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Help me pack please! Hot climate.

We'll be in tropical Asian climate (Coronavirus willing), and I don't know what to pack. The furthest south I've ever been is the breezy southern Caribbean.
I can hand wash.
Scarves for head covering in the Emirates. Check
Day tours in vans but also walking city and market streets in India, Sri Lanka.
Closeded toe shoes, canvass or leather? Sandals?
Long skirts/dresses?
Long sleeves to protect from sun or sleeveless?
What do I need to know?
What am I forgetting?

Posted by
3685 posts

My first question would be about the kind of toilets likely to be used. Squat or western? Butt sprayers? Toilet paper flushable or in a bin next to the toilet?

Answers to these question would strongly influence my below the waist wardrobe.

Posted by
21075 posts

I haven't been to Asia but did Sicily and Puglia in June-July 2015.

I prefer at least 3/4 sleeves and long pants to keep my dermatologist happy. Long skirts or dresses would be fine.

I use 100% cotton tops, but I suspect there are some other fibers that might be equally comfortable (maybe rayon?).

On a different trip last year where I ran into some high-80s days, I was happy with the 97% nylon PrAna pants I wore. I've also used the sort of cheap, ethnic-print, 100% cotton pants often sold at street markets. The advantage of the PrAnas is that they are sturdier and more comfortable in changeable weather. While not waterproof, they do a partial job of shedding rain, and they offer some wind protection that's nice to have on cool days.

I wear only lace-up athletic shoes because my balance is not great. I'm rather tolerant of hot feet, but ventilated shoes are undeniably more comfortable than all-leather in a hot climate. I'd think your feet could get pretty dirty in sandals (and are there pit toilets in your future?), but I haven't been to those countries yet. Do remember to put sunscreen on your feet if you choose sandals.

Have you checked the CDC website to see whether you need any vaccines?

Edited to add: Lo's right: Squat toilets are extra challenging when you're wearing slacks. Manageable with care, but challenging.

Posted by
3271 posts

We took a cruise last winter that started in the Emirates and ended in China, with many stops in between, including India, Thailand and Viet Nam. Most of my day time excursion clothes were cotton or rayon. I wore long pants or capris and loose shirts with long sleeves to keep the sun off my pale skin (I have several shorter Indian kurtis, which were perfect) A hat or a parasol is also a necessity when outdoors. Several of the ladies on our group tours opted for maxi dresses with a loose open shirt over top.

I would advise you NOT to wear open toed shoes when out for the day, especially in India and some other South East Asian countries, where it's common to see sewage and garbage in the streets. I had a pair of black fabric sketcher go walk slip ons that worked really well. And be sure to wear socks with them (and pack an extra pair in your day bag), since you have to remove your shoes to enter mosques or temples.

Posted by
1607 posts

Since I spend quite a bit of time outside in AZ heat riding and cleaning up after my horse, I strongly recommend icefil long sleeve sunshirts. Because they keep the sun off your skin, they are actually cooler than short sleeves and help prevent sunburn. Not all sunshirts are the same, some are heavy and don’t breathe. Two best brands for me are Kerrits which is lightweight icefil fabric with small overall vent holes and Rompf also icefil with small overall vent holes and underarm mesh. Their summer fabric is slightly heavier than Kerrits and they also make a heavier “winter” fabric. Both brands should be available at your local tack store or online.

Posted by
5697 posts

I am a big fan of Keen Newport sandals -- toes are protected, air can flow in and rain can flow out. Sturdy soles, elastic to keep the shoes on your feet.

Posted by
3661 posts

Lomotil and Bactrim or equivalents

Tiniba (sold in the USA as tinidizole) bought locally in India no prescription required, for giardia (if you get it you will want the stuff ASAP)

A few packets of electrolyte mix wouldn’t hurt.

Due to open sewers even the dry season can be locally mosquito-y so need bug repellent on hand if they get in the room.


Flipflops for use in shower stalls

Something for the feet that can be worn without socks (which you don't want to wear), even flipflops could work.

Posted by
8405 posts

So helpful everyone. I hadn't thought about the toilets when out and about. I don't know if there will be pit toilets or just regular old white squatters, certainly paper in a bin, but duly noted. Hand sanitizer necessary. So what do you advise, Lo.

