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So, you’re heading on a big backpacking adventure across Southeast Asia, and you’re wondering what the heck you’re going to take. Don’t worry! We’ve got some great suggestions for you here, from our seasoned pro.


Check out our Ultimate Packing List for Southeast Asia and this Thailand Packing List.


Do’s and Don’ts for What to Wear in South East Asia

by Swenja from BlondeTraveler


First of all, don’t take too much clothing with you. Usually when you travel with a backpack, you have to throw out a piece of clothing for every new piece you buy. Plus, shopping in Asia is one of the most incredible and enjoyable experiences you’ll have.

I’ll never forget my first time in an Asian shopping mall – so many different colors and styles hanging in the shop fronts – I couldn’t believe it! So I suggest starting your trip with some shopping! Follow this list of do’s and don’ts for your packing and shopping list and you can’t go wrong.


South East Asia Do:


  • Pack like you’re going on the catwalk. You can’t take more than 15 kg with you in your backpack, so use packing cubes to help you pack light. Every piece in your capsule wardrobe has to be chosen carefully to ensure coordination purposes. Before you go, invite your girlfriends back home and let them help you check all possible combinations to mix and match travel outfits for every destination.
  • Pay attention to the dress code. Have a pair of fancy sandals with you at all times. You shouldn’t miss a rooftop bar with an unbelievable view of the skyline just because you don’t have the proper footwear!


Check out our favorite dress sandals for a beach getaway.


  • Take a sarong with you. There are endless ways to use a sarong: as a sheet, a dress, a towel, a pillow cover, a handbag, a skirt, a yoga mat …
  • Dress up. Cotton is comfy and you can’t see marks on dark colored cotton fabric but keep in mind that during your trip through Southeast Asia you will be in thousands of photos. This is your time to dress up! Show your girlfriends at home amazing scenes from tropical islands you and your brand new summer dress playing in the sand.


Read about choosing the best fabrics for humid climates.


  • Grab unique fashion finds as travel gifts and souvenirs. Imagine a colleague at home compliments you on your necklace and you answer: “Thanks! I got it in Bali from this cute street vendor.” Nothing feels better.


South East Asia Don’t:


  • Show too much skin. Southeast Asians are quite modest dressers and this is an integral part of their culture. This is especially important if you are going to visit temples. When you do, wear shirts or blouses with sleeves and carry a sarong or wear a maxi skirt to cover your legs.
  • (2017 update) Due to the king’s recent passing, the country is in mourning and wearing bright colors and clothing that’s overly revealing is discouraged.


Read these tips about choosing clothing for conservative countries.


  • Travel without a pair of flip-flops. Flip-flops are perfect to travel with, because you can wear them in the shower of a hostel or bungalow, on the beach and on your shopping tour downtown.


Check out our favorite flip-flops for travel!


  • Be careless. In areas where the population is primarily Muslim, cover up or expect to be propositioned, followed around by men and/or put in uncomfortable and even dangerous situations.


What are your tips for what to wear in Southeast Asia? Comment Below! 


For more Southeast Asia packing tips, please read:

Suggested Travel Resources


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Author Bio: Originally from Germany, Swenja discovered her traveler’s heart during university and decided to go on a world trip in 2009. Till now, she has travelled more than 40 countries, lived in Germany and Thailand. In 2011, she became the beauty and fashion advisor for Blonde Traveler, a travel support service, magazine, and community for women traveling and living in Southeast Asia.