What to Wear in Vietnam

Desert walk in January

Desert walk in January

The Mekong river, in January

The Mekong river, in January

Hanoi in March

Hanoi in March

Local fishermen, in August

Local fishermen, in August

Hanoi traffic, in September

Hanoi traffic, in September

Hanoi, in September

Hanoi, in September

Busy streets

Busy streets

Lantern makers

Lantern makers

Traditional village

Traditional village

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General Style Tips

  • The Vietnamese are used to European styles and Western dress has been adopted. This means that tourists can dress as they would in the West when visiting restaurants or bars in the main cities.
  • Ho Chi Minh is pretty Westernized; there are lots of students on gap years as well as bank workers from the West living out there, so really what you would wear in any Western city will fit in. There isn't the big need to cover up that there is in the rest of Vietnam.
  • As a general rule though the North is noticeably more conservative than the South.
  • It's hot, so our advice is to pack lightweight, loose-fitting clothes in natural fabrics such as linen, silk and cotton that will keep you cool and are easy to wash and dry.
  • light wool is a good choice to wear against your skin as it naturally helps to regulate your body temperature. It keeps you warm in the cold, wicks away moisture when it's hot, and doesn't retain odours - even after prolonged wear.
  • Clothes are really cheap here so you don't really need to pack too much, and it's a great excuse to go shopping when you arrive!
  • It's also cheap and easy to get clothes laundered.
  • Good sunglasses are a must, plus a sunhat and wear plenty of sunscreen (we love the Riemann P20 range for 10 hour protection).
  • For the Vietnamese, appearance is very important, so if you are dealing with an official of any rank, make sure you are dressed smartly.

What Shoes To Pack

  • Good walking boots with ankle support are a must, as is a comfortable change of shoes. You may need to wear these second shoes if you get blisters, so choose carefully. A pair of trekking sandals which can fit socks underneath can be a good option too.
  • We like Thorlos hiking socks - they're especially designed to keep your feet dry and comfortable when trekking in hotter climes.
  • Sandals with the rugged bottom are good for hiking around town and to wear in the showers. We also love Hotter shoes, for total comfort with style.

Clothing Tips for Women

  • The basic rule of thumb is to not wear revealing clothing at any time, especially outside of the cities.
  • Do not wear large amounts of jewelry - traditionally the Vietnamese consider it impolite to flaunt wealth in public.
  • A few pieces of simple costume jewelry will dress up any outfit if you need to.
  • Wear particularly conservative clothing if you visit a culturally sensitive area such as a temple or pagoda - generally, the less bare skin the better and specifically no shorts, short skirts, tops with low neck lines, or bare shoulders. Opt for long pants and a long-sleeved cotton shirt.
  • A long skirt or loose-fitting pants are good in the heat and will protect you from the sun.
  • A pashmina or sarong is a versatile item that you can use for modesty, or to add a bit of 'glam' should you need it.

Clothing Tips for Men

  • If you're looking for versatile and stylish beachwear, try the Madda Fella range of shirts, shorts, polos and swimwear.
  • When visiting Buddhist temples opt for long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.
  • For great versatile travel jackets with multiple pockets including RFID security options, we love the SCOTTeVEST range.

Pack for the Weather

  • It's really important to pack for almost all weather conditions as it varies widely throughout the country.
  • April, May, June, July, August, September and October are hot and wet, so be sure to pack a lightweight raincoat and/or travel umbrella.
  • November, December, January, February and March are hot and dry.
  • We love the Weather+ app - it gives an accurate 6 day forecast for day and night, which when you're planning from home is really helpful. You can keep all the places you've been to too - a nice way to remember your trip :) Download for iPad/iPhone or Android

Regions of Vietnam

  • During most times of the year but particularly June, July and August, the Mekong Delta region can be plagued by mosquitoes so wear long-sleeved shirts after dusk and take good insect/mosquito repellent to avoid being bitten.

Other Things To Pack

  • For trekking you will need your own toiletries including anti-bacterial handwash. And you are advised to take your own little medical kit, sewing repair kit, and a good torch (with spare batteries).
  • If you are staying in more basic accommodation then take a sleeping bag liner, mosquito net, microfiber travel towel and your own toilet paper.
  • Don’t drink or even brush your teeth in tap water. Consider taking a Water-to-Go Filtration Water Bottle.
  • A bag or soft-sided rucksack is a more practical option than hard cases when traveling around the country, and using packing cubes can help to keep your belongings tidy whilst compressing the volume too.
  • Avoid paying unexpected baggage fees - use an accurate luggage scale to ensure you keep within the weight allowance. Don't forget to leave room for souvenirs on the way home! Gorgeous silk scarves are popular buys, or look for bamboo and wooden products.
  • Combine your bag with a fold away day sack that will carry your essentials on day trips.
  • Look after your mobile phone with a phone bunjee - it protects against loss, theft and damage. If you use your phone as a camera too the battery can quickly run down, so consider taking a solar powered charger as a back-up.
  • To use electrical gadgets you may need a travel adapter plug, and also a step down voltage converter if your devices are not designed for the local voltage (220V).

Last updated 16 December 2016.

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Pack Light

  • Less luggage to carry
  • Save time packing and unpacking
  • Save money on baggage fees

Pack Right

  • Respect local cultures
  • Feel comfortable and confident
  • Suitable outfits for all occasions

A Message From Helen



I want you to have an amazing vacation. That's why I started WhatToWearOnVacation.com,
to help you pack with confidence and stay safe, secure and comfortable.