We'll have a few days in Singapore before getting on the ship, so I'll look at the kurtis and loose pants in the markets.

Hadn't thought about loading up on socks. Footies or full-size socks?

Not monsoon season but short tropical deluges probably. We'll put ponchos in the day bag.

Gut medicine advice is always good. Getting caught without it can be a disaster, and I always seem to.... Yes, electrolyte tabs!

There's a lot here I hadn't thought about. Thank you all !

Posted by
3661 posts

I’d forgotten about things like bat droppings on the temple floors, maybe socks are desirable there (although they may require you go barefoot).

Posted by
8405 posts

Oh yuck! Barefoot in the guano. Maybe I'll cancel the trip. LOL.

Posted by
3685 posts

So I Googled best clothes for squat toilets and got lots of results about how to use them, but nothing on dressing for them. Almost all results involved removing everything below the waist and hanging it somewhere safe while going. Good luck with that.

This was my favorite reference from Wikihow. You may find others that you like better. You may also see pictures that will make you want to hold it forever!

My advice is to carry Wet Ones for hand washing and baby wipes or something similar at all times. And a plastic bag to put the used wipes in so you can seal it up and toss it somewhere else if there's no trash can.

I haven't been anywhere you are going, but I have seen squat toilets somewhat recently (2014 and 2017) in Turkey (both squat and western available at mosques), Greece at the bus station for Delphi (western toilet not functional so had to use that one) and on the RS Village Italy tour (used the employee only door instead of the public one and found a western toilet).

Although the position is supposed to be better for us, the logistics of using squat toilets is not as easy as it is with western ones. I hope your trip has more of the latter than the former.

I'd think that if you need to remove clothing, a shorter or non-voluminous skirt would be easier to remove and put back on without getting it messed up than pants. You could at least pull it off and put it back on over your head, avoiding the probably wet floor. There's no way I can think of that pulling pants off and putting them back on would avoid that. As for the panties, well, good luck with that, too.

BTW, based on my experience in Istanbul, the toilets associated with mosques are the cleanest anywhere.

Posted by
5551 posts

I am going to Dubai and Sri Lanka next month. I am taking a checked bag as there is no way that I can cover so many different wardrobe needs with just a carry on.

In both countries, I will be wearing modest clothing, covering shoulders and knees with either regular clothing or a sarong for days with temple visits. Vest tops and shorts are beachwear only.

I am heading to a few National Parks for wildlife watching. The days we are in the jeep, vest tops and shorts will be ok (not short shorts) but the days we are walking in the forest will mean long trousers and shoulders covered and in Sinharaja, leech socks. Long trousers and long sleeved tops are required in the evening to prevent mosquito bites.

In Nuwara Eliya, it will be cold, so I am taking a fleece and scarf.

I am taking hiking boots, teva sandals, a pair of lightweight hiking trainers (sneakers), flip flops, sandals for smarter Dubai evenings and socks for the temples.

Posted by
5488 posts

We did a Singapore to Dubai cruise in 2015 in late March early April.

Not sure when your cruise departs, but check weather for India. In early April, temps were in the upper 90s and it was extremely hot.

One problem about visiting the UAE, Oman and India is that you are expected to cover your limbs. This is especially true for women. Also, in India, some the places to visit are Hindu temples and you can't go inside wearing shorts or skimpy clothes.

Suggest you take a wide brimmed hat with loose sleeves. I wore athletic shoes. I don't recommend sandals.
I wore khakis that are lightweight but comfortable. Take plenty of water to drink to avoid dehydration.

Here is my review of our trip to Singapore and the cruise. Note the tours we took from inexpensive private tour companies that were great.
Singapore to Dubai

Posted by
1662 posts

I traveled to SE Asia a few years ago on the early end of the hot season. For sure find some kind of comfy closed toe shoes - the Keen Newport sandals cover your feet but allow water to go through, and dry pretty fast. I took quick dry pants, both long and capris, as well as skirts. For the skirts, I advise getting a pair of slip shorts to wear under (like these - in the TMI category, very humid/hot weather makes walking in skirts, well, uncomfortable.

Make sure you're up to date on recommended vaccinations (Hep A, tetanus, typhoid, etc.). Take sunscreen and mosquito repellent that works for you. Handi wipes and travel packs of kleenex. Though they look kind of dorky, I found much relief wearing one of those cooling neck scarf things (

Posted by
380 posts

I do not recommend cotton clothing. Cotton does not wick moisture. It will stay wet, clammy and uncomfortable.

