Helpful guides for travel in Singapore to help you get the most out of your trip, from first-hand experience!

Southeast Asia Packing List & 10 Must Have’s

Southeast Asia Packing List & 10 Must Have’s

Exploring Southeast Asia should be on everyone’s travel bucket lists. It is affordable, relatively safe, fun, and such a beautiful part of the world! But, when you’re bouncing between locations every few days or weeks, knowing what to bring can be a bit overwhelming. This Southeast Asia packing list should help with that process and prepare you for the amazing adventures that are yet to come.

The most important thing to bring is a sense of adventure, and the ability to go with the flow. Things will go wrong, you may get sick, and you will probably lose some of these things along the way. That is all a part of the journey and memories that will last a lifetime, so don’t sweat the small stuff, and don’t forget to record some of the moments!

Assortment of tropical items laid out on a towel including a dive mask, shoes, a speaker, water bottle, reusable cutlery, shells, and sunglasses. Everything is included in a southeast asia packing list

Table of Contents

Top 10 Things You Can't Forget

1. The Right Bag & Packing Organizer

Getting the right bag for your style of travel is essential to start your Southeast Asia packing list. If you’re adventurous, make sure your bag has comfortable straps that you can wear on your back, and forget about needing wheels. For some people, that’s a small duffle bag that you can easily carry, or whatever you already have in your basement to save money!

I opted for the backpacking bag I already had and used for mountain backpacking – Gregory Maven 55L. It’s big enough, more unique (it’s maroon), and fits me perfectly. Unsure what to get? Head to REI for a fitting to see the best options for your body style.

2. Reusable Water Bottle & Filter

It’s hot and humid in this part of the world. Stay hydrated without using hundreds of plastic bottles! Everywhere has filtered water that you can refill, even if for a small price. Even if a refill costs money, it is definitely cheaper than buying bottles from the shops.

Trash is a major problem in Southeast Asia, especially within the tourism industry. Overtourism is a big problem in many of these locations, and helping to reduce your waste is one of the best overtourism solutions that travelers can help with.

3. Carabiners & Rope

These have come in handy so often to hang things and stay organized. This is the best way to hang your bags off the floor or create a drying line for your clothes! While staying in a bamboo hut in Bali for a month, so many friends saw our setup (since there was no storage/shelves/hooks) and went out to find some rope and do the same. 

If you’re staying in a hostel, this is a must. Bunk beds don’t always have a full curtain, and privacy can be hard to come by in such a shared space. With some rope, carabiners, and your towel or sarong, you can make a perfect little private bed fort!


4. Microfiber Towel

You’ll be hitting the beach quite a lot. And nothing is worse than having to shove a damp towel in your tightly packed bag. Microfiber towels dry quickly, and can be great for the beach, a yoga mat, or a small blanket! DO NOT bring a thick bath towel – you’re sacrificing a lot of space and weight with such a bulky item that traps sand and takes forever to dry.

5. Noise-Canceling Headphones

Backpacking Southeast Asia can be a bit overwhelming, so it’s nice to have the mental space when you want it. Noise-canceling headphones are a game changer for noisy hostel roommates, or long travel days when you want to just tune out and zone into your own space.

I use the Airpod Pros, which are so comfortable and easy to use without taking up much space at all. If you work remotely, maybe you need an over-the-ear style, but otherwise, ear buds are more than enough!

6. Waterproof Sandals

You’re going to need some easy slide-on shoes included in your Southeast Asia packing list. The warm weather, laid-back atmosphere, and plenty of water dips make them essential. Do yourself a favor and get some that are waterproof. This is essential for waterfall hikes or just getting caught in the inevitable rainstorm! 

7. Menstrual Cup

My heart hurts for the ladies that are traveling with a whole box of tampons… If you haven’t joined the menstrual cup bandwagon yet, welcome aboard. Once you try it you will never go back! 

In Southeast Asia, tampons aren’t sold everywhere. So, unless you’re ready to go back to bulky pads, a menstrual cup is the best option. I’ll be honest, in some places where water sanitation is a concern, tampons might be better. But for reasons of space saving, waste reduction, and cost savings, menstrual cups are superior. 

8. Stasher Bag

If you’re on that backpacker budget, food is a great way to save some money. The best way to cut costs is by saving the food you would otherwise toss in your stasher bag. This is great if you’re cooking and want to make some for a second meal, or to keep in your day bag to savor some of the street food you pick up out and about (you won’t want to miss this in Thailand)! 

