15 Items Women Backpackers Should Bring to Southeast Asia

Back Packing around Southeast Asia is extremely popular and for good reason! It is so much easier to get around southeast asia when you are not carrying your home on your back. We have created a must bring packing list for Southeast Asia backpackers.


You won’t want to lug your big backpack around with you all day – bring a day bag that’ll hold your essentials, water bottle and street market finds. We love Patagonia’s totes in neutral colours that are super sturdy for travel. 



Stash your credit cards and passport, especially on long-distance transit and at border crossings. With with RFID blocking, plenty of pockets, really comfortable and it even comes with two free global recovery decals so you can keep your valuables extra safe we love breathable Peak Gear Money Belt.


Weather tropical storms and ditch the sweaty raingear.  Great for shading from that blazing midday sun, too.  Ponchos for drizzly motorbike rides can be picked up at most corner shops and 7-Elevens. Check out the JoyMade– made of super lightweight material will protect you from the tropical rain showers and the summer sun.


In tropical temps and humidity, you’ll feel the poly in that cotton-poly blend.  Go for lightweight clothing in 100% cotton and stick with basics that can be mixed and matched, dressed up or down. We love Alternative Apparel’s affordable basics and sportswear collections.

Pro tip: A statement accessory can go a long way in dressing up your outfits without adding bulk to your backpack. Check out Daughters Rising’s gift shop for unique ethnic pieces that support anti-trafficking initiatives in Thailand.


Forgoing creature comforts doesn’t mean you have to give up your girliness.  While you won’t want to be fully done (skip liquid foundation, it’s too greasy), stow a few workhorses that will go a long way in boosting your natural beauty.

Be sure to pack a pressed Powder with SPF 15 – moderate coverage, to stay shine-free. 

Fresh Sugar Lip tint conditions protects and comes in 12 natural-looking shades.  


Specially designed undies make it convenient to change in cracker-box bathrooms (think overnight bus rides and sleeping in airports) or wash & go on laundry day.

Pop&Go Knickers feature snaps that let you pop off panties without stepping your leg through.

Exofficio’s product technologies include bug protection, sun protection and are quick-drying!


Laundry service can add up, but it’s easy to find a coin-op washing machine or wash out a few items in the sink.  Just keep in mind that line-drying can take a whole day if it’s not sunny out, so don’t wash too much at once if you’re moving the next day or you’ll wind up with a backpack full of damp clothes.  And of course, be mindful if your hotel’s laundry rules.

This travel clothesline’s Velcro loops make attaching it to hotel furniture a breeze.


Leave the bikini at home and opt for culturally appropriate swimwear, or take a tip from the locals and swim in shorts and a tee.

We love this retro floral one-piece swimsuit by Esther Williams.


Forget lugging around soggy, heavy hiking boots.  Go for ultra-lightweight shoes that are easy on your feet and your back.

We love Hellyer Slipper by Cushe with its ultra-lightweight sole and breathable upper.


Nothing is less glamorous than leaving loads of plastic waste in your wake.  Personal water bottles with high-grade filtration systems allow you to fill your bottle with water from any source and sip it safely through a straw.  They save a pretty penny, too. Staying well-hydrated is one of the most beneficial and cost-effective things you can do for your body, skin, and overall health. We love the Nomader bottle because it is easy to clean and collapsible.


These allow you to organize your stuff, find it easily and save space in your pack.  No more digging through the dirty laundry to find your phone charger.

eBags stocks packing cubes in a variety of shapes and sizes.


These multitask as shampoo, face wash, body wash, and laundry detergent, cutting your toiletry bag in half.  

We love Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Liquid Soap in lavender


This clean, mean, tampon-obsoleting machine will make you wonder why you’ve gone all your life up until this point without one.  Perfect for traveling in countries where tampons are uncommonly available or expensive (ahem, everywhere), the Diva Cup is a 100% silicone cup that’s safe for your body and reduces waste caused by disposable feminine hygiene products.


Keeping the bites at bay doesn’t mean you have to suffer DEET’s scary side-effects.  Lemongrass or citronella repellent is not only equally effective, it smells great (we here at Chai Lai always joke that it’s our new fragrance).  

We love Badger Anti-bug Balm’s organic ingredients and compact packaging.


A sarong is a girl’s best friend: a shawl at a temple, a headwrap on a bad hair day, a light blanket on a cold bus, a bath or beach towel, you name it.  No packing required – this is a great reason to buy something beautiful and purposeful to remember your South East Asian getaway by.  

Check out some of our favorite bloggers for more tips on traveling in style:

Her Packing List

Travel Fashion Girl

Don’t Forget to Mov

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