Asia » Vietnam » What To Wear In Vietnam For Women And Men: Vietnam Packing Guide

What To Wear In Vietnam For Women And Men: Vietnam Packing Guide

Wondering what to wear in Vietnam? Whether you’re heading to Hoi An, Halong Bay, the beach or the countryside, this packing guide will help.

After the most incredible adventure in Vietnam, I’ve returned with endless travel tips for you guys. It really was the trip of a lifetime. We spent 3-weeks in Vietnam in November, enjoying the most wonderful and varied itinerary.

Vietnam is one of the most beautiful countries in southeast Asia, and is home to a wide range of landscapes. We enjoyed the hustle and bustle in Hanoi and Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), the vibrant culture of Hoi An, the laid-back vibes on the island of Phu Quoc and the natural beauty of Halong Bay.

Wearing a light sundress in Halong Bay
I’ll share my travel tips on what to wear in Vietnam

We also happened to be travelling with our 8-month-old son. It was no mean feat…! In terms of packing, it’s fair to say that small babies come with a ridiculous amount of stuff! I’m not just talking about nappies and clothes, there were also lots of packets of snacks and pouches of purees, a travel high chair and a pram!

We decided we could only manage two medium suitcases, so we were forced to be relatively compact with our wardrobe choices. We both chose items of clothing that would mix and match easily, fit a variety of scenarios and pack down small.

exploring hoi an
Wearing a colourful sun dress in Hoi An

When is the best time to visit Vietnam?

To help you pack for Vietnam, you’ll need to decide when to visit the country, then look at the weather for that time of year. While you may think of Vietnam as warm and tropical, due to the geography of the country (long and thin!) it actually has three different climates.

Broadly speaking, the best time to visit Vietnam is between November and April. We chose to travel in November as it’s usually dry in the south and a little cooler and less humid in the north of the country. It also meant we could escape the dreariness of autumn in the UK. Hurrah! The only downside? November is one of the wettest months in central Vietnam, so we did have to deal with a few rainy days.

Lahana Resort
We had great weather for most of our trip in Vietnam

Weather in Vietnam by region

Here’s a quick overview of the weather you can expect in each region throughout the year.

Northern Vietnam: May – October tends to be hot and humid with the most rain. November – April will be much drier. It’s worth noting it can get really cold in December and January in Sapa and the most northerly areas.

menswear vietnam
Northern Vietnam experiences the coldest weather

Central Vietnam: January – August you can expect very hot, dry weather. September – November is the rainy season and you may even see flooding during these months (as we did in Hoi An).

Southern Vietnam: November- April tends to be hot and dry. Then from May – October you’ll move into the warmer, wetter season.

rainy season in vietnam
You might want to avoid rainy season in Vietnam

What to wear in Vietnam

After spending a lot of my pre-trip research googling how to dress in Vietnam to visit various areas or take part in specific activities, I thought it’d be helpful to pass on a few words of wisdom from our trip. It’s definitely a country you should consider both the culture and practicalities before you go.

From the best footwear to travel with, to lightweight clothing ideal for the tropical climate and a few vital accessories (some of which I wished I’d packed!) here’s my ultimate guide to what to wear in Vietnam. Consider this your Vietnam packing list!

Oh, and don’t worry guys, I’ve popped a few ideas together for you men out there who are struggling to with what to take too.

hoi an basket boat
On a basket boat tour in Hoi An wearing a midi skirt and light top

What Should A Woman Wear To Visit Vietnam?

While tourism is widespread in Vietnam, and you’ll see Westerners along the main tourist routes, it’s important to be considerate of the culture and local customs by dressing respectfully. This is particularly important if you’re planning to visit any religious sites in the country. I’d always recommend packing a lightweight scarf so you can cover up easily when needed.

What To Wear In Vietnam: Women’s Clothes 

In order to plan what to pack for a trip to Vietnam, be sure to research exactly where you’re going. As mentioned, temperatures vary from beach areas in Phu Quoc or Da Nang, to the mountains in Sapa. It can get really chilly in the winter in Sapa, so if you’re visiting that part, make sure you have a few warm items.

Marble Mountains Da Nang
Visiting the Marble Mountains near Da Nang, in lightweight clothes and sandals

What to wear in Vietnam’s cities

If you’re spending time in cities such as Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Hoi An or Hue, I’d recommend lightweight shorts, skirts, tops and dresses, ideally made of breathable fabrics. It can get sticky at times, so you won’t want materials that cling to your skin.

