general use pads.

I recommend either bringing a lot of tampons with you or going the menstrual cup route.

I have never used a menstrual cup, so I do not feel comfortable linking one.

I personally got my IUD before this trip which made my period super light and did not require me needing lots of tampons.

As always, please do your own research on what would work best for you.

BIRTH CONTROL

As I previously mentioned, I got my IUD before this trip so I did not have to worry about bringing period products or birth control.

Please consult your doctor to understand and learn more about your choices around this topic.

If you do need your birth control pills and will be traveling all over Southeast Asia for a long period of time, you should order for multiple months.

It also can’t hurt to bring your own condoms and/or purchase them when you get to your destination.

TOILETRIES

All of the toiletries I brought were travel size because I wanted to make sure that I can have everything as a carryon.

*These are pretty straightforward, but I do have some important notes for specific items.

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Wet wipes- I have wet wipes with me always even when I am not traveling. It’s my staple purse item
  • Tissues- Always have some with you because a lot of restrooms in Southeast Asia will not have toilet paper. A lot of places don’t even have toilet seats.
  • Soap
  • Cotton swabs
  • Facewash- If you use a medicated facewash or something particular, then definitely pack some with you instead of buying locally.
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Hand sanitizer

Travel Option 1 | Travel Option 2 | Travel Option 3

southeast asia packing list female
travel bottles
southeast asia packing list female

MAKEUP & BEAUTY RELATED PRODUCTS

Not going to lie, I did bring an eyeshadow palette when I went, but I hesitate to include it in this Southeast Asia packing list for female travelers because I did not use it at all.

I even tried to wear foundation, but because it was so humid, it would literally just melt off after 2 seconds.

  • Mascara
  • Eyelash curler
  • Brow pencil
  • Tinted moisturizer
  • Makeup sponge
  • Powder
  • Sunscreen– Almost all of the sunscreen you will find in SE Asia will be a whitening product (do not get me started on this issue, but that is for another topic). My recommendation is bringing a lot of sunscreen and distributing them into little containers. If you are bringing more than a carryon, then go crazy and bring a ton with you. *We did find a sunscreen that wasn’t whitening, but had to pay about $30 for a small bottle.
  • Moisturizer/lotion- this is a similar story as the sunscreen. You will find that most of them are whitening, so if you do not feel comfortable using that, then bring some with you.
  • Bronzer (to double as an eyeshadow if needed)
  • (optional) Skincare- I leave this very open ended because I am not very good with keeping up with skincare when traveling, so all I brought was facewash.
 
Sustainable cotton rounds
makeup sponge
makeup eraser

Southeast Asia Packing List Female: Clothing

RAINCOAT

I strongly believe in investing in a nice high-quality rain jacket.

Even when you are not traveling, you can still use it.

I have a North Face rain jacket that I have had for over 15 years, and it has traveled to over 25 countries with me.

When I traveled to Southeast Asia, I brought a raincoat which I also used as a jacket—and one time as a skirt.

Since my raincoat is old, here are similar items:

marmot raincoat
North Face Women's Resolve Plus Jacket
The North Face Women's Arrowood

TOPS

I 100% guarantee you that you will sweat like crazy because the humidity is no joke.

When packing for Southeast Asia, tank tops and shirts are your best friends.

They are small, versatile, light, and will dry easily.

You will mostly likely go to the beach, hike, and go on all kinds of adventures, so I recommend packing tops that can easily be interchangeable with various types of bottoms.

You should pack about 4 tank tops and 5 cotton shirts that you can pair with sports shorts, skirts, and can be coverups at the beach.

southeast asia packing list female
what to pack for southeast asia
southeast asia packing list female

DRESSES

I recommend bringing up to 3-4 summer dresses. 

Similar to the tops, these are versatile. Dresses are also great to have for days that you want to dress up a little bit or not look like a straight-up “backpacker.”

Wearing a dress always makes it seem like you tried even though you did not.

While backpacking SE Asia, I wore a dress during the days when I knew that we won’t be getting in the water or for a nicer dinner.

I suggest bringing a combination of:

  • 2 short summer dresses
  • 1 maxi dress
  • 1 nicer neutral colored one with sleeves.

Again, the goal is to be able to wear your clothing for different occasions.

Clothing 1 | Clothing 2 

sarong
southeast asia packing list female

BOTTOMS

The key to the types of bottoms you bring is versatility

That is basically the theme of this packing list.

For my Southeast Asia Packing List for Female Travelers, I recommend bringing:

  • 1 pair of jean shorts
  •  2-3 pairs running shorts
  • 1 pair of leggings
  • (optional a pair of jeans)
  • 1 maxi skirt

Because of Southeast Asia’s climate, I really do not think you will ever wear jeans because it is SO hot.

The running shorts and leggings, I also wore as sleeping clothes/loungewear. 

You have to be strategic with your shirt and shorts combo. 

Let’s say that you have a hiking trip scheduled for tomorrow. 

Then you can probably get away with wearing the shirt and shorts you’ll be wearing tomorrow to sleep the night before.

Nike and American eagle sell lots of hiking shorts and loungewear. 

The AE leggings that I own have lasted me for over 10 years.

basic leggings
nike shorts
mom shorts

SARONG AND SCARVES

A sarong is a must-have!

If you do not know what a sarong is, think of a scarf but used as a skirt.

This is very common in Southeast Asia.

Women would wear a sarong around their waste when visiting religious sacred places to cover the knees as a sign of respect.

In fact, most religious places will not let you in if you have bottoms that are above the knees.