Here are examples from LL Bean for shirts and pants. Long sleeve to protect you from the sun, but you can still roll up the sleeve if you want. Mesh in the back to keep you cool. Long pants that can convert to shorts.

The same goes for socks. They need to wick moisture. Everyone's feet sweat regardless of the climate, on average 1/4 cup per day. One should always wear socks.

I suggest wearing enclosed toe, walking shoes, not sandals, on your tours. Buy shoes with mesh uppers instead of leather to be cooler. Maybe sandals in the hotel when relaxing.

In regards to the squat toilets, I would not remove everything below the waist. That is a real pain, plus the floor can be wet and dirty. I've done it both with pants and dress and had no problem. Tho, dress is slightly easier. Carry small packets of Kleenex in case there is no toilet paper. Carry individual wipes. Even if there is a sink, sometimes there is no towel or a cloth towel that everyone has used.

P.S. I used LLBean just to show you examples, to give you some ideas of what I'm taking about. I am not endorsing any of the products.

Posted by
2914 posts

I have a friend who uses this type of device when traveling and loves it. I'm planning on trying it on my next trip, so I have no direct information. However, she is meticulous in her dress and appearance so worth a try, IMO. It solves a lot of your issues regarding the bathrooms.

Posted by
21075 posts

Anyone who plans to use the GoGirl should set aside a lot of time to practice with it. I definitely do not have the knack. Maybe I need to start trying again; a trip to India is in my future.

Posted by
7722 posts

Humidity dictates loose flowing clothes, not tee shirts for tops. I bought six, three l/s, 3 s/s, hand washable.
In third world countries I do not wear sandals due to fear of picking up a disease. Lots of things thrown, spat on sidewalks.
Best advice on this post is to find out what toilet types you will encounter. You don’t want pants if using squat ( yes, I fell in one once, yuk)

Posted by
8405 posts

Thank you for all the advice. Will order some wicking shirts, socks, and maybe ??? Even DH is checking his wardrobe in a timely manner instead of waiting until the night before.

Squat toilets are no problem for me as I still run across them in France where we spend a lot of time. Just have to be sure there’s enough room to shift the center of gravity forward to get up. I’m the only person in my yoga class who can still get up from a squat—at my age, which is the same as Lo’s.

However, open pit is another story—a board or two across an open hole, my SIL had to use that while during a bout of you know what in rural western China, behind a restaurant, to boot.

Posted by
503 posts

Last year I visited Vietnam and Cambodia and both were very hot and humid. I will tell you what I wore and what I saw other women wear on the trip. I know cotton doesn't wick but I hate moisture wicking clothing because, at least for me, the fabric doesn't breath and I just feel hot as hell in that fabric, so I wear cotton and wash a lot. I wore shorts and short sleeve shirts the entire trip. Other women on the tour wore skirts, long and short, sundresses, skorts and a lot of tops that were spaghetti straps. One woman wore many outfits that were all linen and she looked fabulous and cool the whole time, wrinkles and all! Overall, it was lightweight fabric for everyone. We did run into bathrooms that had squat facilities but everyone had at least a western style toilet as well, sometimes there were lines for that. Some bathrooms had one side of squats and one side of regular toilets. I don't think I would let the toilets influence what you wear. For shoes, almost all the women wore either sneakers with the low profile socks or some type of sandal. Your feet might be a bit dusty at the end of the day if you wear sandals but you can easily wash them at night. Hope this helps.

Posted by
114 posts

I live in Australia where our summers can be really hot and humid. I have a couple of linen shirts (Uniqlo) that I wear undone over a camisole or singlet for outside activities ( beach, markets etc). They work well for sun and bug protection and in hot climates dry quickly after washing.

Posted by
220 posts

Dear Bets, congratulations on venturing south and experiencing some of the world’s oldest cultures in the Asian sub-continent.