In terms of footwear, I tended to wear Birkenstock sandals or trainers. The sun is powerful, so don’t forget to pack a hat and sunglasses too.

what to wear in Hoi An
I found this lightweight black dress really useful on this trip

If you visit Hoi An, don’t miss the opportunity to have some garments made at one of the many tailoring shops. We had a great experience at Ba Ri Tailors in Hoi An old town. I had a beautiful turquoise dress made, while Macca bought a linen suit and several shirts. The prices are reasonable and the quality is great, especially for such a quick turnaround.

hoi an tailor shop
Visiting a tailors in Hoi An

What to wear on Vietnam’s beaches

Vietnam is home to many white sandy beaches, including those on the paradise island of Phu Quoc in the south and the long coastlines of Da Nang and Nha Trang. All of these destinations have a mix of beachfront resorts and more relaxed accommodation.

wearing a bikini in Phu Quoc
Wearing a bikini on the beach in Phu Quoc

If you’re planning some beach time in Vietnam, you’ll want to pack swimwear (bikini or bathing suit), shorts and light dresses. I’d recommend a light coverup too, just to add an extra layer of protection from the sun. If you’re planning to go on a boat trip, snorkelling or spend long periods in the water, you might also want to pack a rash vest. The sun is really fierce, so be sure to apply a high SPF too.

Dressed in light clothing in Phu Quoc Vietnam
Dressed in light clothing in our resort in Phu Quoc, Vietnam

If you’ll be spending time in northern Vietnam, I’d recommend packing a few layers. As mentioned, it can get pretty cold in the northern areas, especially at higher altitude. You might appreciate leggings, a cardigan and a light jacket there (depending on the time of year).

What to wear in Halong Bay

If you’re planning to visit Halong Bay (and I’d 100% recommend you do – it’s awesome!) your general Vietnam wardrobe should fit pretty well. I tended to wear shorts and a lightweight top, or a light, airy dress during the day. I dressed a little smarter for dinners on board our cruise ship. It was a little chillier by the evenings, so I was glad I had a cardigan.

halong bay cruise with a baby
I wore my denim shorts a lot in Vietnam

Are you wondering what footwear to pack for Halong Bay? Sandals will be fine for most of the trip, but I’d recommend wearing trainers to climb up Ti Top Island and for exploring Sung Sot Cave. They’re not essential, but you might appreciate the support, sturdiness and extra grip.

can you visit halong bay with a baby
We loved exploring Halong Bay

Here are a few specific items of women’s clothing I’d recommend for Vietnam:

Women’s sundress – Something strappy, pretty and not too short for everyday use.
Women’s maxi dress – I quite liked having a longer item or two, especially for when insects were out.
Women’s midi skirt – I live in items like this in warm countries and have them in multiple colours and patterns. They’re comfortable and not revealing.

women packing list

Women’s shorts – I packed a few pairs. I’d recommend something loose and comfortable like these shorts, and then perhaps some classic denim shorts too.
Women’s summer top – I wore a lot of things like this. Neutral colours work best as you can mix and match with shorts and skirts. Plus, you can dress them up or dress them down!
Women’s bikini – You’ll need to pack a couple of items of swimwear. There are so many cute bikinis out there to choose from!
Women’s rash guard – Not essential, but if you burn easily (or plan to surf) I’d recommend one of these. This one is great as it has a built-in bra and comes with a pair of matching shorts.
Women’s sports vest – I’d recommend one or two sweat-absorbing vests like this for adventurous activities.
Women’s sports bra – Ideal for sporty or adventure activities. I prefer sports bras like this Under Armour one which has some built in padding for extra support.
Women’s leggings – You might prefer sports shorts, but depending on the activity you’re doing, you might want a pair of leggings for a bit of extra protection. These Under Armour ones are great as they’re very lightweight.
Sarong – A really useful item for any travels in warm countries! Use it as a towel, a cover up, to sit on, to lie on or for a cute addition to an outfit!
Sun hat – You’ll definitely want a sun hat to protect yourself.
Sunglasses – I’ve owned a pair of these Ray Bans for a few years now and love them!

What Footwear Should Women Wear In Vietnam

Flat shoes, walking shoes, sandals, flip-flops, water shoes … the list goes on. Do you know what, they could ALL be useful in Vietnam.

For exploring the cities, I’d recommend trainers or supportive sandals. For the beaches, you could just slip on a pair of sandals or flip flops. For more adventurous trekking in Vietnam’s hills or countryside, you might prefer to wear proper hiking boots or sports trainers.

best footwear for vietnam
Choosing the best footwear for Vietnam

On our trip, I lived in my Birkenstocks. They were supportive and comfortable, easy to put on and they worked for so many different types of travel. I didn’t expect to wear them so much!

