The foolproof packing list for Asia: 16 must-have travel essentials

Welcome to our ultimate packing list for Asia travel essentials

From mountainous jungle to enticing oceans, massive religious monuments to historical ruins, Asia has so much to discover. When you also consider how cheaply you can travel much of the continent, there is no wonder it is one of the best backpacking destinations in the world.

Given that Asia is so immense, many visitors opt to travel slowly across Asia to absorb as much of the beauty and culture as possible. 

With that in mind, we have come up with this handy packing list for Asia travel fundamentals and gadgets to help long term travelers and short term tourists alike.

Where the recommended product is a little expensive, we have also recommended a budget option too.

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Affiliate disclosure: The links to tours or accommodation in this post are affiliate links. This means if you purchase after following one of these links, I make a small commission at no cost to yourself. Think of it like a win-win ?

Traveling Fundamentals

A bloody good backpack

You gotta have one of these if your backpacking right? Since there is tons of walking when visiting Asia, a comfortable and well-organized backpack is a travel necessity. 

There are a couple of things you may want to consider before investing in a backpack. First is if it has waterproof features, it is common to get caught in sudden downpours in certain parts of Asia frequently.

The other important consideration is if you be checking it in. If you plan not to, make sure it fits the requirements of a carry on backpack.

We recommend: Osprey Packs Farpoint 40 travel backpack

Of course, the backpack you need will depend heavily on the size you require, however you cannot go far wrong with the Osprey brand. One such backpack is the Osprey Farpoint 40 that opens like a suitcase. Made of a durable material osprey Farpoint 40 boasts of roomy compartments, a plethora of pockets and lockable zips to keep your all your travel gears intact. For maximum comfort when covering long distances, the pack has generous padding and adjustable straps for perfect fitting.  The long-term traveler will appreciate the padded laptop sleeve and a lifetime warranty that comes with Osprey products. 

On a tight budget? Try the Gonex 55L hiking backpack with rain cover

Packing Cubes 

When I discovered packing cubes, it was a game changer when packing for long-term travel. They maximized space and helped my previously disaster zone of a backpack to stay organized. They also come in handy when separating clean clothes from dirty ones. The good thing is that they come in various sizes to accommodate different sizes of clothes. For easier identification of the piles of crap that will accumulate in your backpack,  you may find it easier to pack in cubes of different colors.

We recommend: Eagle Creek Pack It Original Starter Set

Eagle Creek makes excellent packing cubes. They are lightweight, washable, and made of top quality fabric. With over four colors and different sizes to choose from Eagle Creek is a must have for every backpacker.

On a tight budget? Try the 7-pc Travel Packing Cube System

Backpack lock

Traveling with unlocked luggage can weigh on your mind, especially when you are in dorms. Now I will happily say that almost all of the hostels that I have stayed in, I have felt confident that my stuff is safe, but there is always one or two where you feel a little nervous about leaving things behind. opportunity. That is why I have tracked down some backpack locking systems for my packing list for Asia.

We recommend: Pacsafe Backpack and Bag Protector

For ultimate peace of mind, take a look at this full on wire mesh backpack lock. You just slip the backpack in there, lock it up and no one will be getting in.

On a tight budget? Try the TSA Approved Luggage Locks

While these locks aren’t perfect, most thefts are a spur of the moment decisions and by adding a lock to your backpack, it will certainly deter thieves. The cables on these locks are a good length and should slip over most buckles as well as zips. If it is too small, you can always connect two together.

Ultra-portable water  bottles

To keep well hydrated and save on the cost of purchasing bottled water ever time, one of the best travel accessories to pack is a lightweight bottle.  Reusable water bottles also help in reducing plastic waste accumulation. Since drinking water is readily available in Asia, you just fill your bottle before long day adventures and enjoy your travels.

We recommend: Vapur Element BPA Free Foldable Water Bottle

Vapur element flexible bottle is a great solution. It is foldable, takes up little space, is cheap and BPA free. You can freeze water with them, and they are easy to clean.

On a tight budget? Try the Qnch Collapsible Water Bottle

Portable luggage scale 

Overweight luggage can decimate your budget quicker than an ice cream melts on the equator. So to avoid this, a great little accessory is a small luggage scale.

We recommend: Camry luggage scale

With Camry portable travel scale, there is no more guesswork or excess baggage you can travel confidently. Camry is accurate, easy to hook on the bag, and is small enough to fit in your backpack. This handheld digital scale comes with a battery that holds power for a long time. The digital readout display is visible and large. 


