Packing for 3 months backpacking in Southeast Asia: what to bring

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Backpacking around Asia is incredibly exciting and one of my best experiences to date, both of the times I've been. The second time, however, I definitely nailed it more with packing my bag, ensuring it wasn't too heavy and leaving room for things to bring back with me.

If you're planning a three-month backpacking trip to Asia, here is my packing guide on what to bring.

The main piece of advice I always say when packing a backpack is to bring what you think you need and then half it because, you can buy things along the way, especially clothes.

Packing for 3 months backpacking in southeast Asia: what to bring

Clothes and shoes

When it comes to packing what you're going to wear, you need to think light, versatile and layers. I visited South and southeast Asia which meant most of the countries were incredibly hot. However, due to the culture and countries with cooler climates, I ensured to bring clothes which would cover me and keep me warm as well. As an example, this included:

  • 2 Pairs of shorts - I brought a denim and cotton pair.
  • 3 T-shirts - I only brought one with me and ended up buying two out there as I realised I needed them more than I thought.
  • 2 Vest tops - perfect for layers.
  • 3/4 Crop tops - small, ideal for wearing with shorts and trousers.
  • 3 Pairs of trousers - you could easily only bring one and buy them out there.
  • 2 Light jumpers - thin and compact ones.
  • 1 Rainproof jacket - invest in an easily foldable one.
  • 1 Demin jacket - not a necessity but you could bring a compact jacket instead.
  • 3 Bikinis - you only really need two.
  • Knickers and socks - I brought two weeks' worth and there was never a time I ran out as that's usually how often we'd do a big wash.
  • 2 Bralettes - personally, I barely wore them. 
  • 3 Pairs of shoes - Walking shoes, good quality sandals and cheap flip-flops. I brought Converse, Birkenstocks and a cheap pair of flip-flops to use for shared bathrooms in hostels and any pools.
  • 1 Sarong - useful for covering up religious sites.


For accessories, I wouldn't say you need to bring an awful lot and it depends on what you count as an accessory too. I minimised a lot of things when packing, to prevent myself from carrying a heavy backpack. As an example, this included:

  • A small backpack - perfect to carry your everyday belongings in it.
  • A bum bag - a life saviour in keeping your valuables safe.
  • A pair of sunglasses. 
  • 1 Sunhat.
  • Hair ties/clips.
  • Minimal jewellery - don't bring anything with value; I lost a few earrings in the water and I was very gutted.


Toiletries can be personal to a lot of people and travelling for a few months, you can feel out of depth what to bring. However, for the most part, good quality toiletries are easy to come by in popular cities and countries across Southeast Asia. I stocked up on a lot of toiletries for the trip and it was probably the thing which weighed my bag down the most - and I realised I didn't need to bring it all. As an example, this included:

  • Toothpaste and toothbrush - only bring one of each to get you started.
  • 2 Solid shampoos and conditioners - you may want to bring more if you wash your hair a lot ( I only wash mine twice a week).
  • Soap bars/shower gel - this is up to you. I brought three soap bars as I knew they would weigh less but did not use them all.
  • Deodorant - I use Wild deodorant which means I packed two refills with me but you can easily pack one regular and buy more when you're there. 
  • 1 Face SPF.
  • 1 SPF lip balm.
  • 3 Suncreams - or more. Finding suncream for cheap and the brands we know and love is tricky across Asia.
  • Razors - I use Estrid which meant I brought 3 different replaceable heads.
  • Minimal makeup - I brought BB cream, concealer, powder, mascara, eyebrow shadow and bronzer. 
  • Flannel/makeup remover - I have one of those microfibre flannels which removes makeup with only water.
  • Rollerball perfume - For days when you want to feel a little refreshed.
  • 1 Hand gel.
  • 2x Wet wipes 
  • 1x Multiple packs of tissues (but be prepared to always buy these).
  • Medical kit - I brought painkillers, anti diarrhoea, diaralyte, vitamin C, anti-septic cream, anti-bite cream, anti-histamine,  anti-travel sickness, plasters and my medication.
  • Mosquito spray/gel/bands.
  • Hand wash detergent - to wash your clothes on the go.


