Vietnam packing list - farming

My motorbiking trip through Vietnam was definitely an unforgettable one.

If you are planning a trip through Vietnam, here is my full Vietnam packing list of everything I jammed into my bag. I was able to fit everything into my 65 ltr. hiking backpack but I carried an extra Filson day bag around so I could strap it between my legs while riding. This was super handy to store water and my camera in while on the road.

This packing list may be slightly incomplete since my notes got wet during the trip but all the essentials will be covered. Obviously you should take into account your own situation since I am a dude and I don’t pack too heavy. Also, take note that the items listed under “Riding Items” will not be in your bag while riding so keep that in mind.

The links provided on various items are mostly for reference. It is easier for me to show you exactly what type of product I am talking about instead of you guessing.

Regular Clothes:

  • 3 – short sleeve shirts
  • long sleeve shirt
  • 2 – nice button-up travel shirts, short sleeve.
    • Vietnam can be humid and hot but it’s nice to look presentable at bars and while walking around town.
  • Cargo shorts with pockets that button up on the cargo pockets and back pocket.
    • Yes, you will look slightly dorky but your wallet will be much more secure in a buttoned cargo pocket than in an unbuttoned back pocket.
  • 7 – pairs of socks.
    • There will be times that you will not have access to a washing machine and it is nice not to have nasty socks on all the time. Also, I prefer packable thin wool socks that wick moisture. Smartwool is my favorite.
  • 7 – pairs of underwear.
    • Same suggestions for socks. The only difference is that I would not bring expensive underwear on this journey. Constant motion of sitting on a motorbike will wear your underwear pretty thin by the time you are done.
  • Gym shorts.
    • These can be used as swimming trunks, sleeping clothes, and many more uses!
  • Good shoes.
    • I brought my pair of leather mid-length Merrell hiking boots. You want something that is comfortable to walk around in but will give you good protection while you are on the road. The best advice I got while in Vietnam about riding a motorbike is “it isn’t an ‘if’ you will fall on your bike, it is a ‘when’ you fall”. You need protection for “when” you fall.
  • Sandals or thinner shoes.
    • You need a pair of packable sandals to walk around in while you visit temples or around your hostel. The easier they come off, the better. I just used an old pair of running shoes but I felt that these were too bulky. Some temples and hostels have a “no shoe” policy so leave your sandals at the door instead of your nice pair of hiking boots.
  • Scarf/Shemagh
    • This can be used in so many ways. I use this as my towel, eye guard for sleeping, mouth mask if it is really cold while riding, and so many more things! A good shemagh is not just on my Vietnam packing list but on any packing list I have.

Quick lunch yesterday. Longest day on our bikes so far. #adventurousbeard #vietnam #hoian #motorbikes

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Riding Items:

  • One pair long pants (for riding), preferably not jeans.
    • Also, preferably a zippable travel pocket near the knee and zip-up back pockets. Buy this at home. This is another essential on your Vietnam packing list.
  • Bandana/balaclava (face mask)
  • Pair of gloves.
    • DO NOT SKIP THIS! Your hands will be freezing otherwise so keep this as a priority on your Vietnam packing list.
  • Full face helmet with a visor.
    • MUST BE FULL FACED! The locals call the half helmets soup bowls, for unsightly reasons. Also, try to get one with a full visor, too. This is super handy in the rain.
  • Sunglasses
  • Windproof/Rainproof shell jacket.
    • Most jackets that are rainproof are not actually rainproof speeding down the highway at 30 mph. Unless you get an actual riding jacket, you will still get wet but make sure it is windproof. This is a must-have on your Vietnam packing list.
  • Hoody/warm coat.
    • This will be super handy when it is dumping rain on you and you are soaked. With a windproof jacket and a warm layer underneath, you may be soaked but you are not cold.
  • Plastic Trash Bags
    • Big ones. Put your entire pack into these before strapping it down to your bike. You will thank me later when you get to your hostel and you have clean, dry clothes to change into.
  • Ziplock bags
    • This is for your phone and any other electronic device you will be carrying on you. I even put my camera in one just in case it got wet in my day bag.
  • Duct Tape
    • Bring it with you from your country. It is hard to find in Vietnam for some reason (though I did find an entire store dedicated to duct tape in Hanoi).
  • Bike lock
    • Do not leave your bike unattended without at least locking the main body to the back tire. If it’s during Tet (Chinese New Year), it will not be there tomorrow. The hostel next door to ours lost 4 bikes in a week. All of them didn’t lock their bikes up. *** side note: If you are in a big city like Hanoi, ask the front desk about a garage to lock your bike in. I locked my bike up in a garage for almost two weeks undisturbed. The price ended up being the equivalent of $18 USD. Small price to pay for security and guards watching over your bike.
  • Bungee Cords.
    • At least 3 long bungees that can wrap comfortably around your big bag and several smaller ones. I used the smaller ones to secure my day bag in between my legs while I was driving. Bring at least 2 long bungee cord backups. You might go through a couple bungees trying to secure your big bag onto the back of your bike.You DO NOT want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere having to carry your massive bag on your back until you get to the next town. The bungees show in the link are the type you should get for your bags being strapped to the back of the bike. Flat bungees give more surface area to hold onto and metal hooks/carabiners are a much safer bet than plastic. It can be dangerous if your backpack flies off your bike in the middle of the road.

