What to Wear in Vietnam?

One thing that often comes up when talking to people that are planning a trip to Vietnam is what to wear in Vietnam?

And I always answer:

Thin garments that “breath” like pants, shorts, t-shirts, and tank tops work great. Flip flops or similar when not moving around too much and when moving around I recommend you to wear sneakers for a little more protection.

Above is the short answer for all of you leaving for the airport in an hour (or less).

One thing that I would like to address is that most Vietnamese people dress quite conservatively. That means that women normally wear clothes that cover most of their bodies, like long pants and tops with long or short sleeves, and most men wear something similar.

There is a little difference in dress code when it comes to north and south Vietnam, where the north is a little more modest mostly due to being close to china which is mostly practicing Buddhism.

But let us dig a little deeper into what to wear in Vietnam.

Tops and shirts

The most important thing when it comes to tank tops and T-shirts is that they keep cool and that they dry fast if you ever get them wet. Materials that I look for and recommend are cotton, polyester, or a mix of them both.

When being home I have many times emptied the washing machine of workout clothes and thought to myself “are they really clean?” because they already seem to have dried.

A shirt that’s only made from polyester is not so comfortable so I recommend you to go with a shirt made out of a mix of cotton and polyester. 30-35% cotton normally gives the best comfort while still making sure It will dry (and keep dry) fast.

Advice: for all the women out there, if you’re wearing a top made of thin fabric (see-through) you should always wear a bra (this is if you’re not at or nearby the beach).

If you don’t, it will be looked upon as offensive and bring a lot of attention.

Pants and shorts

When it comes to pants and shorts, I always recommend you go with the ones that feel comfortable, and when picking/choosing tops and shirts, make sure they are made out of materials that will help you keep cool.

I hear a lot of friends saying that they are only going to pack shorts.

Sure, at first that might sound good but you should keep in mind that if visiting places that have lots of bushes or animals that like to bite or “borrow” some of your blood (read mosquito), then it might feel pretty nice to have pants that cover a bigger part of your legs.

Another thing is that after you’ve been in Vietnam (or any other hot country for that matter) for a while.

You kind of get used to the heat and you might want pants since it’s a little more likely that you might feel a little cold at night.

It’s also very nice to have a pair of pants when traveling since they normally have the air-condition on full to make sure no one is sweating.

Tip! Jeans are great, but not when it’s hot and humid outside.

They soak up the humidity and all other fluids they come in contact with and take forever to dry. So please, leave your favorite pair at home.

Hoodies and jackets

The tip that you just read above about you getting used to the heat for a while is not only limited to pants. If you know you freeze easily or if your stay is a little longer then I advise you to bring a Hoodie.

If visiting the northern parts of Vietnam then I also recommend you to bring a jacket since it’s a lot colder (especially at night).

It might also be a good idea to bring some kind of thin raincoat or poncho that is waterproof if you ever get stuck in the rain. When it rains in Vietnam it gets wet, fast!

Shoes, Sandals, and flip-flops

When visiting countries like Vietnam that are hot, I don’t feel normal if I don’t bring my flip-flops, that’s just the way it is.

But sometimes you just want the extra feeling of protection or warmth a pair of sneakers give. I often rent a scooter and it just feels good to have shoes that stay on your feet a little better when driving around everywhere.

If you don’t have a pair of sandals or flip-flops at home then I strongly advise you to get a pair when you arrive in Vietnam since you can buy them everywhere and normally a lot cheaper than you can get a pair at home.

It’s not difficult to find nice sneakers if you are in one of the bigger cites but if you’re somewhere smaller or a little off.

Then you’re in for a challenge. In other words, bring sneakers with you from home, and to save space when packing you can wear them on the flight ensuring that your feet won’t get cold on the flight to Vietnam.

Don’t forget to take off your shoes when going to someone’s house or a place of prayer.

Hat or cap

If you’re not used to the heat it might be a good idea to wear a light hat or cap to give you some protection from the sun.

Since I have a big head, I normally just buy a hat made of straws or something when I arrive and after a while when I have gotten used to the heat, I get rid of it.

Sunglasses

You might read sunglasses but it should say “lifesaver”.

I love wearing sunglasses since they:

  • Protects my eyes from bright sunlight
  • Stops me from squinting leaving ugly tan lines next to my eyes making me look even older than I am (44 years young right).
  • Make me look really darn cool if I may say so.

Sunblock

Sunblock might not be the “sexiest” thing on the list but it’s really important.

Especially if you just arrived from somewhere where it’s a little colder and your skin is not used to the heat.

As a bonus, it also saves you from looking like a tomato or hurting all over after getting sunburnt.

And what to do if you’re missing something on the list?

Well, one of the many great things when it comes to Vietnam is that it does not cost much if you would like to add something from the list above.

Sure, you might have trouble finding an original of the brand you love, but there are many no-name brands that will work just fine… for now, that is…

Some really useful things to bring or have on your trip

Bug spray

Well, it is never fun to get mosquito bites, but since the mosquitos in Vietnam carry malaria you might get sick if you get bitten.

Malaria tablets might be a good thing to add to the list.

Toilet paper

When using public restrooms, it is very common that they have run out or do not have any toilet paper, so bring your own.

It might be worth its weight in gold.

Fragile stomach?

If your stomach has a history of “giving up” on you when traveling.

Then I would highly recommend you to either bring with you some diarrhea medicine from home or get some when arriving in Vietnam

Are you eating medicine?

Then I would advise you to take a picture with your phone of all your different medicines so that you can get more if you run out.

Laptop or tablet

If you’re bringing a laptop or tablet with you on your trip a piece of great advice is to make sure the bag or the sleeve that you keep it in is waterproof.

If possible, try to get one that has enough space to include the charger.

How much clothes should you bring?

Well, normally what people do is that they bring to much clothes with them from home, and after a while, they find out that some of them are not of much use in the heat and humidity in Vietnam.

Keeping your clothes clean?

Washing clothes in Vietnam isn’t hard, and just how easy is up to you.

You have three alternatives:

  • Handwash it yourself in the bathroom where you stay.
  • Use a laundromat that you can find in every small to big town.
  • Have someone wash it for you (my favorite option since it’s comfortable and cheap). If you can’t find a place then just ask in the reception where you stay.

In conclusion

When visiting and traveling Vietnam, just make sure to bring enough clothes for a couple of days.

After that, you will have gotten a pretty good feeling of what clothes others wear, and what will work for you.

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