These take up no space at all, weigh next to nothing, and are useful for collecting things on your travels too. When I go to the beach mine always ends up getting filled with shells. 

9. Set of Warm Clothes

While most places are hot and humid and you live in a bikini 90% of the time, you’d be surprised by the number of times you need pants and a jacket. Southeast Asia has some incredible sunrise hikes, and yes – it is cold here in the middle of the night! While it’s a tropical paradise in most places, some mountains can get a bit chilly higher in elevation! A light jacket and warmer pants are essential for your Southeast Asia packing list.  

I travel with a lightweight down jacket that packs down small, a wool long sleeve, quick dry hiking pants, and warm socks. Even if you don’t hike, it’s nice to have some warmer options on a fast boat where it’s windy, or for a late-night beach fire. 

10. Leave Some Space!

Everyone’s always sharing what you can’t forget to pack, but nobody mentions extra space. Southeast Asia is a beautifully vibrant region with local arts, clothing styles, and travel memories you will want to pick up on the way. Don’t pack your bag so tight that you are nervous about the zippers busting out.

I was able to buy a Kimono in Japan, artwork in Cambodia, and a snorkeling kit in Indonesia to explore the tropical waters! 

Now that you're preparing your Southeast Asia packing list, learn more about the benefits of Slow travel to get the most out of your trip!  

Travel Essentials

In the US vaccines for Yellow Fever or Typhoid can run over $400, and are not covered by insurance. These are often much cheaper in SEA where more people get vaccinated. It's a good idea to pop into a pharmacy when you get to a new spot and ask about any outbreaks of Dengue as well!


Your clothes are the bulk of your bag. Prioritize versatile options, stick to a color palette so you can easily mix and match, and favor items that are lightweight and wrinkle-free! Make sure you have 1 outfit for each activity you want to do. For example, 1 complete outfit to hike in, 1 for yoga, 1 for a beach day, 1 to go out in, and 1 to sleep in. 

It’s hot – leave your denim, high heels, and bulky jackets at home. Your shoulders will thank you later! Less is more – laundry services are available everywhere for very cheap ($1-2), and you can buy anything necessary while on the road. While clothes are important, you’ll find some amazing options on the road!

  • 3 bikinis
  • 1 full-piece (some areas in SEA are very conservative)
  • 7 underwear & bras for your needs
  • 2 pairs of socks
  • 4 tank tops
  • 3 shorts
  • 2 skirts / 1 long, 1 short
  • 2 dresses / 1 long, 1 short
  • 2 pants / 1 hiking, 1 flowy
  • Waterproof sandals
  • flip flops
  • trainers

Don't travel with your favorite clothes - they may be lost at the laundry, overworn to the point of destruction, or become an extra weight that you don't wear often and can't let go of!


As much as you want to disconnect, it’s important to stay connected as well! Once you’re in Southeast Asia, you might not have the best options for new gadgets abroad, so make sure what you have works for what you need. Keeping up with your electronic needs is essential for your Southeast Asia packing list. 

  • Battery pack & fast-charging cables
  • Camera & charger
  • Travel Adapter with many ports
  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • e-reader
  • USB string lights (my favorite non-essential item I travel with)
  • Portable speaker
  • Headlamp

Accessories & Others

The water quality is ~not great~, both for drinking and for your hair. I have very fine, blonde curly hair that gets damaged easily. If this is you, I can’t recommend including a water filter for the shower enough for your Southeast Asia packing list! Especially if you will be staying in more private accommodations, protect your hair!

Another essential is a sarong – these are required in many temples, and are versatile as clothes, a small blanket, a beach towel, and for hostel privacy curtain! If you don’t already have one there are plenty of cute ones available at your destination. 

  • Microfiber Towel
  • Packable Sun Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sarong
  • Small bag / packable purse
  • Wallet that can hold coins
  • Small jewelry – you can buy more at the night markets!
  • Memory bag to collect tickets / money / memories and keep them safe
  • TSA lock – especially if you plan for hostels
  • Water filter system (life straw / Grayl bottle)
  • Shower water filter
  • First Aid Kit
Bags and towels hanging from carabiners and a string in a bamboo hut in Bali
Carabiners with Rope is the best organization hack

Explore the other destinations waiting for you in Asia!

Summary - Southeast Asia Packing List

No Southeast Asia packing list is complete without a few key items. From bus pray, sunscreen, and a camera, to the more unique items like a sarong, water filter, and space for a snorkel. This region has so much to offer – ancient temples, turquoise water with pristine aquatic life, and rich cultures. Be prepared to see it all!

