Southeast Asia’s lush landscapes, dynamic cities, and delicious food make the region a must-see for many international travelers. The subregion of Asia consists of eleven countries, including Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Each has differing cultural norms, weather patterns, and tourist attractions, so packing appropriately and light requires careful consideration. Before you embark on a journey of a lifetime, you need a few essentials and perhaps the odd luxury. Here are the top items of travel gear for Southeast Asia that are fundamental packing.
We hope you love the Southeast Asia travel gear we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.
Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack
Let’s start at the beginning. You’re going to need a bag. Countless travelers swear by the Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack. Accommodating 55 liters of clothes, gear, and memories, this lockable U-zip backpack is the optimal size for travelers working their way around Southeast Asia. The detachable daypack is perfect for tours, and the stowaway back panel provides easy access to everything in the pack. Oh, and you’ll also look fully legit.
Love it or hate it, monsoon season is a fact of life in Southeast Asia, and it usually hits between June and October. This durable polyurethane-coated polyester taffeta poncho is one of the most important pieces of travel gear for Southeast Asia and comes outfitted with rust-resistant snaps and a taped seam to keep out even the most overachieving of raindrops. Weighing in at nine ounces, the raincoat is not only lightweight but comes with a full-cut integral hood that adjusts with a drawcord.
AeroPress Go Portable Travel Coffee Press
No self-respecting, coffee-loving traveler should be caught without an AeroPress Go, which offers a coffee a-sip-above-the-rest. Using an air pocket, hot water is pushed through the grounds and a filter, resulting in a satisfying brew. Throw in a mug and the AeroPress Go is not only an essential companion but will arguably give you better coffee than with traditional brewing methods.
A decent sun hat
Proper sun protection such as a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses, is key for hot, humid, and sunny days. A hat can help prevent sunburn and heatstroke, which can put a nasty dent in your trip. Crafted from a breathable cotton and polyester blend, the Peter Grimm Stream hat ensures ventilated head coverage and durability. Its lightweight design is also perfect for attaching to your backpack or daypack.
GoPro HERO10 Black Accessory Bundle
The GoPro, once synonymous with bros chucking themselves from mountain tops and chest-bumping after the descent, has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. The GoPro HERO10 comes with up to 5.3K visual capacity and also scales down to 4K, 2.7K, 1440p, and 1080p. Fully waterproof down to depths of 33 feet, it’s the classic companion for when you’re diving in any of Southeast Asia’s crystalline coastlines. The travel setup comes with rechargeable batteries, curved adhesive mounts, and a handy travel case.
Tiger Balm extra strength (pack of three)
The most famous Thai export, Tiger Balm is used for a number of ailments including muscle pain, congestion, and coughs. It’s also great for keeping mosquitoes away. Made from camphor, menthol, cajuput oil, and clove oil, this jar of Tiger Balm Red is an essential item to keep on hand while trekking through the jungles of Borneo or scaling the limestone rock faces of Cantabaco in the Philippines.
Sun Bum mineral SPF 50 sunscreen
Mineral sunscreen is a good alternative to chemical sunscreen. It uses active mineral agents such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to reflect the sun’s light away from the skin. Not only are the ingredients in mineral sunscreen safer for humans, but mineral sunscreens are also safer for the environment. Sun Bum sunscreen is one of the best on the market and one tube goes a long way.
First aid kit — 298 pieces
A Southeast Asian hospital visit is not on travelers’ bucket lists. That is one reason why this 298-piece first-aid kit is among the most important pieces of travel gear. Both durable and compact, this paramedic-in-a-bag includes a CPR Mask, blanket, tourniquet, and all the basics. Oh, and if you’re suffering from a UBI (the professional medical term for Unexplained Beer Injury), the bandaids will also come in useful.
The North Face Base Camp Voyager dopp kit
Depending on your budget, you’ll likely find your accommodation in Southeast Asia has shared bathrooms. So you need something waterproof to cart your toiletries to and from. The North Face Base Camp Voyager Dopp Kit is a secure and durable storage solution for all your toiletries. The bag is lightweight, made from fully recycled materials, and features a convenient two-way zipper system. It also includes a wide integrated hook for conveniently hanging it up, making it a practical choice, especially when using a hostel bathroom.
Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3 wireless portable waterproof bluetooth speaker
UE WONDERBOOM 3 is the new mainstay of UE’s ultra-portable speaker line. The squat beer can design is not only waterproof but floats, too. We’ll let you imagine for yourself the pool party options available here.
REI Co-op laundry pack
When traveling around Southeast Asia, you need to get used to sending your washing away to be cleaned or going to a laundromat, where available. So having something waterproof to carry your dirty clothes and keep them separate from your clean gear is vital. The REI Co-op pack is an essential. It has a drawstring closure with a cord lock that keeps your belongings (and their smell) securely contained. There are also handy webbing straps that let you carry it like a backpack and an inside pocket for coins.
Saalt Menstrual Cup Duo Pack
Reusable, travel-safe menstrual cups can come in pretty handy if you’re up a mountain, miles from a store, or on a secluded island. Composed of medical-grade silicone, this mooncup will also save valuable space. When your menstrual cycle hits, Saalt has got your back with this outstanding product of the highest quality.
Nite Ize RunOff 3-1-1 waterproof pouch
The Nite Ize RunOff 3-1-1 waterproof pouch offers exceptional protection for your valuables from incidental moisture and unexpected rain. It features a simple slide-to-secure zipper that is easy to use and creates a waterproof and dustproof seal. The pouch is tested to IP67, which means you can fully submerge it up to one meter deep for 30 minutes, and it’ll keep everything inside dry. It’s ideal for documentation, electronics, and material first aid items such as bandages and plasters.
Anker portable charger
This product will keep your devices fully juiced during your great Southeast Asian vacation. With over 20 million users of Anker products in the US alone, there’s a reason why this portable charger is so popular. It has enough power to charge an iPhone 12 to 50 percent in 30 minutes and provides around seven days of power. You can plug this in overnight in your accommodation so you’re ready for long days of exploration. It comes with a travel pouch and a USB cable.
Matador waterproof pill canister
You can purchase a cheap pill box from any major drugstore. But the plastic containers don’t always do well in transit. They can chip, crack, and let in moisture. The last thing you want is to lose vital pills when you’re unable to access your regular doctor. What you need is something reliable and durable. And with Matador’s pill box, you get what you pay for. Waterproof and airtight, it’s designed to keep your medication safe from water and other environmental elements. The canister is compact and lightweight, making it easy to carry around in your pocket or bag, and has a screw-on cap that secures tightly, preventing any accidental spillage.