Southeast Asia Packing List: Best Guide for a 30L Carry On Backpack

If you’re planning a trip to Southeast Asia, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is what to pack. Travelling with a 30L carry on bag only is becoming increasingly popular, as more and more people realise the benefits of packing light. Not only does it save you money on baggage fees and makes moving around easier, but it also forces you to be intentional with your packing choices and prioritise what’s truly necessary. However, packing for a trip with limited space can be daunting, and it’s easy to overpack or forget essential items.

As a female revert to Islam, figuring out what new items I needed to include in my packing list was a bit challenging, but with some effort, I managed to streamline it. I hope that my experience will be helpful to you as well. Even if you don’t identify as Muslim, many of the items on this list will likely be relevant to you, and you can simply skip over the Muslim-specific section.

In this blog post, I’ll guide you through everything you’ll need to pack for your Southeast Asia trip, from sunglasses to solid toiletries, power converters to prayer mats and important travel documents and insect repellent!

So whether you’re backpacking through Vietnam, visiting Mosques in Malaysia, exploring the Komodo Islands or Secret Beaches in Indonesia, I’ve got you covered. Let’s get packing!


Don’t wear or pack any denim. You won’t need it. 

Think of light, flowy clothing that breathes. 

You can easily buy those elephant pants/harem pants/fishermen pants in Southeast Asian markets for around $5 AUD (give or take a few dollars!). So buying them when you arrive is always a great idea and is the perfect way to pack light.

Because I’m Muslim, I wear long flowy pants, long loose shirt and a hijab to do my daily prayers in my room. 

Solid Travel Toiletries are the best and I’ve got an entire blog post about how to pack non liquid solid toiletries for carry on luggage

Also, don’t forget to check out my 12 tips on how to travel with a carry on only bag

BONUS: Keep on scrolling down for a complete packing list image you can save on your phone!


Hijab x 2 – I don’t wear a hijab in my day to day life so I pack an instant hijab and a cotton hijab to use for my daily prayers and when I visit Mosques. 

Travel prayer mat – Packs up into a small square, this is perfect to use in your hotel room. 

Foldable Water Bottle – Use this if you’re out and about and need to do Wudu 

Modest Swimsuit/Burkini x 1 – This will be one of your bulkiest items to pack because it will include long pants, long sleeve swimming suit and a skirt.

Travel prayer mat and hijab


Long Sleeve Shirts x 3

Long Pants x 4

Tshirts x 5

Nightgown x 1

Undies x 7

Bras x 2

Socks x 4

Travel Compression Socks x 1 – Wear these on the plane to your destination

Sneakers/Walking Shoes x 1 – Wear on the plane 

Sandals x 1



Small piece of body soap bar – Cut a small piece off of each of the bars as you won’t need an entire bar on your travels, depending on the length of your trip. Love my solid travel toiletries. 

Small piece of shampoo bar

Small piece of conditioner bar

Small piece of face cream bar

Toothpaste tablets 

Mouthwash tablets 


Travel Hair Brush 

Disposable Razor 

Hair ties 

(The below items will go in your clear liquid bag)

Roll On Deodorant

Insect Repellent – Really important! The last thing you want is to catch Dengue Fever or Malaria. Always wear this and reapply throughout the day. Sunscreen first, then insect repellent over it.

Sunscreen – Always take sunscreen with you when travelling to Southeast Asia as it’s expensive there and can be difficult to find ones that don’t have skin whitening ingredients. 

Hair Gel 

Hand Sanitiser

Travel scale, headlight and universal power adapter


Phone – With all your travel apps installed for Vietnam and Indonesia 

Canon DSLR with 55-200mm lens & 50mm lens

Power Bank/Portable Charger

Universal Plug Adapter 


Headlight – You’ll need this to climb volcanos in the morning to see sunrises!

Travel Scale – Most of the flights I take have a limit of 7kg so I use this to keep track of the weight of my bag

Laundry bag and foldable travel backpack




Laundry Bag – You don’t want smelly laundry in your backpack so chuck anything you’ve worn in this bag and carry it to get washed at a cheap laundry service in Southeast Asia as there are plenty! 

Fold up Backpack – Use this as your daily bag when you’re out and about. 

Travel Towel – I love taking my new Sea to Summit airlite travel towel because it’s so light and rolls up into a very tiny ball! 

Pen – Never forget a pen! You’ll need it when filling out customs/immigration forms on the plane. 

Small Notebook

Cash, RFID card blocker and passport


Passport – Your number 1 needed item! 

Australian Licence/Proof of Age Card – When I hired a bicycle in Hoi An, I handed over my Proof of Age card to the vendor and I got it back when I returned the bicycle.

Credit Cards and Cash

Paperwork of all Plane Tickets, Visas, Hotels, Insurance, Vaccinations – It’s always a good idea to take print outs of everything incase the hotel, immigration, transport computers are down or offline.

Travel Wallet with RFID Blocking – I take a specific wallet when I travel that’s large enough to hold cash notes that don’t need to be folded.

House Keys – Don’t forget your home house keys!


^ Click on the image to download and save this packing list ^


3 thoughts on “Southeast Asia Packing List: Best Guide for a 30L Carry On Backpack”

  1. This is a great list for anyone travelling to any warm climate. Yes, leave the jeans at home. The high humidity and denim are not a great mix, as I found out! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great post on the packing list. I agree with the backpack being an ideal luggage choice for such trips as you really think about what you are putting in there and can be truly conservative in your choices.

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