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what for pack for southeast asia females

Never have I ever been more consumed with pre-trip preparation and packing than I was when I backpacked Southeast Asia. It was a nightmare filled with information overload and uncertainty. That’s why I decided to help simplify your internet search (and stress) and provide you with a well-rounded beginners guides on to pack for Southeast Asia PLUS health and travel tips.

It’s far more than a packing guide but rather a holistic preparation guide that is sure to help you get ready for your trip.

I recently backpacked around Southeast Asia for one month. While I didn’t get to see every country, I did visit some of the popular destinations you most likely are looking to visit too. I can say with confidence, these essentials will be beneficial whether you’re visiting Cambodia or Thailand, Indonesia or Singapore.


Psst. . . Looking for where to go in Southeast Asia? Check out these guides.


When Should I Travel to Southeast Asia?

The first question we all ask yourselves, which is “when should I go?”. My recent trip began in Thailand where I started in Chiang Mai and ended Singapore; traveling all through the month of July and early August. Though technically considered monsoon season, I barely caught any rain. However, the two times it did rain it poured.

This time of year is low-season for Southeast Asia and the cheapest, so if you’re willing to risk rain then I say visit in July. Just be aware that it’s always going to be hot AF. Sweat towels and breathable clothes are a must!

what for pack for southeast asia females

Southeast Asia can be as cheap or expensive as you make it.

How Much Does it Cost to Backpack Southeast Asia?

Establishing a budget beforehand is imperative. It will help you determine what’s possible and outline an itinerary that won’t break the bank. Everyone’s budget is different. I would consider myself an economy traveler with the occasional first-class splurges, at least for this trip Singapore hello!

Here is what my boyfriend and I spent on a 4-week trip around Southeast Asia.

Transportation $1,535.43

  • Singapore Airlines International Flight: $224

This was a huge saver for us. We had been hoarding points with the intention of using them for our long-haul flight. All we had to pay were taxes. If you have time, I suggest applying for a few credit cards with great introductory offers. Then book as soon as possible if you’re using airline miles or risk getting waitlisted.

  • Air Asia flight from Japan to Chiang Mai $475.78
  • Flights from LAS to LAX and SFO to LAS w/ baggage $136

Basically, we had to fly Delta from Las Vegas to Los Angeles to catch our flight to Tokyo. On return, we flew Delta again from San Francisco to Las Vegas.

  • Flight from Chiang Mai to Bangkok $183.65

We flew Nok Air from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. The huge cost is luggage.

  • Lomprayah from Bangkok to Koh Tao $80
  • Lomprayah from Koh Tao to Phuket $90
  • Flight from Phuket to Singapore $206

We booked this flight on Air Asia rather late, plus luggage fees. This can easily be cheaper for you.

  • Scooter Rentals: $10

We rented a scooter for the day in Koh Tao. Highly recommended!

  • Metros, Taxi, and Tuk Tuks: $130

Accommodation $1,071.40

  • VRBO in Chiang Mai $230.50
  • Hotel in Bangkok $113.52
  • Hotel in Koh Tao $404.52
  • Hotels in Phuket 212.86
  • HoteIs in Singapore $2,246

There are plenty of cheaper options for accommodation in Singapore, but we went with the intention of living it up. We were also there for a week. Though I recommend a week in Singapore, many travelers only spend a few days.

  • Hotel in SFO $110

Because we arrived back in San Francisco so late at night, we couldn’t catch a flight until the next morning. Becuase of that, we paid more to stay near the airport with free shuttle transportation.

Entertainment $2,150.91

  • Diving Certifications: $800
  • Tours/Museums $166.91
  • Shopping $117.26
  • Food & Drinks: $1,066.74

Miscellaneous Expenses $1,648.56

  • Misc. (grocery, bathrooms, airport spend, etc.) $39.10
  • Travelers Insurance $209.76 for two people
  • Cash we exchanged before the trip $1,400

TOTAL FOR 1-MONTH / 2 PEOPLE: $6,409.30

The major expense here was staying at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore for 3-nights. If you subtract that cost, our total was $4,796 ($2,400 per person). Lastly, this total does not include any pre-trip supplies and outfits.