Singapore is a modern and vibrant city, exceedingly clean, but can be overly humid and hot for many. My wife struggles with both, I find the humidity can leave one feeling rather fatigued at the end of the day. Best fixed with a few beers. Keep yourself well hydrated with water. Actually, this will apply for the duration of your trip. The mass transport system (subway) is underground with large mall type buildings on top. Taxis are cheap, reliable and honest. Accommodation can be expensive while food prices vary greatly. Lonely Planet books/web site, or similar should have good recommendations and up to date information about food and the local tourist sites to suit your taste. Your cruise line may also provide/suggested resources. Great views from Marina Bay Sands at night, as always comes with a price. With afternoon tea at the Raffles one is closeted in a colonial era dining room within a magnificent building and surrounded by history, also for a price. (My wife loves the place.)

Assuming you are in Dubai around April, the climate should be hot, with humidity increasing as summer approaches. I like the heat. We often stop at Dubai for a day or two when returning home from Europe. Normally in October. As a halfway point it helps to mitigate any jetlag. We take an apartment closed to the beach. Great swimming, water is warm and flat. In the UAE lots of things for young adults and teenagers with shopping skewed towards luxury brands. Magnificent airport.

In Dubai, western women are not required to wear scarves or other head covering. Unless you are planning to meet with the Emir. As a guide, just think you are going to your local Episcopalian Church during summertime. Consult lonely planet guide or similar for accurate clothing advice.

Yes, the toilet facilities can be a delicate subject. I venture the onshore tour operators will have it under control. Acknowledging that I am a bloke, I note that during the East India Company times (pre white squatters) women accompanied their husbands to this region. Don’t know if any wrote of their experiences. Probably not the type of thing Georgian/Victorian era women wrote about. They do appear to have survived the experiences.

Enjoy the cruise and new cultural experiences and I hope you get to see a full moon rising while at sea.
Regards Ron

Posted by
459 posts

Sunscreen! Hat or visor (I'm not hatty, but No Headaches makes super-light visors). Loose floaty clothes give you personal air-conditioning, plus the illusion of something like elegance, or at least not sticky T-shirt ick. My favorite items: loose linen pants with elastic waist & pockets, a loose-ish tank top, long lightweight oversize shirt, the lightest-weight footwear I can find, whether sandals or closed. Loose longish skirt is next, but tricky in stiff breezes or climbs up temple steps. Still, great for lounging/something different, &
bunch-up-able for the afore-mentioned squatters. Take something sleeveless for when you just can't stand fabric that day (ditto sandals), but stick a sleeved something in your daypack: in Angkor Wat my scarf-as-cover-up wasn't allowed in one temple, had to put on our guide's loaner shirt.

Go thrifting - all my favorites are thrift store finds.
Have a wonderful trip!


Posted by
3661 posts

Adding that if you are from the eastern half of North America there’s no level of heat and humidity that Asia can throw at you that you haven’t already experienced at home.

2 differences:

Positive— the sun in the tropics always sets at 6:15 pm so there’s significant cooling overnight (cooling that doesn’t happen when the sun sets at 9 pm and rises at 4:30 am).

Negative— the midday tropical sun is so strong it will melt your brains, so hat essential.

Posted by
8405 posts

Thank you everyone. This has been very, very helpful, not just for packing but all the general suggestion, from tea at Raffles (too expensive, we’ll go for a sling), multiple socks, barefoot in thé guano, .... Now let’s see if that microscopic virus will allow such big plans to go forth.

Posted by
8405 posts

Little update: the most recent cruises are now Dubai round trips, rather than originating in Singapore. Our itinerary bis unknown. This won't affect packing for Sri Lanka and India, but it does give us potentially more time for Abu Dhabi. I've read the mixed sentiment s on other rhreads, and welcome still any other ideas and opinions.

Posted by
3271 posts

Hi Bets. I read about Constellation's itinerary changes. So sorry that you'll miss seeing Singapore and Phuket. We enjoyed a couple of days in Abu Dhabi pre embarkation last year. The Grand Mosque is an absolute do not miss. Be sure to observe the modest dress code - long sleeves, long pants or ankle length skirt, and head covering. There is a Heritage Village which is a recreation of the traditional village and Bedouin life of the previous century which was interesting. We also enjoyed strolling along the Corniche in the evening. Some of our fellow cruisers did a tour that went out into the desert for a late afternoon of dune riding in 4x4s followed by a traditional outdoor dinner and entertainment. Taxis are plentiful, metered, and relatively inexpensive.

I used the Lonely Planet Abu Dhabi website to plan out most of our stay there.