Most of this page is dedicated to “why and why not” carry certain pieces of gear.

A Vietnam tour does not require a lot of travel gear. You’re traveling, not trekking or camping. You are traveling to the tropics, unless you plan on heading into the mountains northwest of Hanoi – Sapa, Lao Cai and Dien Bien Phu. These areas can get a bit chilly during winter months. With these exceptions, Vietnam is warm or hot, and wet or dry.

Most experienced travelers limit themselves to a carry-on size bag and day pack. Most airlines limit the Length + Width + Height dimensions of carry-on bags to 45 inches or 115 centimeters. If you observe the requirements of the TSA when packing your travel gear and use a carry-on size bag you don’t have to check your bag. NO LUGGAGE LOST BY AIRLINES!!

Carry-on bags with the capability to be carried backpack style or suitcase style with an optional shoulder strap are favorites. Wheels or no-wheels? Wheels and the supporting frame with the telescoping handle add weight. Some places do not favor the use of a wheeled bag – unpaved streets and cobblestones are a hindrance. It’s a matter of personal choice for the most part.

Day packs should be no larger than a large purse (1000 cubic inches +/-). No big technical considerations needed here.

Use a Money Belt to secure your currency.

A light weight travel vest is another handy item. Secure pockets for a camera, travel guide, rain gear, a flashlight, and other bulky items that won’t fit in a shirt pocket. You can put a lot of “stuff” in those vest pockets and a vest doesn’t count as carry-on baggage. Do not carry important documents in your vest. Keep them close to your body.

Here is some suggested travel gear to carry on a trip to Vietnam, keeping in mind you can buy just about anything personal you need there. What is in limited supply? Electronics, cameras, and computer equipment.

So, bring your own electronics. A good digital 5 – 7 Mega pixel digital camera will record your trip. If your camera uses a proprietary charging system you will need an adapter for Vietnam. I recommend a camera that uses standard over the counter AA batteries. Some cameras will drain standard AA batteries quickly. You may want to invest in the type specially made for electronics. Be sure your camera takes good landscape photographs. Have a backup memory device for your camera. Consider a 2nd camera.

Most hotels that cater to foreigners have WiFi available.  An iPad, other tablet or laptop might be useful. Internet cafes abound through-out Vietnam. The Vietnamese are very computer savvy.

Use Skype for long distance calls. Skype – The whole world can talk for FREE!

Maybe an iPod type device if you can’t let resist.

What clothing should you bring?

3 changes of lightweight and quick dry travel type clothing are adequate. Maybe extra socks. Be aware of the dangers of sunburn. Please dress conservatively. Unless absolutely necessary avoid shorts, tank tops and sleeveless T-shirts. Zip-off pants are a popular substitute for shorts. Dress to impress if you must go to a government office. Never wear shorts, dresses or skirts, or tops with low-neck lines and bare shoulders to Temples and Pagodas. To do this is considered extremely rude and offensive. All hotels provide laundry service – overnight and reasonably priced.

Don’t travel with anything needing dry-cleaning.

If you’re going to Sapa in the winter you might want to bring a base layer of cool weather clothing. Check the weather report.

Rain gear is always needed. A backpacker poncho will keep both you and your gear dry in a downpour. The open sides allow for air circulation in hot weather. In the tropics you can end up just as wet from condensation inside your rain gear as from the rain. A poncho can be used as a curtain, sun shade or you can lie on it in an airport without good benches.

A hat that offers rain and sun protection.

Swimsuit? Unless you’re fashion conscious or plan on a lot of time at the beach – shorts for males and add a T-shirt for females.

Footwear – Consider your activity – Hiking, climbing, motorbike riding? I discourage the use of open toed sandals. If you cut your foot in the tropics, there are medical problems that the old fashioned tetanus shot isn’t going to help. Look for well constructed mesh shoes that double for light weight hiking shoes (w/ a toe protector) and shower “flip flops.”

Day Pack Contents – Flashlight, alarm clock, sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent (DEET), personal first aid kit, personal toiletries and, as mentioned before, an electrical adapter – the electrical power supply in Vietnam is 220Volts AC @ 50 Hertz.  A roll of toilet paper in a plastic bag.

TRIVIA: The whole “Kit and Caboodle.” Your Kit is your carry-on bag, backpack, day pack, travel vest or suitcase. Your Caboodle (stuff) is what you put in your Kit.

I hope my experience and research will save you some time and energy in looking for good “stuff.”

Good travel gear sources are REI, eBags and eBay.


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