6 ways to make your trip significantly cheaper:

  1. Stay in hostels or couch surf
  2. Stay longer in fewer places. Although we only traveled to two countries in Southeast Asia, we visited multiple cities spending upwards of a week in each place. Not moving around saved us a ton on transportation.
  3. Eat only street food
  4. Limit shopping. If you do decide to shop, don’t be afraid to negotiate the price and only buy something you absolutely love. There are great things at many markets, but there is also a lot of junk.
  5. Look for free days at the museum
  6. Go on a self-guided tour.
  7. Rather than buying new outfits for your trip, ask around to see if anyone is willing to donate clothes. That’s what I did which earned me a couple of sundresses and a cotton tee. Thanks sis!


What to Pack for Southeast Asia

Now that costs are out of the way, we can get into all the essentials you should plan on packing. Proper attire is extremely important if not to stay cool in the sweltering heat, but to be respectful of religious traditions found all around Southeast Asia.

Medical supplies are also important which I break down momentarily. Let’s get to it!

Health and Beauty Essentials

Here’s the thing. You might not need to use everything on this list, but should you need it, you will have a hard time finding it abroad. This is one of those instances where it’s better to come overprepared.

If you don’t want to buy all these, consider snooping through your family’s medicine cabinets and grabbing a few tablets here and there to take with you. I’m sure grandma won’t mind lending you some ibuprofen.

Fabric softeners to keep clothes smelling fresh and repel bed bugs. That’s right. Bed bugs hate the strong smell of dryer sheets. It’s a great way to keep them from spreading to your belongings.

Another great bed bug repellent is tea tree oil. Put some in a mist spray bottle and spray on your bed after checking it for bed bugs. Trust me you don’t want bed bugs. A few items won’t hurt to buy if they prevent an outbreak from occurring.

Theraflu to help treat those days you’re feeling under the weather. I like the powder packets. They are small and easy to pack.

Anti-diarrheal tablets in the event you get sick from the food. I didn’t have that problem, but I also only ate vegetarian to reduce my risk of getting food poison from uncooked meat.


Excedrin migraine relief for the babies crying on the long-haul flight.

Dramamine for those rocky boat rides. Caution though. I took a whole tablet for a 1-hour boat ride. Once we got off the boat and started walking around I got really bad vertigo. I should have taken half a tablet. I learned that Dramamine will have a reverse effect if used when not needed.

Antibiotics aka Z-Pack. You will want to ask your doctor for a prescription. This is what you absolutley need pack for Southeast Asia. Unless you get sick and use your traveler’s insurance, but that would be a long process.

Gas X


Benadryl if you get an allergic reaction to something.

Mucinex for when you get stuffed up. I actually used Mucinex a few times.

Hand sanitizer is a must, especially when the restroom has no soap which is often.

Depending on where you are staying within Southeast Asia (i.e. remote cabins or city hotels) will dictate if you might need to bring a mosquito net.

Makeup: Be real with yourself now, you will be sweating so much, makeup is a waste of time and money. I applied a little mascara and a bold lipstick. Anything else would be too much.


YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: How to Stay Healthy While Traveling Abroad



Sunsect sunscreen lotion with insect repellent worked amazing and smelled good for an insect repellant. All the products I found online had bad reviews until I came across this one. I was very pleased with my purchase. It’s SPF 15 and water-resistant which means it won’t slip off as soon as you step outside and start sweating. It dries nicely and smells more like a sunscreen than bug spray.

Banana Boat Sports Sunscreen to use as your touchup sunscreen throughout the day. We didn’t want to waste the good sunscreen, so we applied that first thing in the morning then used the “regular” sunscreen to reapply as needed.

3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent Lotion looks, feels and smells like glue but that sh*t WORKS! If you can handle the smell (it takes some getting used to) then you should definitely get this. You will not get a single mosquito bite I promise.

DEET spray for clothes is useful only if you spray your clothes and let them dry BEFORE you leave. Two days before you pack, bring your clothes somewhere with no wind and ventilation like a garage, spray your clothes and let them fully dry before packing.


Toilet seat covers to pack in your day bag that will come in handy for those not-so-nice toilets.

Tampons unless you use a menstrual cup or don’t mind cardboard ones. I’m particular so I always pack my brand.

What to Pack for Southeast Asia females

What to Pack for Southeast Asia for Females

Given that the weather is hot, humid and rainy I wanted breathable clothes that dry fast. I also needed clothes that were versatile and easy to wash.