What is one thing you couldn’t travel without?

Image with assorted tropical items laid out on a towel with text reading 'southeast asia packing list'
Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Asia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, 0 comments
Ultimate Singapore Itinerary for a Long-Layover

Ultimate Singapore Itinerary for a Long-Layover

Welcome to Singapore, a kaleidoscope of culture, nature, and innovation! If you’re lucky enough to have a few extra hours to spend in Singapore during a long layover, this guide is for you. The best part is – you don’t even need to leave the airport for the best adventures (well you don’t need to go far anyways). The Changi Airport is a perfect representation of how architecture is inspired by art and a showcase of how innovative and creative the Singapore style is. Check out this Singapore Itinerary for anyone with a long layover!

Let’s dive into the best ways to spend your long layover in the best airport in the world, complete with specific attractions, ideal sleeping locations, and free airport excursions

View from plan window while leaving from Singapore's Changi airport

Table of Contents

No matter which terminal you arrive at, or what time of day, this itinerary can be sliced and diced however works best for you! Transportation between terminals is completely free on the Airport Rail and can be reached via walking. Take what you want and leave out the rest to create the perfect day of exploration for you! 

Keep reading to find out about the FREE Singapore Tours, a list of the best excursions by terminal, and info about navigating the airport!

Free Singapore Tour

For those looking to get out of the airport and explore, Changi offers FREE tours of the city! All tours take 2.5 hours, and attendees must be present 75 minutes prior to the tour start time to ensure a timely tour for all participants. This is available for anyone with a layover between 5.5 hours-24 hours, and a ‘Singapore Arrival Card‘ must be filled out. See the following table to ensure the reporting and returning times work for your travel itinerary! 

For up-to-date information, see the Changi Airport website

Experience what it feels like to live as a Singaporean, through an exploration of the charming east side of Singapore, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. This is great for people who have seen the main sites already or those that prefer a more authentic local experience. 

The first stop is at Tampines New Town, which received the UN World Habitat Award for its high-quality affordable housing. You’ll then make your way to the Tampines Central Park to enjoy the green social space and some uniquely designed playgrounds! The third stop on this tour is at the Our Tampines Hub, the largest community and lifestyle hub in Singapore! Make your way to the Changi Village, a popular recreational hub with plenty of Hawker stalls and quiet village walks. Finally, the tour stops by Changi Beach Park where you will enjoy pristine white beaches and a serenity rarely found in this bustling city. 

Tampines housing and community center
Precinct Tour | Changi Airport

See the modern side of Singapore, catching all of the iconic highlights. Get a photo of the Merlion against the city skyline and marvel at the magical, Avatar-like Supertrees at Gardens by the Bay. Almost every picture you’ve ever seen of the famous city of Singapore will be seen on this tour! 

The tour starts at City Hall, where you’ll see the famous Raffles Hotel (home of the Singapore Sling), as well as St. Andrew’s Cathedral. You’ll then make your way to the Civic District where you can see the distinction between old national monuments against the modern skyscrapers in the Central Business District. Walk across the Jubilee Bridge for a spectacular view of Marina Bay, as you head towards the Merlion Statue – Singapore’s icon! Enjoy the sun at Merlion Park, as you learn about Singapore’s history in trade and fisheries. In the distance, you’ll see the Gardens by the Bay, a Singapore icon (the constructed trees that make you feel like you’re in the Avatar world of Pandora). If you’re lucky enough to take the tour at night, you’ll get to watch this area come to life with lights and colors! Before returning to the airport, the tour concludes with Marina Bay Sands, a convention center that hosts over 200 luxury outlets, a Skypark, and incredible rooftop views of the city!


Gardens By The Bay a part of the city sights tour on the Singapore Itinerary
Gardens By The Bay | Changi Airport

Step into a multi-dimensional destination combining retail, dining, and attractions, and immerse in a lush green sanctuary through this 2.5-hour walking tour.

This tour starts in Terminal 3, where visitors will get a chance to see the Changi Control Tower which is at the heart of the airfield operations, allowing the airport to be a central hub for eastern travel. Next, you’ll hop onto a train and venture into the Jewel to take in the serenity of the Shiseido Forest Valley – where mist-covered lush greenery bathes in the filtered light. Central to it all, is the HSBC Rain Vortex – the icon of all of Changi and the tallest indoor waterfall in the world! Explore some of the foreign and local heritage brands in the 6 story shopping plaza, and find your way to the Changi Experience Studio – a digital attraction that allows you to immerse yourself in games and the world of aviation. The tour concludes after a trip to the Canopy Park, located on the top floor of the Jewel. 

