Dont visit Asia without these 9 travel toiletries

Backpacking essentials: Toiletries

Salt toothpaste? Suncream with whitening agent? Moisturiser with extra placenta?

If these sound like the wrong products for your next trip to Asia, you’d be right.

Turns out, the useful, everyday toiletries we love back home just aren’t that popular in Asia.

Toiletries may not be the most exciting topic, but knowing what to take will make your travels so much more pleasant. So, stock up with your travel toiletries before you leave home to ensure a trouble free trip.

Below is our list of 9 items that are either hard to find in Asia and/or are super useful for keeping you fresh and healthy whilst dodging those cockroaches in budget hostels.


1. Pack Your Favourite Toothpaste – The alternative could be kinda gross



As we’ve just used the salt toothpaste as an example, lets keep rolling with that one. In Asia we have seen toothpaste flavours from green tea, to charcoal. There are many weird and wonderful flavours to giggle at, but you seriously don’t want to get caught having to buy one because you’ve run out.

We often have found that Colgate and Crest do make a regular appearance however don’t expect to find gel toothpaste, or your personal preference easily.


2. Solid Shampoo – Ever thought of it?

This is a great addition to any travellers toiletry kit. Having a solid shampoo takes away a possible bottle blow-out while travelling. There is limited space in your backpack and bulky bottles take up precious nooks and crannies that could be filled with those mini alcohol bottles you flogged.

J.R. Liggett Bar solid shampoos, are compact, last for ages and keep your belongings goo free! You can even take them in the cabin on the plane.

3. Sunscreen – Be sun smart in Asia

This is one of the many things people forget to pack as they assume they can grab a bottle when they arrive.
But remember this:

  • Locals in Asia don’t really wear sunscreen, they don’t burn like we do.
  • If they do use it, it’s to help them get whiter, so it has whitening agents in it.
  • When you can find regular sunscreen it’s imported, brand-named and over priced. There will be no generic, budget brand.

Going to an exotic country to get whiter is probably not on your agenda. So get a traditional sunscreen before leaving.

One that is less greasy will be better for those hot days too. I personally prefer Neutrogena Ultra Sheer as it’s lightweight and has an awesome SPF rating – but everyone has their own favourite brands. Just remember Asia is the land of the red sun and even redder tourists – don’t be one of them!

4. Bug Cream / Spray – Say no to free blood donations

As with the sunscreen, this product is not something that Asian locals tend to use – just tourists.

So if you happen to find any insect repellent at all, it’s stupid expensive.

Anti-malarial tablets are important too, but they don’t stop dengue fever or Japanese encephalitis. So, avoiding getting bitten in the first place by using repellent is essential. If it lists that it has deet in the ingredients then it should be more effective too.

You can also throw some essential oils into your toiletries case, these are a  great natural alternative to insect sprays!

5. Travel Toothbrush – Because toothpaste is better than poo for cleaning teeth.

Have you read that rumour? That if you flush a toilet, poo particles fly into the air landing on different surfaces – like Toothbrushes? Gross.

If you’re travelling on a budget, some of the bathrooms you encounter may not be of the most sanitary conditions and with the ongoing threat of poo particles it’s best to try and cover things up in the toothbrush department.

We found using Aim travel toothbrushes to be ideal but Colgate also has a great range if you can find them. As it folds into itself the toothbrush is protected both in your bag and also from any grubby cockroaches that like to make late night appearances.

There are also toothbrush covers (that clip on to a regular brush) you can buy but we found that these just fell off in our bag half the time.

6. Don’t Forget Your Favourite Moisturiser – Unless you like rubbing placenta on your face.



It actually shocked me when I ran out of moisturiser and discovered how very different the available products are in Asia.

While we are all striving to be bronzed gods and goddesses, everyone in Asia is trying to get whiter. Yes, every single product you see on the shelf will have some sort of whitening agent advertised.

Also, some of the ingredients are a little, well, unique. I have seen creams with added placenta, bird crap and even seamen!

It’s best to pack you favourite moisturiser before leaving home and even try and grab one with a good SPF rating. I can’t live without Yes To Carrots which has an SPF of 15 and is paraben free but there are a few mixed reviews and well – everybody has their favourites.

7. Pack Your Preferred Tampons / Sanitary Pads or Menstrual Cup

funyIt can really suck being a girl and travelling. When that time of the month comes around it’s hard enough having to deal with the cramps and hormones but if you can’t find your favourite products anywhere – well that can end up in a girly breakdown. I know I’ve been there!

In Asia tampons are often very difficult to find, and sanitary pads are the size of surf boards – in both length and thickness! If you are a girl that likes to use tampons with an applicator then stock up before leaving home (these are even difficult to find in Australia).

Panty liners also seem to be non existent, so you’ll find yourself stuck with a surfboard pad. Yes these items do take up a lot more space in your backpack, but having products that you are familiar with is so worth it.

Lately a few travellers have been talking about using a menstural cup. Essentially it is a silicone cup that is used to collect menstrual fluid. These cups can be bought as a disposable option or there are some that can be washed and used over again.I love love love these and will never go back to pads or tampons ever again – read my full menstrual cup review here.

8. Hand Sanitizer – Avoid Getting the Poops

Don’t leave you house without this!

Asia is not always as clean as we would like. Touching everyday objects can leave your hands filthy and covered in god knows what. Not eating with clean hands is one of the major factors in getting food poisoning while abroad. Using a hand sanitizer can help prevent this.

As with a few of the other products we’ve mentioned, this is something that you just can’t find in some parts of Asia. Most shop assistants will not even know what it is. Stock up in advance and make sure you use it before touching any food while travelling.

For more hints on how to eat in Asia check out our article How to eat Street Food and Not get Sick.

9. Baby Wipes (wet wipes) – Not just for little humans

Antibacterial baby wipes are an awesome thing to pack. These can be used to:

  • Clean your hands and face after a hot dusty day,
  • Wipe down dodgy looking toilet seats,
  • Clean up small messes,
  • Use if there’s no toilet paper,

the list goes on…

If you do find yourself in the wilderness for a few days without a shower, they are also an excellent way to freshen up the necessary bits. There is no excuse to be a stinky traveller, people.


There you have it, our list of 9 Travel Toiletries to Pack for Backpacking Asia. If you liked our list can you do us a favour? Share this post.

For more information on what to pack for your backpacking trip – checkout our Ultimate Packing Guide

Is there anything we left out? What travel toiletries don’t you leave home without? Leave us a comment.

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Disclaimer: We are NOT sponsored by any of the above companies to promote their products. We do receive a small commission from Amazon for any purchases made using our links.


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  • Danial

    October 8, 2015

    On the flip side, Asians visiting Western countries would bring a spare empty water bottle to “clean” ourselves after using the toilet since wiping it off with paper towels just wouldn’t cut it.

    • tjw101

      October 8, 2015

      Thanks Daniel! Not surprised by this at all 🙂