Asia | Travel Tips & News

What to pack and how to dress in Vietnam

Love your layers – that’s the best tip you could follow when planning what to pack and how to dress in Vietnam. Pack right and you’ll protect yourself from Vietnam’s unpredictable elements, its balmy sunshine and surprise downpours, especially during monsoon season. You’ll be glad you did the heavy lifting upfront to get the most out of your South East Asian travel experience.  

The local Vietnamese know that long loose attire is the best choice on what to wear in Vietnam

While you can generally expect warm and humid weather in Vietnam, the long, snaking length of the country with its 2,015-mile coastline means the weather can differ vastly from one region to the next. And, as you travel from the tropical lowlands and irresistible beauty of Halong Bay to the limestone karts of Phong Nha, you’ll be pleased you packed a versatile wardrobe.   

RELATED CONTENTHalong Bay: the emerald in Northern Vietnam’s crown 

How to dress in Vietnam 

Comfort is key when planning how to dress in Vietnam

Lightweight, loose fitting and quick drying – these are a match made in heaven when you’re deciding what to wear in Vietnam. The sheer scale of the country and the variety of weather conditions means you could switch up chilly mountain evenings for balmy days at the beach during one trip.  

Much like packing for any trip to South East Asia, you’ll want to include items that protect you from the harsh sun and those flash afternoon rain showers, so you can get back in the saddle and exploring, safe and dry. Don’t leave home without your rain poncho and sunscreen, in other words. 

Asia beckons, but before your inner explorer hops to it, follow these useful tips on how to dress in Vietnam and you’ll make sure it’s a trip you’ll never forget: 

What to pack for Vietnam 

When planning what to wear in Vietnam, add clothes that protect you from the sun

Besides protecting yourself from the elements, it may surprise you to know that the Vietnamese are fairly modest about how they dress, so you would do well to follow their example and keep yourself covered, leaving the spaghetti straps and short shorts at home.  

As always in tropical climates, loose and quick-drying are what stand between you being happy and dry, or soaked to the bone. There’s nothing quite like the water sloshing around in your trainers to make for an unpleasant afternoon of exploring.  So if you ask us what to pack for Vietnam, these would be our recommendations: 

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Below the knee skirts or trousers 

Below-the-knee outfits from light natural fabrics are your go-to when planning how to dress in Vietnam, and that includes when you’re visiting pagodas, temples and small villages. Don’t wear anything too revealing. The locals could see it as disrespectful or you could attract unwanted attention. The local Vietnamese are known for dressing quite conservatively, so make sure you’re covering your shoulders and legs, particularly when manoeuvring around sacred places and government buildings.  

Flip flops 

Add flip flops to your packing list when you're planning how to dress in Vietnam

Flip flops allow your feet to breath in the hot sun (don’t forget that SPF 50), and they also make for convenient footwear when visiting temples, someone’s home, restaurants, and some bars because you can slip them on and off easily. If you’re planning to do quite a bit of walking, pack a pair of comfortable, sturdy sandals to support your feet and stay dry (remember those downpours). 

A sarong or scarf

This versatile item of clothing is a must-pack if you’re planning to visit Vietnam’s coastline. Use it as a swimsuit cover up or beach towel by day, to wrap around your shoulders when you’re visiting a holy place or as an accessory at night.   

Warm layers 

Vietnam may be a tropical country, but if you’re travelling to Sapa in the north or visiting the countryside, pack a warm fleece or light jacket because it can get chilly, especially in the evenings.  

Comfort is key when planning how to dress in Vietnam

Insect repellent  

Although Malaria isn’t common in Vietnam, Dengue fever occurs year-round in the destination. Besides the slight risk of Dengue, there’s no need to experience the discomfort of itchy bites so lather on the insect repellent morning and night.  

RELATED CONTENT:7 unforgettable things to do in Vietnam with Trafalgar 

Sunscreen  

We already mentioned that Vietnam’s sun can be brutal.  Make sure you apply sunscreen regularly throughout the day to shield your skin and if you’re particularly sensitive to the sun, a wide-brimmed hat goes a long way to keeping you protected. 

Earplugs 

Local Vietnamese at market

The industrious Vietnamese get going super early, so if it’s a peaceful morning lie in you’re looking for, best you pack some earplugs. They will literally be a lifesaver after a long day of exploring. 

Universal Power Adapter 

Keeping it interesting, the Vietnamese have installed an array of power outlets in their buildings, so you would do well to pack a universal power adapter (preferably one with built-in fuse protection) so you can charge your electronics anywhere. 

Mask, sanitiser and handwipes 

You can’t leave home without these, no matter where you’re travelling. Remember those surprise downpours? You’ll be grateful for your spare mask while the other dries and sanitiser and handwipes ensure you’re keeping safe at all times. 

Raring to get going for your trip to Vietnam? What are some of the essentials you’ve got on your packing list? Or perhaps you’d love to share your tips on how to dress in Vietnam? Let us know in the comments below!  

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