    Wash taking a picture of me taking a picture of him on his bike. #adventurousbeard #saigon #hochiminhcity

    A post shared by KC Loosemore (@loosemorekc) on

Electronics:

  • Phone with Whatsapp, Maps.me and google maps downloaded.
  • Camera and camera gear.
    • If you are doing this trip, maybe splurge a little and buy a nicer camera with a few good lenses to add to your Vietnam packing list. I had the Sony A6000, the best travel camera on the market at the time.
  • Two chargers and ports for your phone and camera.
  • Electrical plug converter.
    • Most places in Vietnam will have USA standard electrical plugs but I encountered some crucial places with the different plug linked above.
  • Power bank for your phone.
    • I have one that holds 4-6 chargers for my phone and a battery phone case that holds an extra charge. There have been many times I absolutely needed this so it is a must-have in my Vietnam packing list.
  • Headphones.
    • You can get these in Vietnam but might as well bring your own that you prefer. They do not take up any space and you probably need them for your flight over. I use wireless headphones since riding is so much easier without a cord in the way. Also, if you are looking for headphones search for low profile ones that do not stick out of your ear as much.

    On the road again to #donghoi #adventurousbeard #vietnam

    A post shared by KC Loosemore (@loosemorekc) on

Miscellaneous:

  • Journal and Pens
  • An internet phone sim card.
    • You cannot buy one until you get to Vietnam but you still need it. I bought my sim card with a Vietnamese phone number but you don’t need it. It was VERY handy but you don’t really need it.
  • Toiletries. A tooth brush, tooth paste, deodorant, and soap is what I carried.
    • Shampoo or conditioner have a tendency of bursting in your bag. If you carry this, just put it in one of those handy ziplock bags you brought (you brought these, right?) separate from your other toiletries.
  • A quick-dry towel.
    • If you don’t like the idea of using your scarf as a towel, bring a packable towel.
  • Ear plugs and sleeping mask.
    • DO NOT SKIP! Getting woken up to a couple getting down and dirty in the same room as you can be unsettling. Better to not have known.
  • First Aid Kit.
    • This should include bandages, gauze, bandaids, a sterile ethanol solution for wound care, diarrhea remedies, pain relievers, upset stomach remedies, and something for blisters. Please please please include one of these in your Vietnam packing list. Maybe not to the extent that I did but nonetheless.You actually do not even need to bring any of this with you. You can put together your own first aid kit when you get to Vietnam. There are literally hundreds of roadside pharmacies that you can order anything you need. The guy might not speak english but that does not  mean he doesn’t have it. I used the first aid kit a lot more often than I thought.
  • Sunscreen. This will be incredibly handy.
  • Condoms.

Optional:

  • Waterproof Go Pro.
    • I wish I had one this entire trip and I still want one. You don’t need it though, which is why I have not bought one yet.
  • Books
  • Leather Chaps
    • Leather chaps is potentially overkill and will be difficult to pack. These definitely would have been handy for me, though.
  • Toilet paper.
    • Not everywhere has toilet paper. I never had an issue with it but you might run into it.
  • Reusable Water Bottle.
    • The reason this is under optional on my Vietnam packing list is because 99% of all your water is coming from purchased plastic water bottles. Believe me, I know. Incredibly wasteful. For someone in a developed country, this can be a hard concept to grasp. You can get really sick from the water out the tap in these countries. Unless you brought your own purifier, the only way to ensure this will not happen is to buy purified water. If you do not mind just dumping all of your water from random plastic bottles into your reusable water bottle, then bring one. Otherwise, just drink out of the plastic water bottles you just bought for 30 cents.
  • iPad or computer.
    • My friend included a computer in his Vietnam packing list and I did not. It ended up being really useful but ALMOST everything you do on a laptop, you can do on your phone. I brought my iPad to read books and take notes on. Completely your choice.
  • Packing Cubes.
    • I do not think these should be optional. I think everybody should color code and organize their bags for precision and sanity. “Technically”, you can get by without them.

    Ho Chi Minh Sunrise from our awesome condo. #adventurousbeard #saigon #district7 #hochiminhcity

    A post shared by KC Loosemore (@loosemorekc) on

And that is it!

Your Vietnam packing list will contain a lot of things can actually be bought in Vietnam. Toilet paper, a bike lock, sunscreen, and a bunch of other items on this packing list can be found at most convenience stores or at Asia’s MASSIVE department stores called LOTTE Mart!

I would plan at least 4-6 days before you hit the road to get your bearings a little bit. You should set those first few days aside to search for a GOOD bike, hit up the awesome department stores for your own motorbiking adventure, and get everything you absolutely need for your own Vietnam packing list. You will not know some of the stuff you need until you are on the road. Enjoy the time you spend when you first get there because you have some long hours on the road ahead of you.

If you are starting in Hanoi, also hit up the LOTTE Mart Tower!

One of the tallest buildings in Hanoi, the LOTTE Center Hanoi is a department store on crack. It is a 70-story building with an awesome glass-panel walkway on the 65th floor. When you stand on the “Sky Walk” glass paneling, you are literally looking straight down and it is terrifying! Also, it was the first Sky Walk made in South East Asia, so there is that.

Anyway, I am getting off point here.

If you need any help, do not hesitate to message me. I love helping others in their adventures and make sure you keep me updated on your progress! I know it might feel a little overwhelming but gather each item slowly over time help break up the hectic nature of what you are about to embark on!

If you need more information on motorbiking Vietnam, start here:

Motorbiking Vietnam: Getting Started

“What’s another great place you can motorbike?” you ask? Rapa Nui, aka:

Easter Island

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