Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How to Pack for a Southeast Asian Holiday

If you’re about to head off on a holiday to Southeast Asia, you’re no doubt knee-deep in planning fabulous tours and booking luxe Malaysian hotels. If you’re going to be travelling a lot throughout the region you don’t want to be carrying around loads and loads of luggage, so we’ve put together a guide on how to pack for your Southeast Asian adventure. Enjoy, and happy packing!

Malaysia Diving
Photo: jjay69

First Aid Kit
When it comes to putting together a toiletries or first aid kit, the main items you’ve got to make sure you have are sunscreen and insect repellent. Because most of Southeast Asia is tropical, the bugs are out of control, and in some places can carry malaria and other nasty diseases. Make sure you see your doctor before you go to receive any immunizations you may need, and bring malaria tablets along with you.

You should generally start taking them two weeks before you arriver and continue taking them throughout your stay, however check with your doctor first. Another handy item to include in your toiletries is a packet of traveller’s diarrhea tablets, or Immodium, as well as some gastrolite re-hydration powder. While it’s not particularly pleasant to think about, many travellers experience upset stomachs due to the water, change in diet and differences in sanitation in many parts of the region. It’s best to be prepared!

While much of Southeast Asia experiences a warm climate year-round, it can get very humid and experience heavy rainfall at certain times. This means that while you don’t want anything too heavy in your luggage, you DO want something waterproof to wear over your summer clothing in a downpour. A lightweight jacket or poncho should do the trick!

In addition to this, bear in mind that while much of your trip might be spent lounging on beaches, if you want to see some cultural sites such as temples or mosques you will have to cover up. Many countries in Southeast Asia have more conservative views on how women in particular should dress, and if you are entering a place of worship it is advisable to cover your knees, shoulders and head. Bring a few scarves along so that you can drape them over yourself should the need arise.

There are a few extra little comforts you might like to pack to make your trip al the more enjoyable. These include:

  • Mosquito net for around your bed (some hotels and hostels don’t have fly screens on the windows, and some Thai bungalows don’t have windows at all, so if you want to avoid getting eaten alive, this is a good investment!
  • Hand-held fan. In reality you’ll be able to buy one of these at almost any market in Southeast Asia, but that journey from the airport to the hotel in sweltering heat can be made a lot more enjoyable with a little breeze…
  • American Dollars: If you’re stuck for local cash, the good old Greenback is accepted most places.
If you’re staying in high-end accommodation then obviously you’ll have a lot provided for you (in a five-star Vietnam hotel, for example, you won’t have to worry about a mosquito net!) but if you’re planning on staying in more rustic accommodation then it’s best to be prepared!

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