My tip is buying 2 sarongs when you get there. 

You will find them everywhere especially in Thailand and Indonesia and for such a cheap price.

I also suggest bringing some type of scarf with you for colder days and for times when you need to cover your shoulders when visiting a religious place.

Sarong and scarves are 2 of the things that I always had in my backpack because you never know if you’ll stumble across a temple or church that you want to visit.

You can even use a sarong and a scarf as a beach blanket.

UNDERGARMENTS

I never really worry about panties and bras because they are so easy to shove between little crevices in your suitcase or backpack.

You should bring:

  • 10 panties
  • 3 bras
  • 2 sports bras

HATS

Bring one! It’s always good to have to protect your face from the sun or when you don’t want to deal with your hair.

southeast asia packing list female

Southeast Asia Packing List Female: Footwear

SOCKS

I do not think we need to overanalyze some of the things for this Southeast Asia Packing List for Female Travelers. 

Socks are socks. 

You already own those. 

Pack 3-5 pairs and call it a day.

SHOES

If you are an overpacker, you probably think I am crazy for only bringing 1 pair of shoes for hiking, walking, and water activities.

YES, you only need 1 pair.

I also did not have a choice because my backpack did not have room for anymore.

My go to multipurpose pair to bring is my Nike Free Run Flynits. 

I own 2 pairs in oreo and a fun purple color.

I’ve used them for canyoneering, walking, hiking, running—you name it.

They are also pretty light, bendy and flexible, so they are good for traveling.

nike fly knits
steve madden sandals
adidas shoes

SANDALS & FLIPFLOPS

Aside from my walking shoes, I packed sandals that I could wear with my dresses and nicer outfits.

I wore the crap out of these!

And please do not forget to bring flip flops aka shower shoes!

Southeast Asia Packing List Female: Technology

My husband and I did everything on our phones, so we did not end up bringing a laptop.

Here is what we brought:

  • Phone
  • International adapter Another must-have! and cannot be forgotten
  • Phone charger
  • Earphones
  • Camera charger
  • Camera/lens
  • SD cards
  • Tripod
  • (optional) drone
  • (optional) laptop
  • (optional) other chargers

Southeast Asia Packing List Female: Personal Items

Do not forget these personal travel items:

  • Passport
  • Debit card
  • Credit card
  • Wallet
  • Keys

Southeast Asia Packing List Female: Emergency Items

BACKUP DOCUMENTS

Not that it would happen to you, but it does not hurt to have backup items and hard copies of online information.

These are in case your things get stolen or lost:

  • Backup credit card
  • Copy of your itinerary
  • Copy of your emergency numbers
  • Copy of addresses, hotels, and anything you have booked
  • Copies of your passport and driver’s license
  • Extra cash (stored separate from what is in your wallet)

HEALTH

Some people bring a whole emergency kit, but I did not have room to bring a ton of items, so here is what I brought:

  • Bandaids
  • Nausea medicine
  • Advil
  • Stomach medicine

Should I Bring My Wedding Ring Or Engagement Ring?

100% no.

Do not risk losing such valuable jewelry.

It is not worth the hassle and the worry.

  • I wore and brought these with me instead.

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Southeast Asia Packing List Female: Complete List

EVERYTHING I BROUGHT WITH ME

CLOTHING

  • 1 raincoat

  • 4 tank tops

  • 6 cotton shirts

  • Sarong (bought once I got to SE Asia)

  • 1 jean shorts

  • 2 running shorts

  • 3 summer dresses

  • 1 maxi dress/jump suit

  •  2 two piece bikinis

  • 2 one piece bikini

  • 1 hat

  • 1 pair of leggings

  • 1 scarf

  • 10 underwear

  • 3 bras

  • 2 sports bras

  • 3 pairs of socks

  • 1 pair of flip flops/shower shoes

  • 1 pair of hiking/walking shoes

  • 1 pair of sandals

 

NON-CLOTHING ITEMS

  • Backpack
  • Passport
  • Backpack locks
  • Packing cubes
  • Absorbent towel
  • Sunglasses
  • Debit card
  • Credit card
  • Wallet
  • Keys
  • Ear plugs
  • Purse/fanny pack
  • Water bottle
 
 TOILETRIES
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Wet wipes
  • Tissues
  • Soap
  • Cotton swabs
  • Facewash
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Hand sanitizer
 
BEAUTY ITEMS
  • Mascara
  • Eyelash curler
  • Brow pencil
  • Tinted moisturizer
  • Powder
  • Sunscreen
  • Moisturizer/lotion
  • Makeup sponge
  • Makeup wipes
  • Makeup bag
  • Silicone rings
 

EMERGENCY ITEMS

  • Backup credit card
  • Copy of your itinerary
  • Copy of your emergency numbers
  • Copy of addresses, hotels, and anything you have booked
  • Copies of your passport and driver’s license
  • Bandaids
  • Medicine
 

TECHNOLOGY

  • Phone
  • Phone charger
  • International adapters
  • Camera charger
  • Camera/ lens
  • Tripod
  • Earphones
  • SD Cards
  • (optional) drone
  • (optional) laptop
  • (optional) other chargers

Are you packing for your Southeast Asia Trip? I hope this Female Southeast Asia Packing List helps! I tried to put as much detail as possible.

Like I previously mentioned, unless it is a super specific item like some type of special medication or tampons, you will be able to buy it locally.

If you follow this Female Southeast Asia packing list for female backpackers, you should be more than prepared!

Do you have any questions?

packing list for southeast asia
southeast asia packing list female

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