Ok, so you’re looking for a travel checklist. I don’t blame you… packing for any holiday can be stressful. No matter how organised I think I have been with my ‘list making’ there is always something (or 10) that I realise I have forgotten at 3am in the morning of the day I’m going away, while I try to squeeze half my wardrobe into a carry-on bag.
So, while I am afraid I cannot do all your packing for you – nor can I plan your outfits or do your bikini shopping, I am going to give you a packing list of essential items to throw in your suitcase for any holiday in Asia you may be planning. Of course, this list could probably be applied to any country but I am writing it specifically with Vietnam and Cambodia in mind.
So without any further ado, here we go:
1. A multi-country USB Plug adaptor
What?! I never promised you this list was going to be sexy. Ok, hear me out on this one. No matter how luxurious your hotel is, there is often a shortage of plug sockets and what’s a girl to do when she needs to straighten her hear, charge her phone, juice up her kindle and give the camera batteries some life – all at once? Well with one of these you can do all of this. It has become my number one travel partner. My adaptor, which I just bought on Amazon for about £15, isn’t the one pictured here but it has two USB ports (so that’s the phone and Kindle taken care of) and a space to insert any main plug. What’s more is that it has worldwide pins to go into the socket so it quite literally works anywhere in the world. Until you try to use a hairdryer that is – which of course blows a fuse in anything and everything – so don’t do that.
2. Sun Tan Cream
This one might sound obvious but… In Asia it is almost impossible to buy suntan cream of any factor lower than 50. If you are lucky you might find factor 30 if you are on the coast – and if you’re very lucky it won’t have whitening agents in it. Even when I was staying in the most luxurious resorts in Nha Trang, on the coast in Vietnam, they didn’t sell any cream under factor 30 in the gift shops? Why? Because most Asian people see white skin as a sign of ultimate beauty – the same way we see a sun kissed golden tan. You will find whitening agent in many beauty products – even deodorants!
3. Trail running shoes
These are my lovely new trail running shoes. If you are like me and you like to keep fit while you are away, even if it is just a short early morning run in a new city, these are the ideal travelling partner. They are perfect because they double up as running shoes and trekking shoes – and trust me you don’t have room for two big, bulky ugly pairs of practical shoes in your suitcase! This is a one shoe fits all, pardon the pun, which saves all the more room for the essential pair of summer wedges. I bought these from a specialist running trainer shop in London for £100.
4. A light waterproof jacket
Hey, at least nobody can accuse this list of not being practical. Here’s the thing – Asia is tropical and there is a lot of rain. In fact, the rainy season can be a fabulous time to visit Vietnam and Cambodia – the temples of Angkor Wat are much quieter and the luxury hotels are almost giving rooms away. But when it rains in Asia, it pours. What you need is a thin, waterproof jacket that roll up and take up a tiny amount of space so when it rains you can pull it out and look like a pro… or you can buy yourself a big red disposable poncho everyday which is a whole other kind of look. This one pictured, the Marmot Mica Rain jacket has got especially good reviews.
5. A Silk Scarf (or similar)
This is not me. It is a pretty girl I found on the internet modelling a great scarf. Ok, no matter what your thoughts are on wearing scarves back home – the scarf will became your best friend in Asia. It has so many roles:
1. It looks nice and accessorises an oufit if you don’t want to pack al your expensive jewellery.
2. It automatically can be thrown over your head and shoulders if you are entering a temple and not dressed appropriately.
3. It can become a sarong for the beach if it is long enough – or a towel to sit on if you find yourself presented with a grubby train seat or something.
4. Last but certainly not least, if you have failed to bring your light waterproof jacket with you it can become your emergency hood in one of the dreaded monsoon downpours.
6. Language and Currency Apps (and a big smile)
Ok, you are never going to go on a two week holiday to Vietnam or Cambodia and come home fluent. But nobody expects you to. I lived in Vietnam for six months and could barely say my address (it’s a tonal language – there’s five ways of saying everything and they could all mean completely different things). Awkward. But the point is there is no excuse not to learn how to say hello, please and thank you in any country you visit. I have a selection of language apps on my phone including Duolingo and Google translate which are brilliant, especially the latter as it has audio of the words so you can perfect you ‘Xin Chao’ (which incase you are wondering is in the tones of the letter S – the same shape as Vietnam). No, I never said it was going to be easy. When nobody can understand you say hello just keep smiling. Currency app is also so helpful – especially in Vietnam where nothing willl closet you less than a few thousand Dong. Exactly. That means coshing. I like the xe app.
7. Mosquito-bite clicker
Do not leave home without one of these. Forget anti-bite or any other soothing creams, if you have been bitten you need a mosquito-bite clicker (or at least I think that’s what they’re called). I bought mine from Boots and it is a lifesaver. Basically, it has teeny, tiny electric shocks and you place it on your mosquito bite and zap it – I tend to do it about five times. And then as if by magic the itch disappears, which means there’s nothing to scratch, which means those horrible little marks will disappear quickly and not scar your legs and you can wear pretty skirts once more and flash those tanned legs.
So, I’m pretty sure you can figure the rest of the stuff out. Pretty dresses, light-weight modest clothing for rural areas and temples, and whatever jewellery your heart desires – but pack the bits above too and you can’t go too far.
If you are interested in booking a luxury trip to Vietnam or Cambodia, please contact me via my contact page (in the ‘about’ menu) or take a look at my travel agency site Fleewinter – which sells luxury holidays to Cambodia.