Packing for Malaysia

I'm off to Malaysia in a few weeks, for the very first time. So naturally, I've been thinking about what I need to bring with me.

I've mentioned this before in a previous post, but I think it's worth bringing up again. With all the wonderful information out there, I find I just don't relate to packing lists. Often they're really practical, and recommend buying a completely different wardrobe for travel. Maybe these people wear their travel clothes at home, I don't know, but what I do know is there's no way in hell that I'm wearing cargo shorts that sit down to my knee.

So, what better opportunity to fill a gap in the market, by sharing my packing tips to look and feel more like a local than a tourist, when travelling the world.

This post can relate to just about anywhere in South East Asia.

Things to know before you go

1. The weather – Malaysia is tropical. Expect hot, humid days with the occasional shower. Packing for tropical weather means you need natural fabrics and an umbrella.

2. The culture – Malaysia is predominately a Muslim country, so be respectful of their traditions and dress appropriately. It's best not to walk around in your bikini outside of beach areas, always avoid wearing revealing and tight fitting clothing, and cover your knees and shoulders in mosques. Although some people say it's fine to wear whatever, I think it's best to be respectful of the locals. You're in their country after all.

3. The sun – if you're as pale as me, you'll need to slather on the sunscreen. Remember to slip, slop, slap – and if you're not Australian, this is how our country is educated about sun protection, it's quite humorous. And I've now noticed they've added, 'seek' and 'slide', talk about protection!

4. Medication – it's highly recommended you go see a GP or travel doctor before you go to Malaysia, and most countries in South East Asia.

Packing for Malaysia


When it comes down to it, choosing the right fabrics could be the difference between a great holiday enjoying the sunshine, and sweat dripping from every part of your body. Okay, you're going to sweat, not doubt about that. But there are some fabrics that breathe more than others. These are cotton, silk and linen. Notice these are all natural? Well, man-made fabrics like polyester don't breathe and essentially trap the heat and sweat against you. Not pleasant!


As much as I love black, it's best to stay away from it in hot, humid weather. Black attracts the sun, whereas white repels it. Honestly, nothing will prevent me from wearing black, particularly on my bottom half, but this wouldn't be a good guide if I weren't mentioning tips I don't like now, would it.


Loose, flowy clothing are your best option in warm climates. Not to mention, they're culturally appropriate in Malaysia. Go for dresses and tops that don't directly touch your body, so the breeze can cool you down.

Create a capsule wardrobe

Notice how the packing list above has a colour pallet – not just black and white like my winter guide. This just shows you what can be done if you love to add a bit of colour to your wardrobe. Just make sure you only have a few options that add colour, and that they don't class as an outfit together. Bringing pieces that work together is your best option to create a capsule wardrobe.

If you think I'm a little crazy adding pants to the mix, then definitely change them for shorts. I'm personally not a fan of shorts, and if the pants are made of a lightweight linen material, they should work well. The beach towel is also worth mentioning, this brand is fantastic for travel! They're a proper size beach towel but made of a really thin material, making them super compact when rolled up. I'd recommend anyone travelling to a beach location to get their hands on one.

Non-clothing items

Everything I've read has recommended bringing bug repellent, so I'll definitely be adding it to my list. Don't forget a basic first-aid kit. Over the years' I've developed my own little kit that has everything I need, nothing more nothing less. I'll definitely be sharing that will you in a separate post. And lastly, do not forget travel insurance! I use CoverMore.

How to use this guide

The packing list above can be changed and adapted depending on how long you're going to be in Malaysia, or South East Asia. I'm only going for 1 week, not to mention I'm flying carry-on, so I won't be taking every item listed. But it does show you what's possible. With those clothes listed above, you can create 14 unique outfits, not including the denim jacket. That's pretty incredible considering there are only 8 items included.

Shop the look –

Sun hat, Lack of Color / Lightweight scarf, Country Road / Bag, Revolve / Sunglasses, Karen Walker / Beach towel, Berry Safari / Denim jacket, Assembly / V-neck top, Vanishing Elephant / Off-shoulder top, The Iconic / Tees, Assembly / Trousers, Elizabeth Suzann / Skirt, Asos / White dress, The Iconic / Grey dress, The Iconic / Swimwear topand bottom, Country Road / Espadrilles, The Iconic / Sandals, The Iconic / Umbrella, Myer

Do you pack a capsule wardrobe when you travel? Do you have any tips for me packing for Malaysia?