I also packed trainers and a smart pair of sandals so I could look a bit smarter for a few dinners.

What Footwear Should Men Wear In Vietnam

For men visiting Vietnam, I’d recommend packing a pair of trainers and some sandals or flip-flops. Depending on the type of trip you’re doing, you might also want to pack one smart pair of shoes for hotels or posh dinner.

Here are a few specific items of footwear I’d recommend for Vietnam:

Birkenstock sandals – Really durable, ideal for men or women and come in multiple colours. There are a few different styles to choose from too.
Teva trekking sandals – Really durable, great for travel, easy to take on and off and they come in lots of colours and patterns.

footwear packing list

Skechers lightweight trainers – Really comfortable and they dry quickly too, so are useful for all sorts of travel.
Havianas flip flops – Male or female, everyone should own a pair! These ones for men are fun too.
Cute women’s sandals – Something like this is great for beach clubs, hotels and restaurants.
Tom’s flat loafers – A nice casual shoe for men, easy to slip on and great for exploring or going to restaurants.
Hiking shoes – Only necessary if you’re planning some big adventures. These ones are great as they’re lightweight and breathable.
Water shoes – Again, not essential, but can be useful for rocky areas or hiking around waterfalls.

What To Wear In Vietnam: Women’s Accessories

As mentioned, scarves are a useful addition to your suitcase for Vietnam. It’s a sunny country, so I’d recommend investing in some high-quality UV protected sunglasses. Also, a sun hat, to protect your head from those powerful rays.

I used a backpack for day-to-day adventures, and then a small shoulder bag for dinners in the evenings.

sundress in vietnam
You might want to buy a sun hat for your trip to Vietnam

It’s recommended to drink bottled water in Vietnam. However, I’d still recommend taking a reusable water bottle and topping it up throughout your trip.

best clothes for hiking in vietnam
Lots of people buy traditional nón lá (leaf hats) in Vietnam

What To Wear In Vietnam As A Man

Packing for Vietnam is very simple as a man! All you really need are several pairs of shorts, a handful of t-shirts, a few lightweight shirts and some swimming trunks. If you’re trekking, you might want some sporty items, like sports shorts or a sweat-absorbent top.

what to wear in Vietnam as a man
Wondering what to wear in Vietnam as a man? This guide will help

Here are a few specific items of men’s clothing I’d recommend for Vietnam:

Men’s casual shorts – I’d recommend several pairs of comfortable shorts for everyday use.
Men’s T-shirts – Pack a few options of t-shirts too.
Men’s shirts – A few shirts (long or short sleeved) are a good idea. I personally love these linen shirts. They look very cool!

men packing list

Men’s vests – If you sweat a lot, you might find vest tops more
comfortable in the heat.
Men’s sports tops – For active days, something like this is really useful as it’s super-absorbent.
Men’s sports shorts – If you’re doing some adventurous hikes or activities, you’ll want shorts you can move freely in.
Swimming trunks – The more fun the pattern, the better! These ones have pockets and are quick dry too.
Baseball cap – Look for one with a mesh back like this one, so it’s more breathable.
Sunglasses – You can’t beat a classic pair of these Ray Bans!

Vietnam packing list

What To Pack For Vietnam: Other Useful Items

If you’re planning your trip, you should think about more than just clothing when you start packing. Here are a few items I’d recommend adding to your suitcase…

Insect repellent – There are plenty of really good insect repellents like this one. If you’re travelling with kids you might want to buy a specific children’s insect repellent too.

insect repellent
Insect repellent is a must for your packing list

Bite relief – I usually take an after bite / anti-itch cream like this, that helps to soothe any bites. I also swear by this amazing Bite Away Pen, which sends a small electric shock to the itchy part of the bite. It takes a bit of getting used to at first (and sometimes hurts a tiny bit), but it does work. I’ve done a full review of the item (as it goes everywhere with me!!) so feel free to read more here

Travel towel – A fast-drying microfibre towel like this one will come in handy on your trip. These are great not only for when you fancy a swim, but also when you want to sit down on the ground or to wipe your sweaty face on a humid day!

microfibre towel
Don’t forget to pack a microfibre towel for your trip

Sun cream – It’s important to apply suncream throughout the day. I’d recommend finding a brand which isn’t too heavy on chemicals, or is almost totally natural, like this one made by Sun Bum

sun bum sun cream
I really rate Sun Bum sun cream

Sunglasses – It’s important to protect your eyes when you visit a holiday destination like this one. I’d recommend investing in some high-quality UV protected sunglasses. I’ve owned a pair of these Ray Bans for a few years now and love them!

