Suggested Packing List for India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan

Allison Sodha

"What do I pack when I travel?" We hope to help answer this frequently asked question with the information below. Here is our suggested packing list for India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan:


Generally speaking, this is a conservative region. We recommend not wearing clothing that is too short, tight, or revealing. Unless you are traveling to a village or rural area, shorts, skirts and dresses are acceptable. A light jacket or layering is best to sustain the varying temperatures. Also consider purchasing local clothing. Besides being affordable, the fabrics are beautiful and generally made to accommodate the local weather.

Shoes – Comfortable for walking, with good traction. Sandals (preferably closed-toe) are a good option, but they still need to support your feet with good rubber soles for extensive walking on uneven surfaces.

Scarf/Shawl - A head cover may be required for women and men at certain sacred sites and places of worship.

Hat or Cap – Protection from the sun is essential in the region!

Toiletries and Personal Items

Medicine and Vitamins - If possible, keep medicine in original containers with legible labels.

Digestive Relief - Tums, Pepto Bismal, etc. Grapefruit seed extract is also a natural defense to unfamiliar bacteria, available at most natural food stores and vitamin shops.

Hand Sanitizer - Many public restrooms do not have soap available.

Flushable Wipes - For the public restrooms without toilet paper.

Tissues – Have a small pack available in your purse or daypack.

Travel Alarm/Watch - If your phone or watch doesn't have a built-in alarm, pack a small travel alarm clock.

Plastic Bags – Bring a variety of sizes. The small sealable bags are good for carry-on liquids and items that become wet. Larger bags can hold laundry or be used as liners in your luggage.

Washcloth or Hand Towel – For public restrooms without paper towels or drying facilities. You can also use these to freshen up on long flights and overnight trains, or for minor spills.

Glasses/Contacts – Don’t forget your contact solution!

Sunscreen / Mosquito Repellent – You can also purchase this at a local shop.

Convertor and Adapter – 220 – 240 volts, 50 Hz.

Personal Hygiene – There is a limited selection of tampons and maxi pads. The cost is also at a premium.

Money and Travel Documents

You can exchange currency at hotels, banks, airports, and local operators. Airports and hotels do not always offer the best exchange rates. Your guide or representative can assist in finding a reputable money exchanger. Depending on your destination, you may elect to visit an authorized local currency operator. The rates are usually better and you will receive a higher exchange value. Please be advised of the international fee your credit cards and ATM cards will charge if used abroad. Prior to departure, we recommend contacting your bank and credit card companies to determine the fees. To avoid declined transactions on the assumption of credit card theft, we also suggest informing your card company of your international travel plans. Most travelers prefer to bring travelers checks as opposed to cash, both for the added protection and to eliminate any ATM fees. We also recommend:

Daypack – A small, lightweight bag is useful to carry sweaters, shawls, snacks, water bottles, guidebooks, cameras, etc. Make sure it has a zipper and/or a small lock.

Money Belt – If you do not plan to carry a daypack, consider a zippered pouch tucked under your clothes. The money belt can hold passports, cash, credit cards, and travel documents, without the risk of pickpockets.

Addresses – If you plan to send postcards, don’t forget a list of addresses!

Photocopies of Travel Documents – Remember to make copies of your passport and visa and keep them secure in a separate bag from where the original is stored. If the bag is lost or stolen, you will have a secondary copy available.

Optional Items

Snacks – Pack your favorite items for snacking on the go. We recommend granola bars, goldfish, trail mix, dried fruit, etc. Also, if you have a dietary restriction (Gluten Free, No-Dairy) be sure to pack essential items.

Portable Water Purifier – For easy packing, bring a travel-sized device like the Steripen UV Water Purifier.

Batteries – If your electronic devices require specialty batteries, bring an extra set.

Gifts - If you will be the guest of local hosts, small gifts or souvenirs from your hometown are well received. If you choose to bring items to distribute to the kids, we recommend candy (non-melting), pens, paper, stickers, puzzles and coloring books. Some of our clients have even bought the children ice cream cones or snacks.

Hair Dryer – Most hotels 3* and above provide hair dryers, but consider packing it for homestays, ashrams, and other budget accommodations.

Travel Insurance

Technically this is not something you pack, but it does protect what you pack. Travel Insurance also protects your trip investment, your family, and yourself. Sodha Travel offers a variety of plans, including reimbursement for trip cancellation, flight delay/cancellation, baggage delay/loss, and medical expenses overseas. Please visit our Travel Insurance page for more information.

**Please note: If your itinerary includes adventure activities (rafting, trekking, etc) a supplemental packing list will be provided.

Interested in more travel details? Please review our India FAQ's, Nepal FAQ's, Sri Lanka FAQ's and Bhutan FAQ's.

Topics: India, Bhutan, Nepal, Health, Packing, Sri Lanka

Allison Sodha

Written by Allison Sodha

As the President of Sodha Travel and author of Go! Girl Guides India, Allison has spent almost two decades exploring South Asia. She has a passion for creating experiences fueled by a deeper understanding of local communities.