*Admission to Canopy Park is included in the tour, with discounts available to the individual attractions in Canopy Park & Experience Studio.


Sheshido Valley in the Jewel Changi is a must see on any Singapore Itinerary
Shiseido Forest | Changi Airport

Discover Singapore’s colonial past and cultural heritage through a visit to the historic Civic District, Chinatown, and the picturesque Kampong Gelam.

The first stop is at Marina Bay, where iconic landmarks such as the Merlion and city landscape show the modernization of Singapore. The next stop is at the Central Business District, where the tour will feast on local (and very cheap) food from the famous Hawker stalls. Chinatown is just a short walk away, a destination you definitely can’t miss here! You will find iconic places of worship, shophouses, and street murals depicting the daily lives of local people. The Singapore River is where this nation’s economy grew from a small fishing region to the powerful trading center that it is today. The final stop on this tour is Kampong Gelam, a traditional neighborhood with strong Malaysian & Arabic influence – the street art is insane here!

Singapore river is a part of the heritage tour on the Singapore itinerary
Singapore River | Changi Airport
Tour Timing Itinerary Reporting Time
9:00 am - 11:30 am
Changi Precinct Tour
Before 7:30 am
11:00 am - 1:30 pm
Jewel Tour
Before 9:30 am
12:00 pm - 2:30 pm
City Sights Tour
Before 10:30 am
3:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Heritage Tour
Before 1:30 pm
6:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Jewel Tour
Before 4:30 pm
7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
City Sights Tour
Before 5:30 pm

* All tours except the Jewel Tour must accompany the group back to the airport. If you wish to explore longer than the 2.5-hour time slot, you must go out on your own! 

Terminal 1

Water Lily Garden

The Water Lily Garden is the perfect destination to head towards to start the day. Nearby you’ll find a ton of local cuisine options, where you can get the local special; Kaya Toast & a Soft-Boiled Egg (try it, you may be surprised at how good it is!)

Grab the food to go and eat outside in the pleasant surroundings of a pond filled with water lilies, open 24 hours a day!

Cost: FREE

Discovery Garden

A perfect place to move your legs and get some fresh air – the Discovery Garden features a winding trail that takes you to different heights of the trees they encircle. Located on the second level of Terminal 1, this is a great place to pause and stroll through, especially since it’s open 24 hours a day!

Cost: FREE

Cactus Garden

When you’re ready for some fresh air, head to the upper floor in Terminal 1 and you’ll find the Cactus Garden – where succulents and cacti from around the world are ready to be explored! This is a great place to reset, it’s not every day that you find a state-of-the-art cactus garden in the middle of the tropics, or in an airport!

Cost: FREE

Rooftop Pool

For those of you that don’t want to walk all day, you may find yourself craving a lounge chair to kick back and relax while you wait for your next flight. There is no better place than the rooftop pool in Terminal 1, where you can hang out in a cabana with a book and a Singapore Sling, soaking up the sun (don’t forget your sunscreen!)

Cost: S$23

Terminal 2

Sunflower Garden

Located on the roof of Terminal 2, the sunflower garden is a great place to relax and reset before the next leg of your journey! Soak up the sun, read a book, or stretch your body in this floral paradise. Don’t skip this at night either – head to the rooftop to see a spectacular show of lights and colors, open 24 hours!

Cost: FREE

Enchanted Forest

The Enchanted Forest is a cute installment featuring impressive orchids and floral arrangements, a walking platform that leads to a little pond area, and nature-inspired art installations. You’ll notice the forest come to life as you walk through, thanks to the interactive exhibit that will make you feel like you’ve been transported to the world of Avatar.

Cost: FREE

Terminal 3

Butterfly Garden

Now, for my absolute favorite attraction at the Singapore airport; the Butterfly Garden. Walk into this creative space where butterflies get to feast on fresh fruit and flowers, drink water from a waterfall feature, and you can witness it all! 

Cost: FREE

The butterfly garden in Changi is a must-see on any Singapore itinerary

To get to the Butterfly Garden, you have to pass through a Hawker-style food court. Stop by and see what's on the menu for an authentic taste of Singapore!

Long Bar by Raffles

You have probably heard of the Singapore Sling – a refreshing blend of dry gin, cherry brandy, and lemon juice, created in 1915. The original location is located at the Raffles Hotel, but this local icon is available to you at the Long Bar. At the Raffles Hotel, you can get a Singapore Sling for around S$30 (insane), but they are complimentary for travelers right here in the airport!