Gadgets can vary for the type of trip you're looking to have, whether it involves moving around often and a budget travel vibe or only doing a couple of places with a luxurious trip feel. I'm not an overly big gadget person and didn't bring too many things with me, only the essentials. As an example, this included:

  • 1 Portable charger.
  • 2 Phone chargers.
  • 1 Extention lead.
  • 1 Multi-use travel adapter.
  • 1 Pair of headphones.
  • Instant cameras/GoPro - we got gifted two instant cameras for our trip and loved taking random snaps. I didn't have a GoPro but it's a very popular thing to bring!

Handy items

Other than your clothes, toiletries and gadgets, there are many things you can bring on the trip for convenience and to help you out as you travel around. As an example, this included:

  • 1 Waterproof phone case.
  • 1 Drybag.
  • 1 Chillis (or similar) water bottle - you can refill this at water stations or use bottled water to keep it cool.
  • 1/2 Travel journals - there's nothing better than documenting your trip through thoughts.
  • Travel insurance - is not necessarily a physical thing but a must to buy before you go.
  • Padlocks - to keep your backpack secure.
  • Packing cubes - perfect for organising and repacking your bag.
  • Travel pillow and eye mask - for comfort as you travel along the way.
  • Photocopies of important documents - just in case you lose them.

Packing tips

I like to consider myself a professional at packing, considering how often I travel and as it's like second nature to me (although there is always room to learn). Having everything packed is one thing, but packing is another and here are some tips for packing your backpack efficiently:

  • Utilise packing cubes - packing cubes are a lifesaver with backpacks as you're able to organise your belongings into separate cubes and pull them out with ease. And, it's also beneficial to put them in the bag too as you can pack the cubes in an order which fits.
  • Don't pack too many nice things or a lot of white clothing - travelling over a long period means your clothes are likely to get stained, discoloured or ruined. Most laundry places don't wash clothes conventionally and won't get stains out. With that in mind, avoid bringing white clothing as it doesn't travel well, especially if you stain it and also avoid any clothes you want to bring home in perfect condition.
  • Wear your heaviest shoes - backpacks can get very heavy and you want to minimise this as much as possible and that means, taking out your heaviest shoe.
  • Pack the things you need with you in your day backpack - whether you're heading to the bus station, train station, airport or to the boat docks, pack the things you need with you as it's easier to access them.
  • Put your heaviest thing in the bottom of the backpack - this makes it easier to get everything else out.
  • Don't pack a full bag - you'll undoubtedly buy things along the way on your travels and should leave room for that.
  • Roll and fold - the only technique you need to be thinking about when it comes to packing your clothes in packing cubes. This method helps save space and put more clothing in each bag.

  • Make use of the compartments - backpacks are designed with many clever pockets and it's essential to use as many as possible, as it usually provides more space.
  • Bring laundry bags - you don't want to put your dirty clothing with your clean clothing and that's why a designated laundry bag is great. It'll also help to know which things are dirty and ready to be washed.
  • Avoid packing actual books - as a big bookworm, this was hard as I love the feeling of a book in my hand. However, backpacking for a long period, you have to get used to entertaining yourself with minimal things. I ended up downloading books on my phone and reading from there. It wasn't the same but I managed to get a lot of reading done!
  • Write a packing list - to stay organised, write a packing list before you go, ensuring you don't forget anything or remind yourself to buy something.

I hope you enjoyed this post. What advice would you add?

Thank you for reading <3


  1. I just came back from three months in Asia and I guess I have to get a "Don't pack a full bag" tattoo or something. The same mistake. Always.

  2. Thanks for sharing your tips on what to pack, I packed simular on my trip in 2019 although it did not use packing cubes as I had a wheeled hoodle bag, as the weight of my bag would have been to much for me to put on my back. Also I had a guide book, and personal items like my teddy bear, and spare pairs of glasses & sunglasses, letters for my medication in my daypack as well

    Nic | Nic's Adventures


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