Vietnam, a Communist country in Asia, is conservative. Although I’ve heard western women say “Don’t worry about what clothing to pack for Vietnam. You can wear revealing clothes”, in actual fact it’s best not to. Sure, you can get away with wearing typical short western clothing but you’ll find, particularly out of the cities in Vietnam, you’ll be treated with more respect if you don’t wear short skirts and sleeveless, low-cut tops. If you keep this one tip in mind, packing for Vietnam for women going on vacation is actually easy.
Climate in Vietnam – The wonderful thing about packing for a vacation to Vietnam is women can pack pretty much the same type of clothing all year round. Vietnam has a tropical climate, meaning its hot and humid most of the year. That’s why you don’t need thick jackets or coats at any time, like you might in some other Asian countries.
Clothing For Women To Pack For Vietnam – If you’re going to be on vacation in Vietnam, of course you want to be comfortable. So, pack mainly thin and light-weight clothes like cotton skirts, t shirts (not sleeveless or tank tops), summer dresses and light weight pants. Whenever I go to Vietnam, I also pack jeans but, depending on how used to hot, humid weather you are (I live in Thailand), jeans might be too hot. If that’s the case, a couple of pairs of khakis or smart capri pants are perfect for Vietnam’s climate.
Short-sleeved t shirts are also great for a vacation in Vietnam, as they don’t take up much space and can be washed and dried quickly in the tropical heat. If you’re going in winter months, long-sleeved t shirts will be better, as temperatures fall at night. If you’re going to be in northern Vietnam in winter, make sure you take a jacket or, at night, you’ll be cold.
Remember, don’t pack short skirts as they’re not appropriate either in cities or in smaller towns in Vietnam. You’ll notice most Vietnamese women wear long pants, jeans or knee-length skirts with thin, long-sleeved shirts. Knee-length skirts, or longer, are preferable for western women going on vacation.
The traditional Vietnamese dress, the áo dài, (loose pants and a long coat-length silk tunic with long-sleeves), is also worn by many Vietnamese women. I bought one the last time I visited Hanoi and wore it out at night for dinner at a nice restaurant. I got many compliments on it, as few westerners would consider wearing the áo dài , although I’m not sure why as it’s perfect for the hot climate, comfortable and beautiful.
What Shoes To Pack – On any vacation in Vietnam, you’ll do a lot of walking. Pack a pair of leather walking shoes (not white running shoes as no respectable Vietnamese girl would ever wear them outside a gym) and, for evening, nice flip flops or low-heeled sandals are perfect.
Vietnam is a wonderful place to do clothing shopping too so, you can travel there very light and buy jeans, t shirts, cotton skirts etc when you get there. For women larger than an American size 8 though, you may have problems finding clothes to fit you, as Vietnamese women are tiny. But, never fear, there’s dressmakers all over Vietnam, who can rustle up western-style clothing made-to-measure, often overnight, and for a fraction of the cost of the US or Europe.
One important thing to remember if you’re going to Vietnamese beach resorts, it’s fine to pack a bikini for wearing at the hotel pool or on the beach, but never anywhere in the street. Most importantly, sunbathing topless is never, ever acceptable. It’s disrespectful to the Vietnamese. Please, don’t do it.