Ray Ban
I always travel with my Ray Ban sunglasses

Sun hat – You’ll definitely want a sun hat like this to protect yourself on all of those sunny days!

sun hat
I’d recommend buying a sun hat for your trip

After sun or aloe vera – Don’t forget some soothing cream incase you do burn. I really like this one made by Ultrasun. It’s lightweight and feels lovely on your skin.

Ultrasun after sun
Ultrasun after sun is a favourite of mine

Rain jacket – Be prepared for those sporadic rain showers. As you won’t need it for warmth, I’d recommend a lightweight waterproof jacket that packs down small. Something like this would be perfect.

lightweight womens waterproof jacket
If it rains you’ll be happy to have a lightweight waterproof jacket

Umbrella – I’d also recommend an umbrella for rainy season. I’d been looking for a super compact option for ages, and finally found this one which fits in my small handbag and is nice and sturdy.

Daypack backpack – I used a small backpack for day-to-day adventures, which could fit a water bottle, camera, sun cream and bug spray. I also took a small shoulder bag to use for going for dinner in the evenings. If you’re looking for something nice and small, lightweight, water-resistant and that will fit all your essentials, I’d recommend this daypack. It’s got some very handy zip-up pockets too!

lightweight daypack backpack
You’re likely to need a lightweight daypack-style backpack

Reusable water bottle – I always recommend packing a reusable water bottle for travel. Even if you can’t drink the tap water, it means you can top up from giant bottles or water coolers rather than buying lots of plastic bottles. Personally I’d recommend the Chilly’s water bottles. I’ve got a few in different sizes and they are excellent quality! I also really like these bottles with straws. They’re really easy to drink from, they have a strap, never leak and hold a good volume.

Chillys water bottles are great for travel
Chillys water bottles are great for travel

GoPro – This is an adventure-filled country. The best way to capture it is on a GoPro. They’re great for photos and videos, hard wearing, shockproof and waterproof. Whether you’re snorkelling, hiking, white water rafting, wildlife-spotting or zip lining, it’s the perfect accessory. Don’t forget to take out travel insurance that covers your gadgets too. 

GoPro Hero 10
I’d recommend buying a GoPro for your trip to capture every special moment!

Power bank – It depends how much you use your phone on holiday, but I used mine a lot during my trip, snapping photos and videos along the way. A portable battery pack is a great idea so you don’t have to worry about running out of charge at an important moment.

I have a few made by Anker and they’re great quality and have lasted for a long time. This is the one I’m using at the moment, which is really small (similar size to my phone) but stores lots of charge and has a fast charging capability. 

Plug adapter – I pack this universal travel adapter for all of my travels. It charges multiple items at once, using plugs or USB and can be used anywhere in the world. It’s one of my fave travel gadgets!

Dry bag – I’m really happy I invested in a dry bag like this. It’s made from a thick plastic and is totally waterproof. These dry bags are perfect for adventures on the water, visiting waterfalls, or if you think it’s going to rain heavily. I’d recommend a small one for your phone and camera gear, or a larger one if you want to use it as your main bag for an activity.

Dry bag
These dry bags are great for adventurous destinations

Waterproof phone case – Similarly, if you want to take your phone out and about in the water, I’d recommend getting a waterproof phone case. There are quite a few to choose from, but I’d recommend reading the reviews! You need this to protect your phone and be 100% watertight after all! I bought these Moko cases myself and my partner and they’ve been great. We’ve used them on several trips snorkelling and to waterfalls now, and no leaks!

waterproof phone case
This waterproof phone case is a great addition to your packing list!

Hopefully this post has helped you figure out what to pack for your trip to Vietnam. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below!

If you’re looking for travel inspiration for your trip to Vietnam, don’t miss my other guides:

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what to wear in vietnam holiday

With a passion for food, fun and adventure, Chloe is the content creator behind one of the UK's top travel blogs Wanderlust Chloe. From volcano boarding in Nicaragua, to sailing around Sicily and eating her way around Japan, her travels have taken her to some of the coolest spots on the planet. Named Travel Influencer of the Year in 2022, Chloe regularly works with a number of tourism boards, producing inspirational travel content across multiple platforms. Find out more about Chloe here.

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