A headlamp is a  great travel accessory for outdoor activities, especially for long-term travelers backpacking Asia.  Whether it is during unexpected power outages, hiking at dusk or merely trying to find the toilet at midnight in a dorm room when others are sleeping, headlamps are part and parcel of your travel packing list.  

Unlike a flashlight, the great thing with headlamps is that they free your hands so you can multitask while ensuring your path is well lighted.

We recommend: GRDE rechargeable headlamp

We love the GRDE rechargeable headlamp, it is one one the brightest headlamps available while also being waterproof should you get caught in the rain. We also love the fact that it is a rechargeable headlamp but it can also be powered by standard batteries should you find yourself away from power for an extended period of time. Finally, it boasts of three brightness level that can be adjusted by the switch (perfect for not disturbing dorm mates), lightweight and has a comfortable and adjustable strap.

On a tight budget? Try the LE Headlamp with 4 lighting modes

Microfiber travel towel

Trust us when we say a packable travel towel is essential travel gear. We have seen many of the rentable towels in hostels, and quite frankly, we’d rather not see them again. Look for a towel that occupies minimal space in your backpack yet a quality product that lasts.  Due to variation in climate travelers envy a quick-drying material that is washable and durable.

We recommend: ECOdept microfiber travel towel

The Ecodept microfiber travel towel is a great choice. Made of a soft, absorbent, quick drying, and feather-light material, the microfiber towels comes in different sizes.  When rolled, it will fit comfortably in your carryon without eating space. 

Note: To ensure they retain their absorbency, avoid using fabric softeners and detergents.

On a tight budget? Try the 4MONSTER packable microfiber towel

Dry pack

There will be a stage in your journey where these come in handy. Crossing the Zambezi to take a leap into the Devil’s Pool or just swimming in the ocean and don’t fancy leaving your valuables behind, a dry bag can come to the rescue.

They are great little things to stow away as they really don’t take up much space and offer plenty of use.

We Recommend: Freegrace Waterproof Dry Bags

These dry bags feature double closure strip seals at the top to prevent water from coming in and the larger bags also have added protection with a roll top fastening. They are extremely sturdy, lightweight, tear resistant and best of all, it floats.

Recommended Travel Tech

Portable travel charger 

These have been a lifesaver for many travelers visiting Asia.  Not much is more irritating than getting a flat battery in a foreign land. Given that while traveling, you will often find yourself outdoors or in transit and away from power outlets, the chances are that at some point, your phone is going to run out of juice. Don’t underestimate how much Google mapping, communicating with loved ones that you’re safe, and of course taking millions of amazing pictures to show off to your friends stuck at home. These are all battery sapping behaviors, so a backup powerpack is borderline essential

Note: Most power banks use lithium-ion batteries that most airlines won’t allow to be checked I, so make sure you keep it in your carry on. Having been over the Atlantic ocean while smelling burning on a plane as one of these set fire in the hold, I can promise, it is for a reason. It is not a nice feeling!

We recommend: Anker PowerCore Lite 20000mAh Portable Charger

The Anker 20000Mah power bank offers great value. With two USB ports, Anker is super fast at charging and easy to use. Just make sure you remember to charge the charger, plugging your phone into it to see it too is dead is awful, trust me, I’ve been there.

On a tight budget? Try the ZMI PowerPack 10000mAh Fast Charging Portable Battery Pack

Lightweight but great travel camera

While phones are getting better at taking photos every day, for most serious photo-backpackers, a camera is an absolute essential travel accessory.  There is nothing more fulfilling than capturing your best travel moments, scenic landscapes, and iconic attractions. Given that Asian destinations are a dream for photographers, an excellent lightweight camera is a must have for backpackers. While DSRL seems to do a great job, they are heavy and may not be an excellent choice for the minimalist traveler or long term traveler traversing Asia due to portability.  

We recommend: Sony Alpha 6000 mirrorless camera

The Sony Alpha 6000 mirrorless camera is a great choice.  Apart from being reasonably priced, a6000 captures fantastic photos and record great videos at 1080/60p. Thanks to its easily accessible manual settings featuring the menu button, dual function dials, and function button beginners can easily customize the settings. It has an in-built Wi-Fi and is light to travel with. It features filters, epic low-light performance, and autofocus system to ensure the quality of your images is maintained. 

On a tight budget? Try the Nikon COOLPIX B500 digital camera

Pocket wifi

An international wifi hotspot is incredibly useful when it comes to long-term travel. A connection has become an essential ingredient of everyday life.  The most common challenge travelers’ face is slow speed, unstable and insecure WI-FI. Since most long-term travelers work online to sustain their nomadic lifestyle, stable and robust portable Wi-Fi is non-negotiable. Portable Wi-Fi comes in handy when traveling across many countries as you need to keep in touch with your clients.

