Top 10 Essential Items for Travelling Asia

So you’re ready to set foot in the unknown territory of Asia, but what in the world do you bring? Depending on where you are going, this won’t be your average holiday. Most of us throw some shorts and a few flowery dresses into our suitcase and call it a day. But if this is your first time to Asia then there are a few essential things I recommend you bring. In order to have a healthy, safe and awesome trip start stocking up on the list below!

Top10 Essential Items for Travelling Asia

1.Toilet Paper

Let’s get the gross stuff out of the way. The first day I arrived in Malaysia I walked into a KFC to use the restroom. To my surprise, I found a hole in the floor and a bucket of water….in KFC. Needless to say, I ALWAYS bring toilet paper with me every time I go to Asia. Majority of the time, you will have western facilities in places like airports and hotels. I have travelled extensively all over Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and so on and have always run into the “holes” at least once a day. Just a small packet of tissues does me and is discrete. This is part of the culture here though so if you’re looking to really hit the road in Asia than come prepared!


This one seems quite common but I think a lot of people forget it and then just buy it at their destination. This is generally fine if you’re in a big city but if you’re in the middle of nowhere, sunscreen might be hard to come by. Whatever you do find as well will probably cost you more than all your meals for the day! And if you try to cheap out, you might get a product that has harsh chemicals in it or won’t really protect you. So remember to bring your own before you head to your tropical Asian getaway!

Catching sun on the beach in Asia

Get your sun cream before heading to the beaches!

3.Washing Up Liquid

I’m sure you’re thinking, why would I ever need this on holiday? Honestly it is my best friend for long trips through out Asia. If you’re only going for a week than I’m sure you’ll be fine but if you’re going for a good while, where do you wash your clothes? You can pay to have the hotel/guesthouse you’re in wash it of course. My boyfriend did this though and they ruined all of his shirts so we don’t always trust this option. Better option…wash them in your sink yourself! Multiple times I did this in hostels and hotels and then hung them out my window overnight and I was good to go in the morning! Especially if you’re travelling for long periods, you don’t want to be weighed down by loads of clothes. Just bring a few basics and wash them as you go!


If you’re someone like me who stays in hostels, it’s important to keep your items safe and locked up. This goes for anywhere, not just Asia. A lot of places will have padlocks already provided but it’s important to have you’re own in case you need it during transit as well. Padlock your zips together on your bags while on overnight trains, buses and so on; safety first!


I had food poisoning for a week straight in  Hue, Vietnam and it was beyond rough. We had to reschedule our bus 3 times and I lived on a diet of apple juice and vegetable broth soup, but I’m alive! Honestly though, my stomach was pretty rough the whole month I was in Vietnam. Generally as humans, every time we go to a new country our digestive system has a hard time adjusting to the foods of that nation. So I would suggest taking some probiotics for at least a week before your trip and during it too. Eat foods that are good for digestion like yoghurt too! And as my grandma says “keep your mouth closed in the shower and only use bottled water” and I could not agree more.

6.US Dollars

Regardless of whether you’re from the US or not, the US dollar will take you very far in Asia. It’s a widely accepted currency and offering someone that for a t-shirt versus their own currency will buy you heaps more. Even when I was in Cambodia, the ATM machines give you US money, not Cambodian Riel. The Riel is like the equivalent of paying for things with leaves, it has no value whatsoever. Border fees as well are generally in US dollars. So get yourself $50 in $1 notes and you’ll be good to go!

Us Dollars for Asia


I’m sure you’re excited to sit on a beach in the middle of the gulf of Thailand but if you pick the wrong time of year than the monsoon gods will rain on your parade. Just as well, northern Vietnam actually gets very cold which I was unaware of my first time in Hanoi and wish I had brought a jacket! It’s great to pack like you’re going to live on the sun for a few weeks but be practical and bring a coat with you as well just in case you run into some unruly weather during your travels!

8.Extra Passport Photos

The chances of you needing them are slim but if you decide to change up your travel plans and want to head to a different country in Asia than you might need these! It’s a good idea to carry a few extras on you because you generally need them for visas on arrival. They are readily available to get done in a lot of places but sometimes you might have to wander a bit to find a location so always good to have some back-ups!

9.Extra Copies of Your Passport

Absolutely definitely need this. Make a few copies of your passport and keep them all in different locations. Suitcase, back pack, wallet and so on. Just in case you lose the real thing or something happens to your luggage, you always have copies to show proof of who you are!

10.Mosquito Spray

If you’re wanting to be adventurous and get away from the pool or city for a bit than this is a must. Hiking through the jungles in Malaysia resulted in me being covered in bites. Mosquito nets in bungalows as well are not always the greatest and you can wake up ravaged after what was mean’t to be a true cultural experience on a banana plantation, I know this first hand. Bring this with you in your suitcase so you’re not scavenging for it on arrival in Asia!

Hiking through jungles in Asia

Needed some bug spray for this hike in Penang, Malaysia!

Things you DON’T Need

If you bring anything, make it those 10 items. Things I have realised I didn’t need are loads of make-up and clothes as well as a giant suitcase. Of course I brought my basics like cover-up and mascara but you’re in Asia, who do you have to impress? Relax and chill out and enjoy the beauty around you! Same goes for your clothes, we are not at Fashion Week. As for a suitcase, I think it’s always best to pack as light as possible. You’re going to want to bring home souvenirs and such so leave some room for those. And if you’re wanting to properly backpack, a massive suitcase won’t go far on your motorbike!

Cats trying to climb into suitcase to Asia

Don’t bring your pets either regardless of how much they want to get in your suitcase.


For more tips, check out my guide to Chiang Mai, Thailand!


4 thoughts on “Top 10 Essential Items for Travelling Asia

  • Travelling to Asia is really awesome because of cultures, landscapes, people, etc. I am a proud Asian .
    It is a great write up, everything (almost) that a traveller must carry is mentiod. I would suggest to bring camera to capture the adventures.

    • Love this article. It is very useful and accurate. I’ve been to Asia a few times now, and I definitely agree with you on bringing these items. I wish I read this article before I went though. The probiotics idea is smart, and I never really thought about that. It seems like you had a blast! Look forward to reading more of your articles. 🙂

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