Luggage and clothing Vietnam

Do not bring excessive luggage. Many necessities, especially clothes, can be bought cheaply in Vietnam. All the footwear you need is a good (worn-in if possible) pair of hiking boots for the hiking tour’s, a pair of sandals can also come in handy. Other important items are sunglasses, sun creams, toiletries, a towel, a roll of toilet paper (for the optional hiking tour) a first-aid kit and any necessary medicines, a fold-up umbrella, a (video) camera, sufficient film/videos and spare batteries, a torch, a pen-knife (don’t put this in your hand luggage during the flight!), a lighter, a small amount of snacks/chocolates, an alarm clock, writing equipment, books, your passport with valid visa, sufficient traveller’s cheques and/or money, copies of your passport and visa, a list of the numbers of your travellers’ cheques and receipt, your flight tickets, all relevant travel insurance details and emergency contact numbers, your holiday guide with the important addresses, and finally, booking papers for this trip. You could also bring binoculars, maps or games. Also, small items from home, such as picture postcards, pens etc, make nice presents for any Vietnamese folk whom you may befriend during the trip. Business cards are also popular with the Vietnamese. It is advised that you bring an easy-to-transport bag such as a weekend bag or (frameless) backpack, along with a small backpack or shoulder bag for hand luggage. A solid suitcase is a hindrance, particularly on the night train to Hanoi. A thin money belt is also advised to store valuable documents.
Townsfolk often wear western clothing, such as jeans. People in the country wear thin ‘pyjamas’. Everyone wears the traditional conical hats (nón cài) that function as umbrellas. In the North you will notice the military green helmets that the men often wear, sometimes in combination with a military green suit. The traditional ao dai is making a successful comeback and is worn at every formal gathering. It is the most noticeable piece of women’s clothing in Vietnam and is a simply designed but characterful two-piece combination of satin trousers with wide legs and a long blouse with tails that pass the knees, with splits on both sides from the waist down. The Vietnamese dress informally, but value smart clothing. Children and farm workers wear shorts. Women never wear shorts and long trousers are considered more appropriate for men. You may wear a swimsuit on the beach, but topless sunbathing is not allowed. Bring thin, cotton clothes. It is not a problem for either sex to wear short-sleeved clothes, as long as the upper arm and shoulders are covered. For the evening, a thin roll-neck sweater or high-collared t-shirt with long sleeves is advised to protect against insects. Bringing too little clothing is better than bringing too much as you can buy anything you lack. An umbrella is useful for protection from rain and sun. A headscarf or parasol is advised when the sun is high. A woolly jumper or cardigan is a must in the North during the winter, especially in the mountains and rainwear is useful during monsoon season. It may be worth bringing a mosquito net, as they are not standard issue in Vietnamese accommodation. However, you can buy them in Vietnam.

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