Under Garments

  • 20 pairs of underwear
  • 14 pairs of socks
  • 3 sports bras
  • 2 bralettes

Lounge and Activewear

  • 2 bathing suits
  • 2 workout outfits (2 tees, 2 pants)
  • 2 sleeping outfits
what for pack for southeast asia females

Don’t mind me, just having my Marilyn moment.


  • 7 sundresses
  • 2 flowy dresses for special occasions
  • 1 bathing suit cover
  • 5 pairs of shorts (2 jean and 3 polyester/cotton shorts like these)
  • 2 pairs of pants
  • 6 tops & tanks


  • Nikes will be your main shoe so invest in a good pair with plenty of support.
  • Converse adds a nice style to outfits. Add insoles to give support for walking and standing long periods of time.
  • Sandals with a strap are nice enough to be worn with a nice dress for dinner but casual for everyday purposes
  • Water sandals to prevent slips and cuts when climbing waterfalls or jumping into lakes.
female packing list for southeast asia

Working on my sunglass tan lines



How to Pack Like A Pro

Though I only traveled around Southeast Asia for 4-weeks, the trip was 6-weeks total with Japan first. That meant I had to pack for two extra weeks in a single checked bag. The big trick here is to pack two weeks’ worth of clothes and wash them on the go.

Next, make sure you use packing cubes to save even more space and an expandable suitcase.

BONUS: Tips for Travelling Southeast Asia

(Thailand Only) If you’re looking to island-hop, book your journey with Lomprayah. They are a catamaran and bus company that operates all over the major islands in Thailand. We used their services twice to and from Koh Tao. Overall very pleased with the service although our catamaran did lose power for a bit during the commute and I low key thought we were going to have to get in a lifeboat.

We went to a few islands during our two weeks in southern Thailand. Check out these guides to Koh Tao and Phuket.

(Toilet Preparations) Almost every restroom I entered had at least one “western toilet”. The only time I had to use the squatters (YUK) was on a road trip at a rural gas station whose western toiler was broken. If you find yourself in this predicament, you will need to use the bucket to scoop water and flush. Yes, it’s horrible. No, I never want to do it again.

Cash is 100% necessary. I recommend exchanging some before you go, especially if you plan to get a SIM card right away. Many will only take cash, even at the airport. However, If you can hold out, I recommend getting one in the city.

Make photocopies of your passport.

Don’t be discouraged by taxis. They are often cheaper than TukTuks.

Purchase travelers Insurance effective your date of departure.

You need to make sure you are up to date on your shots at least two months before you depart. This is considered preventive so check with your health insurance to see what they cover then find a primary care doctor.

Shots you need (this information was pulled from the as of April 23, 2019):

  • MMR booster: This was considered preventative for me, so make sure to look at your insurance because the same might be true for you.
  • Flu was also preventative. Just don’t mention that’s it’s for travel. Just say you are outdated on your shots. Shhh, you didn’t hear it from me.
  • Malaria
  • Rabies
  • Japanese Encephalitis

That said, I don’t want to tell you what to do. These are the recommendations of the CDC. If you are unsure, consult with your Primary Doctor.


Useful Apps to Download ASAP

From flights to currency converters, these are some useful apps to download before you go. I used all of these at some point during my trip.


  • Thai Lion Air
  • Nok Air
  • Bangkok Airways
  • Air Asia


  • Hostelworld
  • Airbnb
  • Vrbo
  • Agoda


  • Grab
  • Google Maps
  • Google Translate
  • Currency Converter

I feel pretty good about this. I looked over credit card statements and cleared all my saved notes to bring you this guide, so I hoped it helped by bringing clarity to the preparation process. Traveling Southeast Asia was an unforgettable experience, one unlike any other. While this guide will greatly help you (pinky promise) you should always anticipate unexpected bumps in the road on any trip. If you overcame a challenge, please share your story in the comments. I hope this post evolves over time as more and more tips and packing essentials are shared.

As always, thank you for reading and be sure to join Flight Club. It’s a weekly newsletter filled with tons of exclusive content and community highlights. Until next time…

Psst. . . Looking for where to go in Southeast Asia? Check out these guides.

Are you adding Koh Tao to your bucket list? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission (at no cost to you) when you purchase through these links, which helps me keep my lights on and order pizza from Dominos! I am extremely grateful. Thank you.

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southeast asia packing list for backpacking

southeast asia packing list backpacking