Stop by between 3 pm – 11 pm, and get your first drink on the house!

Cost: FREE Singapore Sling Cocktail

Climbing Wall

There’s no better way to spend a layover than moving your body and getting on a climbing wall! Even if you’ve never done it before – there are package options for guided or un-guided sessions so you. can learn or play as you want.

Located in the basement of T3, open between 10:30 am-9:30 pm! For more info check out the Climb@T3 webpage.

Cost: S$19

Giant Slide

The Changi airport is home to the world’s tallest indoor slide, designed with kids & adults in mind, take the chance to zip down this 4-story slide!

Cost: FREE with Changi Membership (Free to join)

*Located land side, meaning you will have to go through security to leave the airport


The Jewel is an attraction that is visited by locals and travelers. However, since it is not on the air side of the airport, you must exit the airport by going through security and immigration. If you don’t have enough time to explore the Jewel fully, make sure to hop on the Skytrain connecting Terminal 2 and Terminal 3! This rail goes through the center of the Jewel, with an up-close view of the waterfall.

HSBC Rain Vortex at Changi Singapore airport

Rain Vortex

The main attraction of the Jewel is the HSBC Rain Vortex – a 40m tall waterfall that flows through the center of the roof straight down, 3 floors below the first floor. This spectacle is lit up in vibrant colors at night – an attraction everybody should see! 

The best part is the central area of the Jewel where you can marvel at the waterfall is completely free to enter. There are seating areas and a walking path that encircles the dome building, so you can get a glimpse of the vortex from different heights and angles before checking out the rest of the attractions!

Canopy Bridge

Get the highest view of the Jewel & the Rain Vortex, by walking across the Canopy Bridge. The bridge is suspended 23 meters above the ground floor, with glass floors and the best vantage point! Open from 10 am – 10 pm daily. 

Cost: S$14

Changi Experience Studio

Join this interactive exhibit where you can learn about the airport, play immersive games and so much more! This is where technology, education, and fun all come together to create an experience perfect for any traveler. Located on L4 of the Jewel complex, this studio is open throughout the week. 

See their website for timing and to buy tickets!

Cost: S$25 for adult

If you join the Free Singapore Tour – Jewel, you will receive exclusive discounts to the Changi Experience Studio & FREE entrance into Canopy Park!

Additional Attractions in the Jewel

Canopy Park Walk – Discovery Slides, Petal Garden, Foggy Bowls, Topiary Walk – S$8

Bouncing Net – L5 Canopy Park – S$25

Walking Net – L5 Canopy Park – S$19

Hedge Maze – L5 Canopy Park – S$14

Mirror Maze – L5 Canopy Park – S$19


Sleeping in Changi Airport

If you’re traveling on a budget, you likely haven’t booked a cozy hotel to get some rest. Luckily, Singapore has a lot of options for sleep to fit every traveler’s budget and travel style. Changi hosts rest zones, hotels, and lounges, and they used to have sleeping pods pre-COVID (not sure when/if they’re coming back)!

The best sleeping place for you will depend on which terminal you’re arriving at the airport from, and what time. The snooze zones fill up quickly, where sleepy passengers lounge in recliners. Check out the Lounge Buddy app to see what deals and offers are happening in the airports you’re traveling in!

We arrived at 11 pm, so all these areas were occupied. We wandered around a bit and found a quiet corner where we slept on the floor (we never travel without our eye masks & headphones)! Give yourself some time to explore and find the best spot for you!

For more specific details on seeping areas, head over to the expert – Sleeping in Airports.

Luggage Storage

If you have any bags that you don’t want to lug around with you in or outside of the airport, check out these luggage storage options! Anything can be stored for a cost between S$5-S$18, per 24 hours.  There is a storage location in each of the 4 terminals, but during this writing, T2 & T4 are out of use! 

Check out this Baggage Storage link for updates and exact locations! 

Summary - Ultimate Singapore Itinerary - Long Layover

Too often the airports are a boring to-do that comes with travel. But when you find yourself in Changi with extra time to kill, you will be amazed at everything you can do! You can spend days here, and still not see it all while keeping your budget as low as you need to.

My favorite spots in Changi were sitting in the Jewel just watching the vortex, the Butterfly Garden, and taking the Skytrain to get up close to the falls. What things are you excited to explore in Singapore?

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Destinations, Singapore, 0 comments