We recommend: GlocalMe 4G LTE International WiFi Hospot

If you plan on spending much time exploring Asia, then Glocalme mobile hotspot is your perfect match. It is super fast and can basically keep you connected in most countries, especially in Asia. Glocalme comes in three different packages depending on the number of countries you intend to visit. This wireless connectivity password protected to avoid data leakage and can connect to multiple devices.

On a tight budget? Try the ZTE Velocity 4G LTE Mobile Pocket WiFi Hotspot

Noise Cancelling Headphones 

Crying babies, snoring passengers or noisy neighborhoods, we’ve all had our peaceful journeys affected by one of these at some point, right? This can be frustrating, especially at night or during long flights, making it hard to sleep, read, or simply stay calm. Well, the good news is that noise canceling technology is fantastic and a great travel accessory.

We recommend: Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Bose quiet comfort 35 is an excellent choice that guarantees calm and peaceful travel experience.  It has unparalleled noise cancellation, long battery life, and superior sound quality and is Bluetooth enabled.

On a tight budget? Try the COWIN E7 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

Travel extension cord with USB

If you are an avid traveler, you’ve probably noticed that power outlets are not always located in the most convenient spots.  Whether you are in hotels, hostels, cafes, or airports, you may find that outlets are too few to charge all your gadgets. A power strip with multiple outlets and extension cord is your ideal travel companion. It gives you the freedom to charge multiple tech devices at once and close to your desired spot.

On a tight budget? Try the TESSAN 3 outlets travel power strip with surge protector

When it comes to Asia TESSAN portable power strip is the best.  For your convenience it futures 5 feet extension cord, three USB ports, two power plug slots, and fireproof material. If you want extra protection for your devices, you can bring a surge protector along.

On a tight budget? Try the UPWADE Outlet Travel Power Strip

Travel Health

Basic First Aid Kit

One of those things you hope to never have to use, but you’ll bless the stars if you need it and you have it. Nothing too fancy, just have some plasters, anti-septic wipes, that kind f thing in the case that you get a nasty cut or even have to patch up some leech bites . . . tasty.

We recommend: 66 Pieces Soft Shell Travel First Aid Kit

This little pack is the perfect size for stuffing in your back pack and forgetting about it. For the tiny space inside, it packs a lot in there with almost everything you may need for any unwanted scrapes on the road. apart from tiger attacks. If you get attacked by a tiger, you’re probably better off heading straight to hospital rather than putting a plaster on it.

Portable UV sanitizing wand

OK, time for you to gross out for a minute. Have you ever considered the number of bugs on hotel sheets or even hostel mattresses? Trust me, it’s a lot more than you would probably think.

For the most part, they are harmless. But a lot of travelers don’t fancy sharing their bed with the microscopic hitchhikers. So, luckily some technology will help, the bug killing wand. 

We recommend: UV Care ultraviolet sanitizing wand

This portable device uses the power of concentrated UV Rays to kill off many of the germs and bacteria that get in its way. While it’s not going to get everything, it will undoubtedly be an improvement. It will even come in handy for your own sleeping bag if you are traveling long term.

Other recommend health essentials

I just wanted to give you a few extra suggestions that you may want to consider picking up from a local pharmacy before you travel. While they may take up a bit of space and you may never use them, trust me when I say searching for a pharmacy while suffering from crippling diarrhea in a foreign land just to save a bit of space is not fun.

  • Insect repellent
  • Bite cream
  • Sunscreen
  • Aspirin
  • Antacid
  • Diarrhea Medicine
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Rehydration sachets

Final product

So here it is, my top recommendation that I swore like a trooper when I didn’t have it and have never left it behind since. A plug. Yep, it’s that simple. It was when traveling through Africa that I had to do some laundry and none of the damn sinks had plugs. Now I don’t know if you have ever tried cleaning your underwear under running water, but it is bloody difficult. The great thing about a universal plug it is that you will never expect to use, it, you may not even do so, but when you need one, it is very hard to plug a sink with a sock. for the price vs. space vs. how useful it is should you need one, I highly recommend packing one.

We recommend: Universal Silicone Sink Plug

There’s not much I can say about it but look . . . It has a world map on it, that’s cool. ?

If you wanted to know more about my trip through Africa, I have a fun travel diary, How to clean your underwear in Africa, available on Amazon. You can also get a digital copy by joining my mailing list. Only updates, no spam 🙂

Final Words

Travel accessories make trips smooth and more enjoyable.  They save space, time, and money and offer traveler peace of mind. While the packing list may differ from each individual, the above-listed items are very beneficial and are worthy of investing in.

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